Nathan Jones’ arrival has transformed Charlton Athletic into a team to be feared once again

4 min

It may still be early days, but it’s already clear Nathan Jones has made a huge impact in his short time at Charlton Athletic.

When the 50-year-old was appointed at the start of February, the Addicks were just three points above the League One relegation zone.

Since then, Charlton have only lost once and are currently unbeaten in their last six outings – claiming impressive points against the likes of high-flying Bolton, Portsmouth and Derby along the way.

While Jones is still experimenting with the squad, his expansive and exciting brand of football has already re-ignited fans’ belief in a side who have comfortably climbed to 14th in the table and seven points clear of danger.

Setting up in a 3-5-2 formation, Jones likes to have his wing-backs high up the pitch so they can be outlets to deliver balls into the box for not only the likes of Daniel Kanu and Alfie May but for late midfield runners.

The 3-1 win at Cheltenham typified this approach as Conor Coventry found Tennai Watson high on the right-hand side, with his low driven cross falling at the feet of Kanu to open the scoring.

Charlton aren’t afraid to go long either with short goal kicks to the centre-backs are often followed by direct passes into the channels for May and Kanu to run onto.

This direct route paid dividends in the Addicks’ win over Derby, where yet again Coventry played a long pass into Kanu who used his pace to get in behind only to be brought down for a penalty that was subsequently tucked away by May.

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However, despite their multiple threats in possession, it’s Charlton’s ability without the ball that has proved to be pivotal in the change of fortunes over recent weeks – particularly against promotion-chasing opposition.

Since Jones took charge, the Addicks have averaged 46.8% possession with their high press and refusal to allow space in the midfield forcing teams to play long.

From an opposing goal kick, the defence stays high to make the pitch smaller for opponents to play out from the back; May and Kanu look to press from the front with the advanced midfielders locking on to their counterparts and full-backs Thierry Small and Watson apply pressure to the wide areas. 

This high-intensity pressing also paid dividends against Cheltenham when Small forced a mistake from Tom Pett, drove into the box and laid it on a plate for May to grab his 18th of the season.

With the midfield working so hard in this set-up, Jones has been keen to rotate the personnel in the centre of the pitch seeing Coventry, Tyreeq Bakinson, George Dobson and academy graduate Karoy Anderson all getting reasonable game time.

While Coventry has been at the heart of most of Charlton’s attacks, Anderson has taken the step-up in his stride, netting twice in the last three games as well as being vital in breaking up play to begin attacks.

READ MORE: Nathan Jones’ appointment is the final piece of the Charlton Athletic jigsaw after a busy January transfer window

Midfield lynchpin Dobson’s imminent departure to Hungarian side Fehervar in the summer is likely to be a big miss but if they can sign loanee Bakinson on a permanent deal from Sheffield Wednesday, it should offset some of the damage.

Either way, it’s refreshing for Charlton to be looking upwards for the first time in a while with the Addicks even up to fifth in the form table with a favourable run-in potentially seeing an extremely positive end to the campaign.

This season may be looking increasingly over in terms of promotion/relegation battles for the club but Jones has brought a fear factor back to The Valley which should see them be a real threat next season.

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