A new dawn for new heroes
It's here, I'm here, so lets get this whole thing started shall we? For those of us that were bored of scrapping to 40 points and then playing crap for 2 months, or worried about how many goals Arsenal were going to score against us, or just disillusioned by the ever uglier and corrupt Premiership crawling up its own arse, then welcome to the Championship, aka the Fizzy Pops.
A programme with that must have 'official handbook' will have to be a must tomorrow, even at £5 because none of us will have any idea who our players are. I can just about remember what Andy Reid looks like and whose that bloke throwing his arms up in the air at the mouth of the players tunnel? He looks familiar.
13 new players, with the newest one having a medical today, but hopefully not by the same bloke who gave a medical to Cory Gibbs.
So which players out of the 13 will really make a difference. Good words are being said of the young French right back, Moo2kil as he will be known on my keyboard and Jose Semedo, who has settled nicely into the troublesome holding midfield roll.
ZZ was a nice little gift from the East wasn't it? That has given us all a buzz. Nicky Weaver's signing just gave me the hump, but I've got a short memory like the next bloke and if we are to succeed this season, he will have to be massive for us. Give him another pie and by the way lets get behind the lad because you know he has the personality to respond to it.
There are three other youngsters in the squad, one has shown well in the friendlies and could most definitely be a valuable bench weapon - Martin Christensen and the other two Mikkel Rygaard Jensen and the very promising but raw Chris Dickson are expected to get some loan action. I do think Dickson will have some kind of say in our season though.
Dean Sinclair adds a bit of old fashioned up and down hard work to the midfield, a kind of dirty shorted Matt Holland.
A very important player for us will be Paddy McCarthy, who will be a regular at the back, but his knowledge of the division will be a big advantage and his style is very much the opposite to Bougherra.
Then there is a fleece of strikers, no fewer than 9 players can play up front. Marcus Bent's still there, yep sorry if you missed that, although if he can be bothered or coached he surely should be a threat in this division. My prediction is that he will go in the January window.
New signings Iwelumo, Varney and McLeod will all be hungry and each has potential to have their names sung from the Valley rafters. And Pards seems more excited by the free-signing of Todorov than most of us.
However for me a couple of 'old boys' will make all the difference this year. A fit and focused Andy Reid and Jerome Thomas in my humble windy city opinion (with no internet commentary) will murder this division. Darren Ambrose is on a make or break season too.
Its a big squad and Pards, as he has said, builds teams. Well with 13 in and 16 out plus two already off on loan he has certainly been busy with that shovel.
So who are our rivals? Wolves have under Mick McCarthy built well the last two seasons. Martin Allen at Leicester has done what we have, and signed 12 new players bu they do include Kish and Shaun Newton. Hmm, and come on, is Allen a better manager than Pardew?
I think the Baggies have made some good signings but with one eye on their last year of the parachute payments they have also sold some of their best and more expensive players. Southampton have also seen their most influential playes depart with Kenwyne Jones likely to be next. Sheffield Wednesday's fans will be confident of a good season, as will Stoke's. Cardiff fans now live in a house owned by Robbie Fowler, rather them than us, and Preston are always there challenging.
Our biggest threat will come from fellow relegated sides Watford and Sheffield United. Watford have had little turnover, just like us last time we came down, but the Blades have had a tumultuous summer with the Tevez saga but have spent big on attacking players. Come May we will know who was the better signing. Varney or Billy Sharp.
I plan this season to pre-empt games with some memories of previous matches against our Championship opponents. To some fans there will be some strange names and places in this division, to others it will be a return to a place that many of us thought we would never escape. For example we played Barnsley almost every season through the 80's and 90's but haven't met them for 8 years. I for one was pleased they stayed up so our younger fraternity can witness one of the coldest bloody grounds in the country!
However Scunthorpe United is a new one on me, Charlton have never met them in my time as a supporter and perhaps last season's League One champs are not the ideal opponents for our first game but it is one for the 'romantics' and as Pards has been anxious to point out a good time to park our collective egos at the door. Hopefully we can pick them back up again in 12 months!
Scunthorpe tomorrow reminds me of a cup game, that's not good knowing our record but this is what we will face most weeks, like Pards said extra quality will only get you so far. Resilence and commitment will win us as many points.
It will be very strange to be considered to be the league's 'big boys,' the title favourites and the team that everyone wants to beat. We have never been favourites for anything in our lives. Little old Charlton no more, although lets face it, we were never anything more in our eyes, were we? Despite what the record books say and what we sung to that miserable Palarse lot?
To me Wolves fans and Sheffield Wednesday fans will always think they are a bigger club than Charlton. I know, its funny isn't it? But what I remember from this division is the equality. If you get 25,000 or 6,000 or have a super new stadium or a rusty old one, it does not matter and ego's in this division will get us nowhere but togetherness, patience and hunger will.
I am truly looking forward to this season. I will be at The Valley Saturday and hope to get to more games this season, particularly some away ones. Of course I won't be the only football fan hoping for great things as the curtain raises tomorrow, but then again Charlton isn't any club and with Pardew at the helm and with the squad he has assembled, we have every reason for optimism.
It was the hope that killed us at the end of the last season. It could be the expectation this, but its a new exciting beginning and a time for new heroes. Come on you Addicks.