Wednesday, 4 November 2015

MK Dons 1 - 0 Charlton

Just to get this out of the way, I don't approve of the franchise concept in English football. I didn't like Wimbledon (mainly because their achievements in the late 80s took the shine off ours) but I always believed that they had a right to be where they were. Their achievements in rising up the divisions and winning the FA Cup (back when teams, actually, wanted to win it) was magnificent and a shining example to all clubs in the lower divisions of the football league and non-league. I say all this, deliberately, ignoring how they played. I didn't like it but it was successful and this is a results business.

Having got that out of the way I don't like MK Dons either. I can't be cross at the fans for 'stealing' the 'club' from Wimbledon but I don't like them anyway. I don't like that they seem to change the colour that they play in - although I have a gripe about our kit too. I also don't like that they were able to start in the football league. I think if Wimbledon were going to leave the league they should have promoted another team that season from the Conference.

On the subject of shirts - we play in red. I know the club want to sell the team shirts but if they do they should not change them every year and then fail to put them on sale until October - meaning a life, from purchase to retirement, of  seven months. Please can we play in red whenever possible. MK Dons wear white shirts for heaven's sake. Even if we wore darker shorts we could still have worn our red shirts!

So to the game. Well we are just rubbish now aren't we? I know managers always try to deflect in their post match interviews but Steve Bruce was convinced that his Hull side that lost to us with a late goal suggested that it was the worst his team has played for months. I didn't see the QPR game but they are a shambles, have a rookie manager and are mid table. They are our only two wins and with the rest of the games giving the impression that we are woefully short I think it might be time to accept that fact.

By all accounts the euphoria of only losing by only one goal is mitigated because our friend Simon Church very kindly missed two sitters. If he'd scored them they we would have 'saved' our run of 3-0s. I read somewhere that it is a record for us to fail to score for five games. I do like a record but....

So what happens next? Well we will, probably, get stuffed by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. They are unbeaten in eleven, including beating Newcastle and Arsenal in the League Cup. With Bristol City playing Bolton one of them must get something. Then our next three games are away to Birmingham, home to Ipswich (on TV) and Brighton away. I can see us losing those three as well making for ten points from nineteen games when we entertain Leeds on the 12th December.

My feeling, after the substitutions last night, and the two interviews with Fraeye, is that we need to get in someone that can make us tight at the back, tough to beat and able to hold our own. Frankly we need someone with the mentality of Curbishley. I'm not sure he, personally, is the answer, and I'm convinced that Katrien Meire would never appoint him, but there are other, more mature, managers out there that have the experience to sort out the mess.

At this stage we, also, need to question the quality of the players we have. Some of them were involved in the great run of results we had last season. However, there are no obvious weak links or stars in the side. This leads me to believe that, subject to having incompetent managers, very few of them have what it takes (at this stage - many of them are young and inexperienced) to grind out the results that we need. We need to recognise that as we fall further behind the pack above us we will need better results than them to finish above them.

A comprehensive defeat on Saturday and the club will have little choice than to replace Fraeye - especially with demonstrations being planned and a meeting between Meire and Richard Murray next week that looks to be a very hostile affair. Richard Murray, who I've met and respect, is probably no longer going to be immune to the anger of the fans. A customary introduction and informal Q&A, with a few secrets disclosed, is unlikely to cut it with those that are as angry about the football club as they would be if someone was setting out to destroy a loved one. It could be what Danny Dyer calls 'tasty!' A word I normally save for describing my dinner.

One thing's for sure, the next week is going to be interesting.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Surprise surprise

Well, what do you know, we have appointed Karel Fraeye as our new interim Head Coach. If the club were any normal, credible, organisation I would assume that he is going to be here until they identify, interview and select the best replacement possible. However, what we are told by our CEO and what, actually, happens are rarely the same so it means nothing.

I assume that he is on trial and if he looks like he has what it takes to keep us up this season he will be here until May. If not he will step aside and be replaced by someone else that will be here until May. What happens after that is anyone guess.

The problem with such short term appointments is that eventually the only manager that will take a position is one that is desperate and normally out of work. These are not, always, the best appointments as an out of work manager is often a manager that no one wants managing their side.

Mr Fraeye was 'managing' an amateur third division side in Belgium all the while on the payroll of our owner as a scout. The suggestion (which I'm naturally inclined to distrust) is that he has brought in some of the best signings we have. The truth could, well, be something else.

I'm a little torn, to be honest. Clearly Luzon wasn't getting the best out of the players, never mind the squad, and a change might have been the best thing for the club. Malky Mackay was mentioned, due to him being at the Brentford game, but I really didn't want him. He is one of a number of managers out there that has been successful with one club that had a massive budget, relative to its peers, and he failed in the Premier League and was involved in a very public spat with the Chairman. The texts that were later uncovered are not the only concern I have with him. It does look, however, like the Chairman threatened to release them which is why Mr Mackay suddenly decided not to take the club to court. I am purely speculating, but for me his performance at Wigan was enough to not to want him with us.

There are many other managers that might not have what it takes to keep us up but will 'give it a shot'. It is a no lose situation for them If they keep us up they improve their reputation while being paid for it. They might be kept on but they might be able to get a job elsewhere. If they fail it is because the club is a basket case. Like Wigan was last season with their Chairman being in trouble with the FA and them falling like a stone from winning the FA Cup a couple of seasons earlier.

The managers that could, realistically, take us on to the next level wouldn't want to come to us for three months on a short term contract when it is likely they won't still be here in a year. I remember Curbishley being rumoured to have turned down Wolves when they were in the Premier League as they only offered him a deal to the end of the season, and they went down, anyway. Newcastle gave Shearer a job to keep them up a few seasons ago and he, and our friend Iain Dowie, took them down. It is a no win situation if you have any credible reputation to protect.

