Holland rallies Charlton troops

Matt Holland has called on Charlton to show the strength of character needed to drag themselves out of a relegation “dogfight”.

Matt Holland has called on Charlton to show the strength of character needed to drag themselves out of a relegation “dogfight”.

The Addicks currently prop up the Barclays Premiership and head to Bramall Lane on Saturday to face fellow strugglers Sheffield United, who will have been buoyed by their midweek win over Watford.

Holland, 32, is closing in on his 100th appearance for the south-east London club since he signed from Ipswich during the summer of 2003.

Most of those campaigns had been spent in the relative security of mid-table as Alan Curbishley continued to keep Charlton comfortably in the top flight, despite a lack of resources.

The story this season, however, has been anything but comfortable, with Iain Dowie’s reign terminated after just 15 games in charge and the team rooted to the foot of the table.

For Holland, this is unchartered territory.

“It is a while since Charlton were last in this position,” he said.

“It has been comfortable here for a few years when, if anything, we have been looking at getting into Europe.

“It is a pressure situation and you do not want to get too far behind. We know we are in a dogfight.

“We have good characters here and people who can cope with that.”

The former Republic of Ireland midfielder added: “We have got the personnel in the dressing-room to get us out of this position.

“However, it is not just about talking about it. It is a case of doing it on the pitch as well.

“We know there is a lot of responsibility on the players’ shoulders and we need to turn things around.”

From their two matches under new head coach Les Reed, the Addicks have managed a single point.

Holland acknowledges wins must be chalked up soon if his side are to avoid becoming isolated at the foot of the table.

Charlton are currently four points adrift of the Blades. They have a game in hand and desperately need to at least avoid defeat in south Yorkshire.

“We have got the stage now where we realise we are in trouble and need to turn narrow defeats into points and victories,” continued Holland.

“We are now becoming a little adrift from the rest so Saturday’s game has added pressure.

“And Sheffield United’s confidence will be high after beating Watford.”

The former West Ham and Bournemouth midfielder insists the transition from former boss Dowie to Reed has been smooth.

“There have not been drastic changes since Les took over,” Holland observed. “Les and Iain are very different characters, but Les had been here before.

“He is also a very different personality to Neil Warnock. I do not think they will end in fisticuffs on Saturday.”

The Valley side have struggled in front of goal this season, scoring just 10 times in the league, with Darren Bent contributing seven of those goals.

Holland accepts too much pressure is on England striker Bent and insists there must be a greater contribution from midfield.

“Darren Bent has got the majority of our goals for the last 18 months and there is big pressure on him to stay fit and score goals,” Holland said.

“We know we have to contribute from all other areas.

“It is something we are aware of.”

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox