Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Empty Inside...

Down the years there is nothing I would rather do than spend an evening under the Valley lights supporting my team. I'd look forward to midweek fixtures above any other, regardless of opposition.
But last night I didn't have it in me to make the journey.
I had a ticket - annoyingly bought only the day before when I was trying to convince myself I was up for it. For over two decades I've done the 90 mile round trip to the Valley on my own and more often than not loved the solitude it brought me. A chance to listen to my music without the kids or the wife moaning. But as the clock ticked closer to the time I needed to leave the enthusiasm drained from me like water from a leaking bucket.
A night in front of the TV more favourable than the Valley under lights. 
For a while I stood in my kitchen, staring aimlessly out the window, desperately wanting to find the faintest flicker of a flame inside my belly, but I just couldn't force myself out the front door.
Charlton lost on a miserable night, but that alone doesn't vindicate my decision. As I climbed into bed my missus said "I bet you're glad you never went". But the truth is I'm not. I feel deeply sad and ashamed to have turned my back on my club. I'm gripped by a sense of detachment that is growing at an alarming rate.
I just want Roland gone before I reach a tipping point...
The official attendance was announced as 9,101 but gauging the response to those in attendance it seems more likely the true figure was closer to 6,000. The image above taken by Louis Mendez after around 8 mins paints a very bleak picture. Quite what goes through Katrien Meire's head looking out across the Valley I'd love to know. This, remember, a lady who when questioned on live radio about the 40% drop in season tickets blamed it on the inevitable result of relegation. 
As usual, Karl Robinson's post match interview was a mixture of sound bites and nonsense, but in fairness to him, what else can he say, he's on a hiding to nothing. Whilst lamenting the lack of cohesiveness in the team Robinson suggested "some people want to play, some don’t want to play and we have a mishmash of players". Describing perfectly the characteristics of a typical squad assembled under a Roland Duchatelet regime, perhaps the penny has finally dropped for our street-wise manager and he realises he stands at the base of a very tall, craggy mountain with flip-flops on! In the next breathe  he suggested "they’re a good group and an honest group. They work hard every day". You don't sound convinced to me, Karl, and I'm certainly not.
Instead of misguided play-off ambitions, Charlton's season is far more likely to end fighting to avoid being drawn into a relegation dog-fight.
The reality is, despite his commendable enthusiasm, Karl is trying desperately to finds the answer to a problem he is not in a position to solve. The cancer running through the core of the club has transcended way, way past the fillip that comes from a few positive results alone. The empty, bleak, soulless Valley will not return to it's former glory until there is change at the very top. The apathy that has gripped Charlton is as deep-rooted as the stubborn nature inside the man who owns the club and the lady he employs to mismanage it.
Ultimately there is one man responsible for the heartbreaking regress at Charlton, on and off the pitch, and if you think otherwise then you're part of the problem. This tweet below from an Oxford fan struck a cord with me last night. Sums things up perfectly for me.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bang Average...

It's been a while since I've dropped by this blog. Work and general Charlton apathy have kept my mind elsewhere, but a train journey this morning has given me a chance to reflect on things a little, particularly the post-match opinion following Saturday's disappointing draw at AFC Wimbledon, when, for the second game in a row, we conceded a stoppage time leveller.
4 points dropped in two games. All very mid-table really.
It never ceases to amaze me how easily some Charlton fans get carried away with what has been, in my opinion, a pretty unconvincing campaign to date, even taking into account the recent 7 game unbeaten run. You'd need to go back to mid-November for our last back-to-back victories, neither of which our current manager presided over. A few bright moments aside, I've not seen enough this season to suggests Charlton deserve a play-off place.
If you can look beyond the fact that a club of our size and history should not be operating in this league (not arrogance, just an observation regarding the mismanagement of Meire and Duchatelet) then we are what we have become; a bang-average, mid-table League One team.
I get the fact that we are all clinging desperately to the hope of brighter days. I also get the fact a great many Addicks are fed up with the constant doom and gloom and want to concentrate on the positives, no matter how scant they are. It is disheartening seeing the all-too-frequent squabbles between the Duchatelet apologists (yes, they do exist), the Back the Boys mob and those who see no future of any kind under Duchatelet. The later just can't get excited about anything, even the thought of promotion.
Whatever view you have, this divide is yet another lamentable aspect of Roland's ownership.
I align myself with those who remain completely apathetic about Charlton under this current ownership. I'm still attending home games, but out of habit more than desire. I suppose I'm biding my time, waiting patiently for when Roland's gone, desperately hoping something can relight the fire in my belly.
The football is slightly better under Robinson, but one consistency remains throughout every managerial appointment under this regime. The squad is way too thin and too reliant on loanees and youngsters. Charlton face a gruelling fixture schedule that see's Saturday / Tuesday games from now until late March. Hard to see how this current squad will cope.
And what of Robinson? His passion is undeniable, but all-to-often manifests itself as an embarrassingly poor impression of David Brent. He should talk far, far less. The media boys must love him as his eagerness to get in front of the microphone and spout sound bite after sound bite are a dream to a department that has suffered more than any other under Duchatelet's dark cloud. 
Ok, I get it, I shouldn't be so negative and cynical. I actually like Robinson, it's just that I don't think he's quite gets the fact that action speaks far louder than words.   
After a period of reflection for CARD, the anti-Duchatelet protests start up again on March 4th with a very different approach. I think it needed to be. Teaming up with the Belgium 20 and newly-formed Women Against the Regime groups, the protests will be taken directly to Duchatelet's home town of Sint-Truiden, Belgium. I doth my cap to anyone who's parting with their hard earned money to make the trip (as I do those who will be at Northampton away on the same day). I have often wondered if Meire has quite cleverly managed to shield Uncle Roland from the true extent of the discontent at Charlton, preferring to portray it as a few, bitter ex-employees and lost sheep. In taking the protests to Duchatelet's back yard, he can see for himself. I considered making the trip, not least of all as I fell in love with Belgian beer 20 years ago, but alas my mind has been on work and now that boat has sailed.
I hope there is a huge impact in Belgium that day as well as a good win in Northampton, because, you know, it is possible to want both things...