BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Nathan Jones is fired up for his first game in charge of Charlton Athletic – tomorrow’s high-stakes League One match at Reading.
The 50-year-old was apppointed as the Addicks manager on Sunday and starts with a pressurised encounter in Berkshire between two clubs in the survival scrap.
Charlton will have an away following of nearly 3,0000 and could drop into the relegation zone if results do not go their way. The South Londoners are on a 12-game winless run in the league.
“It’s a tasty start – going to Reading with 3,000 fans – and with the importance of the match,” Jones told the South London Press. “Every club I’ve taken, we’ve had big games. I’ve managed at Elland Road, Anfield and against [Pep] Guardiola – so it doesn’t faze me at all.
“It’s also only a few days into my tenure. What I’m hoping for is a real reaction, to see certain things that we’ve implemented and we can build from there.
“Look, we’d love to start with a win but we have to make sure it is a real positive performance and a positive outcome from the game. We want to boost our points tally, by whatever means that is, and then continue to grow.
“One thing we will do is get better – week in and week out.
“With 16 games to go I expect us to be slightly better than we were last week but not as good as we will be at the end of April.
“It’s a wonderful game to start with – it’s a great following. Charlton is not a League One club – it’s a big club playing in League One.”
When Jones first took the Luton Town job in 2016 they were in danger of dropping out of League Two. He kept them up and then went on to win promotion.
Jones twice left when the Hatters were in a strong position to go up from League One and the Championship – on both occasions successors Mick Harford and Rob Edwards completed the job.
“Luton were 18th in League Two and we finished 11th, then fourth and then second,” said Jones. “We won League One. We had a progression every year.
“When I went back into them in the Championship they were bottom with a seven-point deficit and nine games to go.
“It’s not a predicament you’d want to come into but, with the squad we have here, we have to make sure we win more games than at least four teams down there and then look to move forward – because we don’t want to take a backward step at any point during this time.”
Jones was approached about the Valley vacancy in September, before the League One club appointed Michael Appleton as head coach.
This time around he held talks with Joshua Friedman and Gabriel Brener, the major backers in Charlton’s ownership structure, before accepting the post.
“I spoke to both the American owners and to a number of football people who work with them and also everyone who is a decision-maker at the club,” said Jones.
“I wanted to be clear on why they wanted me – understood how I work – and then were willing to not just back it but to mean it. And understand what it takes to build something over a period of time – not just want instant success but also to be very bold in our targets.
“They want a similar trajectory to this club that I do.”
MAIN PICTURE: CHARLTON ATHLETIC FC
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