Lee Bowyer insists that his players will be playing for the fans and ‘for the shirt’ when they take to the pitch at Elland Road for the final game of the Championship season on Wednesday evening.
The Addicks will take on newly-crowned champions Leeds United in a crunch game that could decide their survival in the division and the Charlton boss says that, although supporters cannot be present at the game, the squad will be feeling their presence.
“Whenever we step onto the pitch in all these games, they are aware of all the support they have away from the stadium,” explained Bowyer.
“They know what they’re playing for – they’re playing for the shirt and for everybody involved and there is no one more involved than the fans.
“The fans are a big part of why we’ve even got a chance now. How many times have they pushed us over the line? – they’re a massive part and the players know that. They have done since day one.
“All the fans ever want is for the players to give 100% and I can hold my hand on my heart and say that every player that steps out there does give 100%.
“I will remind them as I always do, but they won’t need reminding, they know what’s at stake.
“We’re in a good place. We need that bit of luck in front of goal and we’ll keep fighting. Since the lockdown, it’s been about pulling people together. We were in the bottom three and we’ve turned it around so it’s a credit to everyone at the club.
“I’m proud to stand in front of them,” he added.
“They’re such a great bunch. They give everything and that’s all I can ask as a manager.
“For what we lack in quality, we definitely make up with our hearts.”
Charlton go to Elland Road as the team leading the pack, sat outside of the drop zone, a fact that Bowyer says puts the pressure on the teams below, who absolutely have to win to stand any chance of survival.
“If we had to go to Leeds, win and rely on other results, that’s a different conversation,” he said.
“But if we win, we’re safe. We don’t necessarily have to win, it’s the teams below us that absolutely have to win, they are the ones chasing us.
“We have a tough game, but so do the teams around us. There will be some twists and turns on the night, that will happen, we just have to stay calm and believe that what we do on the night will keep us in the division.
Meanwhile, Bowyer does not expect anything less than his former side Leeds being at their best, despite already having sewn up the title and a return to the Premier League after 16 years.
“Leeds were at it [against Derby county], their energy levels were through the roof and they haven’t come off it. It will be the same on Wednesday. The manager is a winner and has a high demand on his players and we saw that on Sunday.
“I have a good relationship with Leeds, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them, but they’re professionals.
“I asked what their manager drinks just as a congratulations for after the game and asked if they were off [on Monday], but they weren’t. They were back in training.
“They said to get him a bottle of Malbec! I went to the local wine place and asked what they could recommend because I wouldn’t know!
“It will be something I give to him after the game because I think it’s the right thing to do. He’s been outstanding for that football club and worked miracles.”