Monday, 19 December 2016

Stupid People...

 
You'd have thought with the appointment of a new Head of Comms, and the apparent abundance of outsourced P.R, Uncle Rolly could be persuaded to keep his mouth shut to avoid further embarrassment to our club. Clearly not the sharpest tool in the box with regards to football matters, Roland's opinion is worth about as much as a great many of the players he's bought in over the years.
 
In case you're one of those who is choosing to stick your head in the sand and ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet's regime, let me direct you to a few of my fellow Addick bloggers here, here and here.    
 
Yes, as if explaining to a former England international with well over 600 games as a player what a diamond formation is isn't enough of an insult, Uncle Rolly suggested in a Belgian TV interview over the weekend that the hugely-respected Chris Powell is "not a clever person". The opinion based on the fact Sir Chris chose to ignore woefully substandard players bought in by his woefully substandard scouting network. Ironically, Duchatelet has chosen to ignore the fact Powell's replacement, Jose Riga, himself overlooked the same players as Charlton successfully avoided relegation. 
 
He went on to suggest those protesting (or activists, as he calls us) are "just stupid people too".
 
But my personal favourite Uncle Rolly comment was 'advising' the coach of STVV that he needed to "stop letting in goals or we'll never win a match". To be fair, it's very easy to dismiss Duchatelet as a naïve, stubborn megalomaniac, but we shouldn't discount such progressive-thinking football ideas. Wonderfully insightful, it is a wonder that the idea of not conceding goals to give yourself a chance of success has not been thought of before... 
 
I'd be very curious to know what messrs. Rubashow and Bevington think of their employers comments. Perhaps even Meire - herself more than capable of embarrassing public speaking - might be forgiven for planting her head in her hands this morning. 
 
All this serves only to raise the question once again as to exactly what Roland is getting out of football club ownership in general, let alone Charlton. Surely, no matter how pig-headed he obviously is, you'd reflect on things enough to accept there's a negative trend going on here and a common denominator to it all. I would imagine Mr. Duchatelet enjoys exposure, but surely not this type of press?
 
My only hope is this latest outburst is the beginning of the end. The interview gave cause for encouragement with Duchatelet suggesting he was "not planning to be doing this forever". Keep dreaming fellow Addicks; could there at last be the very dimmest of lights visible in the far distance?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting To Know The Network...

 
Today saw the release of the 1st and 2nd episodes of the much-anticipated 'Getting To Know The Network' podcast, which looks to shed some much-needed light on the dark and secretive world of Roland Duchatelet's highly-controversial network model. The man behind the podcasts is former Charlton media man, Jimmy Stone, who certain people within the club would like us to believe is nothing more than a 'bitter ex-employee'.
 
In the first two episodes, Jimmy has managed to gather together some very respectable figures who, significantly, were at the very sharp end of the last year or so of Jimenez and Slater's reign and could form credible early impressions on the impact of Roland Duchatelet's ownership. Without any motive to suggest anything other than the truth as they saw it, we are left with a version of events that contradicts so much of the continual narrative we regularly hear from Katrien Meire in particular.
 
It's a tricky one, but I'm inclined to trust Chris Powell's version of events more than those currently in charge of my club...   
 
I won't go into anymore detail; you owe it to the tireless efforts of Jimmy to listen and judge for yourself. I listened intently on my drive in to my office this morning and nothing changes my opinion of who is responsible for why Charlton are in this current shambolic and heart-breaking mess. All I would say is that it is painfully clear that mistakes that could otherwise have been excused and maybe even forgiven in those early few months were not learnt from. In fact, the stubbornness, lack of experience in key positions and in some cases, a brazen arrogance has left Charlton a soulless shell of a club. 
 
The first two episodes are available on the links below.
 
 
 
Episodes 3 and 4 will be released early next year, which gives plenty of time to digest the first two. It will be very interesting to see the fall-out from this, especially from those who have decided to stick their head in the sand and ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet's ownership.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Karl's Short Stay?

 
"I am honoured to have been appointed Manager of Charlton and can’t wait to get started"
 
Hmm, sooner you start the job, Karl, the closer you are to the end, I guess.

Probably closer than you'd think...

Anyway, as easy as it is to not give a single ounce of shit who manages this shambles of a football club at the present time, I genuinely welcome Karl Robinson to Charlton. Quite what his motivation is to take the poison chalice remains to be seen. Perhaps he is a man confident (or arrogant) enough to believe he is the answer to whatever he perceives the problems to be, or maybe he's skint, naïve or just plain stupid? Who knows.

I feel totally indifferent about Robinson the manager, but even so, I will back him from the outset. That is not something that will be afforded to Roland and his hapless side-kick. You do understand why, don't you Karl? It is the reason the protests can't and won't stop, by the way.

Ok, I admit it, I am surprised we've not reverted to one of Duchatelet's network flunkies. Sacking Slade so soon devalues the argument Roland has changed course, but even so, we haven't reverted to type, and that's worth something. Whilst not without his critics, Karl has a promotion from this division under his belt, even at the age of 36, so on the face of it, and under a clear blue sky, this wouldn't seem such a bad appointment. Sadly the dark clouds continue to gather, and whilst the root problem remains, there is no obvious break in the gloom.

Robinson's appointment will undoubtedly create further unwelcome divisions in Charlton's fanbase. Already I'm seeing a decent amount of people who believe we should give Karl the same protest moratorium afforded to Slade. CARD have said otherwise and I for one back them. Despite the hard evidence suggesting otherwise, some people still believe the protests are having an adverse effect on the team, whilst others think they are killing the matchday atmosphere. Personally I think the three games won by Charlton at The Valley following notable protest action provided by a country mile the best atmosphere.

As I've said a number of times, if I had just one wish I'd rid my club of Meire and Duchatelet in a flash before I ever considered the option of Charlton winning promotion. Therefore Robinson instantly becomes a subplot to a horror story so depressingly gut-wrenching it's hard to see a happy ending. A story in which Robinson might just prove to be a hero, but the real villain of the piece must be stopped first.  

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

To Go, Or Not To Go...

 
To go, or not to go, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer yet another torturous day at The Valley Floyd Road,
The slings and arrows of protest incentivise,
To take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing the Regime, end them: to see them gone,
No more, and by the grace of God we end them,
The heart-ache over, and thousands of lost Addicks and all hope returns,
 
My apologies to Shakespeare for the above, but my rather poor attempt to rework his famous Soliloquy piece does seems to work quite well, for me at least!
 
