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NEW ARTICLE: The Summer Squad Upgrade - Our Top 10 + 1 Observations

With Sky Sports’ enforcing Americanisation on football ahead of the transfer window closing, it is difficult to determine whether Charlton have found themselves falling behind their fellow clubs, or that our strategy will prove correct as all manner of recklessness occurrs around us. Since the arrival of our last signing Nabby Sarr in late July, 113 signings went on to be made by Championship clubs, an average of nearly 5 per club.

So how strong is Charlton’s squad and were we they right 'not to trade'? Lets break down how the squad has evolved since the end of last season.

Since May, 13 senior players have permanently left the squad:

Frederic Bulot
Yoni Buyens
Tal Ben Haim
Simon Church
Chris Eagles
Roger Johnson
Lawrie Wilson
Oguchi Onyewu
Neil Etheridge
Christophe Lepoint
Joe Gomez
Loic Nego
Andre Bikey-Amougou

A further six have been sent out on loan:

Marko Dmitrovic
Callum Harriott
Piotr Parzyszek
George Tucudean
Joe Pigott
Zak Ansah

So the first team squad is now effectively 19 players lighter than it was in May.

Coming in, there have been 6 new permanent signings, and 1 loan signing:

Patrick Bauer
Naby Sarr
El-Hadji Ba
Ahmed Kashi
Cristian Ceballos
Zakarya Bergdich
Simon Makienok

Additionally, 2 have been permenently promoted from the U21 squad

Regan Charles-Cook
Harry Lennon

So of the 19 players no longer here, 9 have been replaced.

This leaves Charlton with a current first team squad of 23 players. Currently, 6 are out injured, so the 1st team squad are down to 17. Strip out the 2 goalkeepers, we have a squad of 15 outfield players available, of which 8 are centre halves or centre midfielders. A number of the U21 squad are finding themselves pushed into consideration as a result.

What does all this breakdown tell us? Well you can interpret it entirely how you like and i'd love to read your thoughts. But here are my top 10+1 observations:

1. When the squad is fully fit then it looks a relatively strong and balanced 1st team with the potential to do decent things in the Championship this season. This has been evidenced by the early form.

2. It is clear that in comparison to the departures, the core of the squad appears to have undertaken a quality upgrade this summer. Bauer, Kashi, Ba and Makienok have all impressed so far.

3. We look very much look like being in an identical position to the one we found ourselves in at this point last season; a decent first team that had made a better than expected start to the season. That team then went on to fade away as the autumn and winter months progressed, and desperately needed re-inforcing come the New Year as too much ground had been lost and a potential promotion bid was turning into a relegation concern; how much of that was down to fall outs with the manager, and how much was down to general squad lack of depth and performance levels drifting is impossible as a fan to quantify.

4. Despite tearing up the Premier League and looking a bargain, the loss of Joe Gomez does not look to have any negative impact defensively. A similar situation to when Jenkinson departed.

5. We are carrying certain risks in our wide positions; Ceballos and Bergditch appear unknown quantities at this stage, and an injury to Gudmundsson would hit us badly. Of the departed players, Bulot looks the one most likely to be missed at this stage.

6. In a small squad situation, Jordan Cousins versatility should really not be understated.

7. With much of our centre mid availability featured around Ba, Kashi, Cousins, Jackson and Diarra, despite excellent quality in those ranks there is no naturally offensive player in that group; there is a large responsibility on Gudmundsson to provide this role from midfield. If opposing clubs start to target him, we are likely to have only a Plan B that involves playing deeper and utilising Makienok, and if the target man is injured (like now) I’m not clear at present what our plan B would be.

8. Makienok and Reza are injured, Vetokele is returning from a long injury and a long way since his 2014 form, and uncertainties surround Watt; our striking options are our other major risk. LAhearne-Grant is still only 17/18 and not quite there yet to be anything more than a back-up option. Our three main strikers could all potentially have fantastic seasons, but there are risks there at present that it may prove a major problem area. With those risks, letting Ansah and Sho-Silva go on loan at this point indicates they are seen as a long way away from first team action.

9. The lack of a senior keeper in Henderson’s absence is no longer seen as an issue. It is still not clear whether Pope is good enough to be a number one at this level yet, but every game he is gaining more experience it looks less of a problem.

10. Squad gaps are being plugged by U21 players (THD, Kennedy etc), but there are unknowns whether they are being filled out of necessity due to small squad, or they are good enough. My hunch is potentially both, but we will have to see.

