A new campaign and a new Charlton columnist for News Shopper – here is LOUIS MENDEZ with his pre-season predictions ahead of Saturday’s opening Championship fixture at Brentford.
With just a few days before the season starts, it’s natural for football fans to try and predict how their beloved team will fare in the following nine months.
Supporters always relish a chance to make wildly inaccurate prophecies about the beautiful game on forums, blogs and in betting shops alike - and I’m no exception.
This season, guessing where the Addicks will finish is even less straightforward than ever before.
An unknown quantity as ‘Head Coach’, a plethora of never-before-heard-of signings arriving from all corners of Europe and a very inconsistent pre-season have all left questions to be answered.
There’s potential. There’s always potential of course.
But there are also reasons to be cautious as well.
Bob Peeters arrived from Waasland-Beveren in the Belgian Pro League, prompting cries of “erm, who?” from the majority of Charlton fans, followed swiftly by disapproving head shakes after Wikipedia scouting revealed ties to Millwall in the dark days.
But come on, he played 25 times and only scored three goals for the Lions.
A non-goal scoring striker - he should fit in well at The Valley.
Peeters has been forced to preside over a summer of change in terms of playing staff in SE7, with key squad members Dorian Dervite, Diego Poyet, Ben Hamer and Ben Hamer’s beard all seeking pastures new.
Losing the backbone of a side like this can take a while to recover from.
In come Yoni Buyens and Tal Ben Haim from our feeder club Standard Liege.
Stephen Henderson in goal has the unenviable task of growing a beard so emphatic it forms a hairy defensive shield in front of our net, while George Tucadean arrives with a name systematically designed to wrong-foot ill prepared commentators.
Joining them are Johann Berg Gudmunsson, boasting YouTube endorsement so impressive Alan Pardew wanted to sign him to play up front with a Sneezing Panda.
Igor Vetokele arrives with a rumoured price tag hanging around his neck larger than Flavor Flav’s showiest clock necklace.
Vetokele has impressed me in pre-season, which he topped off with a man-of-the-match performance and a spectacular goal on the south coast as the reds defeated League Two Portsmouth 2-1.
I mentioned at the start that as a football fan, I like to make predictions that may or may not become true. I have confidence that Igor will prove a hit for Peeters’ side this year.
He appears a powerful runner on the ball, but inexperience in the Championship has claimed many victims.
Fingers crossed Igor can rise above that and prove me right (surely wanting to prove me right is all the motivation he needs).
And as for the Addicks as a whole – with all the changes that have gone on this close-season, the relative Championship inexperience of large swaths of the squad, the potential to surprise unsuspecting opponents, the dazzlingly bright new red seats - who knows what will happen.
I’m saying mid-table.*
Come on you reds!
* (I’ll decide how expansive mid-table is in May so my prediction is correct whatever happens).
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