I'm sat here in front of my laptop, mouse hovering over the cheapest ticket option I can find for Saturday's visit of Sheffield United, wondering if I can actually be arsed. I desperately long for a time I can look forward to going to Charlton again, but the truth is, nothing inside of me actually wants to go. I'm considering it only because it's ingrained in me to do so. Routine. Habit. Tradition. To be fair, the 'just put up with the shit and back the boys' mob won't miss my apathy, so perhaps I'm better off out of it. I don't want to spoil their 'matchday experience'!
 
But then again, I want to action my right to protest as well. Tricky predicament.

I face a 90 mile round trip on my tod, which under normal circumstances has never been a problem as I've often been grateful of the solitude. Nowadays the lonely journey feels like the a trip to the dentist, knowing at the end of the journey is a very painful procedure.
 
My mind tormented the whole journey with memories of brighter days...
 
I can't do behind the goal so my best option is £20 for a Lower West ticket in the block nearest the away fans, where I might at least expect a bit of an atmosphere. The Blades will come in numbers as they always do, whilst the numbers at The Valley continue to dwindle alarmingly.

I held the same seat for close to two decades, but I've become a nomadic supporter these days; drifting aimlessly...much like my club.
 
Nothing against Temporary Kev and his battle-weary charges. It was a brilliant result last night. It looks like Franchise FC's reject, Karl Robinson, will be named as our new manager today, which I'll admit is a welcome surprise. Not because I'm a fan of Robinson - I'm not particularly - but because I did think we would return to Uncle Rolly's Network model. Either way, a few decent results changes nothing. This has never been about results alone. This is about the unforgivable mismanagement of my club that has left it as embarrassing as it is shambolic. It's become hard to love and painfully easy to resent.

I'll have a coffee then decide. Might see you at The Valley, might not...

Monday, 14 November 2016

Zombie Club...


As those heroes pictured above were taking the protests direct to Roland's own Belgian back yard (complete with a wonderfully decorated London cab), back home Talksport's Jim White continued to give the crisis much-appreciated air time with another discussion on his lunchtime show.  
 
Within the conversation financial columnist and football writer, Matt Scott, described Charlton as a "sad, sad situation" before suggesting Charlton was once "one of the finest places to go in London" and had since become a "husk of a club". Most heartbreakingly accurate of all his observations, Matt described Charlton as a "Zombie club, drifting around in the 3rd tier of English football".
 
Matt came across as knowledgeable and hugely sympathetic of our plight, noting the failure of Duchatelet's strategy and the irreparable situation going forward under this ownership.
 
The full segment from Jim's show can be found here.
 
Roland was said to be 'very unhappy' that Charlton fans had come over to Belgium intent on embarrassing him and interrupting his 70th birthday celebrations. I cannot praise my fellow Addicks enough for whatever personal sacrifices they made in making this trip, and I hope to God it's rattled our owner into careful reflection.
 
I won't hold my breathe, but the war of attrition continues apace. Roland's 'very unhappy' does not even come remotely close to how I feel about what my club has become.   

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

12 Months On; A Protest Retrospective

Photo by @pedward72
Is it really 12 months ago that just before our 3-1 home victory against Sheffield Wednesday disgruntled Addicks took to the back of the West Stand in what would be the first protest against Duchatelet's failing regime? Those present that day will recall the moment the hapless Katrien Meire appeared at a window looking down on us all (in more ways than one) with her trademark sniggering smile, taking photos of the hundreds of fans, young and old, amassed below. It was hard not to view her actions that day as a sign of contempt for the customer base her and her megalomaniac boss appear to have such little regard for.   
 
A win that afternoon done little to quell the concerns, and at the time I commented "the bittersweet feeling post match was that this win could hand Fraeye the job full time. Nothing personal, Karel, but I hope this was your last match in charge".
 
How wrong I was...and how harmful it would turn out to be that it wasn't his last game.
 
Within a few days Meire was at it again at the Fan's Forum, where, amongst other gems that included the most awkward PowerPoint presentation you will ever see, she suggested "we have improved with every manager we have had. They have been the right decisions". The same night she laughably claimed just 2% of Charlton fans were unhappy at the way the club was being run.
 
Later that month Meire would provide us disgruntled fans with a rare update full of those empty words we have sadly become so accustomed. It also included the first mention of the hilariously ambitious and mysterious Target 20k fan focus group. Once you'd picked yourself up off the floor laughing at the prospect of group aiming for regular gates of 20k, it became way too easy to be cynical about their creation, especially with Meire desperate to tell the ever-critical media that she was 'talking to fans'. In a recent poll of over 700 Addicks, 91% suggested they wanted T20k to disband on the bases they do not represent the current views of Charlton fans, and yet, oddly enough, they remain one of the few groups willing to speak with Meire and her senior management team.

Make of that what you will...  
 
Meanwhile, the West Stand protests continued post-match at the next few home game...with numbers steadily growing despite cold, uninviting winter evenings.

Over the Christmas period the now-infamous Irish web seminar video of Katrien Meire appeared, to further pour fuel on the already raging fire. In it, Meire claimed she found it "weird that fans feel a sense of ownership of a club". She also suggested Charlton would become some sort of breading ground for future Premiership stars. Not quite what I wanted to hear.

Around the same time Meire claimed she had little regard for Charlton's history, although, oddly enough, she claims she's been misinterpreted on that.  
 
On the pitch, and now into January, Charlton continued to edge ever-closer to relegation despite Duchatelet's assurances it wasn't going to happen. Finally, after that horrendous defeat away at Huddersfield in mid-Jan, Karel Fraeye got the boot. Out of his depth from the outset, his appointment incensed Charlton fans who felt we'd been lied to about the true intentions of his appointment. 
 
The night will also be remembered for Hendo's emotional press conference after the game when he was left to apologise for the mess created by those running the club. It was a night that was probably the beginning of the end for him as well, sadly.   
 
A few days later CAST announced the inaugural meeting of The Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD), who had had been formed from various fan groups with a view to organise specific protests against the Regime. In my opinion, it was exactly what Charlton fans needed. We might all have a voice, and the overwhelming feeling was of despair at the mismanagement of our club, but ultimately there was a desperate need to coordinate action against a Regime that was showing no signs of changing course.

Unsurprisingly the next home game saw the biggest post-match protest yet, with thousands outside the West Stand calling for Duchatelet to get out of our club.

For the home game against Blackburn in late January CARD first began encouraging fans to avoid spending a penny more on official programmes, club merchandise and refreshments etc. The same game also saw a fan ejected from the ground for displaying a non-offensive banner (it simply stated that 'We Want Our Club Back'). Charlton's public relations took yet another sizable hit.

