For most Addicks, this has been a very difficult year. It was not easy to accept relegation to the third tier, particularly when we had been in the Premiership so recently. However, most Addicks would have probably have accepted second place at the end of the calendar year at the beginning of the season.
In recent weeks, however, the natural nervousness and pessimism of the Addickted has come to the fore once again. In part this is because Norwich are being talked up by the media. The Addicks have had a run of three draws, although the 2-2 one against Swindon with nine men was a moral victory, while a 1-1 draw at Brentford on a very heavy pitch with many of our reserves in the team was acceptable. It was throwing away the lead against the Spanners that was a blow, exciting though the match was.
I have for a long time held the view that Phil Parkinson was a decent, competent manager who was doing his best in difficult circumstances. He would probably have become our manager when Curbs left if Colchester had let us talk to him and a Dowieless history might have been very different.
Many of the Addickted are coming round to Parkinson, although it is still rare to hear his name being chanted. I have even heard him referred to as the new Alan Curbishley, whatever that means, although that is going too far in the other direction.
The problem is that we have a thin squad which looks vulnerable when we have injuries (Youga, Richardson, Dailly) or suspensions (Burton). Some strengthening may be possible in the window, but not very much. The left-wing position has been a problem resolved by playing people who are not suited to it there. Holden apparently is not the answer, but I think Leon McKenzie could be.
The fact of the matter is that the club's financial position is perilous. If we don't go up, or attract a significant new investor, insolvency may stare us in the face. We are not running a Yeovil set up where continued membership in League 1 is the objective. Our stadium and other infrastructure attracts unavoidable running costs, e.g., for insurance, business rates etc. The situation was reflected in this year's Charlton accounts which were presented in a monochrome format rather than the glossy publications of earlier years.
Because of pressure of work I have not been able to carry out my own analysis of the accounts and I am grateful to the Swindon Addick for the following:
* As a stylised fact, our net assets (Valley, training ground) just about cover our liabilities
* We lost £8.6m last year, but that was on revenues of £23.6m which included the last parachute payment and higher television revenues in the Championship.
* Staff costs dropped by £8m, but even then salaries were twice as high as ticket revenues (further cutbacks since then, of course).
* We owe £32m to creditors.
The board have made mistakes, as they admit themselves, not least over appointments, especially those of Dowie and Pardew. My experience from when I was a line manager is that appointments are one of the most difficult things you do. I would divide those I was involved in into three categories:
1. People who interviewed well, but that was their finest moment and they never delivered on their supposed potential. [Quite a few players one could name like that].
2. People who did deliver but were also complete [deleteds] and disrupted team working. [A few candidates at Charlton]
3. People who did turn out to be very good and went and got themselves better jobs elsewhere. [Again a number of examples at Charlton].
I was watching an old newsreel of Neville Chamberlain as chancellor recently when he finally admitted that he could not keeping on reducing taxes as the country need to get some half decent armaments. He raised his eyes and gazed upwards (presumably to some divine source) and after a long dramatic pause and said 'But there you have it.'
We don't want to be where we are and it won't be easy to get out of our current situation. It depends on the board, Phil Parkinson and the players. But the spirit in the camp is as good as it has been for a long time. We have been in worse situations before and we have come through and gone on to better times. Come on you Reds!