Maybe Fraeye is the best man for the job. I mean he was here with Riga two season ago and they kept us up with, arguably, a much weaker squad once Kermorgant and Stephens had been moved on and replaced by the Standard Liege cast offs. He is, presumably, cheap and he was willing and available to come in at very short notice. Again this assumes that they weren't offering him the job as Ms Meire was assuring the fans that Luzon was safe - who knows?

The decision to remove the whole coaching team was questionable but the new chap had only been here a couple of months and Damien Matthews has only been near the first team once in the nine years he's been here and we lost 5-0. Probably a complete change was the best thing, although I'd be more than happy to extend that to the CEO as well. I'd also be happy for new owners to come in, all be it that I recognise that there must be a limit as to how many people are willing to stump up c. £5m a year to fund our hobby, and it would probably take more than that to achieve any success for us.

The whole idea that we are revolutionary in bringing in young players to sell for a profit is ridiculous. All but a handful of Premier League teams are trying to do exactly that. Even the top sides are using that strategy as well as buying superstars. There are not enough world class superstars in waiting available for a few hundred thousand pounds for us to make much money from it.

We need a new plan, and soon. In the meantime we need to expect to see managers coming in and going on a regular basis and a significant change in the playing staff every summer. It's not the kind of club I want to support if I'm honest, but Charlton are my club so, for now, I guess I'll just have to get used to it.

Welcome back Karel. Don't waste your time unpacking your clothes just live out of a suitcase as it'll save you time packing again when you leave. Oh and good luck, you'll, almost certainly, need it.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

All change

Following a slight change of heart I made my way to The Valley yesterday to see if there was any chance that players returning from injury would make for a better performance and, more importantly, a better result.

Those of you that were there on Tuesday, and again yesterday, will know that it was a much better performance. However, the result was exactly the same and the eventual outcome was as predictable as the the promise four days before that the manager was safe.

I wasn't there for the Preston debacle, but I was assured that we were much, much better by the chaps that sit in front of me. In fact, the first ten minutes we looked good. Not great, obviously, but not at all bad. We had a few half chances that could have given us the lead, and a sitter from Moussa where he, literally, missed the target, unmarked, from about eight yards.

Brentford started to come into the game, and their passing was making us look like statues. The goal came from a great cross from Judge down their right, and what looked like an unmarked header on the six yard line and it was 1-0. The rest of the game can be summarised quickly by saying that we didn't look like we believed we could come back into it, we didn't look like we wanted to or could be bothered to raise our game. In truth we gave it up.

From a tactical point of view I thought we looked too narrow. There was no outlet out wide up front, Gudmunsson and Moussa kept coming inside, and with Morgan Fox tucking inside there was no real left back. I'm not sure what Chris Solly (and Fox for that matter) had been told to do in the game, but he didn't look like he was playing as a full back.

I have never been one to throw around the phrase 'He's lost the dressing room' but I will say that, with Makinok apart, none of the players did as well as I've come to expect from them. Either they weren't up for the game or their confidence is so shot that they are a shadow of their former selves, or they didn't want to play for the manager.

Whichever of those it was I think it was inevitable that Luzon would be on his way out of The Valley in the same controversy as he arrived.  All the rubbish from the CEO about interviewing many managers before appointing Luzon in double quick time was compounded but assuring us that he was safe before two defeats in four days resulted in his sacking.

I am inclined to suggest that the CEO has not helped the situation by publicly announcing that the manager is safe and that the players will have to raise their game. I've never thought that office based 'administrators' were well advised to publicly criticise footballers as these young men (even at our level) tend to believe that they are above criticism - especially from a lawyer that has, presumably, never played the game. The players, certainly, played like they didn't appreciate being publicly blamed for our situation. It isn't helped that most of the fans blame her and her employer and the players must know that.

For a lawyer that, I assume, is intelligent and well educated she does say some outrageously stupid things in public. It is getting close to the point that I will start to feel sorry for her. I suspect that if she had commissioned a focus group to come up with a plan to make her took as incompetent as possible they couldn't have come up with anything better than her PR this last month.

One positive thought, however, is that for what ever reason sacking managers and replacing them does seem to have brought about better results since the current owners have arrived. Quite why the managers needed to be sacked in the first place is the subject for another time, but I am optimistic that the teams fortunes will improve once the new chap settles in.

Just one thought on the recruitment, please not Malkay Mackay.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Where do we go from here?

I think it was Bill Shankly that suggested that no league table is worth looking at until November, but I might be wrong about that. I have always thought that ten games is when one judges a team and its expected level of success in a season - I know I got this from my Dad.

Well November is just two games away. Brentford at home and Middlesbrough at The Riverside. I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest that we are unlikely to get anything from the latter of those two games which means that we are likely to be in a relegation position by the time November starts.

Interestingly we had a massive six teams below us after ten games, although by then we'd only managed two points in six games, after managing eight points in the opening four games of the season.

Technically three points could take us above seven sides (I've not checked that any of them are playing each other so that could be wrong) so a win against Brentford and a defeat at Middlesbrough could be enough to leave us out of the bottom three. Also there is only two points separating 17th and 22nd (where we are), and three of the teams above us have won in their last two outings, so it's not drastic yet. Ironically one of those sides is Preston who convincingly beat us on Tuesday evening.

I have little knowledge of football. I don't tend to study formations and tactics. I have watched, literally, hundreds of games live, but I've always enjoyed the games without wanting to get too involved in what goes on behind the scenes. If I watch a movie I don't need to know how it was made and I don't need to know where each player is told to stand for every corner. Their role is to play, mine is to watch.

