The message boards have been full of arguments for and against retaining Chris Powell as manager over the weekend. I want to leave these rather repetitive discussions to one side and speculate about what Roland Duchâtelet might do. I would emphasise that this is pure speculation as I have no particular inside knowledge about the new regime. However, more information about Roland is coming out and I probably have some understanding of Belgium having spent short stints working there. Despite its scruffiness and impossible politics, I have a real affection for the country. Brussels is a more liveable city than Paris.
Roland is a man who likes change, as is true of many successful businessman. They achieve success in part by challenging the existing paradigms. This was true of Roland when he was a student rebel; when he was building up his businesses; when he made his failed venture into politics when he tried to think outside the box (particularly difficult in Belgium); and now on his mission to change football. In many ways that looks like a mission impossible, but one can be sure that every attempt will be made from the mother ship in Liège.
Roland strikes me as a nice and sensible person and I think that his local representative, Katrien Meire, is smart, sophisticated and cosmopolitan. However, as a businessman, he is not sentimental and able to take tough decisions. He is, in some respects, a man in a hurry. I do not think he would be blasé about Charlton being relegated, but he is not a fan, and he has sensibly covered himself to the tune of £4m if the worst happens.
My hunch is that he is still assessing Chris Powell, but will probably let his contract run out in the summer. Roland likes to base decisions on statistics and he knows that replacing a manager often only brings short run gains. Replacements should not be made in a panic taking whoever turns up with a DVD, but after thinking through the strategic needs of the club and researching those who are available, rather than taking anyone willing to move a few miles north. With a foreign owner there would be a symmetry in having a foreign manager, preferably one whose first language is French, as that will increasingly be the language of many of the players. However, a French speaker operating at managerial level normally has a decent command of English: Roland's English is ten times better than my French, albeit that I have a Belgian accent.
Such a manager would probably introduce a different style of play, a patient game of possession football based on counter attack rather like that of Gus Poyet when he was at Brighton. English fans tend to prefer a style of all out attack and have difficulty in understanding why the smart move is often to play the ball sideways or backwards, which helps to explain England's problems at international level.
Whether Charlton will be successful under Roland's stewardship, remains to be seen but I don't think it will be boring.
For anyone who hasn't heard, tomorrow night's FA Cup match against Arsenal has been postponed. Apart from the state of the pitch, Arsene Wenger couldn't face another big defeat.