JUST IN : Nathan Jones deserves praise for controversial Charlton Athletic call

Nathan Jones made the bold decision to dismiss top scorer Alfie May early in his Charlton Athletic stint.
Charlton Athletic had a terrible season in League One.

Optimism was high at The Valley entering into the season after a successful summer transfer window, but Dean Holden was fired in August after a dismal start to the season, and his replacement, Michael Appleton, was fired in January as the team slipped into relegation trouble.

Nathan Jones was appointed Charlton’s third manager of the season in February, and despite losing his first game in charge, the Welshman has guided his team to a seven-game undefeated streak.

The Addicks won their second game in a row, 3-2 at home against Carlisle United, and are now 14th in the table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

Charlton’s signing of Jones was regarded as a coup, and he has undoubtedly made an impression at the club, establishing his power by making a number of key decisions.

Charlton Athletic v Wycombe Wanderers team line-ups: Alfie May returns to  starting line-up – South London News

Jones unexpectedly demoted top scorer Alfie May immediately after taking over the club, and after producing excellent results without him, the striker has been in outstanding form since returning to the lineup.

Nathan Jones’ courageous Alfie May choice is being rewarded.
May has had a successful debut season at The Valley since joining from Cheltenham Town in the summer, scoring 24 goals and giving three assists in 42 games across all competitions.

Eyebrows were raised when May was selected on the bench for the game against Bolton Wanderers last month, and he was only introduced as a late substitute as his team picked up an impressive point in a 3-3 draw.

Jones explained his decision post-match, telling the South London Press: “I always like to have four strikers.

“We didn’t drop Alfie May today. What we did was try to find a way so that when the game opens up – he hasn’t scored in a certain amount of time – so same as we did with Freddie [Ladapo, who scored from off the bench against Lincoln in midweek], sometimes you have to really toil at the start and then chances come late on when the main strikers are tired.

“We thought bring him on at 60, the game will open up and he’ll get chances. But Dan [Kanu] was in such good form that we just brought on Chuks [Aneke] on. It not terms of dropping people, it’s a fact of using four strikers to win a game and that’s what we’ll do.”

Jones then left May out of the team for the game against Derby County, and after coming on in the second half, the 30-year-old scored the equaliser from the penalty spot before Karoy Anderson sealed the 2-1 triumph.

May had only scored once in nine league games prior to Jones’ arrival, so it’s reasonable that Jones wanted to rest him, and he’s responded brilliantly, scoring three goals in his last two appearances since returning to the starting lineup.

Jones’ rotation method has also brought out the best in the club’s other strikers, with Daniel Kanu scoring three goals and Freddie Ladapo adding one.

With Miles Leaburn due to return from injury before the end of the season, competition for forward positions will heat up even more, which can only be good news for the Addicks.

Jones made a bold decision to bench May so early in his reign at The Valley, risking upsetting both players and fans, but his subsequent form has vindicated his choice.

Jones has done an excellent job at Charlton thus far, and while the play-offs are out of reach this season, the present form suggests a much-improved campaign next season.

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