BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust chair Heather McKinlay reckons the club’s season is already in the “last-chance saloon” after the sacking of manager Dean Holden on Sunday.
The Addicks pulled the trigger after the 2-1 defeat at Oxford, a fifth straight defeat with four of those coming in League One.
Jason Pearce has been placed in interim charge while technical director Andy Scott and chairman Jim Rodwell interview candidates. Charlton are 19th in the table and already seven points adrift of sixth-placed Port Vale.
Valley fans’ favourite Chris Powell rejected the opportunity to take the job on a temporary basis while reports have also claimed Peterborough’s Darren Ferguson declined an approach to discuss the vacancy.
Former Oxford and Blackpool boss Michael Appleton has been interviewed this week with Northampton’s Jon Brady also thought to be on a shortlist.
There have also been reports that Stockport County’s Dave Challinor has also been interviewed.
McKinlay told the South London Press: “With the way things have developed this week and the names being mentioned – Chris Powell and Darren Ferguson – it does feel like it was a reactionary decision and they are now putting in place a process to find a new manager.
“Coming up to the end of the transfer window it makes fans feel very nervous that we’re in the last-chance saloon, as far as this season is concerned.
“If they don’t get the right person in now, who can work with pretty much the existing squad and may be prepared to accept two or three more signings – maybe two of them loans – then we are looking at writing off another season, if we’re not careful.
“Season-ticket numbers have held up pretty well. The fans, in tough financial times and with cost of living issues for a lot of people, have put their money down on the basis there was a prospect of us making a bit of a push of it and being involved at the right end of the table.
“For a lot of people it will have been quite a big decision to buy a season-ticket again – so there’s a lot riding on them getting it right.
“Because of the relatively recent history of the club, it will take a bit of time for any new ownership to get the trust of the fans, whatever their track record.
“This action (removing Holden) has probably left more questions than answers at this stage.”
Managers with past playing links to Charlton have tended to do well.
McKinlay said: “It’s absolutely true that tangible success in recent seasons has come with promotion under (Lee) Bowyer and Powell. Then you can go back before that with Alan Curbishley and Lennie Lawrence, who was on the coaching team.
“I don’t think fans are absolutely clamouring it must be someone with those connections to the club. The fans did warm to Holden because he had the right attitude in terms of engaging and being open with them. He saw it as part of his job to build that unity and feel-good factor.
“That’s where people like (Ben) Garner, (Nigel) Adkins and probably Karl Robinson never really quite hit that note.
“We are in a massive rebuild job and it maybe was too big for Dean Holden, so you need a strong leader to carry that out.
“It was quite clear from the run of results that things weren’t right and some of that lies at the manager’s door.
“We have been unlucky with injuries and there have been questions whether we’ve strengthened in the right areas. The defence is every bit as bad, if not worse, than last season by the look of it. That was something that looked like it needed fixing first if we wanted to be in promotion contention.”
MAIN PICTURE: PAUL EDWARDS
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