The boys ton good
Outstanding players have justified summer switches, says Chris
Last Updated: May 6, 2012 2:58pm
Chris Powell's changes at Charlton weren't just for the better - they've done a ton of good.
"The players have been outstanding for us and the fans backed us as well. We've always had a good fan-base; they've stuck with the team but you need to give them something, you need to lift them."
Chris Powell Quotes of the week
The Addicks legend and boss handed seven players their full debut in the opening game of the season and has been rewarded not only with the League One crown, but a three-figure haul.
Charlton crashed through the 100-point barrier courtesy of a 3-2 victory over Hartlepool and Powell told Kammy and Ben that the achievement was just reward for a bold summer strategy.
"It was quite a turnover of players in the summer but it was needed. I came in midway through last season. My first game was against Plymouth," said Chris.
"But the summer was key for me and the club because we'd had six years of decline. It was the rise and fall of Charlton Athletic and we just felt we needed to start again.
"The players have been outstanding for us and the fans backed us as well. We've always had a good fan-base; they've stuck with the team but you need to give them something, you need to lift them.
"I played there for three different spells. I know what the club is like and what it's built on with regards to the fans and when I went back in they had totally lost it. It just wasn't the Charlton I knew.
"I did a lot of talking with my assistant and the board and I said 'we've really got to try to start again and try to have the rebirth of this club' and everyone's really proud of us at the moment."
Powell enjoyed three spells at Charlton as a defender, making 200 appearances for the Londoners between 1998 and 2004 before returning to the club for shorter periods in 2005 and 2007.
But it may just be that he makes his biggest mark on the club as a manager. After receiving the reins in January 2011 he has quickly instilled his winning mentality on the squad.
"What's great is that every time we've had something to go for," he said. "So we had promotion - we got that a few weeks back at Carlisle. Then we had the Championship to be champions - we did that against Wycombe. Then the last two games - Preston and Hartlepool - it was 'can we get three figures?'
"Success has come early. It's my first full season as a manager. We had new owners and if that never happened I don't think we would have had a football club. First and foremost they got the football club back on an even keel. Then it was 'can we improve things on the pitch?'
"I said 'looking at the squad we've got we won't go forward unless I change it. Will you back me?'
"They said 'yes' and what was important was we sold a player to Arsenal - Carl Jenkinson - and I said 'can I use that money? If I can use that £1m (£1.5m with add-ons) [it would make a huge difference].
"So I bought in some League One players that knew the league because I was quite shocked by the intensity of it, I must admit. All the teams were just at you for 90-plus minutes, regardless of whether they were a top team like Brighton, Southampton or whether they were lower down.
"So I just felt we needed players that knew the league and who felt it was a step up coming to Charlton so we had a lot of lads come from Bournemouth and Exeter. They all came in early and I set down the ground rules and what I wanted from the season. I said 'we can have a season' that you won't forget and it's happened."
Powell reserved special praise for Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has weighed in with 22 league goals despite a history of knee trouble.
"He's been outstanding. He hasn't missed a training session this year. We've put him on a programme, the physio has been really good with him. That just stems from confidence, playing, scoring goals.
"He had a sticky patch - he didn't score for 10 or 11 games but I stuck with him and just said to him 'listen, it will come'. Goal-scorers don't lose it regardless of their age.
"We all backed him - the supporters did and more importantly his fellow players did. I think that's important - that he still had confidence in the football club in him. He's got 22 goals again this year - he's vital for us."