Charlton AthleticSport

Steve Brown exclusive verdict on Charlton Athletic selling Alfie May and supplies insight on new boy Matty Godden


Alfie May – Birmingham City striker. Five words that bring a whole lot of pain and sadness to plenty of Charlton Athletic fans. The decision by the Addicks to sell last season’s League One Golden Boot winner is not one of those transfers that avoids scrutiny.

The striker, who turned 31 on Wednesday, has joined the big-spending Blues, who are splashing the cash with a burning intent on making their absence from the Championship as short as possible.

Addicks boss Nathan Jones told our paper in May that he made “tough decisions” at Luton Town by  moving on players which ultimately did not hamper – or perhaps even aided – the success which was to come.

But May is about as high-profile as it gets in terms of last season’s Charlton squad. Twenty-seven goals – 23 in the league – and he swept the board with their Player of the Year awards.

The forward’s desire was to move back north, with his wife and three children already relocated in Doncaster. The fee is initially around £775,000 with May, also wanted by Huddersfield Town, landing a serious salary increase.

It seems accurate to say that Jones did not see the former Cheltenham Town man, snapped up for £250,000 last summer, as indispensible.

Former Charlton defender Steve Brown, who has been a regular watcher of the side in recent seasons due to his punditry gig for the club’s in-house TV channel, told the South London Press: “The first thing that comes to mind is that you’re going to find it tough to replace those goals. That’s the simple reality.

“But we have made a move in terms of bringing Nathan in – we’ve got to trust what Nathan wants to put into his squad.

“It is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. It does draw pressure from the stands, in terms of what the club has done.

“But we are at the start of the season, without anyone having kicked a ball, so it would be remiss of me to go too overboard about it. The squad and team that is currently being put together might start with five straight wins and then you forget about it.

“The pressure will come if the club doesn’t start particularly well and we’re not scoring goals. But that is the risk and chance you take when you are putting together a squad, whether you are the recruiter or the manager. This is the complexity of the job and it’s very, very difficult.

“The question mark over Alfie  when he walked into the building was that he had a fantastic record  for the last two seasons for Cheltenham, but that this was an altogether different proposition. There is a pressure and expectation to being at Charlton. He didn’t set the world on fire in the first three, four or five games but we could all see when you got him in and around the penalty area that the guy can finish, no question in that.

“He did exactly what he was told to do, and that was score 20-plus goals. There is nothing more that Alfie could’ve done – but football isn’t about one person. The only reason this is big news is because you have let him go to a team that is probably going to challenge for the title and he scored 27 goals. But there is a squad of 25 in a season that you’re going to utilise if you want to be successful.

“I always try and give a perspective of what it’s like to be a manager or a coach – it’s not as simple as sitting in the stand.

“You have to take into account the entire season, the entire squad you’re putting together and the style you’re looking to implement.

“Maybe there are weaknesses in Alfie’s game that Nathan needs to be strengths. That’s why you make the changes. But it’s undeniable it is risky letting go of someone who has had that sort of season in a Charlton Athletic shirt.”

Brown made 283 appearances for the Addicks and twice won promotion to the English top-flight as part of Alan Curbishley’s squad.

He believes that the play-offs has to be the minimum acceptable achievement next season, with the Addicks failing to mount a challenge in the last three campaigns.

Asked about the club’s incoming and outgoing activity, Brown said: “I can have an opinion but it cannot be as strong as Nathan’s – because he works with these guys every day and knows exactly what set-up and style of play he wants.

“You have to give the manager license to be able to structure what he wants to structure.

“What the board are doing, for me, is allowing Nathan to do what he wants to do – because he has a vision of what he wants his team and squad to look like.

“That is a plus. It is a plus having a board looking to back their manager and he has got to make sure he gets it absolutely spot on recruitment wise to push us where we should be in League One – which is in the top six. Top two is always a tough ask, whether you are favourites or not. But we really should be in a position to challenge for the top six. You have to believe in what you’re doing as a head coach or manager – stick to your guns and decisions you make.

“You’ve got to let him build it.

“He’s a big enough, brave enough and bold enough person to understand what he is doing. And what the repercussions he has made might lead to. So he can’t really let that bother him too much. He makes a decision and gets on with it. What have I got in the building? Brilliant – let’s get going, work with that and make the squad the best it can be for the season ahead.

“Only time will tell if these are good decisions or not. You could be negative about a situation that could turn out to be a really positive decision moving forward.”

Charlton have moved to snap up frontmen Matty Godden and Gassan Ahadme from Coventry and Ipswich respectively this week.

Picture: Focus Images/CAFC

Brown was manager at Ebbsfleet when Matty Godden joined in 2014, leaving Scunthorpe as he bounced back from an ACL injury.

“That tells you about Matty as a person and player – that he was willing to drop from League One to a National South club,” said Brown.

“He walked in pre-season. I knew nothing about Matty and he knew nothing about me – the first session I looked at my first-team coach Steve Gritt and I went: ‘What is this lad doing at this level!’ Because his first two bits of movement made me think ‘okay, we’ve had a result here’.

“You’re getting a smashing personality and a very football intelligent player. He’s had a very good career. He has been working with Adi Viveash, a top coach at Coventry, for the last four or five years and that will have helped to have moved his game on.”


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