In early February a highly emotive billboard poster appeared near the roundabout of Bugsby's Way and Anchor and Hope Lane; a short walk from the Valley. At his point, with Charlton fans relationship with the club in serious decline, it had been two months since we'd last heard anything whatsoever from Meire. It appeared she'd gone to ground, hoping this awful mess would blow over.

In late Feb, for the home game against Reading, CARD produced the first of their unofficial matchday programmes with a retro feel (an idea that the club would later copy for their own publication). Amongst other points, it included the 'Sorry Situation' page seen to the left that suggested Duchatelet's spending was being loaded onto the club in the form of a debt, with some suggesting the 'loan' carries around 3% interest. Not quite the investment some would have us believe then? On the same day, some 20 Charlton fans travelled to Belgium to take the protests to Duchatelet's own back yard, Sint-Truiden.

By now, the appeal of shouting at the rear of the West Stand in the cold, knowing Meire wasn't taking a blind bit of notice, was well and truly wearing thin, and the protest numbers began to dwindle.

A new approach would be required.

Under the full glare of the Sky cameras it was the for the visit of Middlesbrough that CARD took the protests up a notch or two. Before the game there was a superbly executed mock funeral procession from the Lib Club to the Valley that was observed by hundreds if not thousands along the route. Within seconds of the kick off a barrage of black and white beach balls rained down on the pitch and bought the proceedings to a sudden halt. As the ground staff frantically tried to clear the pitch the Charlton fans stood as one to sing anti-Duchatelet songs in front of a live TV audience. Unsurprisingly, Sky images showed Meire sniggering away, presumably finding the customer unrest weird. The chasm between her and the fans could not get wider. Her position long-since became untenable.

The following evening, Charlton's much-maligned owner, Mr. Duchatelet, himself issued this incredible statement condemning those fighting for the future of their club. Widely criticised, it served only to galvanise the protesting fans and gain a wider sympathetic audience.

Later that same month, and around the time that the season ticket renewal forms were dropping on our door mats, CARD brilliantly took the protests to a new level by targeting a meeting between club and potential sponsors based at both Sparrows Lane and The Valley with a mobile ad campaign (left).

In early April, Charlton fortunes on the pitch looked doomed even after a home win against Birmingham, courtesy of a late, late stoppage time winner by Teixeira. The goal remains the last one I have genuinely celebrated as an Addick. Once again, the start of the game was disrupted for a number of minutes whilst the ground staff cleared thousands of black and white stress balls from the pitch.

By the middle of the same month, Charlton were relegated. The most avoidable of relegations. In an all-too-rare statement, Meire said "This is not the time for excuses. We apologise for our mistakes and now need to learn from them". Learning from their mistakes is something this Regime shows no signs of doing, even now.

Towards the end of April our good friends from Brighton joined Addicks on a pre-match walk from the Lib Club to the Valley. Some estimated up to 5,000 people joined the procession. In what was becoming a permanent fixture, the start of the game was stopped by more black and white beach balls and balloons.

By the time the final home game came around, Charlton had taken the most extreme protest counter-measure and installed netting in front of the Covered End, presumably expecting more objects on the pitch. It has become a lamentable reality of this current Charlton regime that instead of trying to heal wounds, they continue to battle against the will of the fans. Ironically, disrupting the game was not on CARD's agenda this time, and instead the main focus was a very effective West Stand car park sit-in protest pre-match.

Towards the end of the first half two Charlton fans created what will arguably become one of the most iconic images of this struggle in years to come (pic left) as the chants of Liar, Liar, Liar ran out across the Valley.

A pitch invasion followed the final whistle, where, symbolically, the much-maligned 'fans sofa' was quite literally ripped apart, never to be seen again.

In early June it may have appeared that the Regime had finally learned from their lessons with the appointment of Russell Slade and a few English based signings. It wasn't enough to get me to renew my season ticket, and like many others, I remained unconvinced that the leopard had changed its spots.

In mid July the hugely recognisable face of 'Big' Dave Lockwood boosted the anti-Regime movement by resigning from his long-standing role as matchday announcer to very publically join the protests.

For the start of the new season CARD had announced it would temporarily cease with the protests to give Russell Slade as much chance as possible to get off to a good start, but following a string of woeful, uninspiring performances and ever-falling gates they announced a resumption of protest action, starting with the home game against Coventry, who themselves were a club under a very dark cloud.

No sooner had they made the call to arms, Meire invited them in for a cosy chat. Unsurprisingly, CARD refused, stating, correctly, that the 'situation was irretrievable under her management'.

And so, gaining wide-world coverage, Charlton and Coventry fans proved  pigs can fly, following another well attended march to The Valley pre-match.

Off the pitch Charlton's charm offensive continued with a young fan needlessly and heavily man-handled outside of the Valley by the club's own private security. They really don't help themselves, do they?

By mid-October more evidence of club attempting to censor its fan base reared its ugly head after a committee member of a Charlton supporter group felt compelled to resign after being pulled up for negative anti-regime comments he had made via a private social media account. The incident lead to Charlton fans making similarities between Duchatelet's Regime and a certain oppressive regime in East Asia!

Photo by @pedward72
A few days later we saw that superb plane stunt at Gillingham, paid for by one single supporter, proving the depth of feeling and the extent to which fans were willing to invest their own money to remove Duchatelet from Charlton.

So that pretty much brings us bang up to date, with the last notable protest action on 'Free Speech Day' when Addicks were encouraged to bring along home-made anti-Regime banners for the home game against Chesterfield. Sadly, the declining gates at The Valley diluted the impact on the day, but once again, plenty of press coverage got the message out there.

So what next? Perhaps that's a question for another piece (this one is plenty long enough as it is). In my humble opinion, CARD and the vast majority of protestors have kept the moral high-ground by not resorting to any action that could be interpreted as illegal, violent, xenophobic or misogynistic. In mixing some clever initiatives with no small measure of humour, CARD and the protesting Charlton fans have ensured plenty of public exposure, interest, sympathy and ever-growing support. There will always be those who want protest action to be more extreme, just as there are those who want it all to stop, but the battle (or 'war' as Meire likes to call it) will not be won overnight, and a carefully considered approach gets my support.

The sustained, unrelenting, high-profile protest campaign must continue until they go. We will get our Charlton back...  

As a footnote; in true Hungry Ted fashion I've done no credible research on the above whatsoever, so if I'm widely out with the chronological order of events, or missed something important, please feel free to pull me up!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Free Speech Day...