However, it would be unrealistic of me no have not picked up a few things over the years, even if it is only a few, and I can't help coming to the conclusion that Simon Makienok is a huge loss for us. In the game against Hull (one of only three games I've been to this season) he scored one goal and made the other one. He was also instrumental in defending and clearing the ball - one such occasion his clearance led to the chance that Gudmundsson had which the 'keeper did well to save at 1-0.

Now I'm not saying that his reintroduction is going to make us world beaters, but I am confident that come the end of the season we will find that the average number of points we win with him in the side will be more than when he isn't. I suspect that the same will be true of Henderson. I have nothing against Nick Pope but he has, shall we say, been a bit unlucky with goals being scored shortly after he 'releases' the ball, and similar stats were true of last season.

I am not in disagreement with those that say that the squad wasn't big enough, nor do I disagree that some of the signings (and youth graduates, for that matter) have not been good enough for this division, at this moment in time. The truth, however, is that we are where we are and trust needs to be given. The owner needs to trust his CEO (even though I'm not sure that I do); the CEO needs to trust the manager (even though it feels a little more like blind faith at the moment); the manager needs to trust his players; and the fans need to trust all of that list and the owner, as we have little choice, or more specifically, little power to change it.

The player recruitment (and I'm going to assume that it hasn't been, entirely, good enough) is shrouded in mystery. I have no, real, idea who is making the decisions and what areas are being looked at. Clearly we have signed players in some of the positions that we needed them so I guess that is a positive point. We have, maybe, not signed players that are good enough, and certainly not enough of them across the board.

Identifying the positions we need reinforcements is, actually, very simple so I can't really give much praise for that. Signing young players that may or may not work out is a fair enough gamble to take. We can't afford to sign a whole squad of proven, established players so we have to 'speculate'.

So far, and I'm going on what I've read elsewhere as much as what I've seen, myself, the success rate is not very high. Phil Chapple has moved on, and I have no idea if that is significant, nor do I know if he is responsible for any of the players that we have scouted. I don't want to pick out players for criticism, but there are a couple that we, apparently, paid a lot of money for that don't seem to be able to cope with the level of football we are at. Hence we are in the bottom three.

I'm, naturally, an optimist, and hate having to face problems head on so I want to believe that when the players that have settled and are injured are back our fortunes will improve. My, genuine, aspirations for a playoff place back in August have evaporated and I'm now thinking that 4th from bottom will be deemed a success this season. In reality 4th from bottom is every bit as good as 7th so anything better that 21st will be a bonus.

Relegation is unthinkable, but not impossible. We have one of the richest owners in the Championship so I suspect that he will, again, splash some cash in January to being in the players that we could have done with in September to ensure that he and his CEO are given another chance at playing 'Championship Manager' with a real football club again next season to see if he, and she, can prove that they are cleverer that all the other custodians of Championship clubs by getting promoted spending less than almost all of them.

All in all it's not difficult to see why so many, including me, seem to have lost some of the interest/obsession that we had with Charlton, and football in general over the last two years.

I don't know that the future would bring if the current owner was to want to move on but even though it was a little desperate just before he arrived, I can't help thinking that it can't get any worse. Clearly it can, and I am lazy and cowardly, so I would never be the type to demand a change (assuming, of course, that anyone cared about what I demanded) but it does feel as though something needs to change.

I chose not to go on Tuesday night, and I don't think I want to go on Saturday. Not that I matter, but I missed just a couple of games between 1988 and 2014 and I'm probably going to miss two in a week, which will be four in this season alone (three of which were on a Saturday). If the goal of any football club, at any level, is to grow attendance then they are clearly doing something wrong as I'm not alone in finding other things to do when Charlton play.

The worst thing is that I'm not angry, I'm not disappointed I have just stopped enjoying going.

Up the Addicks!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Goodbye Joe Gomez

Clearly all clubs want to keep hold of their best talent, see Man United and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, especially if they are young, see Liverpool and Raheem Sterling, but inevitably when a player thinks there is a better opportunity elsewhere (and, invariably, it is about money) he tends to get his move.

I do not know the ins and outs of the two transfers above but I'm inclined to say that money mightn't have been the main factor, all be it that I suspect a pay cut was never, ever, on the cards. In Joe's case I suspect that money is a factor, and why shouldn't it be? I have no idea what Joe was earning at Charlton but I have no doubt that his pay will be multiples of what it was. Potentially this five year contract gives him the kind of long term financial security that the majority of the population have to work into their 60s to achieve. Why wouldn't he want to move?

Joe's Agent has already been singled out by club employees as being, shall we say, pushy and demanding in when and where Joe should play in our first team. It must come as no surprise that his client has a desire to move to Liverpool and benefit from the kind of money that we will, almost certainly, never pay a player.

There seems to be some doubt as to the fee. Clearly Charlton have said the fee is undisclosed, but this must come as no surprise as they won't even tell us how many season tickets we've sold. Liverpool, however, are happy to tell the world that the fee is £3.5m. A sum that sounds low for a club that paid £20m+ for Dejan Lovren who is not English (not that I care) but has managed just 26 games in his first season. However I can't help but wonder if we are not getting a little excited about the value of our Starlet.

Sure Joe has great potential but I seriously doubt that we are paying him £20k a week (the minimum that I would expect a £10m player to be earning) and what's more we didn't play him in his first position all season, and even in the run in we wasn't being picked in front of Ben Haim or Johnson, two players that have been released. I understand how we, as fans, would want our most promising player to be worth c. £10m and I appreciate how much money the Premier League teams are going to have from next season, but in the event of just one club being interested there is not much wriggle room on the fee for a player who has, clearly, decided to move on.

