It has been just over six months since Adkins was installed as Sandgaard’s first managerial appointment. After an initial new manager bounce, results have dropped off with Charlton occupying their lowest league position in living memory. Despite this, Sandgaard appears reluctant to pull the trigger on his man and is willing to give him more time.
Why? Official communications from the owner have emphasised the importance of the pathway from academy to the first team as well as a desire to actively reduce the average age of the squad. This is presumably with the aim of making the club sustainable by selling on players as they reach their prime and reinvesting in the next generation. Sandgaard must believe that Adkins is the man to deliver on these strategies. But beyond the results, the question remains, how much has Adkins delivered on this vision so far?
Sandgaard certainly backed his man in the transfer market financially, particularly when compared to the majority of other clubs in the league, but the jury remains out on several of the summer acquisitions. Certainly, there appears to be a Chelsea-style strategy of limiting 30s to one-year deals, however the regular presence of Ben Watson may be cause for concern – the 35-year-old midfielder has featured in 8 out of 11 games this season.
|Ben Watson||35||Contract Extension Triggered||1 Year|
|Jason Pearce||33||New Contract||1 Year|
|Pape Souaré||31||New Signing||1 Year|
|Stephen Henderson||33||New Signing||1 Year|
Apart from the turgid football, the chopping and changing of the first XI has been a significant feature under Adkins, a sign that he is yet to work out his best team. In total, Charlton have used 25 players in the league this season, four more than the divisional average of 21. In these rankings, Charlton are joint second with Accrington Stanley and below only big-spending Ipswich who have utilised 27.
Despite Adkins’ decent reputation for blooding young talent, the use of academy players in the first team is at its lowest in recent years. From the academy, only Elerewe has been handed his league debut and has featured sparingly. Charles Clayden, signed from Leyton Orient when the closed their U23 team, has also featured but seems unlikely to feature in the league as he has Leko, Kirk, Jaiyesimi and Blackett-Taylor ahead of him in the pecking order. When compared to the rest of League 1, Charlton sit in the bottom half of the table for minutes played by Academy graduates. Far below Crewe and AFC Wimbledon and even high-flying Sunderland and Plymouth.
Generally, the strategy seems muddled, does Sandgaard want to focus on a sustainable academy or getting out of League One at all costs? Charlton have one of the largest squads in the league, arguably blocking the way for the likes of Elerewe, and yet are still struggling to get results. Currently it would seem that Adkins is prioritising the league and failing. What is clear is that trying to implement both strategies is difficult and could easily lead to achieving neither.