Charlton AthleticSport

“He was doubting himself, so how do you chuck in a lad who is doubting himself?” – Charlton boss Lee Bowyer provides insight on striker’s development


Macauley Bonne wasn’t ready to start leading Charlton Athletic’s attack at the start of the season – because he was doubting his right to play for the South London club.

That is the verdict of Addicks manager Lee Bowyer, who reckons the former Leyton Orient striker’s hold-up play has developed massively since arriving in SE7.

Bonne was credited with his first Charlton goal in the 1-0 home win over Leeds United last month – even if the final touch appeared to be off Stuart Dallas.

But the 23-year-old definitely headed in the Addicks’ second goal in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Fulham.

Bonne scored 24 goals last season for the O’s in the National League. Charlton paid £200,000 to sign the Zimbabwe international.

“I always knew he can finish,” said Bowyer. “We do finishing in training and he’s very, very good. It is just the rest of his game that he needs to polish up on.

“Even at the weekend I’m looking and thinking it is just too innocent. If you look at [Aleksandar] Mitrovic he brings the ball down, gets a little nudge and he goes down. It is about learning the game. When Macca is stood in the corner and he is given a nudge then he stays on his feet. It is a foul – just go with it and buy us some time.

“His hold-up play has improved like you couldn’t believe. At the weekend he did really well bringing the ball down and laying it off, or even one touch.

“He was nervous when he came, because of the players we have got. He was thinking in his head ‘wow, how am I here?’

“He was doubting himself, so how do you chuck in a lad who is doubting himself? You can’t. He was thinking ‘what am I doing here?’”

Shrewsbury Town were one of the clubs interested in loaning Bonne before the deadline.

Bowyer opted instead to keep hold of the striker, who had spells as a youngster with Ipswich, Norwich and Colchester.

It looks an even better decision with Lyle Taylor (knee) and Tomer Hemed (groin) both injured.

“I felt it would be beneficial to him and us to stay around,” said Bowyer. “If we sent him on loan he would come back the same player that we sent out.

“He has got the opportunity here and has grabbed it. He has still got to polish up on things – he’s still a work in progress, 100 per cent. But Macauley is only 23, he is going to get better.”

Bonne led the line at Craven Cottage – battling against seasoned pros in Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson.

Bowyer switched to a 3-5-1-1 formation which saw Jonny Williams advanced.

Bonne was preferred to West Brom loanee Jonathan Leko.

“Leko is only young and he went Saturday to Wednesday with no recovery really for the following Saturday,” said Bowyer. “He isn’t an out-and-out striker anyway, he’s a winger.

“To play up top on his own was a bit much when Macca is used to playing that role – that is his position. He has a bit more of a physical presence.

“I knew I could bring Leko on and still go two up top if I needed to.

“When Fulham went to three at the back at half time we knew that one of the centre-halves would always be stepping in and we might get an overload down the sides. So we brought Leko on, put two up top to stop their three.

“I only had two strikers to choose from. If we had started both then I didn’t have another striker to bring on, and I knew both weren’t going to last.

“I didn’t have the players available so it is a case of finding another way around it.”


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