If the fee is anything like the £3.5m that Liverpool are boasting there is no good reason as to why Arsenal, Man City and all those German clubs didn't want him. Unless, of course, they were never interested in the first place. I find it interesting that Liverpool were linked with Joe last summer and he signs a new contract then suddenly we have loads of interest in him. Really? Why didn't Man City come forward. £3.5m is what they paid to sign their tea lady, if they had the least bit of interest in our future England International they would have been involved in pushing the price up.

Was there a release clause in the contract? To be honest if I were Joe I would have sacked my Agent if I'd signed a contract extension just months after Diego Poyet was allowed to leave on a free (I know there is compensation for youth players, but it's basically a round of drinks for a Premier League club) without an exit route.

I don't want to suggest that all players and their agents are greedy and disloyal but let's face facts. The players remuneration is reduced if there is a big fee to pay. Or, in other words, the player earns much more if he can orchestrate his exit from his current club for little, or nothing. This is why (and this is a subject for a completely different post) Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was happy to sign a two year deal with us coming on a free. I'm speculating, of course, but his future is completely in his own hands, and if he doesn't get the deal he wants this summer, he can leave for nothing in July 2016 and command the kind of wages that take into account the fact that no transfer fee has to be paid - i.e. he will also pocket the transfer fee, or his agent will.

So I find it complete plausible that a release clause was inserted into the contract. I also have some questions as to what would have happened had Joe played more games, especially in his favoured position at centre half. I'm not saying he should have, just that he might have been less inclined to leave and/or we might have secured a greater fee for him. We will never know.

For the record I am, really, pleased for Joe. I think it is a very good move for him. He is unlikely to be ready for Premier League football just yet (although Jenkinson played a fair few games in his first season). Liverpool are a big club but not in the Champions League. This means that their squad rotation will prioritise the Premier League (opposed to the Champions League) and I anticipate that he will play in the Europa League. Big(ish) games all across Europe and, of course, at Anfield where as if he'd gone to one of the top four he might have been given no exposure, at all.

There are rumours of him going out on loan but I think that is unlikely. Liverpool like to bring young players through and I think they will want to ave a good look at him until December before they decide what they are going to do to help his development. Maybe a loan in January, maybe even to a struggling Premier League side. We have no idea, really, of how he will progress from now on. He might even be a regular in Liverpool's side by the end of the season and they could finish top four with him playing. As we have seen so, so little of him we can't say for sure. I would love it if he achieved that so early. His comments, all be it I expect he was 'guided' on what to say to some degree, showed a maturity in such a young man that I think will help him to develop and who knows, the next World Cup is three years away and we have a serious lack of talent at centre half in England right now.

Good luck to him and what ever the release clause was, or wasn't, he signed a new contract with us last year, that he didn't need to, which showed more loyalty than most players have these days.

Good luck Joe.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Katrien Miere's visit to East Kent Addicks

I didn't take notes and I won't pretend that I have an especially exceptional memory so I might make mistakes. In the event that anyone else who was there wants to correct me, please feel free to do so in the notes - I wont be offended.

In the event that I share something that offends someone then I apologise but there is no point it making things up or leaving things out.

I should point out that the Chairman of the EKA asked me if I was going to make notes. He wasn't asking in any expectation of me saying no. I thought that making notes would have been rude, and I also couldn't be bothered. As much as I don't mind sharing things, I do have a life and I tend to want to enjoy some of it so making notes wasn't something that I ever considered doing.

On the basis that the VIP meeting was video'd and put online it is clear that there is no intention to keep these things a secret. I, personally, haven't had time to watch that yet as I have been busy.

Anyway, in no particular order:

Katrien arrived late due to problems with the trains. She turned up in casual clothes and a blue puffer coat, which was mentioned later.

I asked her a couple of questions. The first came after she was telling us that she felt that her relationship with Luzon was special and was confident that he would work out. she said that it was similar to the feeling she had with Riga. I asked her if the 'elusive' feeling that he has with Luzon was absent with Chris Powell and Bob Peeters. I'd be lying if I said that she answered the question (a common theme of the evening, if I'm honest) but she did give a little background to both. Bob it was suggested was a nice man but it was thought that there were problems towards the end. Nothing we didn't already know there, but I guess she had to say something. Powell, however she gave what felt like a rehearsed stock answer. They went a long way towards a new contract  with him but it was difficult because we were losing. She kind of stopped there.

The other question I asked was about how the transfers were calculated between network clubs. No answer was really given. She said that sometimes SL do us a favour but she does the best  deal for Charlton that she can do. I felt none the wiser. However she does have good interaction skills, he didn't break eye contact with me when she answered the questions, and i'm sure it wasn't because she was impressed with my beard. Her mannerisms reek of confidence, and she comes across as a very personable character. She did say how she met RD. She said that they did some business while she was being employed to advise him on some media contracts, and he offered her a job. I can see why he might have done that.

She was asked why it seems to take a long time for the lottery draw winnings to be paid out. She had no idea but said she would look into it.

The £150 season tickets came up and she confirmed that that wouldn't happen again - even thought it looks like it will!

She said that she had an exclusive for us. The Valley Express would not be going next season, She said that it would probably be going up by £1.50 as it has to break even. I did think of Airman Brown and his suggestion that one needs to take into account the benefit of selling tickets, but I couldn't be bothered to bring it up as she has already demonstrated that she wasn't going to, genuinely,  answer many questions, and I didn't think I'd get anything that made sense. I know that sounds negative, but I am, naturally, a cynical person and it was how I felt.

