'They look better organised already' - The opposition view on Doncaster Rovers' next opponents Charlton Athletic
The Addicks were expected to be among the leading promotion contenders this season after their strong finish to the last campaign but already have significant ground to make up, with manager Nigel Adkins being shown the door following the poor run of results.
We spoke to BBC London and the South London Press’ Charlton man Louis Mendez for the lowdown.
Q: I imagine this was not what was expected for the start of the season for Charlton? What has gone wrong so far?
LM: The Addicks had just never really got going this season. A slow transfer window, with most of the signings arriving either late on in pre-season or after the campaign had begun meant they struggled to pick up the fitness required for a busy league schedule. Adkins was forced to rotate and tinker, never naming a settled side. They seemed to struggle to create an identity and way of playing that worked and the most concerning thing was that things seemed to be getting less coherent as time went on. They’ve shipped goals for fun as well.
Q: Was it time for Nigel Adkins to go? How soon will it be before a replacement arrives?
LM: Absolutely. It’s unfortunate because he’s a good man with good ideals who started well when he took over from Lee Bowyer ten games from the end of last season. He does have the excuse that the transfer window did not go the way he wanted it to and that screwed up his plans for the campaign but even then, the way the side was playing had gotten steadily worse and results never looked like picking up. In terms of a replacement, we will now see Johnnie Jackson in caretaker charge for the next few games at least whilst owner Thomas Sandgaard allows him to prove his potential to be the long-term replacement for Adkins.
Q: They kicked off the post-Adkins era with a very impressive win at Sunderland. Was there anything different in that game from those previous?
LM: Jackson changed the shape and some of the personnel but the main difference was that the side looked organised, well-drilled and like they were busting a gut for each other. They were much tighter at the back, not giving a potent Sunderland side too many chances.
Q: What system and style of play can we expect from a Johnnie Jackson team?
LM: Jackson opted for a 3-5-2 at the Stadium of Light but I’d be surprised to see him utilise that against Rovers at The Valley. He said he’ll be looking to have two strikers on the pitch as often as possible, which isn’t something we saw under Adkins. Either way, I imagine they’ll be looking to be quick on turnovers of possession and attack down the wings, pressing to try and force Donny to give up possession high up the pitch.
Q: Who are the players to look out for?
LM: Jonathan Leko has been a real handful since returning to The Valley on loan. He’s a superb, pacy and direct winger who has created plenty and grabbed a couple of goals since arriving from Birmingham. Sunderland couldn’t cope with him on Saturday. Elliot Lee has also been a creative influence just off the strikers, whilst Jayden Stockley is a nightmare to deal with in the air up top.