Charlton have been one of the the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the season in the Championship so far.
Lee Bowyer’s men sit second in the table after six games, just a point behind leaders Swansea, after dramatically winning promotion in the League One playoff final last season.
Bowyer’s assistant Johnnie Jackson was on the Totally Football League Show this week, but while he perhaps didn’t expect them to be this high in the table, he isn’t shocked that the team are producing performances of such a high level.
“A little, I guess,” he said when asked if he was surprised about their start. “I think if you’d said if we’d be second after six games, that would be surprising.
“What I haven’t found surprising is we’ve got good players, and a good squad. The more and more I watch of the division, I think we’re capable of competing with a lot of teams.
“We’ve merited where we are – I don’t think we’ve lucked it. The only game I’d say we got a result we didn’t deserve was Brentford, where we nicked a 1-0. But on the flip of that there was a game three days before against Nottingham Forest and we played them off the park for long periods, and we only drew.
“They don’t surprise me because I see what they give on the training ground every day, and out on the pitch.”
The automatic promotion places in the Championship is a long way from Bowyer and Jackson’s goals when they first arrived at the Valley in 2018.
“The intention when we first went in there was literally just to get the fans back onside, and get a bit of unity back to the football club. I’ve seen it in a good place and I’ve seen it in a bad place – when it’s good it’s really, really good. Lee was only too aware of that too, because obviously he came through the youth team, so he’s seen that.
“The fact we’re both Charlton men, straight away that helped with the crowd. There were more fans, they were louder.
“It was in a pretty poor place before we took over, and we wanted to build a bit of rapport back with the supporters, which we could do because of who we were. We just wanted the fans to enjoy watching their team again, because they weren’t enjoying it, and they weren’t coming to support.”
Have they ever been tempted to jack it all in? After all, there are probably easier ways to earn a living than working for Roland Duchatelet.
“There have been tough moments obviously. There’s been a lot said about the owner and the lack of relationship with the supporters. There’s a clear disparity between them but we’ve never concerned ourselves with that, we just try to effect what we can effect, and that’s on the training pitch and with results. We want to put a team out there that the supporters can be proud of.
“They want a team that will win, but first and foremost they want a team that gives their most for the badge, and perhaps that wasn’t there before.
“Perhaps the greatest accolade we can give ourselves is that we’ve brought that back. Results have come and that’s great, but the thing that gives us the most pride is that we’ve given the fans a team they can be proud of.”
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