A widely held view among the Addickted at the moment is that we have too many loaned players. If the argument is put in the form that the proportion of loaned players in the team is too high, I can see something in that. I can also see the argument that players who come for a year (like Scott Carson) are to be preferred to shorter term loans as they are more likely to gell with the team as a whole. However, a lot of the instability in the team is to do with switches of 'permanent' players.
It is argued that loan players are less committed to the team. All football players are hired hands and many of them are fans of other teams. There was a particular generation of Charlton players - Johnnie Robinson, Steve Brown, Mark Kinsella among others - who had a special kind of commitment to the club. But those golden days are over, perhaps never to return.
There doesn't seem to be any hard evidence that the play of loaned players is worse (except when they are returning from injury which was a problem last season). As far as incentives are concerned, they are usually trying to rebuild their careers and hence should want to outperform.
There is a view among Charlton fans - which I don't accept - that we are already relegated and therefore we should starting 'blooding' young players for next year. This appeals to the 'Roy of the Rovers' streak among Charlton fans who would like to see a team made of ex-Academy players overcoming impossible odds.
Look at any non-league team and you will find it full of ex-Academy players from good clubs. Most of them are not good enough to make the grade. And for the few thart are, if you start playing them too early or too often, it can damage their career as their confidence is undermined by the inevitable bad performance which happens to all players from time to time.
Let's look at one much criticised player, Martin Cranie, who is featured in the latest Four Four Two. Cranie recalls, 'When I heard Charlton were interested, I couldn't wait to sign. The stadium, support, facilities, they're better than Portsmouth's.'
Asked 'Why is the team struggling?', Cranie says: 'In my early games, we took the lead a couple of times, but would then concede an equaliser and our heads would drop. We need to go on the front foot and take the game to our opponents more. There's no need to panic. The table doesn 't take shape until Christmas.' Cranie says that 'I'd be more than happy' to stay at Charlton after his loan runs out at the end of December.