Photo by @MarcoCasualty
Around a sparsely populated Valley the occasional protest banner was visible, but I would doubt Meire or her senior management team bothered to strain their eyes to read any of them. Many fans had put a great deal of effort into their critical creations, but sadly, in such an apathetic atmosphere, Free Speech Day came and went with only a tiny fraction of the impact of those foam pigs.
 
In a week when Meire claimed some ground back with those who will know no better, the protests needed a big impact. Instead, it looked a little like the wind had been taken out of our sails.
 
Earlier in the week I had screamed with every ounce of breath I had at the radio when Meire claimed relegation was the reason 4,000+ season ticket holders had not renewed and gates had fallen. No admission of her own breathtakingly poor mismanagement.
 
Sadly, today I could barely be bothered to cheer our winning goal. 
 
Remarkably, yesterday's win lifts Charlton into 14th and to within 4 points of a Play-Off spot. Proof, if you need it, that the standard of League One is shockingly poor.  
 
Photo by @MarcoCasualty
Next week we host Scunthorpe at the Valley in the FA Cup when only the lower sections of the North and West will be open. If the gate exceeds 3,500 I will be genuinely surprised, and for those hardy souls who do turn out we can expect the odd image posted on social media that may well be the vision of the Valley in the not-too-distant future. As Charlton continue to decline under this cancerous regime, you might even expect the upper tiers of both of those stands to be shut permanently.
 
I will not be attending, and beyond that I'm afraid I just can't say anymore. Yesterday was truly awful; entertainment value of zero. Other than the company of @MarcoCasualty and @Robontiod there was nothing whatsoever about yesterday that I enjoyed. The football under Slade is a glaring indictment of why he has never seen promotion in over two decades of management, and the atmosphere was as dead as I've ever know it for a league game in the same period.
 
Charlton's official attendance was given as 10,153, but the reality was nearer 7,500 at best, and this on the day that kids could get in for one singular pound! Compare that with the 22,151 that were in attendance the last time Chesterfield came to the Valley in 2011 (figures courtesy of a tweet posted by @JoeHallWords).
 
A loss of 12,000 fans in a relatively short period since Duchatelet bought our cub. Just let that sink in for a brief moment... 
 
I know only too well that my attendance is nothing more than a sorry and pathetic attempt to cling to the very thinnest threads of hope, whilst all along I know in my heart I want them out so much more than I want Charlton to win. As the war of attrition continues, and in the absence of any direct or believable action from the club to halt the decline, it seems clear Meire will stubbornly hold out for a time when Charlton's fan base is a small and manageable group of clapping seals who'll 'back the boys' blissfully and will put up with any old shit.
 
Just imagine what level we'll be playing at by then?
 
I've resisted the thought to some degree, but yesterday confirmed to me that a full boycott may well be the only way forward. If not harmful to a club that doesn't care about it's fan base, it might be better for my own mind state...    

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Repressive, Despotic, Paranoid...


The author of the tweets above posted them openly on twitter last night (remember, on twitter the posts read bottom up chronologically) around the time that Russell Slade was taking a page out of Katrien Meire's 'Book of Successful Public Speaking' with a harsh and inappropriate dig at the 250 odd hardy souls who travelled up to Vale Park to witness another defensive tactical disaster.
 
I doff my cap to the author of those tweets, who by way of action, resigned from a very well respected Charlton supporter group rather than conform to the sycophants and flunkies. A man of obvious principles - something not found within the senior management of this once-proud football club. His actions leave him free to protest.
 
Oh dear, Charlton, what on earth have you become?
 
In the space of a few days a young fan is set-upon outside the Valley (ironically, for waving a North Korean flag during Saturdays game) by the Regime's heavy-handed covert security team, the manager has a dig at loyal fans to disguise his own failings, and now indisputable proof that censorship is at large.
 
Roland, Katrien, Tony...if you don't like the comparisons to a repressive, despotic, paranoid regime, then don't do things to make you out to be acting like a repressive, despotic, paranoid regime.
 
Pretty simple really, even for you lot...
 
I'm not flattering myself to assume the critical words wrote by myself regularly on this blog are known to the club, but on the off-chance they are, I have a simple message. Please go now. You are killing this club. My club. The demise of Charlton is way beyond any heartbreak you will ever understand not being fans of the club. Be under no illusions that your mismanagement is the reason we are in this mess, and the situation is non-recoverable. Progression can only happen when you have gone.
 
This is a war of attrition you will not win.   

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Pigs Do Fly...

It remains symptomatic of the sad times we're in that for a great many of us what is happening off the pitch has taken a greater significance to matters on it.

It's likely that had CARD not announced the protest action would recommence from today, I may not have even attended, such is my apathy and immense disillusionment for the current state of Charlton.
 
I'm glad I did bother. Adding my voice to the crowd offered a cathartic release that I needed.  
 
Many would have broken their self-imposed boycotts to stand shoulder to shoulder with Coventry City fans for the short walk from the Lib Club down Floyd Road to The Valley.
 
It would ordinarily be a story in itself that two sets of rival fans can mix freely and openly work together for a common cause, but the big headline was stolen by Porky, Wilbur, Percy, Rasher, Peppa, Pinky, Perky and a few thousand of their little squishy mates!  
 
No sooner had the game started, for 7 glorious minutes, whilst ground staff and players cleared the pitch of piles of foam pigs, social media was working on overdrive to spread the word. In no time at all, sympathetic approval poured in from everywhere. The exposure reminds people of the shocking nature of our demise, and embarrasses two failing regimes nationally.
 
I have no idea if Katrien held on to her trademark smirk throughout the break in play, but even with such arrogance it cannot have been a comfortable time sat in the directors box surrounded by so many people who want the regime she leads with such inglorious ineptitude gone forever. 
 
  
Of course we all long for a time this sort of action isn't required, and hopefully days like today push us a few steps closer to the conclusion we dream about. Two clubs on their knees due to the staggering incompetence of their owners. Two sets of fans that care so much more than the unwanted custodians of their clubs. Two sets of fans that will not allow their clubs to die.
 
And somewhere mixed up in all this drama was a game of football, which, despite plenty of nervy moments, Charlton won 3 zero, if not as convincingly as the scoreline would suggest. The win was the first I'd seen since we beat Birmingham way back in early April, when, coincidentally, there was major protest action. Post match Chris Solly joked that perhaps we should 'bring pigs to every game if that's the result', which will really upset the protest naysayers and Roland apologists who prefer to have us all believe that those poor players are suffering terribly under the grey clouds of the protests.
 
As switched on as Solly clearly is, I was disappointed to hear Slade refer to the protests in a post match interview alongside comments on our league position. I was left wondering if he actually gets what the protests are for. Internal censorship at work, perhaps? Maybe Meire has convinced him that a few wins and we'll all calm down.
 
