A negative report in the Mail on Sunday has been seized upon by Phil Parkinson's critics:
Having gone into the game knowing a three-goal victory would take them to the top of League One, Charlton produced a performance which spoke volumes for their inadequacies.
Oldham, who arrived seeking nothing more than a point, achieved their aim on an afternoon high on scuffle and sweat - woefully low on excitement or craft. The first half produced one lone chance when Matthew Spring clipped a 38th minute shot beyond the far post of Oldham keeper Dean Brill. [What about the save from Llera?] The blame for the boredom lay as much with Charlton manager Phil Parkinson, as with his players.
Opting to leave Dean Burton as a lone striker, with the usually purposeful [?] Jonjo Shelvey hopelessly lost in a roaming role was, in the circumstances, a desperately negative move.
With three strikers on the bench, Parkinson then neglected to alter his mis-firing plan until the 63rd minute, which ensured Charlton achieved little more than they deserved.
The gifted [but below par] Shelvey was eventually sacrificed for Izale McLeod, on a day that was more suited to piano shifters than piano players. The two chances which followed, as Miguel Llera put a header narrowly over the bar and Kelly Youga sent an overhead kick against the woodwork, were the best Charlton managed all day.
“I’ve got to be happy with a point,” said Oldham manager Dave Penney. “ This is a really difficult place to come for a result.” [They all say that]
As over-cautiousness goes, it was a statement to contend with the best of them. On the evidence of the afternoon, ‘difficult’ was the one thing Charlton were not. [Difficult to score against]. But Parkinson was also oddly keen to stress the tricky nature of the afternoon.
“Oldham made it difficult for us,” he said. “We had chances, and you need one of them to go in. The final bit, putting the ball in the back of the net, was where we fell down.”
That Charlton failed to score was a statement of the obvious, that they created any real chances at all is a more contentious claim. [More than one was missed by McLeod, the best one created by Racon].
After three league games without a goal, the impetus Charlton enjoyed after their impressive start to the season may be starting to fade. Their squad looks poorly equipped to withstand any major absences and, with a long season remaining in front of them, the lack of guile they demonstrated in their attempts to break down a resolute Oldham side, sorely lacking in ambition, suggest that maintaining that early momentum may be a considerable challenge.'
So we are second in the table, only unbeaten once in the first quarter, and yet there is a readiness to blame Phil Parkinson. Quite why support for him is so shallow is difficult to work out.
Probably the main factor is an unrealistic expectations level. I was expecting something between mid-table and the fringes of the play offs, but I have adjusted my expectations upwards to a play off place. Automatic promotion is a big ask with one place booked by Leeds and probably not attainable with Norwich improving all the time (I am less convinced that Colchester will stay the course, Super Kevin Lisbie notwithstanding).
Admittedly, the 4-4-1-1 does not work so well without Semedo and a tired Shelvey. Other teams have sussed it out and it is time to try something different against Huddersfield.