She took a couple of calls during the session, one that she described as being from 'The  Owner'. I also thought that she spent, perhaps, a little more time playing with her phone while fans were asking questions than I would have done, but it was after 8pm in the evening and I'm sure she has a social life

She was asked about Yann, and she said that she had already said that this was the last time she would answer the question, but she would do it again - she said that they sat him down very quickly after they took over and they offered him a two year deal on what the club could afford. He came back and said that he wanted to leave and that was that. She did ask what they could have done and someone shouted, 'Give him what he wanted.' She smiled/smirked and turned away - she did that a lot during the evening.

She was asked about the fine that had been dished out following the sale of Stephens, and she said that knew nothing about it.

She explained about Reza going out on loan Apparently he had a good World Cup and he was in demand and he wanted to benefit from the high wages that he could earn for a year or two. She said that the loan deal(s) that has been arranged had benefited him and  the club. She didn't say anything about if he was good enough for  us, but I get the impression that he was always moved on to us as SL didn't want him and I am not convinced that he is good enough for the Championship so any money we could get in for him was probably a good thing. That is my view, by the way, not what she said.

She said that the manager doesn't choose the players. He tells them what sort of player he wants, eg a left footed defender, then Chapple  and an other 9can't remember who) will go out and find some suitable players that fit the bill then ask the Manager if he wants so and so. This is done because it prevents having a squad that is no good to a replacement manager and it also prevents a situation where a manager feels he has to play a player that he selected himself. I'm not sure I agree with her logic, but she sounded confident that it was the way forward, and as the own the club....

The subject of the appointment of Luzon came up and she said many things that I had heard before (and I'm sure you have too) but she added that there was a need to appoint quickly as the players had come to her and said that they need a manager soon. She also hinted that they were not happy with Matthews  et. al. being in charge. She was asked, as a follow up, if that meant that Matthews would be moved  on and she said that they wouldn't  and that the manager was not allowed to pick his backroom staff. She said that they had put all the backroom staff on long contracts when they first came in. however, she was asked a further question, I don't remember what it was now, and  she said that they are all on revolving contracts, which is not, in my view a long contract. Make of that what you will.

There was a question about the Trust and she was very dismissive  of them and said that they asked for a meeting and she asked them to meet with her development team and they said no. She gave the impression that, in her view, that meant that they didn't want to be involved  with the club. she didn't say as much but she did seems completely horrified that they wouldn't get involved in helping the club. I have nothing further to add to this, and accept that I might have, completely, misread the situation.

Crossbars  came up but she said that she had, already, given us an exclusive but that we would be pleasantly surprised.

She said that they knew that we needed a target man and later on I asked her if, with that statement in mind, we would be looking to bring in further players in on loan and she said no as she is already over her budget. There was something else said on the subject, earlier, about us not waiting for the Premier League teams to decide which loans they were willing to offer out but that we needed to  move more quickly that that.

She also mentioned a Reading striker that was on 'twenty-five thousand grand a week' I questioned that while trying to look horrified (I was sat at the front so she could see my facial expression) but I'm guessing that she was not aware of her slip up in that 25,000 grand is £25m, and she went on to say that we were expected to pay half of that and £12.5k a week was too much. She didn't say who it was, and I didn't bother to guess.

She was asked about RD's plans and said that he thought we were going to be promoted this season. She laughed as she said that she told him it was more difficult that he though. Apparently she was offered the chance to sign two or three expensive  players in January on the basis that it would get us promotion  and she told him that she thought it wouldn't get us up so they decided not to bother. I was tempted to tell her  that the answer to that question was 'Yes Mr Chairman' but the moment had gone by the time I could have cracked that joke.

The training ground came up and she said that RD would be paying for all of it now and that planning will be going in soon and the first spade would be going into the ground in October or November.

She told us that we were going to get more money  from the TV deal. I can't remember the numbers now, but it's not that important, to be honest.

She mentioned several times about her love for Charlton (and she doesn't pronounce it like we do 'Charlton') and that she wanted to do the best for the club.

She was asked  about Bulot and Buyens and said that they are both (Frederik, especially)  happy here but she said that Bulot  was very expensive - then sshe  smiled and laughed.

There was more that I can't remember now but my over riding feeling from the evening was that she is very charming, very confident but out of her depth. That is only my view, however, and I'm not saying that she will not become the best CEO we've ever had, but right now I have several concerns about her experience and her ability to lead the club.

Not that that matters, after all, as RD owns the club and he will do what he wants, irrespective as to how we feel about it.

As I've already said I'm more than happy for anyone to correct me or add to what I have said. I know I've forgotten to mention many things that I've forgotten but it's late and I have an early meeting in the morning and if I'd not written this tonight I'm not sure when I would have had time to do so.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Charlton 1 - 1 Rotherham

I didn't go yesterday. I didn't have something else on - like a wedding or a party - I just didn't fancy it. It's the first time for over 30 years that I've chosen not to go to a home game. It wasn't something that I planned, and it wasn't a protest, I just woke up on Saturday morning and didn't want to watch us play.

I have had more engaging and less engaging times over the last 30 years. I have been obsessed about Charlton for much of that time and until the internet came along (with almost infinite stuff to read) I used to read everything that was written about our club.

In recent months I have found that I don't have the time to read all the blogs and the club website and all the threads on Charlton Life, but I've still read a lot. Strangely I haven't lost interest in reading about us, and I've started to write more here again. I just don't think the football on offer is sufficiently enjoyable to do the two hour round trip in the car and sit in the cold for two hours.

In my defense (if I need one) my Dad is away on holiday and my son (who has been coming since the start of the season) would rather do something else just at the moment.

I have always cherished the time I spend with my Dad and I make the trip longer by driving out of my way to pick him up on the way to The Valley so that we can chat in the car. I suspect that his absence was a major factor, but He has always spent about ten weeks away in the winter and I've never missed a game before.

