Can Charlton Athletic go one better than Millwall’s first season back in the Championship?

4 min

Charlton Athletic have made a bright start on their return to the Championship, two years after south London rivals Millwall narrowly missed out on a Play-Off spot in their first season back in the second-tier.

But ahead of the game between the two teams this weekend, could the Addicks actually go one better than the eighth place finish of Millwall’s 2017-18 side…?

After 15 games the Lions had picked up 17 points, five less than the amount Lee Bowyer’s men currently have, as Harris’ side took time to adjust to the gulf from League One.

In contrast, the Addicks have taken no such time and, even having missed their chance to move back into the top six at the weekend with defeat at home to Preston North End, they remain within touching distance of the Play-Off spots.

Interestingly, there are currently only four points between sixth and 15th in the table, and with the league being the tightest it has been in years, means an unlikely candidate such as Charlton could spring a surprise and make the top-six come the end of May.

Millwall won promotion to the Championship with victory over Bradford City back in 2017

In terms of playing style the two sides appear quite different on the surface – Charlton look to play more of a ground-based game, but are still quick to get the ball forward while Millwall look long in the air towards target man Steve Morison, who played supremely well throughout the Lions’ first Championship campaign.

Yet, the key for both is the speed of transition – George Saville and Jed Wallace providing the driving force on the break for the Lions; Conor Gallagher and Josh Cullen for the Addicks.

Defensively, both sides model their managers’ personalities – wanting to be in the face of opponents, rushing and harrying them into mistakes as high up the pitch as possible.

READ MORE:How far can Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic go this season?

Behind the forwards pressing high, there is a solid midfield bank protecting the defence, with the aim to force other teams into wide areas where they are less likely to directly hurt you. 

But what matters most is how both managers have – or had – found a way that works for their individual sides with the personnel at their disposal.

Unsurprisingly, Charlton haven’t particularly struggled as a result of losing talisman Lyle Taylor through injury, which is clearly a mark of Bowyer’s tactical nous as he adapts to cope without his main man.

However, losing Taylor for a longer period of time, or indeed permanently in the January transfer window, would hit any team and, whilst Macauley Bonne has impressed in Taylor’s absence, he is still new to this level and needs time to adjust.

Just how much could Lyle Taylor’s future impact Charlton’s season?

For Millwall, it was a different story in January with the Lions season really kicking on after additions – Tim Cahill, Harry Toffolo, Jason Shackell and Ben Marshall who came in to add strength to the squad which led to an incredible 17 match unbeaten run. 

Cahill’s return to The Den particularly had an impact, uniting the fan base and providing a natural leader for others to look up to in the dressing room.

Should a worst-case scenario play out in January and Taylor, a free agent in the summer, leaves Charlton, it could not only derail their campaign but simply unite a fan base even more strongly against controversial owner Roland Duchatelet. 

READ MORE: Neil Harris leaves Millwall with his legacy as a club legend intact

Stability off the pitch should breed stability on it – and while Millwall have that in spades with John Berylson at the helm, the same cannot be said at The Valley with Duchatelet.

Charlton’s fine start to the season merely shows how far the momentum of Play-Off promotion can carry a team but with such a small budget at both clubs, survival still has to be the main aim for both the Addicks and Lions.

Even finishing as high as eighth was an achievement in itself for Millwall and one that is still difficult to match regardless of Charlton’s fine start.

One thing is certain though – both clubs have enjoyed, or are enjoying, superb returns to the second tier where ultimately anything is always possible. 

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