Monday, 1 May 2017

A Season To Forget...

Thank God that's over! Head and shoulders the most forgettable season in the two decades and more I've been regularly watching Charlton. From what I actually saw in person, there will not be a single moment played out on the pitch that I will remember fondly in years to come. There are countless moments I will sadly remember for all the most depressing of reasons.
I've missed more games this season than in the last 22 years combined and of the 11 games I endured, I witnessed a grand total of 3 wins. On 4 occasions I was stupid enough to purchased tickets in advance, only to later decide not to attend, one of which I got as close to sitting by my front door, shoes and coat on, car key's in hand, before accepting with a very heavy heart that I just couldn't face another depressing night at The Valley.
Thanks Roland. Thanks Katrien. Another wasted season full of empty rhetoric, empty stands, repeated mistakes, lies, arrogance and apathy. The distance between club and its fanbase continues to grow. Still, at least we never went down and don't forget there's some heavy plant at the training ground moving earth around, so it's not all bad.
Thank heavens for that top 6 budget and the 3 managers who contributed to our survival...

Pre-match a few hundred fans gathered behind the North Stand before marching to the rear of the West. I joined in, but it all felt a bit anti-climatic, if I'm being honest. I thought we'd long-since agreed that shouting at the rear elevation of a building just doesn't work.
Inside the ground black and white was the dominant colour, and the anti-Duchatelet sentiment from the vast majority of the crowd was ever-present throughout the game. But in truth, it felt like an opportunity missed. Much of the anticipation built up across social media with hashtags like 'Take Back The Valley' and 'End Game' hinted at something big being planned, but in the end, we've seen far more hard-hitting days of action. 
Not that I will criticise CARD or any other high-profile protest groups. In fairness, without CARD many (including me) may not have bothered yesterday, and whilst it might not have been militant enough for some, it would have unquestionably been an uncomfortable afternoon for Meire and Murray et al. The message was loud and clear. Some may prefer the sight of angry fans storming the directors box or invading the pitch during the game, but let's be fair about this, CARD will never advocate that. Whatever your opinion, groups like CARD, B20 and WAR are still more responsible than anyone for the continued pressure on this regime and that is something I'm very grateful for.
Charlton won, by the way. Not that it mattered. Here's Kyle's report.   

One undoubted positive in these dark times is the universal love for our skipper, Johnnie Jackson, who busted a gut second half to get on the score sheet, perhaps for the last time. For me, Johnnie's service to our club - his club - rightly puts him up there with Kinsella as the finest Charlton captain of the last 20 years, and he deserved every bit of his standing ovation yesterday.
As I walked back to my car I couldn't help but wonder when the next time I will make the journey to The Valley. Sadly, it's become too easy to find something else to do on a matchday as my priorities shift. This isn't about being one of those 'through thick and thin' supporters anymore; it's about not being taken for a mug by an ownership that doesn't value my emotional or financial investment in Charlton.
But then again, my absence will only hurt me as Roland or Katrien couldn't give a toss if I don't come. I miss caring. I miss feeling hurt when we lose. I miss felling happy when we win.
Heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking.
My gut feeling is Duchatelet may well be sounding out potential bidders, but that is a long, long way from him actually selling. Worst of all, the sheer stubbornness shown by him and the hapless Meire, and their inability to accept and learn from their never-ending list of failures, leaves me with zero confidence that this is about to end any time soon. 

As always, I will sign off by saying thank you to anyone who's dropped by this very occasional blog this season and especially those who take the time to comment. Hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing summer. Let's hope Charlton's fortunes look considerably different come August.

Friday, 28 April 2017

One Last Protest?

Will Sunday's final game of the season be the last time The Valley will see a matchday endured under dark clouds set against the backdrop of passionate, widespread anti-Duchatelet protests? We can but hope. As rumours continue to circulate that maybe, just maybe, Duchatelet is finally ready to sell, perhaps by the time next season kicks off this heartbreaking and hugely depressing chapter in the otherwise proud history of our club will finally be over. Perhaps - dare I push this dream even further - we may even be feeling positive about our future once again under a new ownership that is clever enough to harness the passion and energy of Charlton's fanbase and ambitious enough to make watching games enjoyable again. 
Earlier in the week The Guardian produced this excellent video to tug at the heartstrings. If you haven't already, I urge you to watch it. If it doesn't make you want to head down to The Valley on Sunday morning to fight for your club, then nothing will.
Don't forget, Roland couldn't care less that you're on a full boycott. He doesn't miss you anymore than he misses your money. That much is undoubtedly true. What he clearly doesn't like is bad publicity, so let's do all we can (within the law, blah, blah, blah...) to ensure he is embarrassed and shamed publically again. 
See you under the Charlton badge behind the Covered End at 11am Sunday...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

It's The Hope That Kills You...

