by Rick Everitt
Charlton’s crucial win at Portsmouth on Saturday (April 21st) means that Lee Bowyer has made the best eight-game start of any Addicks manager since the legendary Jimmy Seed in 1933. And the caretaker boss will be the most successful in the club’s history over his first ten games in charge if his side win either of their two remaining league fixtures.
While fans are understandably focused on the statistical likelihood of Charlton remaining in the League One play-offs, victories over promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United, Shrewsbury Town and Pompey, as well as strugglers Northampton Town, have already put Bowyer in some distinguished company.
His tally of 16 points from five wins and one draw (at Bristol Rovers) puts him ahead of both 1974/75 third-tier promotion boss Andy Nelson and short-lived 2014/15 Championship incumbent Bob Peeters, who each clocked up 14 points (adjusted to three for a win) after eight games. So too did Alex Macfarlane at the start of his second spell in charge in 1928.
Bowyer's predecessors Karl Robinson in 2016/17, Chris Powell in 2011, Alan Curbishley when he went solo on 1995, Bob Stokoe in 1965 and Walter Rayner way back in 1921, all took what would now be 12 points from their first eight games.
The caretaker boss's 16 put him just one behind Seed’s start, but the man who would lead the Addicks into the top flight inside three seasons lost his ninth and tenth matches in charge. Both Macfarlane and Alan Mullery, in 1981/82, matched Seed on 17 points after ten games, as did Guy Luzon in 2014/15 and Curbishley/Steve Gritt in 1991.
Remarkably, it is Peeters, who was sacked soon afterwards by owner Roland Duchatelet, who currently holds the record for the best ten-game start, with his sequence of four wins and six draws yielding 18 Championship points. But Bowyer will overhaul that total if the Addicks win either of their final matches, at home to title-chasing promotion certainties Blackburn Rovers or away to relegation battling Rochdale.
Managers who take over in mid-season often inherit difficult situations, which helps explain the relatively poor first-ten performances of well-regarded incumbents like Mike Bailey, Lennie Lawrence and Phil Parkinson. On the other hand, the strong early records of Peeters and Luzon demonstrate that a fine start is not always a reliable indicator of medium term success.
It could also be argued that points are easier to acquire in the third tier, although Seed, Nelson, Mcfarlane, Rayner, Albert Lindon, Slade, Robinson and Powell all started at that level, as well as Bowyer. Their own playing squads will be weaker than in the higher divisions, not just those of the opposition, athough certainly post-war the Addicks may be thought to have a relative advantage as one of the bigger clubs at third-tier level.
Regardless of any of that – or even whether or not Charlton ultimately make the play-offs – the current temporary boss has already collected enough points from a very challenging fixture list for his tenure to be declared a startling personal success.
And, hopefully, there could yet be more to come.
All Charlton managers' points totals after eight/ten games
Walter Rayner 12 15
Alex Macfarlane 10 14
Albert Lindon 5 6
Alex Macfarlane 14 17
Albert Lindon 11 14
Jimmy Seed 17 17
Jimmy Trotter 7 8
Frank Hill 6 12
Bob Stokoe 12 12
Eddie Firmani 11 11
Theo Foley 7 7
Andy Nelson 14 15
Mike Bailey 2 5
Alan Mullery 11 17
Ken Craggs 8 11
Lennie Lawrence 8 12
Alan Curbishley/Steve Gritt 11 17
Alan Curbishley 12 16
Iain Dowie 3 5
Alan Pardew 8 12
Phil Parkinson 3 3
Chris Powell 12 13
Jose Riga 11 14
Bob Peeters 14 18
Guy Luzon 11 17
Karel Fraeye 8 9
Jose Riga 5 9
Russell Slade 10 12
Karl Robinson 12 14
Lee Bowyer 16
(Les Reed’s 2006/07 spell in charge ended after just seven games.)
VOTV166, the penultimate issue of the 2020/21 season, is now available to order (see right). There are three pricing options - for UK (first class), European and worldwide delivery.
You can subscribe here (desktops and laptops). Payment is annual and covers eight issues. Subscriptions ordered now will start with VOTV166, due out on March 27th.
To order issues published between April 2013 and 2020, please see the back issues page. VOTV124 and VOTV127 are sold out.