BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Thomas Sandgaard reckons Charlton’s January transfer window activity has left them with one of the best attacks in League One.
The Addicks’ final swoop before the deadline on Monday was to bring in exciting winger Diallang Jaiyesimi from Swindon Town.
The 22-year-old, formerly on Norwich City’s books, has signed a deal until the summer of 2024.
Charlton have also added two strikers – Jayden Stockley and Ronnie Schwartz – as well as rapid Liverpool loanee Liam Millar. Arsenal midfielder Matt Smith made a temporary switch to SE7 this week too.
Charlton dropped to eighth in the table after a 3-1 loss to Portsmouth. But Sandgaard always felt it would take time to rebuild the squad – with previous ‘owners’ East Street Investment under a transfer embargo from the start of 2020 due to their takeover not being approved by the EFL.
“The team had been totally decimated,” said the US-based Dane. “It had nothing left. You saw in the first few games of this season, before I took over, they could very well have been at risk of getting relegated again very quickly.
“With the 11-12 players we got in early on, that really helped us. They were some really strong additions to have a team there that could justify at least a mid-table position, if not better.
“The January window is difficult. The five signings we did were all offensive in nature. We really strengthened the team, in terms of creating chances and also having enough manpower to have something at the very front.
“We plugged holes.
“It’s still less than six months since I took over – we’ve strengthened the team a lot.
“We have had significant injury problems on our central defence, as we all know. We were unable to find central defenders who simply had enough quality. We were fishing for some, but it did not go our way.
“We were able to strengthen the midfield and especially on the flanks, where we have Liam Millar and Jaiyesimi on the other side. We improved our firepower up front significantly.
“There were a couple of players who left us and we got Ronnie Schwartz and Jayden in to help us, in addition to Conor Washington and Chuks Aneke.
“I pretty much believe we have one of the strongest offences in the league. Our midfield is now able to compete.
“And as we get injured players back in central defence, I would say we have one of the strongest teams – if not the strongest team – in the league.
“What Lee Bowyer is dealing with is a lot of new players. Most of them have only been here a few months or weeks. I’m very optimistic that the latter part of the season we will be doing well.
“Unfortunately we’re not in the top one or two, we have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s see what we can do.”
When Sandgaard took over in September he identified a top-six finish as the target. Bowyer described anything less than securing a play-off position as unsuccessful following the reverse to Pompey.
Director of football Steve Gallen has talked about being in a position to spend fees in the summer with Sandgaard possessing a financial muscle and intent not seen since the early part of the Roland Duchatelet era.
“Our focus has primarily been to strengthen the team for the remainder of the season, more than it has been to prepare for life in the Championship,” said the Addicks supremo.
“The amount of loan players we have is focused on getting us, at a minimum, a play-off position. We have the squad to do it now.
“The top two are beginning to look difficult to catch, unless they start having a bad period, a dip like we’ve had. If we make the assumption we will get promoted to the Championship then we have a lot of work to do, versus if we have to spend one more year in League One.”
Sandgaard’s commitment is now set to extend to also taking over Charlton Women.
Local businessman Stephen King had previously kept the FA Women’s Championship outfit afloat.
It will bring the two teams under the same ownership for the first time since 2007.
“I have loved my first few months in charge of the club and people will have probably seen that I’ve been bitten by the Charlton bug,” said Sandgaard. “”One of the first things I did when I was in London after the takeover was go and watch Charlton Athletic Women play. I knew then that I wanted to bring the two clubs back together.”
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