Anyway I failed to do anything useful while we were playing. I watched Sky Sports News and kept up with the match thread on Charlton Life. It, actually, felt like an away game as this is what I normally do when we are away. I had been glad for two away games in succession as I'd been very disheartened after Brighton and the debacle that was described as an appointment process. Giving the job to the man that was boasting a month before that he was going to get it all seemed a little predictable. It wasn't helped by the club pretending that he stood out as the best candidate after getting twenty applications.

Anyway that's all water under the bridge. Talking of the bridges, missing the Charlton game meant that I was able to watch the 'Premier League Title Decider' early evening. Weirdly I really enjoyed the game. I would have preferred it had City won, but a draw was enough to keep the title interesting, and I'm not really a fan of either of these two sides.

This afternoon I watched the second half of Southampton v Swansea. Both sides reminded me of what we used to be a decade (or slightly more) ago. There are fine margins in football and had we just survived by the skin of our teeth in 2007 we might just have still been there now. Stoke managed to change their manager and stay up.  Even more water under the bridge.

I wasn't at the game and as most of you reading this probably were I'll not talk about it too much, save to say that I was surprised that we scored. Not terribly excited, which is another worrying fact, but of more concern was that I wasn't surprised, not disappointed, when we conceded.

In fairness it will take a few weeks for Luzon to instill his beliefs into the team and maybe we will learn not to sit back and invite pressure. I also think that Jackson is the spine of the team. Most clubs have a spine of goalkeeper, center half, Midfielder and striker. We have Jackson. When he doesn't play the team is a lot more that one eleventh short of it's best. If Luzon does get the chance to bring in another player or two, and if Jackson can stay fit and have a decent run in the side then I think we will get some wins and climb away from the bottom three.

Those new players are going to have to be the right characters though. For all their talent I don't think that Ben Haim or Bikey are the right characters. Chris Solly is a great footballer but he is not a leader of men, and the rest of the squad is either foreign and only here for one season or too young to be expected to take on the job of leading from the front. The foreign players are not used to the English game and until they have learned that they will be 'passengers' when it comes to getting stuck in and showing, by example, how to do so.

The rumors about players are not very reassuring. I would like to see someone of real quality on loan from the Premier League, or someone with decent Championship experience. I have little confidence that we will get either but we will know by the time I go to bed tomorrow.

With the way I feel at the moment I will be passing on the Norwich game, and will probably not bother with Brentford either. By then we will have played another three games and Luzon will have been in charge for five (or six) games (depending on if you include Watford without a work permit). We then have two away games, Wigan, where I went last season to see us lose with two late goals, and Derby where I would rip your arm off for a draw.

Then we face Huddersfield in front of a bumper crowd coming to see football for a fiver. However, on the bases that I am going to not turn up for three games when, with a season ticket, it is free it does question the value of watching the dross we've been serving up if you have to pay £5 for it!

That is a make or break game in my view. I will, no doubt, be there because my Dad will be back, but with the Terriers having Chris Powell in charge, and with a big crowd present a defeat could cause a riot. It's not as though it would be the first time fans had rioted against the mis-management of a club by M. Duchatelet.

In the meantime Mr Luzon, you have five games to earn our trust. Good luck with that!

Up the Addicks!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Watford 5 - 0 Charlton

8th December 1984 we lost 5-0 at Oxford. Oxford were second in the table when we went there and they had won seven and drawn one of their eight home games at that stage in the season. They went on to win the division with a home record W18 D2 L1. Quite formidable. Oxford scored five goals on five separate occasion that season, and they scored four on another four occasions. Our 5-0 defeat was one of two by the same margin.

Today we lost 5-0 to a Watford side with a home record of W6 D3 D3 at home this season.

There is little positive that can be said about this result, nor the performance. The farce about Luzon not being granted his visa is covered by Chicago Addick here but even if that was to have an impact on the players it doesn't justify the result or the performance.

I am, now, very concerned that the reports about players being unhappy about the choice of manager are both true and part of the reason for the performance today. I'm not suggesting that any of them are behaving unprofessionally, but let's remember that players can move on. Those that are best placed to help us get out of this mess are very unlikely to be kept at the club should we be relegated.

The squad is small and short of quality and experience, but it has been all season and until today Fulham and Ipswich have scored three goals against us and the former has some outstanding players and the latter is very much in the chase for automatic promotion. Thus the weaknesses in the squad can't be blamed for the terrible run we have had in isolation.

We were led to believe, mainly from leaks from the club, that Bob had fallen out with many of the players - punch ups have been hinted at. After the way the club have handled the selection and appointment of the new manager I'm reluctant to believe all that I hear coming out of the training ground, but it doesn't look like removing Bob has had much of a positive impact.

The big question is just how bad is it going to get? If Luzon is as good as the Chairman seems to think he is things might turn around and anything at Wolves followed by a bright start at home to Rotherham at the end of the month might, just, get us back on track for a mid-table finish. However another defeat at Wolves and Rotherham becomes a proper must win. Rotherham are five points behind us and are 4th from bottom.

I wasn't at the game so I'm not going to comment on it except to say that we conceded a very late goal, again. Our goal difference has gone from -5 to -10 today and that leaves us marginally better than the teams around us, but not much.

On a positive note, we are only three points off Notts Forest in 12th so if Luzon can come in and light a fire under the players backsides we only need a couple of good results to climb back into the mid-table position that, I believe, was the target this season.

Time will tell.

Up the Addicks!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

And the new manager is...

...No great surprise!

I cant quite explain how, or more importantly, why I feel like I do about this. On the face of it I'm, reasonably, happy with the manager himself. He has achieved some things in the game, including managing a team in the top division in Belgium and that played in European competitions.

