The moment a manager starts talking about directors showing patience is the point at which you know he is worried his job is on the line. After one win in 11 matches and only goal difference keeping his team out of the bottom three, Dave Jones is at that point.
You cannot blame him for feeling vulnerable. This is the sacking season as Jones knows only too well, having been dismissed by Wolverhampton Wanderers two years ago this month. This year, the trigger fingers in the boardroom have been particularly itchy. Burnley's Steve Cotterill last week became the 13th manager to part with his club since 1 October.
Moreover, Cardiff's latest defeat came at the end of what was already a bad week for Jones, who found himself slated for missing a reserve game to attend the launch of chairman Peter Ridsdale's book and then learned that a disgruntled fan had offered him for sale on eBay, hoping the club would take the hint and toss him back into the marketplace.
Raw nerves were on display, clearly, when Jones told one reporter he would "like to knock your block off" during a heated post-match press conference at The Valley, when he vowed to carry on regardless.
"Twelve months ago people were writing that I should be loyal to Cardiff and now the same people are saying that I should get out," he said. "I have to put up with people hounding me every day and asking me stupid questions but I'm not going to lie down and die. Just because we are going through a bad patch it does not change my record as a manager. It hurts me to read the stuff written but I have to put up with it."
Jones did respond, however, to the clamour to drop Robbie Fowler, who will travel to Germany this week to seek help for a hip problem but whose form has been patchy. The decision to start with Steve Thompson up front instead might have paid off, in fact, had the match not turned so dramatically when the former Rangers striker was denied a penalty just before half-time.
Jones was anticipating a 1-0 half-time lead. Instead, he watched in bewilderment as Charlton scored twice in first-half stoppage time, when an awkward free kick from the excellent Andy Reid was dealt with so poorly that Sam Sodje was able to claim his first senior goal, then Chris Iwelumo cashed in on a misdirected clearance to sweep home his third in as many matches.
"We were fortunate to go in 2-0 up but we have had first halves this season in which we have played very well and got nothing so maybe we deserved a bit of luck," Charlton manager Alan Pardew said. "I'm very happy with the result."
He has every reason to be. After Zheng Zhi's header 10 minutes from time rubber stamped the result, Charlton are up to second in the table, at least until West Bromwich Albion play at Coventry this evening.
Goals: Sodje (45) 1-0; Iwelumo (45) 2-0; Zhi (80)3-0.
Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Weaver; Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey; Sam (Ambrose 77), Zhi (McLeod 84), Semedo, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo (Varney 84). Substitutes not used: Randolph (gk), Bougherra.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; McNaughton, Purse, Johnson, Capaldi; Parry (Whittingham 69), Rae, McPhail, Ledley; Hasselbaink (Fowler 79), Thompson.
Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Loovens, MacLean.
Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).
Booked: Charlton: Sam. Cardiff: Capaldi, McPhail, Thompson.
Man of the match: Reid.Reuse content