Sunderland 0 Charlton Athletic 1
Unrecognizable that performance. Full of core traits we hold dear – passion, spirit, commitment. Since 1905 it is all you can demand as a Charlton fan.
Sunderland had won every league game at home this season, and then up on the LNER comes this rag tag of bunch Addicks led by a man dressed like the bloke from the Milk Tray advert. They must hate us.
In just a day and a bit Jacko instilled a bare minimum requirement of effort, a belief and imposed a complete change of formation and system. Dobson came in from the dark to play a pivotal and clever role in front of three central defenders including Matthews. Leko played right wing back, Purrington did so on the left and the forward / defender combo caused the Mackems so many problems.
Gilbey and Lee were up and down in the middle with Stockley supported by the energetic Washington in a much missed front two.
Performance was paramount, but it was also a result to take a lot of enjoyment from, I certainly had not been sat that far on the edge of my seat all season watching. It was a terrific team performance, notable for me of how players supported each other defensively and offensively. We often had five men in the box as we attacked and we defended not only in numbers, but cogently too.
We looked dangerous going forward, but for the first time in an age were much more aligned at the back and took greater care of the ball when we had it. A word for Pearce as well, who was immense when he came on for an injured Lavelle, who I hope has not done significant damage to his groin.
We rode our luck at times, and we were helped that the referee stood firm even booking the little sour puss Lee Johnson for one outburst.
It was hard to pick a man of the match. I particularly liked listening to young Dobson interviewed after, who came across really well, and who took his opportunity against the club that let him go. Yet Leko was a constant threat. It’s like he has been put down a year in school, and is now too bright for the class. Long may we keep see him terrorizing defences.
Just one step forward out of the dark, but it’s a happier and more opportunistic place. Superb support also from the noisy Addicks whose loyalty was eventually rewarded.
Jacko: “Thursday was obviously a bit crazy, so we worked as long as we possibly could yesterday. Obviously I’ve changed the shape so I just needed to keep it really simple. Some clear messages about what I wanted, how I wanted to press and what I expected in and out of possession without sort of trying to bog them down with too much information in one day because there wasn’t a lot of time.”
Photo credit: Kyle Andrews