Saturday, 7 January 2017

Best Of Luck, Foxy...

Farewell, Morgan. Best of luck on your move.

Often a scapegoat for the disgruntled, frustrated fan, Fox got his fair share of stick, much of which, in my opinion, was harsh to say the least. I can't deny that I've slumped in my seat or shook my head more times than I can remember standing to applaud Fox in a game, but then again, I also recognise a lad who gave everything for a club he clearly cared about.

In that respect he is a loss to Charlton at a time when characters you can believe in are sadly lacking. One must also remember some of the bang-average or out-of-position players he regularly had to operate with on the left.

But the truth is, after a little over a century of Addick appearances, he definitely needed a change, and I really hope he makes a success of the move to Sheffield. Some people are already bracing themselves for a repeat of the 'Simon Francis' effect, and I for one wouldn't be surprised if Fox goes on to become something we never quite saw regularly enough at Charlton. The transfer fee, reported to be £700,000, would suggest there's something there. Time will tell if it proves to be good value to Charlton or Wednesday.

As a Charlton academy graduate departs before he reached his full potential with us (yet again), a West Ham academy left-back is bought in to replace him on a two-and-a-half year deal. I know nothing whatsoever about Lewis Page other than at the young age of 20 he's got well-kept hair and has managed to cover himself in tattoos already! He looks like the modern footballer, but can he play?

Robinson said of the new man "He's quick, likes to get forward and is a good crosser, I really like that in a full-back". Hard to imagine there's anyone out there who doesn't, Karl, to be fair. More proven quality additions are required if we are to believe there's genuine ambition to grab a Play-Off place. Either way, I remain completely apathetic about Charlton these days, and my wish remains for Duchatelet to go above anything else. With Fox gone, that leaves Jackson and Solly as the last men standing from better times. Times I deeply miss. I doubt for one minute this will bother Meire, who seems to be making it her priority to dilute what being 'Charlton' really means.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Goodbye & Good Luck, Ademola...

From the moment he burst on to the scene at Charlton he looked too good for us. No surprise then that Ademola Lookman has finally been sold. Uncle Rolly's pocket's are bulging once again, and coupled with the sale of JBG and Pope in the summer, Charlton's much-maligned owner has pretty much recouped the amount he paid for the club three years ago!
As encouraged as I should have been about an obvious talent, I never allowed myself to get excited or attached to Lookman, so I would be lying if I said I was disappointed he's gone. His departure was inevitable and under this current ownership it's hard enough to feel any attachment to the team, let alone when you know the young stars are only passing through once they break out of the academy.
But who can blame them for aiming higher? 
Whilst it is always tempting (and very easy) to stick the boot into Meire and Uncle Rolly, can they be criticised for this sale? £7.5m rising to 11m (according to reports) is far too much money to turn down regardless of who owns the club, and is it fair to stand in a young man's way when a Prem team comes knocking? Perhaps not, but the fundamental question here is how much of the sale fee will be reinvested into the squad. Given the undeniable lack of ambition to date and Uncle Rolly's recent comments (if they are to be believed) regarding promotion as being 'not essential', then I won't hold my breath, but this sale does provides the Regime with an opportunity to shake off some of the negative opinions regarding ambition, and perhaps most importantly, intent.

In this regard, the next few weeks could be hugely important for Charlton's short and long-term future.  
Unsurprisingly Katrien Meire managed to muddy the waters with contradictory comments on the OS. This time last year she sat on a sofa in that infamous seminar video proudly stating through her trademark grin that she hoped Charlton would cultivate the Premiership stars of the future. Today, she said “Our intention was not to sell Ademola, we are very sad to see him go and our long-term ambition is that we get ourselves into a position where our talented young players, even when there is interest from Premier League clubs, want to stay with us.” Hmm. It can't be both, Katrien. You need to make your mind up or you'll end up looking silly yet again.
In all, Lookman made 49 appearances for the Addicks, scoring 12 goals (which coincidentally is comparable to Lee Bowyer's spell with the Addicks). I wish the lad every success in the world at Everton, and hopefully England.
As news of this departure was announced, Richard Cawley reported that Charlton have signed Jake Forster Caskey to bolster our midfield. It will be Karl Robinson's first permanent signing, and hopefully the first of many new faces.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Stupid People...

