Charlton Athletic is a club that often seems to find itself in choppy waters.
But despite the ongoing tsunami of uncertainty caused by failed takeovers, this ship has a new admiral in Dean Holden who continues to ease the tide. He’s a calming presence in an otherwise turbulent scenario. He comes across as a humble football manager who wants nothing more than for his team to succeed, but make no mistake, Holden has a ruthless streak.
The club’s retained list ahead of the 2023/24 campaign showed no remorse to previously long-standing names in Albie Morgan and Ryan Inniss, and to Macauley Bonne who only served to upset the apple cart upon his return to the club. Sean Clare’s exit was perhaps the only questionable one, but a footballing man as experienced as Holden will know that you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.
And that’s a sentiment that largely paints the picture of Charlton’s 2022/23 season. Under Ben Garner it was rain, but Holden brought the sunshine. Charlton were at one point looking at relegation into the fourth tier of English football – an echelon untouched by Charlton Athletic – but they eventually finished the season inside the top 10, and as one of the form teams of the second half of the season.
The ship has certainly been steadied. The decks somewhat cleared. But high tides remain for Charlton Athletic who continue to be embroiled in takeover talk. Marc Spiegel looked set to be the Addicks’ latest saviour, but his bid to take control has apparently hit some roadblocks. Now there’s new names on the scene in Robert Platek and Roman Gevorkyan, and the last we heard of Charlie Methven and his group’s latest bid was that it was rejected by Thomas Sandgaard.
For whoever comes in, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Holden is one of, if not the most valuable asset that the club currently has. Tying him down to a longer-term deal earlier in the year was a good move. A brilliant move in fact. Holden committed his future to a club whose future is often uncertain. But for as long as this takeover uncertainty remains, and question marks over how much – if any at all – funding Holden might have in the summer, there will remain uncertainty over the future of Holden.
After just a few weeks in charge, Holden was being linked with other jobs in the English Football League. One of them was a Championship job in Huddersfield Town who’ve since secured their Championship status going into next season and who are now on the lookout for a manager once again.
So the question begs: How long can Holden and Charlton Athletic last? Well, contractually, 2026. Realistically – providing this uncertainty over the club’s ownership remains – one more season maybe? For the first time since the 2018/19 season, Charlton look to have a manager and a playing squad capable of at least challenging for promotion, and with a few additions here and there, it could be a challenge that the Addicks are well-capable of achieving.
But there remains challenges out of the control of Holden and his players, and as long as those challenges persist, the challenge of keeping Holden will also remain.