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Fan Focus: Charlton fan Louis is “excited” to see what their new manager Nigel Adkins can achieve!

We spoke to Charlton Live host Louis Mendez to discuss Charlton’s new manager Nigel Adkins, whether their promotion hopes are still alive, and to see what Sunderland fans can expect from Saturday’s game!

Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

MC: Last month, Lee Bowyer resigned as Charlton manager to join Championship side Birmingham City - were you sad to see Bowyer leave after such a successful spell in difficult circumstances?

LM: Yes, I was sad to see Lee depart as it did feel like the end of a largely enjoyable era, but perhaps the time was right for both parties to go their separate ways. Bowyer always had his hands tied behind his back by a succession of terrible owners and then the League One wage cap this season.

Having said that, he did manage to achieve promotion via the play-offs (you may remember that one!) in 2019 and then very nearly stay up in the Championship last season despite a minuscule budget to play with.

But things had perhaps soured a bit this campaign – Bowyer often frustrated in post-match interviews and calling out the players publicly. Some fans had started to turn and despite still being in the top six race, the results were poor.

I think the chance to start again in the Championship with Blues is a good one for him and I wish him all the best – I’m just glad he left before his time at The Valley became further tarnished.

MC: His replacement, Nigel Adkins, has won promotion from League One three times in his managerial career - are you confident he is the right man to take the club forward?

LM: I’m excited to see what Nigel Adkins can achieve in the long-term – his record at this level speaks for itself.

There’s a chance of reaching the play-offs this campaign of course but with the new owner in place, it’s not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen as I believe the building blocks will be put in place for steady progression.

After the win at Doncaster, Adkins said he’s just concentrating on finding ways to win games at this moment and will worry about the side adopting his style of play in the long term.

He is certainly one of the most positive characters I’ve ever come across in football and I hope he can be the man to get us back to the Championship again in the next couple of years.

MC: The Addicks currently sit seventh in League One, just three points away from the playoffs, do you think your promotion hopes are still alive?

LM: Yes, but it’s certainly no foregone conclusion. The Easter Monday results weren’t too bad for the Addicks and they’ve got the momentum of a seven-game unbeaten run but there’s still a nagging belief that this Charlton side aren’t quite good enough to haul themselves up.

They’ve been leaky at the back all season – hopefully the recent return from injury of Ryan Inniss might change that – but as I said earlier it isn’t the be all and end all this year.

It’s very much a squad that still needs rebuilding after a tumultuous summer that could have easily seen the club cease to exist.

Birmingham City v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
Aiden McGeady failed to assist or score a goal during his ten appearances with Charlton in the Championship last season.
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

MC: Charlton are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run in League One, who are your on-form players which Sunderland will have to be wary of?

LM: Jason Pearce at the back is looking solid at the moment. He’s needed a spell like this after a few sloppy mistakes but he looks like he’s almost back to his best at the moment.

Jake Forster-Caskey in the midfield has impressed all season, the beating heart of the Addicks’ engine room.

Going forward, new signing Diallang Jaiyesimi is starting to come into his own and striker Jayden Stockley, on loan from Preston, has scored a few in the last couple of months.

MC: Sunderland were reportedly interested in Preston striker Jayden Stockley before he joined Charlton on loan in January, what sort of impact has he made?

LM: As I mentioned above, he’s notched five goals since he made the temporary switch from Deepdale towards the end of January – not a bad return for a loanee striker.

He’s imperious in the air – all of his goals have been headers – and he wins more flick ons than any striker I can remember for a long time.

Some say we’ve become very direct since he’s come in and I’d tend to agree with them, but to be fair it can be effective.

MC: Aiden McGeady endured a frustrating loan spell at Charlton last season, are you surprised by how fantastic he has been since Lee Johnson brought him back into the fold?

LM: Yeah a little bit. I guess he was out of form and out of fitness when he joined us last season as he didn’t impress sadly.

We know what a player he had been in his heyday so we were expecting big things, but his time at The Valley never took off.

MC: Adam Matthews joined Charlton from Sunderland on a free transfer in 2019, how would you describe his spell with your club?

LM: He was very impressive last year in the Championship, keeping stalwart Chris Solly out of the side.

Addicks fans were excited to see him sign on again this year but perhaps has struggled as much for a run in the side, often playing back-up to compatriot Chris Gunter.

Sunderland v Manchester City - U23 Checkatrade Trophy Quarter Final Match
Adam Matthews made 67 appearances during his four-year spell with Sunderland, scoring twice.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: Charlton were taken over by Thomas Sandgaard at the beginning of this season, how do Addicks view their new owner and what changes has he made?

LM: Charlton fans love him. He’s eccentric, entertaining and ambitious but above all, he’s steadied the ship.

The Roland Duchatelet years were bad, the East Street Investment stint at the club criminally abject - Sandgaard has rescued us from that and promises a bright future.

He’s made key appointments around the club to give it some semblance of a structure off the field once more and improved the various little things for supporters like the matchday streaming service which is now excellent.

He enabled Bowyer to build something of a squad despite arriving less than two weeks before the end of the summer window and you feel now that he’s got a long-term vision for Nigel Adkins to try and take the club forward.

He’s also brought the Women’s side back in-house and invested in them, which not only was the right thing to do but shows that he’s here for the long-haul.

I’m sure there will be mistakes along the way as he hasn’t been in this industry before, but I’m confident we’re in safe hands.

MC: Who are the eleven Charlton players you expect Adkins to select against Sunderland and what changes has he made to your style of play?

LM: Amos (GK), Gunter, Inniss, Pearce, Purrington, Pratley, Gilbey, Forster-Caskey, Millar, Stockley, Maatsen (4-3-3).

It’s early days yet – Doncaster was probably his first real game in charge after leaning heavily on assistant Johnnie Jackson at Wimbledon before the international break, but one little change Adkins made was playing Ian Maatsen in an advanced role at the Keepmoat.

That worked really well so I’d like to see that again at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. Otherwise, he’ll want to make sure the Addicks stop messing around with the ball at the back as it’s cost us loads of goals so far this season – including during his first game at Plough Lane.

MC: The two ex-Premier League clubs drew 0-0 back in October, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?

LM: The Black Cats are on a superb run of form, that we can’t deny. But we’re seven unbeaten and tend to do well on the road. I reckon we can scrape a draw. 1-1.

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