If we add to that the fact that Jose Riga was completely unknown and he did a great job with us; Bob Peeters was involved in putting together the team we currently have and managed a great start to the season before the players started getting injured and/or suspended; and, more pertinently, that neither Chris Powell nor Alan Curbishley had a proven track record when they took over at Charlton, there is no reason to expect Guy Luzon to fail.

I suspect that even after a new change of manager Roland Duchâtelet still wants the best for the club. Maybe not, exactly, what us fans want, but I can't see any benefit for him of destroying the club.

However, I still do not feel happy about the outcome of the last week. Katrien Meire's credibility has been shattered. She looks, now more than ever, like she was appointed to look pretty, say nice things and win over the 'hearts' of the, male dominated, Charlton fans. Ironically the complete opposite of what women, especially those with intelligence and integrity, in business have been fighting to change for decades. If I were her I would be furious about how she has been the PR mouth piece backing the manager just before he is sacked, and giving an explanation of how the club would be carrying out a full search for a replacement 24 hours after most fans were predicting Luzon would be appointed and 24 hours before he was.

Had the club come out on Sunday and said that Peeters had gone and they were going to approach Luzon then fair enough. Had they released a statement on Monday that said that they have a target and  were going to approach him that would have been fine. They could even have just not said anything on Monday but they have made a lot of people look very silly (#bringbackcurbs), which has made them angry and most of them are the fans/customers/future of the club and many of them will take a lot of winning over.

The upshot is that Roland has made Luzon's job much harder. I am never loyal to the manager in isolation, I support Charlton. Players come and go as do managers and when they leave I'm more interested in their replacements. I didn't scream and shout when Chris Powell left, nor did I sulk with Kermorgant and Stephens were sold but the manor in which this has happened, even though it might well be the best decision, makes me feel unwilling to back the manager until he proves to me that he can do a good job.

With that in mind, assuming that others feel the same way as I do, I think Luzon is going to be under significant pressure. If we lose the next two games (away to sides that are 5th and 6th in the Championship form table) then anything other than a win at home against Rotherham (who have only lost one of their last eight games) will result in more boos at the final whistle than we have seen at The Valley for over a year.

For the record I'm not sulking because we didn't appoint Curbishley. Not only am I not sure that after all this time (much of it he has been out of work) coming back might not work, but I'm sure that his salary expectations would have priced him way out of our league. His indication of being willing to 'talk to us' was probably out of desperation. His management career could well be over and I think he needs us more than we need him. Anyway it's all irrelevant as we have Luzon until at least May and I can't see him making the mistake of allowing us to snub him again.

I, always, hope for the best for Charlton and that, by association, means that I hope Luzon does well here. He might be the best thing that's happened to us for ages. I just wish we'd been told the truth about what was going on.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Charlton 0-1 Brighton

One of the most depressing games I have ever watch Charlton play was the home fixture against Brighton in October 2010. We lost 4-0, in the third division. I would say that, technically, that must rank as the worst result in the thirty-three years that I've been following Charlton. It was not the result itself, but that it happened in the lowest division that the club has played in. Bearing in mind this result, all be it against the same club, meant that I didn't feel terribly deflated at the final whistle.

Yesterday we narrowly lost 1-0 against a team that seemed to be able to hold the ball better than us but, more importantly, seemed to be very tough in the tackle and out muscled us all over the pitch. I'm not saying that this happened because we were not up for the game - although that might have been the case, but Brighton played like a team that was scrapping at the bottom of the division and was determined to do everything they could to ensure that if they lost that did so getting, properly, stuck in.

There were a could of great chances for us to score before Brighton did and had we done so I suspect that the result would have been a 1-0 win. I believed (right up until Bob Peeters was sacked) that we just needed a bit of good luck and things would improve.

Some of the players look like they weren't giving their all and that could be due to the manager (the most likely scenario) but it could just have been that they felt that they were fighting an uphill battle with having to play so many young players that were not strong enough, mentally, to cope with it. I have always believed that young players need to be nurtured and need to be surrounded (in the first team) by experienced pros that can help them out and cover for them when they make mistakes. It helps to have someone that you know and respect to keep giving you encouragement when you break into the first team.

It is very difficult to be successful with many young players in the same side. The Class of 92 was an exception but when interviewed they all mention the players that were there to help them and Man Utd had some serious players at that time.

So an over reliance on young players - some of which are just not ready for Championship football yet (in my view) and we were always going to struggle. It is not when things are going well that the character of young (and experienced) players is tested and the start of the season was, clearly, unrepresentative of the strength and quality of the squad that has been assembled.

All of this aside and it is not, really, good enough for us to have managed one win and six draws in the last twelve games (9 points in 12 games) and, more worryingly three draws in the last seven league games (3 points in 7 games) on a run that has also included losing 2-1 at home to Championship side Blackburn with the best side we have available at the time playing.

The fact that we are where we expect to be based on a 46 game season is irrelevant when based on the last eight games we are bottom of the table averaging half a point per game.

Brighton, incidentally, had managed just six points from their last seven games before yesterday so this, like Blackpool at home in the middle of December should have been a banker win at home. I know there is no such thing, but I'm sure you get my point.

I still think we have more than enough to get out of trouble and ignoring the effect on attendances of a good run of form when the season ticket applications go out, and the ability to attract players, finishing forth from bottom is about as good as finishing seventh in terms of the division we start next season in.

However, we do need some points to avoid being relegated and if we average half a point from now to the end of the season we are likely to end up in the third division next season.

Tony Watt looked lively when he came on but I thought Laurie Wilson looked poor yesterday. He didn't look very interested in busting a gut and he looked like he had lost his concentration. Even if Bob hadn't 'lost the dressing room' his treatment of Laurie Wilson this season (irrespective as to if it is justified) is enough to make any player give up trying. I know many will say that as a professional he should give his all every time he plays, but with very little playing time, being passed over for a 17 year old and having no discussion about a new contract it is likely that Laurie is, already, in his mind moving on to his next challenge.

