Sunderland face Charlton at The Valley on Saturday in their fourth match of the 2020/21 League One campaign. Phil Parkinson’s men sit 5th in the table after beating Peterborough 1-0 last weekend, courtesy of a Grant Leadbitter penalty.
On the other hand, Lee Bowyer’s side announced the completion of a takeover last week, but on the pitch their results have been inconsistent. The South-East London club have only won one of their opening three games and sit 18th in the table. It will be first time to two sides have met since Charlton beat Sunderland 2-1 in the 2019 League One playoff final.
Ahead of the match, I spoke to Charlton fan Louis Mendez of BBC Sport and host of Charlton Live, to discuss how his club have reacted to their recent relegation, as well what we can expect from the match.
MC: Thomas Sandgaard completed his takeover of Charlton last week, what is he looking to change at the club?
LM: He’ll be looking to bring some stability where there’s been nothing but chaos. The farcical ownership situation over the last few years, and particularly since the start of 2020, has infuriated fans and had many worried about the future of the club.
Sandgaard will be looking to steady the ship, provide some funds for Lee Bowyer to work with and slowly build the club back up from the dead.
MC: Despite the club suffering relegation last season, Lee Bowyer has received significant praise and has been linked with many other jobs, given the circumstances he has managed through are you surprised he is still at the club?
LM: Very much so. His emotional post-match press conference following our relegation on the final day at Elland Road last season sounded like he’d had enough. He’s had offers elsewhere but we’re so grateful that he’s still here and will be the man to help Sandgaard take the club forward.
MC: Now the takeover is complete and the club are beginning to recruit, do you think Charlton should be aspiring to achieve promotion back to the Championship?
LM: Long-term certainly and hopefully enough bodies will come in this year to make us competitive but I’d understand if it doesn’t happen this season. The club have been at rock bottom this summer and it takes a while to shake that off sometimes.
MC: Charlton signed both Conor Washington and Ben Watson from Championship clubs, but lost defenders Tom Lockyer and Naby Sarr - how would you assess your transfer window overall so far?
LM: Still plenty of work to be done and the brakes have been taken off now. We were under a transfer embargo and unable to add to Washington and Alex Gilbey’s arrivals in the early part of the window until the takeover.
The experienced Watson and a loanee from Norwich called Akin Famewo have come in since but there’s more to do. Charlton have lost 12 players since last year and some, like Lyle Taylor, were almost irreplaceable.
MC: Sunderland winger Aiden McGeady spent the second half of last season on loan at Charlton, but failed to score or assist in ten matches, now your takeover is complete do you think Lee Bowyer would wish to re-sign him?
LM: I wouldn’t have thought so. He offered next to nothing in a Charlton shirt. There ought to be much better out there.
MC: Former Sunderland right-back Adam Matthews is set to re-sign for Charlton. He endured a troublesome four-year spell on Wearside, how do Addicks fans rate him?
LM: Very highly. He was one of Charlton’s better players in the latter part of the Championship season – decent going forward in particular. Hopefully we can get a deal over the line for him.
MC: After beating Crewe 2-0 on the opening day of the season, Charlton have endured consecutive defeats against Doncaster and Lincoln - what has went wrong so far?
LM: An inability to take chances and then seeming to lose our way after going behind. We could have been 2-3 up against Donny and the Imps before going behind but then rarely threatened either side afterwards. We were absolutely mugged off by a bizarre lack of an offside decision against Lincoln as well though!
MC: Who are the eleven Charlton players you expect Bowyer to select against Sunderland and what style of play can Parkinson’s men expect to face?
LM: 4-3-3: Amos (GK), Purrington, Famewo, Oshilaja, Barker, Levitt, Pratley, Oztumer, Washington, Bonne, Doughty.
Hard to pick a side when we’re not sure if anymore will come in this week! We’ll look to burst forward quickly after gaining possession on the turnover and Doughty will look to run at defenders as well. We can create chances, it is a case of making sure we’re more ruthless when we do so.
MC: The last time the two sides met Sunderland suffered playoff final heartbreak, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?
LM: 1-1, Sunderland have started well but I think confidence will start to build at Charlton now that reinforcements can come in.