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.

Friday 3 June 2016

Dangers Of The Passive Fan...

So we are nearly a full calendar month without a manager or head coach, and let's face it, Riga's resignation was not exactly a surprise, so in many ways, the period without a defined focus on next season extends longer than that. It is a little under three weeks until the new fixtures are released and a little over 4 weeks until I expect the players to report back to Sparrows Lane for pre-season. I bet they can't wait...
I'm afraid if you can honestly tell me you have any hope whatsoever for the new season then I must assume you are stupid!
And all the while Katrien Meire continues going about her business in such brazen, shameless fashion. It beggars belief how anyone of sane mind can defend her performance as CEO of Charlton, and quite how she is still in the post is equally as baffling.
I recently tweeted that I felt the passive fan is as dangerous to the future of Charlton Athletic as Duchatelet and Meire, and from the comments I received it would appear I confused some people with who exactly I was pointing the finger at. I'm not quite sure how, but it is hard to articulate yourself in 140 characters on twitter! Anyway to expand my point, let's first briefly examine the three types of Charlton fans at present (as I personally see them):
1. *THE MILITANT FAN - The fan who has long-since given up on The Regime and has decided direct action by way of boycotts and/or disruptive protests to 'claim back their Charlton' is the overwhelming priority focus, even above supporting a failing team. The Militant fan will have only one wish going forward, for Roland to sell up and go away. Once their goal is achieved, the militant fan will revert quickly to the 'Back The Boys' type.
2. THE 'BACK THE BOYS' FAN - The fan who considers the otherwise perfectly reasonable 'back the boys' mantra above anything else and does not accept the disruptive protests despite openly disagreeing with The Regime. The 'Back The Boys' mob will renew their season tickets and be keeping their fingers crossed for a decent new manager and some new players above anything else, whilst hoping fortunes change on the pitch. 
3. **THE MINION - The fan who accepts The Regime and can't see what all the fuss is about. The Minion blames the fans for the current demise of Charlton Athletic. The minion (probably) hopes that the prawn sandwiches and vol-au-vents in the VIP lounge are as good as last season.   
*Perhaps militant isn't the right term as it implies violence, but let's roll with it for now.
**I'm only aware of one person, whom I don't know personally, who falls in this category if her infamous Facebook posts are to believed...
I simply have no time whatsoever for The Minion, so let's move swiftly on from them idiots. My 'passive' comment was really directed at the 'Back The Boys' type; those who recognise a problem but stick their heads firmly in the sand. It is their right, and ordinarily I would respect the alternative view even if I don't agree with it, but seeing my club being reduced to the heart-breaking mess it's currently in means I am struggling to accept it. Given the brazen disregard for the fans and history of the club makes it painfully obvious Duchatelet has learnt nothing despite an endless stream of mistakes and is not about to change course convincingly, so ignoring the harm just adds to the problem. 
I do accept, however, that there is probably a grey area between types one and two, where certain elements of the protests are not supported but some are. I would never suggest everyone has to throw things on the pitch or use industrial language to ask Roland why he has a certain personality trait to prove their dedication to the cause. In the same way, I don't join in with the anti-Belgian songs as I don't see them as relevant, nor the Meire chant that references Naby Sarr, which is childish at best. Those forms of protests devalue the overwhelming clever and well-though-out initiatives put forward by CARD and many others (the Liar banner above the directors box was a fine example of hard-hitting protest action that will resonate deeply due to high exposure).
Ultimately, the grey area stops at the hopes going forward. I would class myself as a militant because my only desire is to see this Regime gone. 
So in summary, apathy is harmful enough, but inertia is, in my humble opinion, as harmful as every one of Meire's gaffs and Roland's ill-judged decisions. It's hard for me to accept a fan can be against The Regime but is unwilling to voice their discontent. 
But this is a personal view cobbled together quickly to fill time during a short train journey, so I welcome comments. I'm pretty sure I've divided my modest readership anyway on this...