Lee Bowyer performed a passable impression of Ebenezer Scrooge as he praised his Charlton side through gritted teeth for their stirring 3-2 comeback victory over Bristol City.
Whether it was praising match-winning youngster Alfie Doughty, who scored his first career goal five days after turning 20, two-goal Macauley Bonne or hard-working teenage midfielder Albie Morgan, Bowyer hardly offered up much Christmas goodwill.
He was, however, grateful that his side had recorded their first win in 12 games to maintain an eight-point gap between themselves and the bottom four.
Bowyer said: “I don’t know how many times we’ve been leading and not held on. Did we deserve all three today? Probably not. But I will take it.
“I’m pleased for Alfie, as sometimes he switches off. He reacted today. I wanted to drum it in that he has to arrive at the far post. He got his reward.
“I don’t really know him. He’s been with the under-23s. I’ve had a go at him a few times. He does things that drive me mad. All of the 23s they lose the ball and walk, and then beat themselves up.
“That’s not the real game. Alfie was with us pre-season as we had hardly any players. To be fair to him, he bought into it, then became a different player. Now he’s doing the right thing and not just sulking.
“He’s a young lad who is learning but whenever you tell him something he takes it in on board.”
Doughty spent the first part of the season on loan at non-league Bromley playing Vanarama National League football, as did Bonne with Leyton Orient last season. He set up Doughty’s winner after scoring Charlton’s first two goals himself.
Bowyer added: “Macca (Bonne) is too nice and too soft at times. It drives me mad. I want him to use his strength.
“I played with (Alan) Shearer, probably the most horrible striker I’ve played with, and I want Macca to become like that. It’s not rocket science, I just want him to be more hungry and stronger. The kid can finish, they were great finishes.”
Bowyer’s grumpiness properly came out when it came to Morgan.
He said: “That second goal should never have happened – that’s why Albie went on loan.
“He’s a long way away, he’s a 19-year-old learning the game. We can’t afford just to keep playing him, we will keep conceding goals.
“If we had senior midfielders back, Albie would not be playing. Is he doing well? Yes. But he needs to learn the other side of the game. It’s not just him. But he’s doing well, he’s been thrown in at the deep end.
“They are doing everything they can, but they are just kids. We’re running out of players. We’ve had four knee injuries since before Christmas.”
Bristol City boss Lee Johnson had greater justification for complaining given that his side had turned around a 1-0 half-time deficit with goals from Andreas Weimann and substitute Niclas Eliasson before allowing Charlton back into the match.
Johnson said: “It was individual errors. If you look at the goals back, you’d be disappointed at the errors.
“We got ourselves into a great position and it gave us a boost. I thought in the second half we showed what we were about. There were positives, but it is difficult if you make errors like that. It was the bits that we work on, the fundamentals of our defending.
“We had a couple of good possession patches, but their front two caused us problems. They were bruisers and bumped us.
“We’re trying to keep a consistency at the moment, but the individuals need to be consistent. I think we can still be successful this season.
“It is fine margins and Charlton will be very happy with that today. We were relatively comfortable and if we can wind time back to 70 minutes we should have seen it out.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P