Conor Washington on Charlton’s Football Manager obsession, happiness at being in a central striking role and why 15-plus goal haul is attainable

Conor Washington has claimed major trophies in the last month but the silverware – at least for the moment – has not been playing for Charlton Athletic.

The 29-year-old striker is a self-confessed Football Manager addict.  He recently posted on Twitter about winning the Champions League and Premier League in the same season at Arsenal.

“Last year I sank a disgusting amount of hours into it – something like 300 to 400,” Washington told the South London Press. “Away trips and internationals, you get a lot of time to sit and fester for four or five hours without even realising it.

“As much as it is still football, it is an escape. I’ve been playing them for years now and I always look forward to the new version being released.

“I was sat on a coach, maybe on the way back from Morecambe, a goal has gone in and Ben Watson has absolutely got on my case: ‘How can you celebrate that?’ Then for the Shrewsbury match he started a game with Stockport and Gilbs [Alex Gilbey], who was rooming with him, said he must’ve celebrated 30 goals.

“There are about five or six of us playing it. I think Gilbs was Sheffield United. Chris Gunter did a Manchester City one. Josh Davison and Dobbo [George Dobson] are both Charlton. Hopefully we can get a competition going where we all do the same team.”

Northern Ireland’s Conor Washington and Italy’s Manuel Locatelli (left) battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. Picture date: Monday November 15, 2021.

So has Washington ever been tempted to take on the managerial reins at the Addicks?

“I haven’t been,” he said. “It probably feels a bit too close to home. Dobbo got promoted with more than 100 points, he hasn’t shut up about that for the last couple of games. He got something like 40 goals out of me. I said to him that I’d played up front five times this season and scored four goals, so it isn’t out of the realms of possibility!

“It’s so in-depth now. Miles [Jacobson, studio director of Sports Interactive] and the team have done a fantastic job of making it as realistic as possible.”

Washington had been on target in four successive outings for Charlton prior to Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Shrewsbury Town. The appointment of Johnnie Jackson as caretaker boss has seen the Northern Ireland international play in a front two.

Prior to that under Nigel Adkins he was deployed in a wider role.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and happier playing down the middle, especially in a two,” said Washington. “At this  level I feel like I’m going to get chances and that I’m going to score goals pretty much every game.

“If you’re going to be critical I should probably take more of them.  But I also see it as a positive, getting into those positions, that I’m going to get on a good run of scoring.

“You want to play games of football, whether that be in your  favoured position or not. I had conversations with the previous manager [about a central role] but unfortunately nothing really materialised.

Conor Washington celebrates his goal against Plymouth
Picture: Keith Gillard

“Jacko knows where I want to play. He understands what I give to the team in that position. I’m hoping I can continue to repay his faith.

“I find it a lot easier to make runs from there. Josh is slightly different to Jayden [Stockley]. Jayden likes to drop deeper and that leaves me on the top line. When we win the ball back then, with a half-decent pass, I’m in on goal. You’ve seen that quite a bit in the last five or six games. Any kind of clearances, I’d like to think I anticipate them slightly better than the defenders do. That contributes to me getting chances.”

A perfect example of that came in Charlton’s recent 2-0 win over Plymouth. Elliot Lee’s through ball was expertly dispatched by the former QPR and Peterborough frontman.

“He is fantastic to play with,” said Washington. “You can see on a wider TV angle that I’ve already started running before he has taken a touch.

“Firstly, he has got the technical ability to play that pass. But also the vision to see it – which is a rare mix, especially at this level. When he gets on the ball I like to run – that’s the theme basically.”

Washington scored 11 times in his first campaign at Charlton. He is confident he can better that in the 2021-21 season.

“If I stay fit and play every game in that position then I don’t see why I don’t get 15-plus. We have got 26 matches to go.  I had chances against Morecambe, Shrewsbury, Rotherham – when I did score – and Plymouth too. We’re creating more as a team than we did earlier in the season.”

Conor Washington celebrates scoring against Plymouth Picture: Keith Gillard

Jackson’s unbeaten record as interim boss was wrecked by the Shrews last time out.

The challenge now is to bounce back, in particular on Tuesday night when big-spending Ipswich head to SE7.

“It was 10 times worse losing in the 95th minute [when Daniel Udoh netted],” said Washington. “But we went through some things on Monday and we were just slightly off a lot of areas which contributed to the performance not being as fluid as it had been.

“There were things we’d been really hot on that maybe we’d just come off it after a tough week of travelling and playing those games.

“They’d had a good result heading into the match, so all credit to them for nullifying us. But we still had the better chances on the day.

“We had a lot of possession and we’ve got to learn how we’re going to beat those teams who are going to sit in and do that to us, similar to what Morecambe did in the second half.

“Jayden was a big miss in those games because getting it wide and getting it in the box against a team that is playing a low block is probably the way to go. There is no better player in the league at attacking those crosses.

“I’m sure he was watching those games and cursing us for the amount of good deliveries that went in without a big man there nodding them in.”

 


 

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