 
For Charlton it was a good result on the pitch but arguably more importantly for both sets of fans it was a very decent result off it. The fight continues...

UPDATE: Since writing this post late Saturday night I've picked up on the story of the young fan who, by all accounts, was needlessly and heavily man-handled by what appears to be members of a private, plain clothed security firm whilst leaving the Valley. It would appear his 'crime' was waving a North Korean flag throughout the game. I saw him with it plenty of times, notably behind the visitor dugout area. Of all Saturday's protest action it appears this act has upset someone of high importance enough for the young lad to be tracked and followed to the exits before being set upon. A cheeky dig at the running of Roland's regime, perhaps, instantly censored by heavy-handed minions.

Very Kim Jong-un! How laughably ironic! 

Quite what rule he's broken remains to be seen, and I would fully expect the club to make a very swift public statement to clarify their precarious position on this. Setting about your own fans is not a smart move at all. It's also worth noting that one of the two gentlemen identified by many as the perpetrators of the assault appeared in an image (see Kyle' post here) sat in the director box during the game. Perhaps somebody expected trouble that never materialised, but the high-leader's henchmen had a bit of pent up energy they wanted to burn?

Friday, 7 October 2016

Meeting Cancelled...

So Katrien want's a cosy chat with the CARD, eh? Well I'll admit I never saw that one coming. Duchatelet and Meire have chosen to ignore the growing discontent amongst Charlton's fan base for far too long and thankfully, and unsurprisingly, CARD have declined the meeting through the release of this statement, which ends with this blunt appraisal.
 
"CARD therefore endorses the view previously put forward by the supporters' trust that the situation is irretrievable under your management and under Roland Duchatelet's ownership. You had two years to talk and you declined to do so. Now it is time for you to go"
 
Bravo, CARD. Superbly put.
 
I've always felt that Meire's approach is not all about arrogance, but as much about that child-like approach of thinking that if you ignore a problem for long enough it will eventually go away. Perhaps, finally, Meire has realised that the dark clouds will not disperse on their own, although it's more likely her outsourced PR machine has failed in an attempt to save face with the protests about to resume. Every time she's created a PR disaster for herself or the club, or has made decisions that have proven to be undeniably wrong, I get the impression she hopes a few wins on the pitch will calm everyone down and we'll all move on. Regardless of whether she's managed to surround herself with a close circle of sycophants, even Katrien must begin to wonder if she's in the right job. Money aside, quite what she's getting out of it beggars belief.
 
I expect the club to now make public their disappointment that attempts to reach out to fans have been rebuffed and what a shame that is, blah, blah, blah. Don't worry, Target20k, I'm sure Meire still loves you...  
 
I can't deny it, I'm struggling massively with Charlton at the moment. Of the three home games I've watched this season I've yet to be inspired by anything I've seen on the pitch and the falling attendances are beyond depressing. This is the lowest the club has been in terms of league position since I've been a regular supporter, and there are no signs it will improve.  
 
Of the games I've attended, I felt absolutely no emotion whatsoever whenever we've scored or even when Johnnie missed that penalty. I'd hoped things might be different under Slade, but his cautious and unattractive style of football is a depressing appendage of Roland's dark and depressing regime. I get now why Slade has never seen promotion as a manager.
 
I've also come to realise that I cannot easily coexist with those fellow Addicks who want me to ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet and Meire and to simply 'back the boys' in a naïve belief that success on the pitch is even achievable, let alone would lift the gloom. I'm also growing quite resentful of those who actually think the protest action is the reason Charlton are shit. I'm a fair-minded man and I can understand, even if I don't agree, with those folk who just want to turn up and blindly watch the football, just as they've always done, clapping like seals, but I just can't do it anymore.
 
Because of that, I came away from the Rochdale defeat convinced I was done with Charlton until this regime has gone. In the space of 7 months (which, by coincidence, is around the time I last saw Charlton win) I've gone from a loyal season ticket holder of some 20 years, who's missed little more than a half dozen home games in that time, to a man more than capable of completely walking away.
 
But with CARD resuming their protest action, I now have an undeniable incentive to attend the Coventry game. I've got a ticket for the Lower West (coincidentally that's where I've been sitting this year anyway, now I have the freedom to choose a seat anywhere) and I will voice my discontent with everything I have.
 
What happens on the pitch is largely irrelevant to me now, sadly my only motivation is to fight for the future of my club in the slim hope I can get back to those days I miss so much, when winning felt wonderful and losing really hurt.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A New Low...

 
"There was no consistency that we have seen before. We lost our identity a little bit tonight, from where we've been at. We looked devoid of ideas"
 
Words above from Russell Slade post match. I guess that's why he's a professional football manager and I'm not. My view is that the 'consistency' he laments as missing from last night's draw is what I'm recognising as the dull, unambitious football we've seen under his management. I came to the Valley hoping not to see it, but instead the alternative was indescribably shitter than before. 
 
I agree with him that we were 'devoid of idea', but that has been a constant all season. Slade's conservative approach as much the reason we are mid-table as Duchatelet or Meire's immense failings. His reference to a 'loss of identity' hit very, very hard with me. I might well be unfairly extending the context beyond what Slade was directly referencing to, but a loss of identity is the sorest of points, and he needs to know why it touches a very raw nerve...
 
Last night's depressing draw with Oldham was up there with that woeful Carling Cup defeat to Wycombe at The Valley in December '06, when the hapless Les Reed cut a lonely figure in the dugout. Similar in stature and effectiveness, Slade may well be looking over his shoulder nervously, with Duchatelet desperate to tell us all that the weird British experiment us protestors forced upon him never worked, before reverting to his tried and failed network model. And so the cycle continues. 
 
In the farce that is Charlton Athletic, one could be easily believe that Slade has been told not to win games by the clueless Meire because Rolly doesn't want to pay win bonuses...
 
Just 8,500 home fans bothered to turn up last night, which would be depressing enough if the reality wasn't worst still. My estimates put the 'real' attendance closer to 7,500, but even that might be generous. It says a lot that the gate is dropping so alarmingly that even the club can't spin the numbers into double figures in an attempt to save face. With the standard of football at an all-time low and without even the smallest shred of evidence that things on and off the pitch will improve any time soon, I can't believe there is an incentive to go, even for the hardiest fan.
 
Still, not Meire's fault, is it, Sue Parkes? 
 