You'd have thought with the appointment of a new Head of Comms, and the apparent abundance of outsourced P.R, Uncle Rolly could be persuaded to keep his mouth shut to avoid further embarrassment to our club. Clearly not the sharpest tool in the box with regards to football matters, Roland's opinion is worth about as much as a great many of the players he's bought in over the years.
In case you're one of those who is choosing to stick your head in the sand and ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet's regime, let me direct you to a few of my fellow Addick bloggers here, here and here.    
Yes, as if explaining to a former England international with well over 600 games as a player what a diamond formation is isn't enough of an insult, Uncle Rolly suggested in a Belgian TV interview over the weekend that the hugely-respected Chris Powell is "not a clever person". The opinion based on the fact Sir Chris chose to ignore woefully substandard players bought in by his woefully substandard scouting network. Ironically, Duchatelet has chosen to ignore the fact Powell's replacement, Jose Riga, himself overlooked the same players as Charlton successfully avoided relegation. 
He went on to suggest those protesting (or activists, as he calls us) are "just stupid people too".
But my personal favourite Uncle Rolly comment was 'advising' the coach of STVV that he needed to "stop letting in goals or we'll never win a match". To be fair, it's very easy to dismiss Duchatelet as a naïve, stubborn megalomaniac, but we shouldn't discount such progressive-thinking football ideas. Wonderfully insightful, it is a wonder that the idea of not conceding goals to give yourself a chance of success has not been thought of before... 
I'd be very curious to know what messrs. Rubashow and Bevington think of their employers comments. Perhaps even Meire - herself more than capable of embarrassing public speaking - might be forgiven for planting her head in her hands this morning. 
All this serves only to raise the question once again as to exactly what Roland is getting out of football club ownership in general, let alone Charlton. Surely, no matter how pig-headed he obviously is, you'd reflect on things enough to accept there's a negative trend going on here and a common denominator to it all. I would imagine Mr. Duchatelet enjoys exposure, but surely not this type of press?
My only hope is this latest outburst is the beginning of the end. The interview gave cause for encouragement with Duchatelet suggesting he was "not planning to be doing this forever". Keep dreaming fellow Addicks; could there at last be the very dimmest of lights visible in the far distance?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting To Know The Network...

Today saw the release of the 1st and 2nd episodes of the much-anticipated 'Getting To Know The Network' podcast, which looks to shed some much-needed light on the dark and secretive world of Roland Duchatelet's highly-controversial network model. The man behind the podcasts is former Charlton media man, Jimmy Stone, who certain people within the club would like us to believe is nothing more than a 'bitter ex-employee'.
In the first two episodes, Jimmy has managed to gather together some very respectable figures who, significantly, were at the very sharp end of the last year or so of Jimenez and Slater's reign and could form credible early impressions on the impact of Roland Duchatelet's ownership. Without any motive to suggest anything other than the truth as they saw it, we are left with a version of events that contradicts so much of the continual narrative we regularly hear from Katrien Meire in particular.
It's a tricky one, but I'm inclined to trust Chris Powell's version of events more than those currently in charge of my club...   
I won't go into anymore detail; you owe it to the tireless efforts of Jimmy to listen and judge for yourself. I listened intently on my drive in to my office this morning and nothing changes my opinion of who is responsible for why Charlton are in this current shambolic and heart-breaking mess. All I would say is that it is painfully clear that mistakes that could otherwise have been excused and maybe even forgiven in those early few months were not learnt from. In fact, the stubbornness, lack of experience in key positions and in some cases, a brazen arrogance has left Charlton a soulless shell of a club. 
The first two episodes are available on the links below.
Episodes 3 and 4 will be released early next year, which gives plenty of time to digest the first two. It will be very interesting to see the fall-out from this, especially from those who have decided to stick their head in the sand and ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet's ownership.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Karl's Short Stay?

"I am honoured to have been appointed Manager of Charlton and can’t wait to get started"
Hmm, sooner you start the job, Karl, the closer you are to the end, I guess.

Probably closer than you'd think...

Anyway, as easy as it is to not give a single ounce of shit who manages this shambles of a football club at the present time, I genuinely welcome Karl Robinson to Charlton. Quite what his motivation is to take the poison chalice remains to be seen. Perhaps he is a man confident (or arrogant) enough to believe he is the answer to whatever he perceives the problems to be, or maybe he's skint, naïve or just plain stupid? Who knows.

I feel totally indifferent about Robinson the manager, but even so, I will back him from the outset. That is not something that will be afforded to Roland and his hapless side-kick. You do understand why, don't you Karl? It is the reason the protests can't and won't stop, by the way.

