Leicester are one of the favourites for promotion this season, but then so are Birmingham. I have said for a while now that we can't assess the players that haven't played at this level until they have a few games under their belt. Of those that have played at this level (BWP, Kermorgant, Morrison, Jackson, Cort) none of them have underperformed and looked out of their depth.
In fact Kermorgant and Morrison were involved in the Leicester side that made the playoffs the season after they won the third division. Leon Cort was involved in the Stoke side that finished second in 2008 - and he went on to feature for them in the Premier League.
The players that we might find wanting are those that are younger and have never played above the third division - where they were part of a side that managed to secure 101 points.
Thus tonight will be a real test of how far this side can go. Birmingham was another test, and despite the result being fantastic based on where the two teams finished last season, to have the win snatched away from us so, so late was a little disappointing. I'm sure we will have further disappointments during the season, but I'm also sure that earning a point at St. Andrews will look like a good result by the time May comes 'round.
Leicester have some big name players in their squad, and they also have some experience, but the player that most Charlton fans will be looking forward to seeing is Paul Konchesky. Paul was, I believe, the youngest player to play for Charlton, and he had a great career with us, including an England Cap, before going on to play for three other Premier League Clubs and was there long after we were relegated. He played in an FA cup Final for West Ham and a UEFA Cup Final for Fulham before moving to Liverpool, where he was one of the players that was, later, thought to be a little short of what they wanted on Merseyside. On the whole he has had a fantastic career and has played over 300 games in the Premier League. This is a player we should be proud to list as a former Charlton youth graduate, and I do feel a sense of pride in what he achieved.
Having said all that he is still only 31 (not 32 until next May) so he probably has a lot more to offer football, and if Leicester live up to their early season billing he could well be adding to those Premier League appearances next season.
I am not convinced by the bookies (and the pundits) when they make predictions for the season. We have failed to finish where those that think they know have predicted in recent seasons, and there is no sure thing in football - especially in a division as competitive as the Championship. However I do think that anyone that finishes above Leicester will be unlucky to miss out on the playoffs at least.
Thus tonight is a good chance for us to make some ground on one of the teams that we will be challenging for promotion, if we should be so lucky.
There is also a little bit of needle for Morrison and Kermorgant. I doubt the former had much animosity with the Foxes' fans, but I'm sure that Yann will feel he has a point to prove. I don't know how popular he was while he was there. I did see his penalty and didn't know much about him at the time. I felt that his arrogance was misplaced and that he was responsible for their playoff failure. It wasn't until I read what New York Addick discussed it that I changed my mind. needless to say there are no Charlton fans that think his signature a was a mistake now.
It is possible that Kermorgant was less impressive in the Championship for Leicester than he was for us in our title winning season, but either way I suspect that his treatment from a small number of their fans will make him keen to perform well tomorrow night - and I suspect he will. There is still a song on YouTube of the night Kermorgant failed to convert that penalty, and as funny as it seems to someone that has no interest in the player or Leicester I suspect that it will help motivate him. I hope that the chap that wrote/sung the song is there tomorrow night!
I wouldn't change our side after Saturday. Clearly there will be some tired legs by the end, as I imagine there was on Saturday after some of the players had played 120 minutes on the Tuesday before. I would think that there would be justification in picking substitutes to come on to see the game out, but I guess that will depend on how we look with ten minutes to go.
I predicted a 1-1 for Saturday so I'm tempted to stop my predictions here and finish with a 100% success record, but if I was going to go for a prediction I would go for a 2-1 home win. I know that is optimistic but we had a good game and result on Saturday and I think our promotion confidence is still high. If I'm honest I wouldn't be too disappointed with a draw, even if we concede late again. The goal this season needs to be to avoid relegation as soon as possible and then if we have enough games left to push on for a mid-table finish, and if/once that is achieved we can see if we can finish in the top six.
Even though I went to Orient, I'm looking forward to a much more full Valley tomorrow and the excitement that comes with that atmosphere.
Up the Addicks