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And so Phil Parkinson becomes the latest casualty of the hotly contested Football League sack race. Despite guiding the Addicks to a play-off spot in League One at the halfway stage of the campaign, Parkinson was given his marching orders by Charlton chairman Michael Slater in the aftermath of the team’s dismal 4-2 home defeat to Swindon on Monday, the culmination of a dreary run of five without a win in the league.
"Clearly improvement is needed on the field", Slater wailed. "Recent performances have simply not been good enough.
"Last night's defeat convinced us as a board that change is required now we are still in the hunt for promotion, and that we must appoint a new manager to give us every chance of going up."
The same Slater, who upon taking over Charlton last month said: "What we won't do is create unrealistic pie in the sky expectations." Going well so far then, Michael.
Charlton have not won in the league since victory against lowly Yeovil on November 20, but despite this slump remain just three points off the automatic promotion spots. Granted, football is a results business, but Parkinson’s premature exit from the Valley appears a tad harsh on the surface to say the least.
To suggest Parkinson has enjoyed overwhelming support from those in control of the club coffers would be wide of the mark. In fact, it’s with any wonder that the Addicks have managed to remain so competitive in League One this season given the activity around the exit door over the summer.
The play-offs proved the stumbling block for Parkinson and his side last season as they crashed out on penalties to those pesky Swindon boys in the semi-finals, and expectations of another stab at promotion this campaign were dealt several blows in the months which followed after an exodus of stars from the Valley.
Top goal-scorer Deon Burton picked up his bags and left on a free transfer for the glamour of Azerbaijani side Gabala, while tricky winger Lloyd Sam left for nothing to Championship Leeds. Influential midfielder and captain Nicky Bailey joined ambitious Middlesbrough, while team of the year right-back Frazer Richardson rocked up at Southampton. Add to this the departure of starlet Jonjo Shelvey to Liverpool in May and it’s easy to understand why some believe Parkinson got a bum-deal this season.
It didn’t get too much better. Their replacements were otherwise uninspiring on Parkinson’s shoestring budget, with only Johnnie Jackson from Notts County and Sheffield United's Kyel Reid raising a few hopeful eyebrows in SE7.
Which is why, given pre-season’s understandably modest expectations, many fans have found Parkinson’s departure somewhat baffling given the Addicks’ lofty position in the League One table.
That said, it would not be unfair to suggest that sections of the Charlton support have been calling for his head for quite some time. Home performances have dropped to dissatisfying levels for some, perhaps unsurprising having won less than half of their matches at the Valley this campaign.
Dropping points against sides with ten men hasn’t helped in recent times either. Both Colchester and Brighton have claimed a point against the Addicks in the last week having had a man dismissed, the latter still managing a share of the spoils despite playing 83 minutes with ten men and already being a goal down.
Is it tactics? Is it lack of motivation? Both have been bandied about at will to scythe down their team, but Charlton supporters have had their patience levels tested once again. But they’ve had worse - it’s been a long way down from 7th in the Premier League.
Of course, Charlton are not alone in League One when it comes to the so-called ‘fallen giants’. Both Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday occupy spots either side of the Addicks, with just four points currently separating all three sides. Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Leeds and Norwich have all risen from the third tier in better shape than they entered it in recent years, and all three will have undoubtedly taken great heart from these cases.
Only time will tell if showing Parkinson his marching orders is the right thing to do to help Charlton battle their way back to the Championship. Football, is apparently, more than just a results business. The board of directors will be keen to find a successor in good time given the opening of the January transfer window, and the new man will have to settle quickly if he is to overturn Charlton’s disappointing run of form.
Regardless, Parkinson leaves Charlton in a helpful position going into the second half of the campaign. Performances may not have been opening eyes, but with limited resources, most Addicks supporters recognise that he did a reasonable job with the resources at his disposal.
Speculation is already rife regarding news of a successor, with everybody’s favourite character Dennis Wise currently leading the way with the bookmakers to take the reins at the Valley. It won’t be dull. It is never dull when Wise is around.
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