Beyond blind loyalty that is hard to break, I can't really explain why I went last night. I got a ticket in the West Stand just to shake up my 'matchday experience' but the picture looked just a grim from there. I wonder if my attendance is more like a form of macabre voyeurism, like a rubbernecker taking in the car-crash, joyless, uninviting drama that is Charlton Athletic.
 
What is wrong with me?
 
Like a complete fool, I bet I still go on Saturday. I'm in Southwark on business in the morning and with 80% of my journey south covered, I thought a trip to the Valley would give me something to look forward to after work. I certainly won't buy a ticket in advance now, and will see how I feel on the day.  

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Great Mystery of CAFC Target 20k...

Given the current state of Charlton Athletic on and off the field, it would be very easy to mistake CAFC Target20k as just another parody twitter account set up by a mischievous fan looking for some cheap laughs. To have aspirations of attracting 20k fans to the Valley is genuinely funny, so in that respect, it works perfectly well. The problem is, it's not a parody account, it's a real 'thing', albeit a very mysterious one.
 
The committee has, in it's own words, designs to 'improve the matchday experience, attracting new support and retain current support'. All well and good, you might think. No fair minded Addick would argue against that, right?
 
So why do I feel like Target 20k is contributing to a problem, not solving one? 
 
It is impossible not to be cynical about the way in which Target 20k has come about, who is behind it and who exactly is benefiting from its existence. When they first emerged I questioned T20k via Twitter as to why they were a faceless organisation and whomever replied on their behalf stated that they feared abuse from Charlton fans. I can only have assumed was because of their uncharacteristically positive standpoint that was the polar opposite of what the vast majority of Addicks were feeling then and now. I replied that, in my opinion, by remaining anonymous it completely devalued their position and opened them up to suspicion. To my knowledge (and believe me, I've lazily not done a single second of research for the benefit of this piece), the members of T20k remain faceless, bar a member that left in April as the 'real issues were being ignored' and the most recent departure directly after Wednesday's meeting when a member was asked to resign after releasing some details in advance of an 'agreed time'. Sceptics might wonder if the 'agreed time' was set to allow the club a chance to portray the contents of that meeting via the OS to suit their own agenda. As I say, only sceptics would think that...
 
Oh, did I mention that Roland was there on Wednesday?    
 
For reasons that only Katrien Meire can answer, our much-maligned and otherwise fan-dismissive CEO has strangely embraced T20k in a way that is the complete opposite to every other group, including CAST. I, like many others, are left wondering why this group of individuals gained her attention enough that she was prepared to talk with them. With T20k remaining anonymous, it is no surprise there is a growing view that they have simply become a propaganda machine for a woefully failing regime. The last thing Charlton fans need right now.  
 
In having the occasional chat with T20k, Katrien Meire can rightly claim to be talking to 'fans' about 'improving Charlton', and thus straight-batting some of the negative press surrounding the club. Meanwhile, beyond the same words being repeated time and time again, nothing appears to change.
 
With no light at the end of the tunnel, Charlton's demise remains heart-breaking.
 
Only yesterday former Charlton media man and Addick, Jimmy Stone, ran a poll on twitter simply asking whether CAFC Target 20k should disband, with 91% of the 714 people who voted saying yes. That's a pretty clear indication that the vast majority of Addicks do not feel T20k speaks for them and would prefer them gone.
 
Rumours that Meire is trying to round up the 9% who want T20k to remain to bolster the group are unsubstantiated at the moment. 
 
Whilst I don't doubt the intentions of those individuals involved with T20k were anything other than sincere from the outset, no more than I would question whether they are actually Addicks, it's my personal view that they have allowed over time Meire and Duchatelet to use them as a smoke-screen for the mind-bogglingly appalling communications we typically associate with Charlton under this regime.

What is most alarming for me is that despite supposedly representing us, the fans, T20k clearly do not feel they have the responsibility to reveal the details of the meeting they are privalaged to attend, especially when Rolly turns up unannounced (not my perception - check their twitter account and you'll see). They talk of 'confidential minutes' taken, claiming they are not something they can distribute.

Let that sink in before drawing your own conclusions. 
 
Perhaps the greatest action T20k can do for the betterment of Charlton Athletic is to disband?    

Monday, 19 September 2016

First Impressions, Same Problems...

Normally a Saturday at the football is what gets me through the week. I say normally, it's been that way for as long as I can remember, up until early October of last year when I first began to accept things felt very different. Instead of counting down the days to get behind my team I was dreading it. I still went: enduring matches rather than enjoying them. Having a season ticket made me go.
 
Fast forward nearly 12 months and my lack of enthusiasm feels worryingly normal. I could have not bothered on Saturday even as late as when I was tying my shoelaces by the front door, wondering what I was doing with my life. No longer a season ticket holder, and with my home-printed ticket in hand, I reluctantly made my way to The Valley.
 
As documented in my previous couple of posts, Saturday was my first game of the season, so my first chance to take a look at Slade's new-look Charlton. I wasn't impressed. A serious lack of positive intention, verve and creativity continues to blight the team. Remember, this was AFC Wimbledon at home (with all due respect, blah, blah, blah...) and a game Charlton have to be expected to win if we are to believe there's any chance of a quick escape from League One. The effort appeared there, but the application was embarrassingly predictable and tactically basic at best.
 
Our two  most creative players, Lookman and Holmes, looked frustrated at times, surrounded by players more likely to destroy the momentum they were trying to build. Ulvestad and Crofts worked hard enough but neither appeared willing, or perhaps capable, to play anything other than the easiest option sideways. Ajose was non-existent, whilst at the back I struggled to understand how young Konsa is picked ahead of Bauer if the latter is fully fit and willing. I don't know if it's typical of Slade's style or not, but people will not be flocking back to The Valley to see our defence lump long balls forward to the sizable figure that is Megennis, that's for sure.
 
Mind you, perhaps I'm no longer the right person to judge...
 
Talking of crowds, Charlton announced an attendance of 11,927 for Saturday's game. I'm genuinely curious about this. Whilst it is obvious that inflating the true attendance will help hide the embarrassment of falling gates, surely there is an issue with gate revenue and what has to be declared in relation to the true attendance? I'd love to know the finer details of what clubs are allowed to manipulate to suit their own agendas (clearly they can, as I'm not suggesting anything illegal). CARD have announced they will provide a more realistic figure going forward, but I'm not quite sure how they will achieve this as their agenda (to which I obviously back 100%) is the polar opposite of the club. My own estimate puts Saturday's gate at around 9,500-10,000 at best, and this, remember, a London derby.
 
My own son didn't want to come, and I attempted to give his ticket away for free via Twitter. No takers, unsurprisingly.
 