I came back from a long run yesterday afternoon and straight into a maelstrom of rumours on social media that Charlton were on the verge of new ownership, potentially as early as within a few days. A few credible sources added fuel to the fire. Something was clearly happening. I put a few beers in the fridge to chill just in case, whilst frantically refreshing my twitter feed for an announcement.
But, like everything else Charlton-related, when the news came it wasn't quite what we'd hoped for.   
If you can bring yourself to read the Daily Mail, the story of a possible takeover can be found here: Ready To Sell.
The intention of the would-be new owners, according to the report, is to turn Charlton into 'Australia's football club' which undeniably sounds ominous. As does the use of the word 'feeder club'. Most worrying of all is that the deal looks to exclude The Valley, which means Duchatelet would remain the owner of our greatest asset.
Out of the frying pan, and all that...
But on a positive, their stated aim would be to return Charlton to the Premier League and the feeder club and Australia links could simply mean we'd receive some young 'talent' to blood in the English game. You might also hope that with names like Mark Schwarzer rumoured to be involved this lot will have a better understanding of the English game than Uncle Roland has.
As a club we are not in a position of strength right now, and I think it would be very naïve for anyone to criticise any owner, Roland included, for balancing the books selling our better players from time to time. That's life, and we are far from alone. In fact, there will be very few clubs not having to face that disheartening issue. Selling out of necessity is one thing; all I ask for is realistic ambition.

I think it's also obvious that our knight in shining armour will not be a well-meaning Charlton-supporting local businessman with deep pockets...
As I've said many times, personally, so desperate am I for change, I'll roll the dice on any new ownership given how bad the current one is. My gut feeling is that it won't be Bruce and Sheila taking over at The Valley as they're currently searching down the back of the sofa for funds. But at least these latest developments give the firmest of indications Duchatelet is considering selling, despite the obvious denials from the club. That alone is a starting point I'll cling to in these dark times.

Hopefully the interest of the Aussies will force one or two others to step forward.

It's the hope that kills you.  

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Moment To Remember, A Game To Forget...

It's impossible for me to believe that there can be a single person who is honestly enjoying Charlton at the moment. Perhaps the most hardy of come-what-may, highs with the lows types are still clinging desperately to routine rather than genuine enjoyment, but as we, the fans, continue to be taken for absolute mugs by the club, even their patience must be stretched to breaking point. At a time our 'top six budget' should be gathering momentum for a promotion push we're facing down the barrel of a gun...yet again!
Are we about to enter the fourth tier of English football? How has it come to this?
Last night Charlton should have been driven on by the high-emotions and a boosted gate ready to set aside differences with the ownership for this one special night and get behind our Charlton. PC Palmer would have wanted that, right? Instead, those players in red froze under the focus. Not for the first time this season, our team resembled total strangers, shirked responsibility, lacked any fight and showed all the body language you'd expect from individuals that would rather be elsewhere (Jacko aside).
As always, if you want a match report then Kyle consistently performs in a way I wish our football team did.
Despite the obvious concern, I don't see us going down. The points difference is frighteningly tight, but we have a cushion of four teams below us before we get to the bottom four. I think that alone may save us. Surely we can amass a better points total in the last five games than at least one of the five directly below us? (*checks the current form table and face-palms)
For this season at least, that's me done.       
In truth, I made the effort to attend last night for one reason; to pay my respects to a fallen hero and fellow Addick, PC Keith Palmer. The football was always going to be secondary. Below is the footage I took of the pre-match tribute for PC Keith Palmer. Absolute class from everyone in attendance.
I shouldn't be so cynical, but anyone else find it odd that for the first time in ages the 'official' attendance seemed about right? No, perhaps we shouldn't dwell on that point... 
I can only hope that by the next time I make the journey to The Valley, Duchatelet and Meire will have gone, Sue Parkes will have been removed from the directors box and the new ownership will be building bridges to a disillusioned and suffering fan-base. Whether the Charlton I fell in love with ever returns, only time will tell. I miss it more than I can put into words, though.      

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

I Won't Miss You...

