It's been some time since I actually looked forward to going to watch Charlton. For 18 months or more my regular trips to The Valley have been endured rather than enjoyed. It's a long-standing habit that would be heart-breaking to stop, but I've never felt closer to doing so. If you read this blog regularly enough, you will know I rest the blame for my apathy and disappointment firmly at the door of Duchatelet and Meire.
But I'm looking forward to tomorrow; tomorrow already feels different. The turmoil off the pitch continues and with it my desire to stand up and make my voice heard against the ownership could not be greater. On the pitch there's no expectancy on my part of an up-turn in fortunes, but the arrival of Riga (or perhaps more so the departure of the hapless Fraeye) has given me a greater faith in what the team can achieve. I do expect, however, a Charlton side desperate to restore some pride.
As early as his post-Hull interview, Riga was clever enough to realise the importance of the fans, something Meire in particular just cannot grasp despite her misguided attempts to have us believe otherwise. Riga understand the emotional side of being a fan, Meire, of course, does not. Riga spoke well in his press conference yesterday, taking numerous opportunities to blatantly distance himself from claims that he is just another 'network' flunky (I imagine Duchatelet's furrowed brow deepening as Jose spoke). Riga is a good man, I'm convinced of that. Earlier in the week, our talismanic skipper wrote a note to Charlton fans urging us to be the 12th man tomorrow. He suggested the time for talking is over. He's right. He can be assured of our support, he knows that, but in return all we ask for is 100% effort.
This agonising shambles has gone on for long enough now to leave me completely baffled as to what is going on inside Meire's head. Does she think a couple of positive results (no matter how unlikely that seems) will take the heat off her and Mr. Duchatelet? Is she really naïve enough to think that a few weeks of laying low will take the focus off her glaring ineptitude? She appears to have adopted a siege mentality of late; failing to make any form of public address despite a disastrous period in the clubs recent history. I imagine a scene where she keeps the door to her office firmly shut, listening only to a few close sycophants telling her how much the concerned football community at large has got it all wrong.
Thankfully, the weight of pressure continues to grow. Another great article by Guardian journalist and sympathiser, Owen Gibson, appeared yesterday, perfectly summing up the mood. Thank you, Owen for your efforts. In the article Meire suggests her comments at that now-infamous Irish web summit have been 'taken out of context', which will add more fuel to an already raging fire. Outside of football, I would have her down as being very intelligent, but does she not realise the video leaves very little chance of misinterpretation? And in any case, why take over a month to claim she didn't mean it how it
very clearly sounded.
So tomorrow I will head to he Valley to support Jose Riga's attempts to bring some pride back to the team. In doing so I will give everything I have to be that 12th man Johnnie has asked for.
After that I will be taking the short walk to the west stand car park to continue the peaceful protest. I expect I won't be alone. Like the constant lies and mismanagement of my club, this cycle will continue until us fans force change. On to tomorrow then.