Bowyer disappointed with Charlton relegation
Bowyer disappointed with Charlton relegation

In an interview with Jim White on talkSPORT on Thursday, Lee Bowyer admitted to feeling lower than he had ever been in his footballing career.

His team had come tantalisingly close to defying all the odds and avoid relegation from the Championship. 

But Barnsley’s stoppage time goal at Brentford cruelly condemned the Addicks to League One, as well as scuppering the Bees’ automatic promotion hopes.

To exacerbate Bowyer’s woes, he thinks he is likely to lose at least three of his senior players.

Keeper, and Player of the Year, Dillon Phillips is sure to attract plenty of interest. Phillips only has a year left on his current contract.

Tom Lockyer has an escape clause in his contract which allows him to leave on a free transfer because of the club’s relegation.

Another defender, Adam Matthews, signed a one-year deal to play at Championship level.

He has had a fine season and there will be no shortage of interest in him. 

Young Alfie Doughty has already caught Fulham’s eye. The Cottagers were willing to pay £2 million for the midfielder in January.

He has sparkled in the games since the resumption and the Addicks can expect plenty of interest during the summer.

Here are Bowyer’s thoughts:

“Of course I don’t want to sell them – but we all know how the game works.”If someone comes for Dillon then with the club’s state at the moment are you telling me they are not going to sell him? Of course they will. They are going to sell Alfie as well.

“Tom can leave for nothing – so that’s another one we’re going to lose. If we’d said we wanted a fee then they’d have said: ‘Okay, we won’t sign – we’ll go to Swansea’. You do that or you don’t get him at all”We’re under embargo and are going to lose those three players, at least.

“Adam Matthews is gone. You’re not going to replace Adam Matthews. He’s been excellent – outstanding. 

“I’ll be amazed if he isn’t playing in the Championship next season. It was the only reason he came to us.‎”Where do you start to build (a squad)? You don’t know what you have got to work with.”

Bowyer recently admitted that he and Steve Gallen did not have a list of possible summer signings, as they did not know what their budget for next season will be.

But Bowyer was planning to have urgent talks with new owner, Paul Elliott:

“He (Elliott) didn’t have to step forward and help us at least try and stay in the division. If he didn’t then we’d be in administration – the same as Wigan.

“But I would like to see people come through the door that care and actually want to be successful. 

“But it’s not easy to find someone like that. Newcastle are a massive club – and they can’t find someone to come and give them a chance.

“We need someone to come in and support whoever is in charge, whether that is me or not.

“It’s frightening. The place is frightening. Now, who do we talk to? Behind the scenes it ain’t good.

“We need some help from someone that comes in and gives us some backing and support.

“We’re not even asking for much – just what happens at every other club. Then leave us to get on with the job and we’ll do it flipping well.

“The rug was getting pulled out from under our feet time after time.

“It is disappointing because we care. If you didn’t care then you’d say: ‘Okay, I get the sack and go somewhere else’. But that’s not the case.

“The reason I turned down jobs (at other clubs) was because I wanted to be successful here.

“I got told there would be funds there for us in January, and then all you think is that you need a little bit of help because we’d done so well earlier in the season.

“I thought now we can compete better. Financially we needed to bring bodies in and we didn’t – so it became impossible. 

“But we came back from lockdown and had a right go. We got two wins and a draw but it is not a coincidence that when we won on the Saturday (against Hull) we had a full week to recover and could win again (against QPR).

“But as soon as we started going Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday our squad wasn’t strong enough.

“It is not our players’ fault. It is because we cut corners earlier in the season and at the end of January.”

Reading between the lines, it seems Bowyer will want assurances that there will be sufficient funding for him to build a competitive squad if he is to continue at the helm.

He may‎ have been encouraged by the statement Elliott released on the club’s site on Friday:

“I wanted to write to fans at this time as I know everyone is hurting following the club’s relegation from the Championship.

The emotional ups and downs of Wednesday night were very tough and I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it was for the club’s loyal supporters.

I feel for everyone at the club: the fans, the players, the staff, who have been let down by previous lack of support and leadership from the club’s ownership.

The fans deserve better than a change in ownership every few months. There has been no stability and a lack of clarity on the club’s short-term and long-term future.

Lee Bowyer, his footballing staff and the players gave everything this season in very challenging circumstances and with just a little bit of support from above, maybe this season’s story would have had a different ending.

I also feel for the non-footballing staff who worked so hard to get games back on to give the club a chance of staying in this division and I’d like to thank them for their continued hard work and commitment to the club.

The key lesson to take from this season is that this club needs stability in ownership and that is what I will bring. My commitment to Charlton has not changed because of the relegation. I put money in to keep the club running in May and in June and will continue to do so. 

We are still awaiting EFL approval of the change in control of the club but once that comes through we will be in a position to outline our plans for the club and sit-down with fans to talk openly about our intentions for Charlton Athletic.

Our immediate plan is to support Lee Bowyer, Steve Gallen and the footballing staff in putting a squad in place that gives us the best opportunity for an immediate return to the Championship.”

After recent events involving owners, the beleaguered Charlton fans will want to see action to be convinced of Elliott’s intentions. Words alone will not be enough.