An emotional Lee Bowyer praised his Charlton players for recovering from an early setback to secure promotion to the Sky Bet Championship, but warned fans that rebuilding his squad will be ‘tough because we don’t have much money’.
The Addicks, whose off-field issues mean they did not spend money on playing staff last summer, beat Sunderland 2-1 in the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley on Sunday, thanks to Patrick Bauer’s dramatic late winner.
It completed an incredible turnaround for the Londoners, who conceded inside five minutes when a mix-up between Naby Sarr and Dillon Phillips saw the former’s pass-back go down as an own goal.
They drew level on 35 minutes through Ben Purrington and were the team pushing for a winner late on.
As the game appeared to be heading to extra-time, it was central defender Bauer who reacted quickest to a rebound in the fourth minute of added time.
“It was a crazy game,” Bowyer said in his post-match press conference.
“Nothing is straight forward with us, obviously with the mistake early on. It shows the character of the players we’ve put together.
"I’ve been saying all season that we’ve got a unique group of players and they could easily have gone under once we gave that goal away.
"They didn’t, they were brave and were men – you have to be a man to get on the ball when you’ve just had a mistake like that to go 1-0 down. Once we settled and started the ball, I thought we controlled big parts of the game.”
Bowyer is out of contract this summer but expects to speak to the club’s owner ‘very soon’, with the expectation of staying at the Valley.
They are 12/1 with Sky Bet to seal promotion to the Premier League at the first time of asking, but Bowyer is under no illusions about the challenges he faces in the coming months.
“We have to rebuild," he added.
"It was always going to be the case, whether we were in League One or the Championship. We’ve done a good job this season, our recruitment was very good and we didn’t spend a penny.
"We didn’t have millions to go and buy strikers. We lost a striker – Karlan [Grant] was our top goalscorer at the time. We just adapted and they’ve done that great all season, but regarding building a squad…it’s going to be tough because I don’t think we are going to have much money.”
- Watch the clip of Bowyer, above, and watch our interview with goalscorer Ben Purrington and Lyle Taylor below…