10+1 Roland's approach is still as difficult to decipher as it was when he first arrived at the Club. Under RD we have now failed to get 'over the line' in transfer windows supposedly sizable bids for players (Max Gradel, Andy Dulort, James Henry), and in each case there was no other equivalent aquisition. What happens to the funding earmarked for those high value purchases? It is clear from the breakdown that the Club is operating very much on a strict budget, and despite the windfall from the Gomez departure, the approach remains more focused on maintaining rather than a noticeable attempt to push for a play-off place. A strong wind, a dollop of luck, and this proving the only real injury situation we have for the next six months does not mean that goal is not achievable, but the lack of additions to the squad over the last month will make that much more difficult. In many ways the Championship is a different league this season and many clubs are throwing a huge amount of money at it. We clearly are not one of them, and money is no guarantee for success. But expectations should be alligned accordingly.
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Comments

  • Agree entirely with no's 1 - 10.

    10+1 though - We do know Roland's approach, and his stated strategy, but we often seem to forget it. He is aiming to get to the promised land in 3- 4 seasons. It won't happen quickly. He said so. Despite "good" starts to last and this season, nothing has changed. Anything that gets us to a play off position ahead of schedule is great, but not imperative.

    The money we had set aside for Gradel and Delort would probably (and I have no evidence of this) been recouped through sales after the event; the supposed Henry funds may yet be spent on loans from premiership club/s?

    I do think that with a couple of "English" loans the squad will look even stronger, so despite our missing out on deadline day action, we are still very well placed.

    Put it this way, I would rather have our outlook than that of Forest, Rotherham, Brizzle City, Birmingham, Huddersfield, Bolton, Blackburn, Preston, MK Dons, and Leeds, all of whom I think we will finish ahead of over the season.
  • Good article with a balanced view.

    I think the key point is while we may have improved our squad so has nearly everyone else.

    And as you say if were bidding for Henry where's has that money gone? Or was 250 never a realistic bid?
  • I actually think we're in a much stronger position than we was last season with a better manager to start the season with , with better players and having the pre season playing together I can certainly see us having a better season than last season and not even flirting with relegation, we've spent more than we have done for years with Bauer 1m+ and Sarr 2m and Iv seen enough so far this season to say we'll be in top half and probably battling for play offs.

    The only positions that need reinforcing is one more winger and cover for right back , I see a post on here yesterday saying choose your first 11 and see all the good players you will have to leave out.
    I'm still excited about this season even though we didn't rush around to sign players on deadline day , loan window is open next week and I'm sure we will bring in one or two.

    Glass half full , confident Charlton fan.
  • as said on another thread, when everyone is fit, you name your best starting 11 and then see who's left for the bench - it will be a very strong one!.

    I'm hoping that the reason we are biding our time is that all the current injuries we have aren't serious and the international break will almost see us back to full strength, otherwise I suspect we'll enter the loan market
  • edited September 2015
    Good analysis

    See my post the other day that got shot down wasn't far off the mark,

    The quality is higher, but still underestimating the demands of the Championship in terms of attrition, possibly more so than last year (although I think maybe there was a fair bit of chaff last year), despite the injury problems already being evident.

    Its possible the budgets been upped but on fewer players.

    Don't agree re the keeper, think its a concern, plus what if Pope were now to get injured...?

  • so we all agree that the club is doing better on the pitch since RD

    what we dont agree on is that we have achieved that by design or by default ..i am not sure if i am in the design of default camp myself
  • Excellent analysis as usual AFKA, but now I'm more stressed than I was before I read the article :-(
  • edited September 2015
    AshBurton said:

    Excellent analysis as usual AFKA, but now I'm more stressed than I was before I read the article :-(


    Really not sure why anyone would be panicking or stressed or did we sell loads of players or something,

    or have we still got the same players that have got 8 points so far this season against very good teams along with two cup wins.
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  • GK: Henderson, Pope

    RB: Solly, X
    CB: Bauer, Diarra, Sarr, X
    LB: Fox, Bergdich

    RM: Johann, Ceballos
    CM: Cousins, Kashi, Ba, Jackson
    LM: Moussa, X

    FW: Watt, Vetokele, Makienok, Reza, KAG

    Lennon is the 4th CB I would say.
  • I think you're reading far too much into the 19 outgoings. Half a dozen of them barely played ten games between them.

    Yes, that 19 includes a lot of deadwood, some of the terrible signings

    Of the departees, only Bulot, Buyens, TBH, Johnson and Gomez could be considered regular 1st teamers at the end of the season, and of those only Bulot and Gomez (in terms of RB cover) haven't been adequately replaced.


