Kyle Goldsmith rates how well the new players at his beloved Charlton Athletic have got on so far this season…
After labouring to survival last season, Charlton have surprised many this season and currently sit 8th in the Championship table. One of the keys to their success has been the smart additions to the team from manager Bob Peeters, who has become a real fan favourite. Here are all the new signings alongside a review and rating of how they have done so far.
Stephen Henderson 8/10
With the departure of Ben Hamer to Leicester, Charlton needed a new man between the sticks and in Stephen Henderson they have most definitely found one. After joining from West Ham he has looked assured and reliable. There was a noticeable difference when Henderson got injured, with replacement Nick Pope looking shaky. There is no reason why Henderson can’t be Charlton’s number one for a long, long time.
Tal Ben-Haim 9/10
When the Israeli international centre back signed on a free transfer many fans thought he was shot and would only be a squad player. Bob Peeters put his faith in him though and started him away at Brentford on the opening weekend of the season. However, Ben-Haim looked shaky and there were noticeable chants of Michael Morrison’s name from the away end. Morrison had been Charlton’s best centre back for three years, and was seemingly the better option over the mistake-ridden Israeli. However, Peeters stuck with his new signing and paired with Andre Bikey, has led Charlton to one of the best defensive records in the league. Surprisingly mobile and great with the ball on the ground, Ben-Haim displaced Morrison so much so that the latter has even been forced out on loan to Birmingham for first team football. He also runs forward with purpose, as if sometimes he gets bored of passing the ball. These adventures change the pace of the game and push Charlton higher up the pitch. Despite the odd argument with teammates, he also adds to the great team spirit, which has been one of the key elements to Charlton’s success.
Andre Bikey 10/10
Much like Ben-Haim, there were serious questions about centre-half Bikey’s temperament when arrived on a free transfer. Videos that popped up all over Charlton forums showed him stamping on a Burnley player, getting sent off and then proceeding to rip off his shirt. Another showed him shoving over a medic trying to tend to his Cameroonian teammate. Yet, this slightly mental side of him is strangely endearing, and of course his huge stature has led to fans shouting ‘BEAST!’ every time he tackles an attacker. Even with this tackling though, he rarely gives away fouls. Him and Ben-Haim perfectly complement each other, and are surprisingly good with their feet. Many of Charlton’s attacks start with the ball at either the feet of the ‘beast’ or Ben-Haim. Bikey’s first touch is excellent and more importantly his temperament has not yet been a problem. Against Sheffield Wednesday he was pushed over an advertising hoarding with a huge bang. Instantly people were worried until Bikey stepped over his fallen foe like a scene from the ‘Terminator’. He is a huge fan’s favourite and could be the best player Charlton signed this summer, even above a certain Angolan.
Yoni Buyens 7/10
When central midfielder Buyens was signed a few days after Bob Peeters arrived, people thought the bombard of Belgian loan imports was going to continue. Arriving on loan from parent club Standard Liege, Buyens’ signing didn’t exactly enthuse Charlton fans. Yet this signing was not like the other loans from Liege. In his first few games he ran the show, looking a level above all other players on the pitch. Some even called for him to become captain. However, of recent times Buyens has struggled to make an impact on games and has gone missing at points. He has not been the same player who controlled everything in his first few games and this could be a reason why Charlton’s form has dipped. He has however been solid and right now you can’t really make a case for him to be replaced. He has added to Charlton’s strong spine. If Buyens can get back to his early season form then he could be pivotal to whether Charlton finish mid-table or make a push for the play-offs.
Franck Moussa 5/10
When Moussa arrived on a free transfer from Coventry, Addicks fans rejoiced. He was exactly the kind of player who they had missed out on in previous seasons to other clubs. Highlight reels of his incredible goals for the Sky Blues puzzled supporters as to why we got him for free. Moussa even won first, second AND third in Coventry’s goal of the season competition! Fans waited for his debut, before finally seeing him at home to Wigan, where Moussa scored a late winner to send the Valley into delirium. However since he has struggled to make an impact on games. He has seemed weak and has been used purely as a counter-attacking option late in games Charlton are winning. Even then, he makes terrible and sometimes downright stupid decisions that put his team back under pressure. Somehow though most Charlton fans think we have yet to see the best of him and he is just adapting to his new role. Let’s hope he can make another of those highlight reels and we can give him all the trophies in the goal of the season award!
Johann Berg-Gudmundsson 8/10
The Icelandic international has surely got to be one of the best technical players at the club. Quite how he was a free transfer is a mystery. With a wicked wand of a left foot he has provided goals and assists from all over the pitch, including a double at Leeds two weeks ago. If he wasn’t injured so much, Gudmundsson could quite easily be up there with Bikey and Vetokele. He has played left, right and centre, and provides a threat with long shots, clever dribbling or incisive passing. He adds flair and can also defend. If he can get back to 100% fitness and stay there, he could be one of the best players of the season!
George Tucudean 6/10
Unfortunately for him, Tucudean has been in Vetokele’s shadow. Like Moussa he makes some poor decision and has an extremely poor touch. As well as this, for a big lad he doesn’t seem to win many headers. Despite this he can score goals, which is extremely useful when Igor is injured. However it does always seem that the opportunities for him to score have to be created for him and not by him, like Vetokele. Tucudean must improve because Igor can’t do it all on his own.
Igor Vetokele 10/10
The main man Vetokele has been sensational this season, bagging a Championship Player of the Month award and 8 goals in 14 league games. He is a striker who at times can chase defenders, run at them and put the ball in the net most times he gets a chance. He is another player who hasn’t been 100% fit and surprisingly enough he can go missing in games but he always provides an opportunity to score. Every time he touches the ball the crowd gets excited and he is a massive fan’s favourite. If Igor can keep scoring goals he could well be the Championship top scorer and Charlton’s player of the season.
Zak Ansah – Ansah has not featured for the first team since his arrival from Arsenal but is one for the future.
Francis Coquelin – Coquelin looks like a good addition and you’d like to think Charlton would extend his loan beyond 1st December.
Frederic Bulot – Bulot looks like a good player and adds depth.
Oguchi Onyewu – A decent squad player until 1st January when his contract ends.