Charlton AthleticSport

‘This season is alive’ – Charlton Athletic boss Dean Holden still targeting play-off place this season

Dean Holden has described Charlton Athletic’s season as being “alive” as they gear up to face two of League One’s biggest clubs.

The Addicks’ 1-0 victory at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday made it five wins in their last seven league matches.

Charlton are 11th in the table and 13 points behind sixth-placed Barnsley.

The South Londoners face a big challenge this weekend against Paul Warne’s Derby County, who have taken 23 points from their last 10 fixtures. Only Sheffield Wednesday (24), who Charlton host at The Valley the following weekend, have banked more over that period.

Holden, appointed in December, told the South London Press: “We’ve seen some good signs but also seen some stuff which we need to keep improving on. This season is alive for us, simple as that. To do anything extra special, you have to have that total belief and I’ve got that in these players.

“As the leader of this group at the moment, however you want to term that, it’s important that the players know how I operate. They know my personality. We speak every day about what is achievable in life, as much as it is on a football pitch. It’s a young group of players and without getting too deep we are trying to improve a group of people. We do talk about a lot away from football to galvanise the group and get that spirit.

“I’m very much glass half-full, for sure. Absolutely, why would you write it off? I’ll qualify that, I’m not saying we will definitely get that. That is arrogance. We have to take care of ourselves. We’ve got a group of players and fanbase where we can do something special.

“You have to believe it, if you don’t believe it then you might as well give up now. That’s the reason I say we don’t get too far ahead because we might possibly have lost the game at Forest Green, for whatever reason, and people will be saying: ‘Why are you talking about the play-offs for?’ We won the game and have won five out of seven. The players have proved they can put a run of results together. Now, in this period coming up – including Peterborough and Plymouth away – it is a big period. Someone has got to do it (put a run together).”

Warne took the decision to quit Championship Rotherham for the Rams in September.

He has a proven track record of promotion out of England’s third tier with the Millers.

Holden said: “They have been on an incredible run but lost at the weekend and drew against 10-man Lincoln (on Tuesday), so it proves that you never quite know on the day.

“Everyone makes them favourites. It’s a brilliant game for us. I was there a few weeks ago when our game was cancelled at Peterborough – I went up there for the Bolton game and there were 30,000-plus in there. Phenomenal atmosphere. I’m sure it will be the same with our travelling support.

“I said to the players after our game the other night that we’ve got to go there and show the best version of ourselves. We’re in good form ourselves, remember. It suits us, probably away than at home at the moment with the pitch at The Valley. You’ve got to be bang at it against any of Warney’s teams. I’ve known Paul for a long, long time – and Richie Barker and Matt (Hamshaw).

Picture: Paul Edwards

“Warney is a fantastic guy. I’m really pleased to see him get such a big job. He’s made the most of it up until now.

“I know some players there that I’ve worked with previously. I’ve spoken to them, not in recent times since I took this job but when Paul first went in. He’s a huge motivator. You can see the type of character and personality type he is, I can resonate with the way that he works. He’s very switched on and gets to understand the players. He’s a brilliant motivator and pulls on the strings of those playing.

“Whatever club he works for he gets the most from every individual – that’s arguably one of the biggest things in management and what we’re all striving to achieve. He’s done a phenomenal job up until now.”

Charlton follow up with Sheffield Wednesday at home the following weekend.

“Those two games on the horizon – and the run we’ve been on recently and where we’ve got to – they are two exciting games,” said Holden. “Pride Park is a super arena, I’ve always enjoyed going there over the years, and Sheffield Wednesday will bring huge away support down to The Valley.

“They are teams at the top end of the table, which is where we want to be. We beat Derby at the start of the season, I watched that game back the other night. These are the games you want to be involved in. It just shows the size of the clubs in this division this season.

“Yeah they are [two giant clubs at the level] and we are as well. We’re slightly different in that Warney has been a lot longer in his job than I have been in this one. You can’t really compare at the moment. We’re one of the biggest clubs, in terms of size, in the division – no doubt. In terms of working with the players he has had time to work with the team. Darren (Moore) has been at Sheffield Wednesday even longer.

“We’re still only six weeks in. The amount of games we’ve had and amount of off-pitch stuff that has happened makes it feel like a lot longer. But we’re only just getting started – it’s important to remember that.


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