In the three-odd years of Duchatelet's ownership he and his hapless sidekick, Katrien Meire, have not given one ounce of a toss about my loyal support of Charlton Athletic, so how ironic that when the season ticket renew form dropped through my letter box on Wednesday it carried the opening line of "we've missed you!".
Very funny.
My former season ticket seat in the East Stand in Block E (zone 1) has risen to a whopping £500, which makes it only marginally cheaper that when we were operating in the halcyon days of the Premier League!
For nearly two decades my view across The Valley had comparable sightlines to the Directors Box and I took the many lows firmly on the chin, puffed out my chest and came back for more whilst enjoying the occasional highs with immense pride. 
Nowadays my view on a matchday is hindered by the 45 miles that separate my house to my second home The Valley. 
Perhaps most shocking of all is the closure of sections of the East and West stands at the southern end of the ground. The club suggest this is to "increase the atmosphere at The Valley and feel that bringing more supporters into the fewer blocks that are open will enable us to do this". Acceptance, albeit indirectly, that gates are continuing to fall at an alarming pace. Closing those blocks will not hide the embarrassing images of a sparsely populated Valley on a matchday. It will be worst next season still, and I'm actually surprised the club have kept open the upper tiers of the Covered End and West.
By the way, I wonder what sort of person would buy a £500 seat when they can purchase a £300 one a short distance away and stroll - unchallenged - to pretty much any seat in the higher-priced zone? Perhaps the club will use some the stewards surplus to requirements after closing some blocks to police the unruly 'Vinegar Pissers'?
I agonised for weeks about whether I should continue as a season ticket holder this time last season. Breaking a cycle that ran for nearly two decades because you feel so desperately disillusioned by the direction of the club was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. But I'm a man of principles and I won't be taken for a fool. This time around the decision is frighteningly easy. I will not be renewing again. Furthermore, having not attended a home game since early Feb, I've slipped into a full boycott as my apathy towards this current Charlton grows...
But I may well break that on the final home game of the season as CARD have announced a 'day of action'.
A CARD spokesperson said: “We plan to take back The Valley on the final day of the season and are asking fans who have been staying away, whether in protest or frustration, to return and send a resounding message to the next owner about what Charlton can be. This can be accomplished inside the ground or outside, for those unwilling to buy a ticket"
Once again, CARD are urging fans to delay renewing their ST for as long as possible. Absolutely no criticism of anyone who does, by the way. To each his own. I'll be back when they've gone, and how I dream of that day.  

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Missing Again...

As Charlton gear up for what is the last scheduled midweek game of the season tonight, I will once again be absent from The Valley. It will be the 5th game in a row.
I still cant quite comprehend how dramatically things have changed in a relatively short period. As little as two years ago I would never have believed it was possible for me to choose not to attend games. For over two decades, if Charlton was at home, I went, regardless of form and fixture. Simple as that. But under this cancerous regime the matchday experience has become a depressing shadow of its former self and results are becoming increasingly more irrelevant as the nonsense continues. 
I can't pretend staying away doesn't hurt. It does. So much more than I can explain in a few words. In the last year I've suffered bouts of IBS and anxiety that my doctor has put down to stress. I'm sure work has played a part, but I'm also certain the lingering anguish I feel about what is happening to my club has not helped. It's always there; especially when I'm on my own and my mind starts thinking deeply. I've gone from someone who craved solitude to someone who prefers to be around people.
Few beyond fellow Addicks would understand. In truth, by her own admission, even my own wife doesn't really 'get it'. Friends are perhaps understandably confused as to why it's taken me so long to come to this point anyway. 
For now at least, I just cannot face going to Charlton.
Last Saturday I went over the park with my boy instead. For nearly two hours the lad leathered balls at me in goal until my body could take no more. I loved every minute of it, but we can do that any time. I'd much prefer we could follow the fortunes of our club together on a Saturday afternoon as well.  
There are rumours circulating that maybe, just maybe, Duchatelet is exploring the idea of selling the club, to the point that nightMeire has supposedly shown potential buyers around The Valley. I can't allow myself to get excited, but as the speculation has come from some very credible sources it's impossible not to dream of the day this club is free of Duchatelet and Meire and I can have my Charlton back.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Pictures Paint Thousands of Red Seats...