My main criticism, however, is aimed at Andre Bikey. He has had some terrific performances this season but in recent weeks he has taken to, literally, stamping his feet and waving his arms at other players - including young players. His outburst in the local newspaper was not what I like to see from Charlton players, or the reporters, to be honest. It was a divisive article and was always going to be a head turner (winning clicks on the paper's website) and bringing attention on the reporter. I don't like that, nor do I like to see players (or children, for that matter) stamping their feet and shouting at everybody. Bikey was doing this again yesterday and I assume was so angry/frustrated that this motivated him to make the rash tackle on the touchline when putting the ball in the stand would have been easy. The free kick was the set piece that Brighton scored from. Bikey was still stamping his feet towards the end of the game even though it was his 'mistake' that cost us the goal and possibly the result.

Bikey needs to curb his temper because I think when I see him stamping his feet that this must be the side of him that has earned him the reputation and the five red cards that do him no favors.

I will, probably, cover the sacking of Bob Peeters in another post later in the week - probably when we have more news about his replacement. I would love it to be someone that has experience of the English game but, like most others, I suspect that it will not be an Englishman, and probably someone that has spent little time over here. Having said that Riga falls into that category and I was more than happy with what he achieved with us last year.

My optimism when we brought Rhoys Wiggins back into the side yesterday and had Tony Watt on the bench yesterday seems to have all evaporated.

Up the Addicks!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Charlton 1 - 2 Blackburn

I have to be honest and say that this result is hardly unexpected, nor, in truth, disappointing.

We have failed to progress in any Cup competition for nine years - save for last season, when the draw was very, very kind to us and even then we were knocked out by a team from the division below. We didn't play a team last season that finished above us in the league the season before so it has to be said that it was the draw that helped us last season.

In truth, I believe that we played out best team yesterday. We have a small squad and a number of injuries and at no point did I think we should have beaten a Blackburn side (squad) that was assembled at much greater cost than ours - and that we'd lost to just a couple of weeks ago.

Interestingly, I didn't think we played that badly. The unmarked header in the third minute set us up for a bit of a struggle, bearing in mind we do not score many goals and our top scorer was not playing. Having said that it has been a long time since we've scored many goals. Take out our League One Championship season (the third division) and we haven't been a high scoring team for well over a decade.

I have had a hectic weekend so I'm writing this after most other bloggers, and members of Charlton Life, have had their say. The general feeling is that we are in trouble and we will, soon, be falling into a relegation fight. I believe that our back bone is strong enough. We don't win enough games, but we are clearly tough to beat too. We have only lost five games all season, in the league, out of twenty-four played.

The current league position of those five teams (Ipswich have beaten us twice) is 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 9th and 17th - and only one of those games was at home. That doesn't look like a team that is heading for relegation to me.

If we were in the Premier League that would be like having lost at Chelsea, home and away to Man City, away to Swansea and away to WBA - the last one doesn't have the same relevance as 17th in the Championship is not 4th from bottom, but the three defeats being to the top two should offer some defence of our results.

We do draw too many games but, as obvious as it is, we didn't lose them, and we were only one goal away from winning them.

I think there is, sometimes, an issue with losing few games that the team becomes obsessed with not losing opposed to gambling/risking all to win.

It was only Boxing Day that we came from behind with ten men to batter Cardiff and almost win the game. We had good chances to score late goals against Millwall and Cardiff, and we have conceded late goals in several games to drop points.

I know luck doesn't mean everything, but we have conceded late goals and missed late chances in at least half a dozen games, jet we have only scored a late winner once - Wigan at home.

I'm not suggesting that we are unlucky to be out of the playoff places, but I don't believe that we are in a higher position that we deserve to be. The fact that we have picked up more points in the early part of the season is, to a small degree, irrelevant. Since we beat Reading on the 8th of November we have drawn four (two where we missed a sitter very late on and one where we conceded very late on) and two of those three defeats were to Ipswich who are currently on a run of 8 wins and three draws in 11 games - no shame there!

We need a lucky win, or a confidence boost from Tony Watt and/or players returning from injury - or a win against the run of play and we could be back in business. I'm not suggesting that we are going to climb the table, but I don't think we will be caught by anything like enough teams to leave us in any real trouble of going down.

After going a goal behind early I thought we dominated the game and created most of the chances (all be it nor clear cut) in the first half. The equaliser, even though it would be a stretch to say it had been coming, was not against the run of play. I am worried about Gudmundsson. He signed a two year deal and he keeps hitting the headlines. I'm not naive, I know that players like him come over to the Championship as a stepping stone to the Premier League, and I fear that he could be off in the sumner if he makes it clear he won't sign an extension.

After the equaliser we were, effectively, penalised as Church was treated for, what looked like cramp, and from a drop ball we didn't touch the ball again until we were picking it out of the net. It was not, terribly, professional, but we all have the odd bad day at the office.

The sending off for what looked like a very fair second yellow - even though I had missed the first one, effectively finished the game.

Gudmundsson, who was on a yellow was throwing himself into tackles and he needed to come off and that was that.

A defeat, but we were not humiliated, and we have such a small squad we didn't need the extra games that come with a cup run anyway.

I don't fell as encouraged a I did after we narrowly lost to Ipswich, nor as I did when we nearly beat Cardiff, but it isn't the first time we've gone out of a cup looking like we didn't really want to be in it in the first place.

Brighton next Saturday is a much bigger game and will, I believe, give a much better indication as to where we are in terms of the second half of the season we are going to have.

Up the Addicks!