The constant capitulations impossible to bear. Having to endure defeats and dire displays becoming more tiresome with each week. The overall state of crisis at the club continuing to encourage disillusion and apathy.
But arguably the biggest source of frustration is the lack of acceptance of fault combined with the pathetic excuses being bleated out by the ignorant, the arrogant and the abysmal.
Such behaviour has come to be expected from Katrien Meire, unwilling to believe that the experiment herself and Roland Duchatelet are implementing is failing, but interim head coach Karel Fraeye’s words are becoming increasingly bizarre and insulting.
The games too challenging, as if this isn’t a division packed with very strong teams and our position in the table is in some way justifiable. A 44 minute spell where the Addicks didn’t concede seen positively, regardless of the four goals that followed. Any suggestion that Fraeye might be at fault immediately turned on his players.
But there can be no excuses for failure at Bristol City on Boxing Day. The Robins two points and three places above 22nd place Charlton, and this a game that the Addicks cannot afford to drop points in.
Perceived positives or testing circumstances are meaningless. The interim head coach, if not admitting his unsuitability for the job, can only be speaking about three points come full-time.
LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 4-1 BRISTOL CITY
The Addicks rounded off a successful first season back in the Championship with a convincing victory over the already relegated Robins in May 2013.
As was so often the case, it was Yann Kermorgant who starred for Charlton. His emphatic volley from Mark Gower’s delivery giving the hosts the lead just after half-time, before the Frenchman headed home Chris Solly’s cross to double his side’s advantage four minutes later.
Bristol City momentarily got themselves back into the game, when a defensive mix up allowed Bobby Reid to reduce the deficit, but Charlton soon restored their two goal advantage. Kermorgant denied a hat-trick after his delicious chip hit the bar, but Jon Obika was able to nod in the loose ball.
And the win, and season, was rounded off by the skipper. Johnnie Jackson converting from Bradley Pritchard’s ball, only increasing the buoyant mood as Chris Powell addressed The Valley crowd at full-time. A moment so far from what is occurring now.
Bristol City: DLWLLD
Regardless of the emphatic nature in which the Robins achieved promotion from League One last season, racking up 99 points and losing just five times, relative struggle was predicted for the Ashton Gate club on their return to the Championship.
A failure to add substantially to their squad in the summer, with the addition of potent forward Jonathan Kodjia supplemented by loan signings, seemingly leaving prime candidates for the drop.
So for Steve Cotterill’s side to be sat outside the relegation zone at Christmas can be judged as something of a success. The goal this season surely to maintain their status in the Championship, regardless of the means by which it is achieved.
And, to their credit, they have shown the sort or fight and resilience required to avoid a return to League One on a number of occasions. Tight wins recorded over Wolves and Huddersfield in the previous two months, while Aaron Wilbraham’s late equaliser against QPR last weekend will provide a timely boost of confidence going into the festive period.
That boost needed after a harrowing four goal defeat away at Derby County. As the 3-0 loss at relegation rivals Rotherham also shows, City are as likely to capitulate as they are to show resolve.
It’s almost as if the back-to-back victories over Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham, where a degree of quality and resolve were on show, didn’t take place.
For the Addicks, now five without a win, have become increasingly gutless in recent weeks. The capitulation against Brighton, a failure to hold a two goal lead at home to Bolton, and last weekend’s second-half effort against Burnley all extremely disheartening.
The results grim, and the league table even more so, but it is the performances that are providing the biggest cause for concern. Organisation non-existent, effort and energy vanishing incredibly quickly, and the will to fight in testing circumstances minimal.
Relegation worries increasing with each humiliating capitulation.
Cotterill could be without Kieran Agard for the second successive weekend, with the forward struggling to recover from a calf strain.
The injury, picked up in training prior to the draw with QPR, kept him out of the clash with the R’s, and Robins boss Cotterill is unlikely to risk the former Rotherham man if he is not fully fit with fixtures coming thick and fast over the festive period.
His absence will mean top scorer Kodjia and Wilbraham, who scored the equaliser last weekend, will start together in attack.
Charlton’s chances of recording the victory they so desperately need have been dealt a blow with the news that several of their key men are spending time inside the Sparrows Lane treatment room.
Both Ricardo Vaz Te and Patrick Bauer were forced off during the defeat to Burnley, and are unlikely to be fit in time for Saturday’s trip to Ashton Gate.
Vaz Te’s absence can be negated if both Ademola Lookman and Johann Berg Gudmundsson return from the knocks that kept them out of the loss at Turf Moor, which appears likely given that they only narrowly missed out last weekend. The pair taking up wide roles, with Reza Ghoochannejhad partnering Simon Makienok in attack.
But replacing Bauer could prove more difficult. Naby Sarr, struggling to adapt to English football, cannot be trusted to start at centre-back, so Alou Diarra may have to drop into the back line from his holding midfield role.
Elsewhere, Igor Vetokele and Cristian Ceballos have returned to outdoor training, but neither are likely to make a return until January.
KEY BATTLE – ALSO WINNING THE OTHER 46 MINUTES
“For 44 minutes we were the best team,” said Fraeye following Saturday’s defeat to Burnley. A comment almost insulting to those supporters who had seen their side capitulate so emphatically thereafter.
Similar anger was felt after it was said that Roland Duchatelet congratulated Fraeye on his side’s first half performance against Brighton, before the two goal lead was given away. Only the capitulation against Bolton Wanderers, with another two-goal lead lost, honestly assessed by the interim boss.
Whether it be an attempt to increase in the confidence of his side, persuade Meire and friends that he’s actually somewhat competent, or plain delusion, Fraeye’s post-match comments in recent weeks have been incredibly frustrating.
To be fair, there is an element of truth in what Fraeye is saying. There have been positive moments in isolated periods of games. The Addicks weren’t quite on top against Burnley as the boss suggests, but they were competitive and creating chances.
But the response to conceding, as it was against Brighton and Bolton, completely eclipsed any previous positive. The opposition able to dominate, with little resistance offered. The mentality of this Charlton side in moments of adversity embarrassingly weak.
As such, it is no use the Addicks enjoying the better of the opening 44 minutes at Ashton Gate. They must compete for the entire 90, or at the very least respond positively to falling behind.
Playing well for a period on Saturday, but ultimately failing to record a positive result, won’t be accepted.
Given that both sides share a certain amount of ineptitude, this one is relatively tricky to call. Home advantage and Charlton’s injuries, not to mention the fact we’re particularly tragic, makes Bristol City jut about favourites. Bristol City 1-0 Charlton Athletic