Charlton Athletic – Bowyer’s Band

September 12th 2020. The day the footballing world has been waiting for. The Premier League and the EFL announced in July that the 2020/21 season will be underway very shortly. Ahead of the new season, I have decided to take a look into the future of the 24 teams making up League One for the new campaign, with an in depth look at what each team has to offer for the coming year. Sixth on the list, is Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic

  • The Club

The 2020/21 season will be Charlton Athletic’s 115thseason in their history, and their first back in League One. Their last venture outside of League One was their relegation campaign from the 2019/20 season, when they were relegated on the final day after a 4-0 defeat away to Champions Leeds United. This previous season was Charlton’s first back in the Championship, after going through the play offs in League One for the 2018/19 season. That year, they defeated Doncaster in the semi-finals, and then beating Sunderland 2-1 in the final. The club would have been looking to avoid bouncing up and down the leagues after winning promotion, but a poor run of form at the end of the 2019/20 season has caused them to drop back down into League One. With the current troubles surrounding their own owners, and the transfer embargo they are under, it’ll be an interesting few months for the Addicks.

  • The Gaffer

Lee Bowyer is heading into his fourth season with Charlton Athletic, having taken over from Karl Robinson on March 22nd2018. He took over the club when they were just outside the play offs, leading them into it but failing to overcome Shrewsbury in the play-off semi-final. This is Lee Bowyer’s first managerial position, being promoted from assistant manager to the top job once Karl Robinson left his position. He did spend a week with the Watford U21’s as a guest coach in 2015. Bowyer has had to deal with incredible expectations under very poor ownership for the past three seasons, with many failed owners putting Bowyer under a lot of pressure each season. Bowyer has defied expectations on a number of occasions, but came up just short last year behind fellow promoted sides Barnsley and Luton. In an interview with TalkSport, Bowyer revealed that he has never felt so low in his life when his side were relegated from the Championship.

  • The Squad

Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Charlton Athletic have used 9 separate formations across three competitions this season. The most used of those was the 3-5-2, which was the set up for 15 of their 48 games this season. Alongside that was the 4-3-1-2, which was the set up for 14 of the 48 games. So, for the squad set up, I will be looking at both of those. All of the formations were found using Transfermarkt.

25-year-old Dillon Phillips was Charlton’s first choice goalkeeper for the whole season, making 47 appearances in all competitions, missing only one game this campaign. The one match that Phillips was not involved in was the EFL Cup match against Forest Green, where summer signing Ben Amos was the man in between the sticks that night. Also, part of the squad was Nathan Harness, a 20-year-old keeper who didn’t feature for the Addicks this season.

All stats supplied by WhoScored. Phillips contributions this season cannot be denied, with the Englishman making 156 saves in his 46 league games this year. A very impressive campaign for a goalkeeper who is wanted by a few Championship teams.

On the right-side, 28-year-old Adam Matthews was the first choice right back for Charlton this season when played in a four-back formation, whilst also being the first-choice right midfielder as well if they played with a three-back. He played 29 games in the league this season, picking up one assist along the way. Deputising with Matthews was club captain Chris Solly, who played 15 times for Charlton this year, also getting one assist.

Stats wise, Matthews made 40 tackles and 23 interceptions in his 29 league games from right back and right midfield, whereas Chris Solly make 14 tackles and 20 interceptions in his 14 league games. A surprisingly similar amount of interceptions compared to Matthews, despite playing 15 less league games.

At left-back, 24-year-old Ben Purrington was considered the first choice left-back for Charlton at the beginning of the season after joining the side from Rotherham. Purrington would go on to make 31 appearances for Charlton this season, playing predominantly at left back in a four-back set up and still able to pick up two goals this year. Alongside Purrington is Alfie Doughty, who spent the first few months of the season at Bromley on loan, before returning to Charlton and being the first-choice left midfielder when playing in the 3-5-2 set up.

In terms of the stats, Ben Purrington made 45 tackles and 33 interceptions in his 31 league games, the majority of those being at left-back with a few games on the left of midfield. Doughty, in his 29 league games, made 36 tackles and 31 interceptions. Not as much as Purrington, but Doughty was more of an attacking threat with three goals and two assists this season.

