By Tony Leighton
Charlton Athletic manager Chris Powell won't bet on it happening, but if the Addicks, last term's npower League 1 champions, were to achieve a second successive promotion it would complete a remarkable Championship hat-trick.
Three years ago, Norwich City, Southampton and Charlton - each club having earlier been Premier League regulars - were relegated together from the Championship. It was devastation all round for three proud clubs, but how they have responded.
Norwich won League 1 at the first attempt then 12 months later went straight through to the Premier League. As the Canaries were climbing out of the Championship, Southampton were doing likewise from League 1 and also took just one season to reach the top flight. Now, Charlton have the chance to make it a triple-whammy.
In what could be the Championship's most competitive season yet, the Addicks are being seen as dark horses for promotion - as were Norwich and Southampton immediately after they had made the step up from League 1.
So, can Powell's team follow suit? Some pundits think so and all Charlton fans hope so, but the manager is so, so cautious.
"I'm not going to even think about what Norwich and Southampton have done," Powell told football-league.co.uk. "We're our own club and we will move at the pace we want to.
"Fair play to those two clubs, they carried on the momentum, but we'll just go out to do what we have to do. We've got to make sure we have a decent start and then keep ourselves going and compete in what's going to be a very tough division.
"We've got to look to keep progressing and if we consolidate in the division that's fine. If things go better than that, we'll take it, but if they don't then we'll do our best to make sure the club's on the right path to keep moving forward."
Powell led his team to promotion in what was his first full season of management, a tremendous feat as Charlton not only won League 1 but did so in style, leading from the front throughout the campaign to finish eight points clear at the top.
"It was a magical season," he said. "I couldn't have asked for any more - for us to romp away and finish the season with 101 points, that was fantastic. I was ecstatic with what we achieved and so was everyone connected with the club.
"But that's gone now. Yes, we're in the record books and the history books and that's great, but now we have to look ahead and acquit ourselves to a higher division. We've had a good pre-season with some positive results, now we want to take that into the new season and we're really excited about competing in the Championship."
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