The 'official' attendance was announced as 9,088 last night, but from these images (lifted from Rick Everitt's twitter page) it's hard to imagine the true figure much higher than 4,500. It is a truly shocking indictment of Duchatelet's regime and Katrien Meire's complete and utter failure at understanding the depth of feeling amongst the fanbase she serves.
As I've said before, quite what Meire honestly thinks when she looks out across the vastness of the Valley on night like this I would love to know. Her shameless approach would suggest she will convince herself the problems lay elsewhere. Perhaps she still thinks this is all down to results.   
The official figure will include season ticket holders who never went, so that goes some way to explain a ridiculously inflated gate figure, but that in itself is shocking. I saw countless examples on the CAFC hashtag last night of individuals openly saying they won't be going despite committing to ST's at the start of the season. If you assume they won't renew next season, we can at least expect a fairer reflection of actual gates.
In fairness, it would appear that those in attendance got behind the team, and they were rewarded with a much-needed win. For now at least, fears of relegation fade a little... 
I never went. For the third game running I felt no urge to. I should have felt a bittersweet feeling at missing the dramatic late winner, but in truth I felt nothing.  
Talking of Katrien Meire, I understand whilst writing this that she has been interviewed on Radio 4 this morning to comment on the Government's plans to involve more women in football. I should say that I never listened myself, but I did notice one or two people on twitter suggest she was complaining that she believes her 'treatment' is partly based on the fact that she's a women. Sadly ignorant people will pity her on that point, but Addicks will be of the opinion that being very bad at her job doesn't help her case. At the time Roland bought the club I was proud to support one of the few teams with a black manager and who had a young, ambitious woman at the very top. It felt 'proper Charlton' to be that different.
My pride in Sir Chris remains. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Unity Protest...

As Charlton defining moments go, I can only pray that we will look back on Saturday's Unity Protest in Sint-Truiden and file it alongside the formation and ultimate victory of the Valley Party, the return to the Valley in 92' and the Play-Off final in 98'. It won't single-handily force Duchatelet to sell, of course, but the hope is that the highly-publicised protest in Roland's own back-yard, and the embarrassment and unwanted press it will inevitably cause him, proves to be the start of the end.
For a very good summary of the Unity Protest click here.
As things unfolded throughout Saturday I found myself becoming more envious of those who made the trip; estimated at around 300 Addicks who were joined by disgruntled local STVV fans. Those figures are impressive for a protest on foreign soil, and I cannot be more thankful to those who paid good money and committed their time to fight for the very future of our club. Images of a demographic covering the young and old, male and female, dispels the myth that this is a battle raged by a few disgruntled and mischievous ex-employees. That alone won't please Roland, who has now lost that mantra to hide behind.
Once again the protest was arranged with military precision by CARD, Belgium 20 and others, so much so the Sint-Truiden chief of police praised the organisation and execution of the march.
As yet there's been no response from Duchatelet, although you might imagine it wouldn't be too complimentary. Remember, this is a man who calls protesting fans 'stupid people' and, more recently 'vinegar pissers'! For the first time the old fool Uncle Rolly actually made me laugh with that rather odd description.
And whilst the Belgium protest was in full swing, 1400 Addicks were watching Charlton lose again.
If, like me, you gain no pleasure (or disappointment) from Charlton results anymore, then just allow yourself a moment to dream of that moment the club announce the 'Take-over has been completed - Charlton are under new ownership'. Every day is a step closer which ever way you look at it...
With three home games back-to-back, starting with the visit of high-flying Scunthorpe tomorrow, the next week or so could be defining for Karl Robinson and Charlton. The hopes of us sneaking into the play-off's, which I personally found to be completely without foundation, have given way to a stark realisation that the more likely outcome is a tense relegation battle. Our form is woeful and gutless performances are commonplace now. Most worryingly of all, it would appear as though Robinson has lost the dressing room, most likely as a result of his mixed messages, boring sound-bites and constant nonsensical jibber.
Earlier in the week he had called out the players and publicly hammered them, claiming, in particular, that many of them didn't care. On Saturday he shifted the blame to himself and told us the team was hurting. No...I don't get it either.
He's struggling massively.
But removing Karl would be embarrassing, even by this Regime's standards. In fact, I don't think it will happen. Regrettably, I think we're stuck with Karl regardless.
I just wish he was even half as good a manager as he is at talking.
I have no plans at this point to attend the Valley for any of the next three games, meaning I will have missed the last five. In my current apathetic state I  have slipped into a boycott without even really thinking about it. This, remember, despite missing little more than a half-dozen home games in twenty years previous to Duchatelet's ownership. I literally dream of the day he's gone.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Empty Inside...

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

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bang Average...

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

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.