On the plus side, I sat with Paul, who I was very pleased to bump into on the East Stand concourse. We both gave up our old ST seats last season, and I wondered if I'd see him much going forward. It's good, honest chaps like him, and others who cannot bring themselves to attend just yet, that are the last remaining incentive to go...
 
The only positive thing about my continual Charlton apathy is Wimbledon's late winner was never going to spoil my evening, let alone my weekend as it would have in the past. I don't thank Meire or Duchatelet for that, though. I want to have the hump in defeat because I want it to mean everything again. Sadly, the one thing Saturday confirmed to me is that it doesn't.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Forcing Myself...

I got an alert on my phone this morning reminding me to get a ticket for Saturday. I recall setting it up just before the season got underway, knowing already that this was likely to be my first game. As a season ticket holder of 20-odd years I wouldn't have needed to worry about a matchday ticket, but times are very different now, in so many respects. There were plenty of occasions over the summer when I doubted my own strength not to renew, more because of tradition than desire, but discarding the forms was as easy as opening the bin. 
 
The immense sadness I felt when I made that symbolic gesture of leaving my old booklet at the feet of Sam Bartram last season has long-since faded, but the deep resentment for those behind my decision has not. This current Charlton is not the club I fell in love with, and the cancer within it makes it impossible for me to see a future at all, let alone one to get excited about.  
 
The sad truth is there is not a single bit of me that is remotely excited about going on Saturday, and I have quite literally forced myself to buy the ticket. To try and attempt to create an angle to look forward to I've got my son a ticket as well, but I would be very surprised if he wants to go and I certainly won't force him. 
 
The problem is, once a cycle is broken, it can be very hard to get it back. Having made the decision to miss Bolton the one thing I do realise is how easy it is not to bother when you don't own a ST. In the dead of winter, when I face the prospect of a lonely 3hr round trip to the Valley, will I bother when we're sat mid-table, convincing nobody of our genuine ambition? At the moment, I very much doubt it...
 
My local team are not at home and I don't have other plans I'm sacrificing to attend the game, so it says a lot that potentially doing nothing still seems more appealing than going to watch Charlton. In many respects I'm shocked and surprised at my own apathy, but I just don't have the buzz anymore. If I could change that I'd do it in a flash, but then again if I had that power I'd rid my club of Duchatelet and Meire first.
 
I know there are a growing number who are getting behind Slade and the boys, deliberately or perhaps naturally ignoring the protests. Fair play to them. There is a clear change of approach on the pitch in terms of management and player recruitment, that much I will happily admit, but I remain unconvinced that Roland has added 'ambition' to his highly questionable intentions. For me, too much damage has been done in 2.5yrs of disgraceful mismanagement and it will take a whole lot more than the appointment of Slade and a few British-based players to convince me of change.
 
But having said all of the above, I would love nothing more than to admit to feeling differently come 5pm Saturday. The result will not alter my opinion; I've seen Charlton lose far more times than we've won! No, this isn't about league standings or results. What I hope for is that deep feeling I get inside my belly when I first see the Valley as I turn into Ransom Walk and exit under the railway arches. It's the sense of belonging that comes with the routines I've forged over two decades of regular attendance. It's the smell of the burgers and fags, and the sounds of the bustling crowd. It's the people I stop and talk to. It's the people I've sat with for many, many years. It's the friends I've made. It's the sense of pride when I hear the Red, Red Robin and see my team walk out. It's that little glance up to the Charlton badge atop the West Stand just before kick-off that (sometimes) brings us luck. It's cheering a goal like it means everything.
 
I just want my team to mean everything again...
 
It's everything Meire and Rolly wouldn't understand.
 
See you Saturday. Come on you Addicks!!! 

Monday, 1 August 2016

See You Mid-September...

A few days until it all kicks off again, and yet there has never been a time I've been less bothered about a new season ahead. In years gone by I'd carefully plan my family summer holiday around the football fixtures, but leaving for a two week break on Thursday has come at a perfect time to forget completely about the lamentable state of my club.
 
I'll miss Northampton and Shrewsbury whilst I sun myself in Mexico, and I'm very seriously considering missing Bolton in favour of an annual drink in Cambridge that gathers together the mates I grew up with. In many cases, it's the only chance I get to see them nowadays. I've missed so many of them down the years if they've fallen on a Saturday Charlton were at home, but the lure to prioritise my life has never been stronger.
 
If I did miss Bolton, it would be the first time in over 20yrs that I will have decided not to attend a game of my own free will. Of the half-a-dozen or so home games I have missed in that time, every one would have been unavoidable through holidays and weddings etc.    
 
No need to pass my season ticket on for somebody else to use...I don't have one anymore. I imagine I'd have had trouble finding takers anyway. At least Meire cannot include me in what is likely to be woeful, ever-declining attendances, boosted only by the club's desperate attempts to mask the embarrassment by issuing reams of free tickets to local residents and schools etc.
 
I predict the North Upper will be closed by Christmas, with dwindling numbers threatening the Upper West as well...
 
And yet I was pleased with Slade's appointment. I thought at the time he was a decent fit for Charlton in our current situation, and for a very brief period I felt a small bit of optimism. I'm not stupid enough to think Mr. Duchatelet and Meire have changed direction one bit, but I wondered if Slade's arrival might spark something missing at Charlton for over two years. To my immense frustration (and Slade's, it would appear) the lessons have not been learnt (no sane person thought they would), and Charlton look certain to enter their League One campaign woefully short of numbers and disgracefully under-prepared.
 
So much for a top 6 budget, eh, Katrien? Perhaps you was referring to our current league position given we're top six in alphabetical order? You do realise those positions will change, don't you? 
 
But perhaps there is intent behind the scenes. Perhaps Meire and her minions are working hard to try and make deals happen. Perhaps they do harbour ambition but are guilty only of doing next to nothing to suggest that's the case. No, I don't believe that either. It appears Slade's harsh-but-unsurprising assessment of his playing squad is falling on deaf ears.
 
Roland knows best. Who needs a new 'keeper anyway when you've got Big Rog at the back and you've just spent out on a new striker? 
 
To be fair, you'd have to question why decent players with ambition would even want to come to Charlton.
 
So as things stand it is most likely my first Charlton game of the season will be AFC Wimbledon at home in mid-September. By then we will have played 7 EFL One games and I fully expect us to be struggling towards the foot of the table.
 
I'm not a pessimistic guy generally, and you can be assured my apathy towards Charlton does not sit comfortable with me one bit, but I'm afraid to say if you can see positives, then please set me right. I long for the time I'm proved wrong, trust me.
 
