Opposition View: How Charlton Athletic are shaping up ahead of visit of Doncaster Rovers

Off-field turmoil continues to blight Charlton Athletic as they begin life back in League One following relegation from the Championship.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:06 pm

But, under Lee Bowyer, they have shown a knack of producing on the pitch despite all going on around them - as Doncaster Rovers know all too well.

So what sort of opposition with the Addicks provide Rovers at The Valley this weekend, and how different a prospect are they from the last time the two sides met, in the second leg of the play-off semi-final 16 months ago.

We spoke to Charlton writer and broadcaster Louis Mendez to get the lowdown on the Addicks.

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Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer speaks with youngster Alfie Doughty

Q: How would you assess where Charlton are right now, both on and off the pitch?

LM: Limited on the pitch and that is because of the absolute chaos off it. The ownership crisis lurched from bad to worse following Charlton’s promotion from League One. A new consortium called ESI came in at the start of 2020, but that fell apart within a matter of months as the majority shareholder Tahnoon Nimer and chairman Matt Southall had a massive fallout.

The former accused the latter of stripping money out of the club to run his own lifestyle, with Nimer himself failing to prove the source and sufficiency of his funding to the EFL. This meant a soft transfer embargo was slapped on the club in January.

Southall was ousted and Nimer wanted out, which led to an apparent sale to a Manchester based businessman called Paul Elliott, organised by Nimer’s lawyer and Elliott’s friend Chris Farnell - who was Bury’s lawyer when they were kicked out of the league.

However, both Elliott and Farnell failed the EFL’s owners and directors test. Fans feared the club could be kicked out of the league.

Now another potential new owner has arrived on scene in Thomas Sandgaard - and he seems the real deal. But he might not be able to complete the sale until a court process to decide who actually owns the club right now is dealt with.

A stronger transfer embargo was forced on the club in the summer and it means Bowyer hasn’t got much of a squad to pick from at the moment. There’s flashes of quality in there but unless a takeover goes through before the window closes, Charlton will struggle to challenge for promotion this year.

Q: The last time the two sides met was in that brilliant play-off semi-final. How different will the Charlton side be that Rovers will face this weekend?

LM: Some of the real linchpins of that side have left - Lyle Taylor, Joe Aribo, Krystian Bielik, Patrick Bauer and Josh Cullen are just some examples of players that have moved on to pastures new or return to their parent clubs.

As mentioned above, the transfer embargo means the side are limited now and have had to throw in some youngsters - such at 17-year-old defender Charlie Barker, who has stood up to the test so far to be fair.

Q: Given the summer of turmoil, what are the expectations for the new season?

LM: Barring a takeover being finalised before the window closes then I think a mid table slog will be what Charlton can hope for this season. If Sandgaard can come in, Bowyer says he has five to six bodies ready to come in and make his side competitive, although it remains to be seen how long those players are willing to wait.

Q: What system and style of play will Lee Bowyer favour?

LM: Bowyer has favoured a 4-4-2 diamond or a 3-5-2 throughout his time before this season, but this year has played a 4-3-3 in every game so far.

Whatever shape he does go for, he always likes his side to be quick on the break - looking to attack with pace on the turnaround of possession.

Q: Who are the players to watch out for?

LM: Youngster Alfie Doughty has been superb so far this season. Speedy and not afraid to run with the ball at his feet, he’ll put Donny on the back foot and look to add to his opening day goal at Crewe. You can see why Celtic have been sniffing around.

I’ve also been impressed by midfield arrival Alex Gilbey since his move from Milton Keynes - comfortable on the ball and an eye for a defence splitting pass as well.

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