In the center of defence, the Addicks had a few options to choose from last season. 25-year-old Tom Lockyer was the most capped defender for them this season, being the first-choice defender for Charlton. Lockyer made 43 appearances in the Championship this season after his summer arrival from Bristol Rovers. Alongside him for the majority of the season was 32-year-old Jason Pearce, making 39 appearances and scoring once in that time. This will be Pearce’s fifth season with the club if he stays with them in League One. The third defender used in a three-back formation was Naby Sarr, who was the most dangerous center-back going forward this season, with three goals and five assists in 31 games in all competitions.

The fourth-choice defender for Charlton was Adedeji Oshilaja, who was a summer signing from AFC Wimbledon. Oshilaja made 25 appearances for the Addicks this season, but struggled to displace Pearce and Lockyer as a strong partnership. Stats wise, Tom Lockyer made 48 tackles and 65 interceptions in his 43 league appearances. Compare that to Jason Pearce, who made 24 tackles and 28 interceptions in the league this year. Lockyer was the more accomplished defender for Charlton this season.

In the center of the park, Charlton were blessed with an array of talent. 35-year-old Darren Pratley was the first-choice midfielder this year, making 36 appearances without scoring a goal. Alongside Pratley in the middle of the park, was Josh Cullen who joined the club on loan from West Ham United. Cullen made 34 appearances, scoring once and getting two assists. Playing slightly further forward in the midfield was Jonny Williams, who got five assists in his 25 league appearances this season, and just recently signed a new one-year deal to stay with the club. Another loanee with the club was Conor Gallagher, who joined the club for six months from Chelsea. Gallagher was a star for Charlton, netting six times in his 26 appearances from the club before joining Swansea in January.

Albie Morgan spent a month with Ebbsfleet in the National League, but went on to play 23 times for Charlton this season all across the midfield, without scoring a goal. West Brom’s Sam Field spent the season with Charlton, going on to make 18 appearances for the club without scoring. The midfielder’s keep on coming, with summer signing Erhun Oztumer making 15 appearances for Charlton after joining from Bolton. He was another attacking midfielder who failed to find the net. 26-year-old Jake Forster-Caskey was also part of the midfield that continuously changed this season, making 12 appearances without a goal. George Lapslie is the last of the midfielders to hit double digits with appearances, playing 11 times and scoring once.

A loan signing from Brighton, Beram Kayal was a winter income who played six times for Charlton without scoring. Stats wise, you can only look at Darren Pratley and Josh Cullen for an extensive understanding of the season, as those two were the only ones to play 30+ games. Pratley had a pass completion rate of 77%, making 10 key passes in that time as he usually played closer to the defence than the attack. Josh Cullen was an excellent addition to the Charlton side this year, having an 83% pass accuracy and making 56 key passes. He was the standout performer in that midfield last season.

Charlton were quite stretched with the number of wingers they have, preferring to play with the full backs out wide rather than the wingers. The most used ‘winger’ in the side was Jonathan Leko, who played 21 times this season, scoring five goals and getting four assists. On occasion, Leko was played up front if he didn’t find a position out on the right. On the other side, Andre Green joined the club on loan from Aston Villa, after spending the first six months of the season with Preston. Green made 14 appearances for Charlton, scoring twice in that time. Another loan signing for Charlton was Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady, who played 10 times for the Addicks after joining from the League One side in January.

Stats wise, Leko was the only player who played enough games to get an accurate representation of their game-time. In his 21 league games, Leko had 20 shots and scored five times. He had a poor dribble completion rate, below 50%.

Going forward, Charlton had two key attackers in their quest for survival. The first was summer signing Macauley Bonne, who joined the club from Leyton Orient after a stellar season in the National League. Bonne would go on to score 11 times in 34 appearances in his first ever season in the Football League, let alone the Championship. Alongside him for the first part of the season was Lyle Taylor, who also scored 11 times for Charlton but in only 22 league games, after announcing his intentions to depart the club before the season was ending, meaning he didn’t play for the final few months of the season. When Bonne, Taylor or even Leko was unavailable, then it was summer signing Chuks Aneke who took the starting spot up front. However, he was only able to score once in his 21 games for the club.