I've pretty much forgotten what it's like to enjoy a day at the football rather than endure it just because it's what I've always done. I wholeheartedly blame two people for that. I resent their involvement in my club more than I could ever express in words.
 
See you mid-September.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Real Voice of The Valley...

Big Dave Lockwood's voice is synonymous with the matchday experience at The Valley, but sadly no more. The position he has held for 24 years will be filled by somebody else next season after Dave resigned from his position.

Big shoes to fill, in every respect.

I have never met Dave, but we occasionally exchange comments via social media. I gather from some of the things he has said over the years he may well drop by this blog occasionally, which is nice to know.

When I happened to mention over Twitter that I was talking my young son to his first ever Charlton game, Dave was kind enough to contact me direct and ask for the lad's name so he could give him a mention. It was a wonderful gesture and I will never forget how the boy's face lit up when he heard his name! When I took my daughter to her first game only a few years back, Dave found the time to give her a shout-out as well. I was able to record both as sound-bites on my phone.

In one of his half-time addresses when we played Southampton in 2002 he thanked my wife on my behalf for allowing me to attend the game...the day after my wedding!!! He won't recall any of those moments, but they are all cherished memories for me. His passionate, accommodating and inclusive nature, coupled with his professionalism (particularly evident in the last few seasons) is to his great credit.

Dave is clearly a man with principles and I can have no greater respect for that - take note Mr. Duchatelet and Katrien Meire. He could have 'gone quietly' with an official announcement from the Club and  a few words of thanks. Instead he has made the reasons for his departure very public and in doing so, has added further weight to the protests.

This club needs to be rid of Duchatelet and Meire to allow 'proper Charlton' characters like Dave to develop once again. God knows we need them...

The memories are numerous. Seeing Dave on the pitch at Wembley in '98, those glorious Premiership years when, in particular, I recall Dave would often be alert enough to credit those assisting goals as well as the scorer, and the now legendary shout of 'CHAMPIONS' a few years back to name but a few.

One things for sure, Big Dave shouldn't need to buy a beer in the pubs around the Valley on a matchday for a good few years.    

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

League One Fixtures...


My phone flashed up with an 'important reminder' alert a short while ago. Alongside a prompt for my brother-in-law's birthday came the depressing reality that the League One fixtures were released at 9am.
 
The anticipation now builds like an appointment to have a tooth removed at  the dentist for the opening game away to Bury on the 6th of Aug, with Charlton's first home game the following Saturday v's League Two Champions, Northampton Town.

The full set of Charlton's fixtures for next season can be found here.

And as if that excitement isn't enough, early this afternoon we'll learn who we'll play in the 1st round of the League Cup. Should be fun. I can't wait.
 
As is always the case with me, I am in absolutely no rush whatsoever for the new season to arrive. Unlike those who count down the days as soon as the previous campaign ends, I love the closed season. I need the break from the perennial disappointment of being an Addick. Euro 2016 has helped divert my attention and I'm quite happy being irrationally optimistic about England at the moment (whilst accepting that will inevitably end in heartbreak...).

I miss the start of the season anyway as I'm off on holiday two days before. In years gone by I'd have planned my family's holiday to avoid missing a game, but not now. At least not having a season ticket anymore means Meire cannot include me and my boy in what is likely to be a very poor attendance.
 
That said, I can't deny that occasional glances in the direction of Charlton are encouraging with the appointment of Slade and the signing of a few British-born players with decent reputations at this level. A change in direction it may well be, and despite my immense dissatisfaction with Duchatelet and Meire, I welcome it cautiously whilst remaining hugely sceptical of the chances for success under such a cancerous regime.
 
New faces lift hopes slightly, but we haven't had the mass exodus yet. Literally nobody will give a shit about Sarr leaving and only those with long memories of a short injury-free period not replicated since will be surprised Vetokele has departed either (both only on loan, which in itself is totally laughable and shows the failure of Meire to offload her mistakes). We can easily predict the likes of JBG, Teixeira and Lookman going (undisclosed fees to save embarrassment) as they are too young and full of promise to allow their careers to be harmed by the mismanagement of Roland and Katrien. I wouldn't even blame Cousins and Harriott for feeling a change of scenery is required.
 
Less predictable and perhaps more concerning is whether we'll hold on to the likes of Bauer, Pope, Kashi and perhaps even Diarra. Keep those guys and supplement them with hungry talent and we could have the foundation to hope on the pitch again.
 
I enjoyed this recent piece from Kyle regarding what we can look forward to in terms of fixtures, and those games that we'll dread. The season after the last Championship relegation in 2009 I attended more away games than ever before because I felt I wanted to do all I could to help the team back up.

Not sure I will make the same sacrifices this time around.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Welcome Slade...


After a month long search, Katrien Meire has finally found someone desperate keen enough to take the undeniable risk of leading Charlton Athletic. British and very experienced, particularly in the lower leagues, Russell Slade has put pen to paper on a three year deal at the Valley, and get's the title of 'manager' for the first time under Duchatelet's ownership.
 
A hint to a change in direction from Roland? I won't be holding my breath...
 
The appointment was deemed important enough for Meire to offer her words of wisdom, saying "We don’t underestimate the challenge of getting Charlton back into the Championship. We believe Russell is the man to help us achieve this and, with the help of everyone involved in the club, ensure that Charlton have a successful 2016/17 campaign". Quite what her idea of 'successful' constitutes is unknown at this point, but remember, this is the lady who said at the most recent fans forum meeting that she doesn't "want to build up expectations" in League One! 
 
Katrien has failed in understanding 'the challenge' consistently, refusing to accept good advice over Roland's stubborn vision of football, so forgive me if I continue with the thinking that this club will be considerably better off without her.
 
I'm not going to waste my time analysing the chances Slade has in succeeding where everyone else has failed under Duchatelet, not least of all as I'm going to try very, very hard and see this as positive worth getting behind. From what I know of him, I like Russell Slade. I have a Leyton Orient friend who worships him like we do Sir Chris. It's undeniable that Slade's experience means he's a good fit for Charlton in our current position, and you'd have to assume he's negotiated the level of control you need as an absolute minimum, otherwise his appointment will be over with pretty quickly. 
 
Actions will speak louder than words, so let's also see what Slade has been able to negotiate in terms of keeping the better players at the club and supplementing with new, hungry talent. I found it interesting that Slade made reference to the "passionate fans" in his statement. I wonder if he is fully aware at how pissed off the overwhelming majority of those fans are with his new employers?
 
Good luck Russell, you're going to need every single ounce of it going forward. My priority is to see Duchatelet go, but you will have my full backing from the outset.