  • GK: Henderson, Pope

    RB: Solly, X
    CB: Bauer, Diarra, Sarr, X
    LB: Fox, Bergdich

    RM: Johann, Ceballos
    CM: Cousins, Kashi, Ba, Jackson
    LM: Moussa, X

    FW: Watt, Vetokele, Makienok, Reza, KAG

    Moussa and Reza both long term injuries, Charles-Cook or Cousins the other RB

    Ceballos jury out, Igor not back to form yet, Watt injured, Bergdich not played at LB for us.

    As the article says it's a good first XI but does it have the strength in depth?
  • Reza is out for a month , he should be back a week after the International break and apparently moussa is training soon and watt started training end of last week.
    After the games against QPR and Hull fans were saying this is a team with great potential can see us getting play offs ect but I'm not sure it's because the loss against wolves or we didn't get involved in deadline day people are moaning again, if we sign pennant/a winger and right back cover id say we've got good strength in depth all over the pitch ( personally ).
  • bobcafc7 said:

    I actually think we're in a much stronger position than we was last season with a better manager to start the season with , with better players and having the pre season playing together I can certainly see us having a better season than last season and not even flirting with relegation, we've spent more than we have done for years with Bauer 1m+ and Sarr 2m and Iv seen enough so far this season to say we'll be in top half and probably battling for play offs.

    The only positions that need reinforcing is one more winger and cover for right back , I see a post on here yesterday saying choose your first 11 and see all the good players you will have to leave out.
    I'm still excited about this season even though we didn't rush around to sign players on deadline day , loan window is open next week and I'm sure we will bring in one or two.

    Glass half full , confident Charlton fan.

    I think it's more about looking forward though isn't it? Unless we're happy middling about the Championship?

    It's about what can be achieved by slightly loosening the purse strings (I'm not talking to Derby County standards) to make the incremental gains needed to eventually challenge for promotion. Yes, the quality of individual players has increased but I think we are weaker as a squad and those couple of extra bodies could be the difference between the few nicked wins away from home that would see us push for play offs.
  • totally disagree the squad is weaker, yes it's fewer in numbers, but no way is it weaker - there was plenty of deadwood let go
  • I reckon due to his versatility, Cousins is considered as the right-back cover (or we can possibly play three at the back if Solly is unavailable for any reason)
  • edited September 2015
    I agree with a comment about the bench being indicative, does seem a bit stronger this term. As I said before tho, the keeper is the biggy for me in this squad, it killed us last year in my view, having enough quality between the sticks can mean a large number of points - in particular the difference between draws and wins.
  • edited September 2015
    bobcafc7 said:


    After the games against QPR and Hull fans were saying this is a team with great potential can see us getting play offs ect but I'm not sure it's because the loss against wolves or we didn't get involved in deadline day people are moaning again, if we sign pennant/a winger and right back cover id say we've got good strength in depth all over the pitch ( personally ).

    Which is what people were saying BEFORE the Wolves defeat.

    We and Luzon could all see what was needed hence the chase for Henry. Pennant may still be that player.

    totally disagree the squad is weaker, yes it's fewer in numbers, but no way is it weaker - there was plenty of deadwood let go

    Ignoring the word "deadwood" I don't think people, other than WSS, are saying that the squad is weaker now that this time last year. The opposite in fact.

    They are saying that it shares the same weakness in depth that scuppered us last season
  • The squad is definitely not weaker; many of the outgoing names added little to our squad and we have some very strong replacements, all of whom have been mentioned above.

    No doubt we could do with 2-3 more names in order to provide that magic 'strength-in-depth' and Guy is fully aware of this. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his targets did not materialise. RD has a budget policy, the details of which we will never know, and it is clear that he will not 'break the bank'.

    I am sure we will get in a couple of loanees and it appears likely that a few of our injuries will be back after the international break. Assuming this is the case, I see us having a very enjoyable period of football over the coming months.

    The core of our team is certainly strong enough to challenge for the play-offs. My only real regret is that we did not manage to retain Bulot, but this is more than outweighed by the revised contracts for Jordan and JGB.

    I think this could be a very exciting season and remain positive.
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  • edited September 2015
    I think this summer has shown there is real merit in the buying from abroad idea, much better value then you are likely to get from buying proven championship players but my personal frustration is that like last summer it feels as if we have not completed the squad and our final league position will suffer for it.

    We have a quality coach who can do the business in this league, we have some quality players but lets be honest, we are naive if we believe that the best will stick around for 2,3 or 4 seasons in this division as we build towards an eventual promotion push.

    I am not panicking or talking about breaking the bank like Derby but if he had just given Luzon that little extra cash to complete his squad this window, i believe top six would be a serious prospect rather then a hopeful one based on our best 11 not having a drop in form or more injuries.

