The Valley is normally occupied by many who have been infected by Roland Duchatelet’s poisonous regime.
A Charlton side collectively lacking quality and fight, and subsequently heading towards League One. Young players forced to play at a level they are not yet ready for, and having their careers and confidence crippled. Supporters who feel disconnected from a club they once loved, and forced to protest in order to save that bond.
But there will be an additional body in SE7 this Saturday who has been subjected to the Duchatelet disease. Arguably the first body to show the sort of symptoms that many connected to Charlton Athletic would be affected by, in one way or another.
For Yann Kermorgant, the cult hero and talisman deemed not good enough by any owner that has crippled a football club, will line up for Reading. The Frenchman, despite so far being frustrated in front of goal, already warming himself to supporters of the Royals, having made himself adored at Bournemouth. Should Duchatelet’s agenda not been so destructive, Kermorgant might still be enjoying his incredible relationship with Charlton fans.
Instead, he was forced out of the club. Unforgivably deemed surplus to requirements, and treated in an unforgivable manner. The hero of one of the most loved Charlton sides tossed aside, without any of the respect he deserved, and replaced by a series of players lacking his quality and commitment.
The bond with Kermorgant still stronger for many supporters of the Addicks than it is with the majority of those that currently wear their club’s shirt.
The current crop of Charlton players likely to continue to play their part in undoing the work of the group Kermorgant was a part of on Saturday. Another step closer to a return to League One.
LAST MEETING – READING 1-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
Nick Blackman’s late header at the Madjeski in October earned Reading a victory that their complete dominance of a tame Charlton deserved.
For at least 68 minutes of the contest, however, the Royals were left frustrated. The in-form side lacking the composure in the final third to complement the classiness with which they got the ball forward. Nick Pope never properly tested by the barrage of efforts sent in the general direction of his goal.
But such wastefulness never looked like being punished, with an incredibly sloppy Charlton struggling to move the ball forward successfully. Guy Luzon’s side managing just two shots throughout the 90 minutes.
And a defensive stubbornness of sorts was lost with 22 minutes to play, as Patrick Bauer needlessly got himself sent off. A second yellow card awarded for hacking down Blackman on the edge of Reading’s box.
It meant the Royals were always likely to make their pressure tell, and they did with 14 minutes remaining. An unmarked Blackman heading in Lucas Piazon’s cross to condemn the Addicks to defeat.
It might not be quite to the same extent, but some of the positivity that existed among supporters of the Royals when their club last played Charlton has returned in recent weeks. And that isn’t just because they get to watch Kermorgant.
For having won just one game in 13 following the victory over the Addicks, a run that completely derailed their early push for promotion and saw the sacking of Steve Clarke, The FA Cup has provided excitement in Berkshire.
Their 3-1 victory over West Brom on Saturday setting up a quarter-final tie against Crystal Palace, and the cup run is seemingly having some sort of positive impact on Brian McDermott’s side in the Championship.
A 1-0 win over Rotherham on Tuesday night may have been their first in seven in the league, but it’s a run that has included decent draws with Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and Burnley, in addition to signs of improvement being shown.
Though they have little to play for in the league, with the Royals 14 points from the play-offs and the relegation zone, maintaining that positive momentum ahead of the Cup quarter-final is crucial.
It’s not the gutless defeats, the questionable attitude of many in red that reflects the overall state of the club, nor the continuing increase in the gap between the Addicks and safety that is most boring. It’s the desperate attempts to create the idea that positives can be taken from each game in a run of one win in 17.
Positives to take from a 2-1 defeat to Preston North End, according to Jose Riga and goalscorer Johann Berg Gudmundsson, despite the fact the usual costly mistakes were made. We have long passed a point where brief passages of promising play mean something
For not only are those positives not taken into the next game, but only results are important with 13 games to play. Charlton effectively eight points from safety, and already looking doomed.
Latvian forward Deniss Rakels is pushing for a start after making a positive impact off the bench in the victory over Rotherham on Tuesday night.
The introduction of the forward not only gave Kermorgant the partner his clever flick-ons need, but his individual play gave the Royals new energy and contributed towards their win.
And Rakels’ chances of starting are increased with Matej Vydra unavailable to McDermott. The formed Watford forward definitely out of the game with a hamstring injury, while Danny Williams is unlikely to feature due to a hamstring troubles of his own.
Charlton will be without the suspended Harry Lennon following the centre-back’s sending off for violent conduct in the defeat to Preston.
Naby Sarr could replace the academy graduate, who earned his red card by petulantly striking out at North End’s Joe Garner, should Riga opt to remain with the 3-4-1-2 formation using at Deepdale, or Lennon’s absence may force Charlton’s head coach to revert to a more traditional formation.
Riga may also have to deal with the absence of Jordan Cousins and Chris Solly. Cousins suffering a recurrence of his injury on Tuesday, while Solly was taken off midway through the second half with an ankle complaint. Both will be assessed prior to Saturday’s game, along with the seemingly always-near-but-never-quite-fit Igor Vetokele.
Johnnie Jackson, Alou Diarra and Patrick Bauer, however, definitely remain unavailable.
KEY BATTLE – BOTHERING TO DEFEND SET-PIECES
Such is the laughable way in which Charlton have attempted to defend set-pieces in recent weeks, it’s almost as if Bob Peeters has returned.
In fact, Preston were even able to score from one of our own on Tuesday. Having taken the lead from a corner, with Garner heading in, the hosts regained their advantage following a break from an Addicks flag kick. Add that to the three that Fulham scored from corners on Saturday, and it’s rather pathetic.
Particularly with Charlton so often capitulating after conceding a soft goal throughout this season. It’s meant that those positive passages of play in recent weeks, consisting of some breaks that lacked any sort of end product, have been made even more meaningless.
Not ideal, either, given that two of Reading’s goals in their 3-1 Cup win over West Brom came from set-pieces. The Royals, with Paul McShane, Michael Hector and Kermorgant, possessing a number of players that are a threat when attacking a delivery.
Important, therefore, that the Addicks show some sort of defensive organisation this weekend. That much more rewarding than having to find ten minutes of positive play in a 3-0 defeat.
At least I’ll get to see Kermorgant score at The Valley again. Charlton Athletic 0-2 Reading
(Apologies for the lack of Preston report/reaction. Car broke down 40 miles from Deepdale and I therefore wasn’t able to attend the game)