Some Charlton fans are proclaiming that we are already relegated. I never thought that 21st was a relegation position, particularly when points deductions are in the works for other clubs. If form is the criterion, Charlton are seventh from bottom in the form table.
Nevertheless, pessimists may derive some succour from the 'match verdict' in today's Football League Paper. It states: 'Lee Bowyer needs to start looking over his shoulder … Charlton are in the middle of a dreadful run that could plunge them back into League One. They haven't won away in the league since August … They have only won two league games, home or away, in their last 19.'
'It's a consistently dreadful sequence that will get Charlton relegated if Bowyer can't turn it around. Aggressive and a winner as a top player, Bowyer's team, so good and easy on the eye, need these qualities more than ever.' Of course, that was when a thin squad was fully fit. As Bowyer pointed out yesterday, some of the returning players may be able to get on the field of play, but they are not match fit yet.
It seems to me that a lot of fans are generalising from a particularly poor performance. Unfortunately, prospects of a recovery against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday are not good. Forest beat an admittedly faltering Leeds United 2-0 yesterday. Judging from the excerpts on Quest, which admittedly shows only the best bits, Forest are able to tear through a defence that has shortcomings.
As a Charlton fan, I am immured to relegation. I remember when we had our first Premier League relegation, the then young son of a fellow fan was in floods of tears. 'Is it his first relegation?' another fan rather tactlessly asked.
The Championship is clearly the place to be, in terms of the calibre of the competition (and the away fans they bring). There are big financial differences. I remain unconvinced that all is now lost.