The fourth-choice striker for Charlton this year was Tomar Hemed, who played 19 times for the Addicks this season after joining from Brighton. However, he was unable to score a goal for them this year. When looking at the stats, Lyle Taylor had 46 shots for the Addicks this season, but struggled to be a help in the aerially battles. Compared to Macauley Bonne, who had 51 shots in his 33 league appearances for the club. He too was also struggling with the aerial battles against defenders, however he was more capable with the ball at his feet with 22 key passes.

  • The Transfers

Charlton are one of only three League One sides to have not made a signing this season, but it is very understandable with them being under a transfer embargo. The other two being Wigan, who of course are dealing with one of the harshest cases in modern day football, the struggles of administration and not knowing what state they will be in for the new season, and my club Ipswich Town, who are being forced to deal with Paul Lambert and his shoddy management for the next five years. Anyway, back to Charlton, the club have obviously had no incomings, back have had a few outgoings. Lyle Taylor and Chris Solly have been released by the club after their contracts have ended. Alongside that are all the loan deals that have expired over the past few months, which means Josh Cullen, Aiden McGeady, Matt Smith, Ben Purrington, David Davis, Beram Kayal, Conor Gallagher, Jonathan Leko, Sam Field, and Andre Green all departing after their loan deals expired.

  • The Problem Areas

In what looks to be a summer of turmoil for Charlton with transfer embargos and chairman struggles to deal with, there is no clear idea what Charlton will be able to do in this summer window. Currently, Charlton still have a lot of the team they had from the last season to work with. In goal, Dillon Phillips and Ben Amos are still with the squad, but with rumored interest of Championship sides looking at Phillips, it could mean they have to cash in on the 25-year-old. The club does also have Ashley Maynard-Brewer as a backup in case they need to fill the void left by Phillips if he is to leave. Defensively, Charlton have one right back and two left backs to work with this season. Adam Matthews is the only senior right-back the club has, after Chris Solly’s departure, whereas on the left the club still has Ben Purrington, Alfie Doughty and Lewis Page to choose from. If the embargo is lifted at some point, then a right back who can play out wide could be key. Charlton still have the same four center-backs from last season, with Tom Lockyer, Jason Pearce, Naby Sarr and Adedeji Oshilaja still with the team. Will be the best group of center-backs in the league if they stay. Centrally, Charlton still have a packed midfield despite losing a lot of loan players. Darren Pratley, Jake Forster-Caskey, George Lapslie, Albie Morgan, Jonny Williams and Erhun Oztumer are all still retained to the club for the next season. The one area of the club they are very light on is wingers, with all three of them being on loan last season. If the embargo is lifted, then they will need to look in that area for reinforcements. Going forward, Macauley Bonne, Chuks Aneke and Tomar Hemed are still with the club after Taylor’s departure, so they do have some very good League One player at their disposal. If Charlton can keep a lot of their players from last season, then they will be the favourites for the title.

  • The Verdict

With an embargo in place, I don’t have any targets lined up for the club because we don’t know if they will be able to sign players, despite being linked to a fair few players in the last week. So, without going in to detail with transfers, we go straight to the verdict. It’s always difficult to tell how each team is going to fair in the new season, because we haven’t seen many signings nor the influence of pre-season friendlies. Just by going off how each team is expected to deal with the current COVID-19 financial troubles, and what each team is capable of doing under much greater restraint right now, I think that Charlton are the favourites for the league, under one circumstance. Keeping players is vital for them this season, if they can avoid selling their star players, then they have one of the best League One sides in the last few years.

What do you guys think? How do you think Charlton Athletic will fair in the new season? Will it be a summer of disruption for Lee Bowyer to deal with, or will they keep their full focus on the league and battle their way to the top of the league. Let me know in the comments below and make sure to follow All Out Football on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.