Ok, I admit it, I am surprised we've not reverted to one of Duchatelet's network flunkies. Sacking Slade so soon devalues the argument Roland has changed course, but even so, we haven't reverted to type, and that's worth something. Whilst not without his critics, Karl has a promotion from this division under his belt, even at the age of 36, so on the face of it, and under a clear blue sky, this wouldn't seem such a bad appointment. Sadly the dark clouds continue to gather, and whilst the root problem remains, there is no obvious break in the gloom.

Robinson's appointment will undoubtedly create further unwelcome divisions in Charlton's fanbase. Already I'm seeing a decent amount of people who believe we should give Karl the same protest moratorium afforded to Slade. CARD have said otherwise and I for one back them. Despite the hard evidence suggesting otherwise, some people still believe the protests are having an adverse effect on the team, whilst others think they are killing the matchday atmosphere. Personally I think the three games won by Charlton at The Valley following notable protest action provided by a country mile the best atmosphere.

As I've said a number of times, if I had just one wish I'd rid my club of Meire and Duchatelet in a flash before I ever considered the option of Charlton winning promotion. Therefore Robinson instantly becomes a subplot to a horror story so depressingly gut-wrenching it's hard to see a happy ending. A story in which Robinson might just prove to be a hero, but the real villain of the piece must be stopped first.  

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

To Go, Or Not To Go...

To go, or not to go, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer yet another torturous day at The Valley Floyd Road,
The slings and arrows of protest incentivise,
To take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing the Regime, end them: to see them gone,
No more, and by the grace of God we end them,
The heart-ache over, and thousands of lost Addicks and all hope returns,
My apologies to Shakespeare for the above, but my rather poor attempt to rework his famous Soliloquy piece does seems to work quite well, for me at least!
I'm sat here in front of my laptop, mouse hovering over the cheapest ticket option I can find for Saturday's visit of Sheffield United, wondering if I can actually be arsed. I desperately long for a time I can look forward to going to Charlton again, but the truth is, nothing inside of me actually wants to go. I'm considering it only because it's ingrained in me to do so. Routine. Habit. Tradition. To be fair, the 'just put up with the shit and back the boys' mob won't miss my apathy, so perhaps I'm better off out of it. I don't want to spoil their 'matchday experience'!
But then again, I want to action my right to protest as well. Tricky predicament.

I face a 90 mile round trip on my tod, which under normal circumstances has never been a problem as I've often been grateful of the solitude. Nowadays the lonely journey feels like the a trip to the dentist, knowing at the end of the journey is a very painful procedure.
My mind tormented the whole journey with memories of brighter days...
I can't do behind the goal so my best option is £20 for a Lower West ticket in the block nearest the away fans, where I might at least expect a bit of an atmosphere. The Blades will come in numbers as they always do, whilst the numbers at The Valley continue to dwindle alarmingly.

I held the same seat for close to two decades, but I've become a nomadic supporter these days; drifting aimlessly...much like my club.
Nothing against Temporary Kev and his battle-weary charges. It was a brilliant result last night. It looks like Franchise FC's reject, Karl Robinson, will be named as our new manager today, which I'll admit is a welcome surprise. Not because I'm a fan of Robinson - I'm not particularly - but because I did think we would return to Uncle Rolly's Network model. Either way, a few decent results changes nothing. This has never been about results alone. This is about the unforgivable mismanagement of my club that has left it as embarrassing as it is shambolic. It's become hard to love and painfully easy to resent.

I'll have a coffee then decide. Might see you at The Valley, might not...

Monday, 14 November 2016

Zombie Club...

As those heroes pictured above were taking the protests direct to Roland's own Belgian back yard (complete with a wonderfully decorated London cab), back home Talksport's Jim White continued to give the crisis much-appreciated air time with another discussion on his lunchtime show.  
Within the conversation financial columnist and football writer, Matt Scott, described Charlton as a "sad, sad situation" before suggesting Charlton was once "one of the finest places to go in London" and had since become a "husk of a club". Most heartbreakingly accurate of all his observations, Matt described Charlton as a "Zombie club, drifting around in the 3rd tier of English football".
Matt came across as knowledgeable and hugely sympathetic of our plight, noting the failure of Duchatelet's strategy and the irreparable situation going forward under this ownership.
The full segment from Jim's show can be found here.
Roland was said to be 'very unhappy' that Charlton fans had come over to Belgium intent on embarrassing him and interrupting his 70th birthday celebrations. I cannot praise my fellow Addicks enough for whatever personal sacrifices they made in making this trip, and I hope to God it's rattled our owner into careful reflection.
I won't hold my breathe, but the war of attrition continues apace. Roland's 'very unhappy' does not even come remotely close to how I feel about what my club has become.