    The RD system is showing it can produce those quality signings, so just finish the job, as we can talk about breaking even all we like but its never going to happen in this division, especially not now FFP is meaningless so all that waiting is going to do is add more debt season upon season and more of our quality players we have to replace as they leave to try and prove themselves in a higher league.

    Mistakes are fine, expecting the club not to make them would be insane but i am not convinced the ownership are learning from the mistakes of what cost us a chance at promotion last season.


  • Squad is better quality wise - dead wood and players unlikely to feature under Luzon have gone, our starting xi has improved but we lack cover at RB and on both flanks. However the loan window is about to open and there are unattached players out there like Pennant who could still be brought in on short term deals.
    Let's see what the squad looks like in a couple of weeks.
  • In RD, KM and GL we trust. RD wont pay over the odds for perm signings, personally I applaud that MO.
    The players he has brought in this season are all quality players IMHO.
    The only concern as mentioned by most, is the lack of depth to the squad, I fully expect Pennant to sign and two or three out of contact players and loanees, this will help bolster the squad to allow for injuries, suspensions etc.

    Promotion here we come.
  • edited September 2015
    Squad as is I'd say we are just below top six, let's say top half. Further quality at Wing, CB, GK and that could improve
  • I think the spine of the team is stronger-by which I mean Henderson-Bauer-Kashi-Makionek. Keeping them all fit is another matter. It does seem odd that we have had so many injuries from a handful of games. If the current rate of attrition were to continue, ie if it is not just bad luck and is about underlying physical weaknesses in the players (Which we know it is with Henderson and possibly Vetokele and Watt as well for example), then we will really struggle with this squad-as we did last year.


  • GK: Henderson, Pope

    RB: Solly, X
    CB: Bauer, Diarra, Sarr, X
    LB: Fox, Bergdich

    RM: Johann, Ceballos
    CM: Cousins, Kashi, Ba, Jackson
    LM: Moussa, X

    FW: Watt, Vetokele, Makienok, Reza, KAG

    Moussa and Reza both long term injuries, Charles-Cook or Cousins the other RB

    Ceballos jury out, Igor not back to form yet, Watt injured, Bergdich not played at LB for us.

    As the article says it's a good first XI but does it have the strength in depth?

    This for me. Our first 11 is as good as anyone's in this league, but get a few injuries (like now) then we are very thin on the ground. Not many other clubs fill out their bench with under 21's like we have done recently - and most of them haven't played a full game, let alone even a handful of games.

    I just fear that we will fall away like last year & end up bobbing around the top 12 but not good enough to break into the top 6. Based on the original post we are 4 - 6 players short of a decent squad.

    Also, the teams we have played so far this season don't look as good as they did last year - I doubt if Forest & Wolves will be in the top 8 this season and Derby havent started well either. Only QPR & Hull could you say are promotion contenders. The real test will be against Rotherham & Huddersfield - 2 home games against a couple of weaker teams which if you are going to be a top 6 side you have to beat....and beat well.
  • The one thing I noticed about our business this summer is the size of the contracts given to new signings and also valuable members of the squad in JBG and Cousins.

    To me, this means we are building a strong squad piece by piece and won't go for it all in one big push. Next season our new players will have a whole season of Champ football in their experience bank. I'm expecting a top half finish this season and no less than a playoff place next year.
  • OK I've decided not to stress any more, enjoy the increased quality and hope we don't get too many injuries in key positions without cover.
  • HexHex
    edited September 2015
    It's an accepted truism in football that if you don't improve then you will go backwards so part of the "improved" squad is merely to stand still. If you then add into the mix that being threatened with relegation is not good for player moral, not good for keeping your better players, not good for attracting better players, not good for fans and definitely not good for RD. Therefore the second part of the "improved" squad is to avoid dropping into the lower half of the table. I don't think RD is looking much beyond this - he wants a stable basis on which he can carry out his player trading strategy. As for promotion to the PL in 3 or 4 seasons, I think this may happen but it will do so more by luck than design. RD may just get the right players, both in quality and numbers, during a summer window plus the right head coach in place and with a large helping of luck etc we are projected towards the promsed land. If we are close come January then he may gamble. The "3 or 4 seasons" is his way of lowering expectations and buying time rather than a specific plan.

    The thing is, can football be planned in this way ? I don't think so buy maybe RD is trying to prove me wrong !
  • With our best players,eg, JBG, JC, Bauer, Makienok, BA, TWWW and Kashi, we have a great spine that we have time to improve and fine tune. I suspect prudence is at play and we will be challenging for premiership in the next two seasons.
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