I have been very sloppy at writing my blog this season - this being the first post for over a month.
I'd like to say that I've got better (more exciting) things to do. I do have a family, and that will take up as much time as you give it, and then some, but it's not that either.
I seem to have lost the obsession in Charlton over the last twelve months. I don't think it is because our fortunes on the field have diminished, although there is no doubt that since the early run last season our performances and results have been rubbish relative to how big a club I perceive us to be.
I don't really know why it is, but I must confess to feeling no increase in my enthusiasm when we replaced Parkinson with Powell. I liked Chris Powell as a player, and he is clearly a good man, but with the transfer window now shut we have effectively replaced Lee Martin with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Nathan Ecclestone with Akpo Sodje. The new left back from Leeds is really only a replacement for Kelly Youga as Johnnie Jackson has moved from being a left back to being a left sided midfielder - something many of us already knew.
I think Parkinson was given a tough time. Sure, he inherited a team and a position that I will always believe was recoverable in November 2008, but take away his failure that season (something that many don't agree with) and he has been given few chances to 'build a squad."
Many will say that he had a huge wage bill last season to work with, but we should remember that included two players that we actually paid to leave for free last summer. The rumored takeover in the summer of 2009, that I believe was played out in the public arena to help sell season tickets, prevented Parkinson from making any changes, and he was left with a very unbalanced side, and in the end it showed.
Fast forward twelve months and with Sam, Burton, Bailey and Shelvey gone we needed to rebuild a team from scratch. I suspect that we paid all of the players that we signed too much money, but then as a big team in this division that was always going to happen. Like it or not I am confident that Football Agents are sharper, cleverer and more devious that anyone that owns or works for a football club. This, I believe, is why we have ended up with so many poor players on silly contracts over the years.
Anyway, with this in mind, I suspect that our playing staff are not twice as good as those at a club with half the budget, because no one sees them as a soft touch.
Anyway, I digress, I was aiming for the position where I could point out that our recent run of results looks just like the run under Parkinson way back in November. Playing ok (based on the rubbish division we are in) but winning games that we probably shouldn't have. I was advised back during Parkinson's run, by New York Addick, to read a book titled 'Fooled by Randomness'. I have finished the book now, it is a little academic and hard going in places, and clearly written by someone that wants to rubbish many of his peers achievements by suggesting that they are mostly down to luck, but it does compare very well to Charlton this season.
In essence we have been lucky, and the combination of a series of random events have 'fooled' many into believing that we are something we are not. I wasn't at Yeovil or Hartlepool, but we were not very convincing against Plymouth, we were lucky against Colchester and even more so against Peterborough.
The point of all this is that Tuesday's defeat was always coming. If you win convincingly (even if by one goal) then you can be confident that you will keep winning. If you keep winning with a large slice of luck, in the end luck will run out and you will lose. Unless we are lucky, or we bring in some impressive loan signings, we are, in my opinion, unlikely to get anywhere near the automatic promotion places come May. That is not a complete disaster - the playoffs require a win over two legs (on penalties if necessary) and a victory in one more game - again penalties would be good enough. Thus it is not simply a case of top two or another season in this terrible, terrible division.
In fact, it looks like the club have come to a similar conclusion. If we were gambling on a top two finish we would have brought in loan players last week so that they were available for the last two games we have played, along with the next two. The fact that we have not done so suggests that we are wating until the end of next week so that we can sign players on loan that will be eligible for the playoff final (emergency loans are for a maximum of 93 days).
This suggests that we are not taking huge gambles - something that has failed miserably to work in the past. In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that the new board are very reluctant to make any financial gambles at all. At the recent Q&A Michael Slater pointed out that Charlton were a no brainer at £1 for the lot. The one loan player and the one signing (small fee and 18 month contract) don't constitute a significant investment either. this does bring me on to the one worry I have with the current set up. Despite suggestions elsewhere that there is a significant amount of money behind the new owners, they don't seem to think they need to spend any of it. Michael Slater suggested at the Q&A that one doesn't need to spend money on players, one just needs to coach them well. He made reference to Brian Clough and Bobby Robson, as if finding another manager like those two was easy. He thought that if Chris Powell achieved what was expected of him we would win promotion with the current squad and good coaching. Interestingly it was less than ten minutes later (on a different subject) that Chris pointed out that the only way to improve a squad was to bring in better players.
All this waffling probably makes me look negative and argumentative. Not at all. I'm very glad that we are in a solid financial position and as I've always said I'd much rather have Charlton in the third division than in liquidation, and the latter has been hanging over our heads since Pardew's spending sprees.
Ultimately I believe that the current board (well the two that we know of) thought that they could pick up a Premier League football club for peanuts. I think they believed they could buy it for a pound, put in enough to bankroll it for two or three seasons, tweak the squad slightly and hey presto, promotion to the Premier League. On the basis that most Premier League Clubs, these days, have c. £50m of debt, that makes us a fantastic bargain. The only thing missing is that back to back promotions (even if not in consecutive seasons) is, actually, quite tricky to achieve.
I really hope we win, but most importantly I really hope we look like we deserve to do so.
Up the Addicks!