By Kyle Andrews
While no divide exists among Charlton Athletic supporters in their views of the club’s ownership, with almost unanimous opposition to the Roland Duchatelet regime, there has certainly been one over the question of which of the club’s homegrown left-backs is the more talented.
A defiant wall formed around regular starter Morgan Fox, with Russell Slade and his predecessors on guard duty, while those in favour of Tareiq Holmes-Dennis threw everything, including unused beach balls and stress balls, at it in an attempt to get the full-back they favour into the side.
For though Fox, as recently as February booed as he left the field with the same sort of animosity that would be issued to Katrien Meire were she to appear on it, has improved hugely in recent months and has started this season in impressive fashion, there remained many who wished to see Holmes-Dennis start ahead of his teammate.
And so, as Holmes-Dennis departs to join Huddersfield Town, there is great anger and confusion among at least a section of Charlton supporters. It his decision to leave the Addicks, according to Slade, but a decision that would have been taken on the basis of a lack of first-team football at a shambolic football club.
When given those rare opportunities in the first-team, he has impressed. A modern day full-back, who attacks first and defends second, but does so without sacrificing or compromising his defensive duties. Certainly not overwhelmed in the Championship last season, and that largely with Karel Fraeye leading him.
Defensively, he is composed and reads the game well, with pace and strength complementing those attributes. Naivety still to be found, as seen in an unnecessary red card received against Nottingham Forest in January of this year, but you would feel comfortable if he were to be duelling with a dangerous opposition winger.
Going forward, there is drive, pace and energy. An ability to beat a man and deliver a fine cross to the extent that, in the latter stages of the victory over Walsall on Saturday, he was deployed on the left side of midfield. It definitely going forward, as David Wagner has already mentioned, where he displays the best of his talents.
It beyond many why such a dynamic left-back, and a dynamic left-back who can genuinely defend, has not been given an extended run in the side over the sometimes clumsy and unconvincing Fox.
But even among those who felt comfortable with Fox being Charlton’s starting left-back, myself admittedly being one of those, there is disappointment.
For Holmes-Dennis was undoubtedly a player of extremely high potenial. Debate to be had over whether he or Fox should have been starting in recent months, but I would nail my colours firmly to the mast and suggest that Holmes-Dennis is more likely to develop into the better player.
It a huge frustration that he won’t be able to realise such potential in SE7, having been nurtured by the club for 12 years, and joins the long list of academy graduates who have departed after only brief careers in the Charlton first-team.
That probably answers the final question that Huddersfield supporters will undoubtedly want answering is, having been earlier linked with Fox. Whether or not they’ve side the right left-back. The one that will develop into the better player, and will best adapt to the needs of the hashtag Wagner Revolution.
And the answer to that is, unquestionably, yes. Certainly a debate over which is the better traditional left-back, and which is more suited to Slade’s Charlton, but no doubting that Holmes-Dennis is the more natural athlete.
As such, there should be no fear among Huddersfield supporters that Holmes-Dennis will arrive in Yorkshire demanding first-team football, given that his decision to leave South East London appears to come partly as a consequence of a lack of opportunities.
He has joined a now progressive club where his attributes are more likely to be appreciated, and a club that is more likely to assist in helping him realise his full potential.
There certainly a feeling that Charlton have misused Holmes-Dennis somewhat, and will regret placing him into a position where he wanted to leave the club.