I set out for The Valley last night uncertain what I would find. In what may be an omen for the future, I didn't get there. The usually reliable Deutsche Bahn (Chiltern Railways) let me down following an 'incident' at South Ruislip (which recalls John Betjeman's famous poem about Ruislip Gardens, 'gaily tripped Elaine'). By the time we limped into Marylebone, it was too late to get to The Valley and all I could do was turn round and join the homebound commuters. As a season ticket holder, I would have got counted in the attendance figure, but even so it was the lowest for a home game at Charlton this season (12,794). I got home in time to hear the last twenty minutes of the commentary.
A 0-0 draw leaves Charlton rooted to the bottom of the table, making Saturday's away game at Millwall even more crucial. According to the commentators, the performance was better than against Sheffield United, but that serves as a pretty low benchmark. Possession was 50-50. We had four shots on target to five for Huddersfield, in terms of corners we had twelve to six, but we never make much of them.
Astrit Ajdarevic saw an early effort pushed wide by Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies. After the break, Sordell also wasted two good opportunities, scuffing wide after being played through on goal. Dorian Dervite headed off the line from Nahki Wells. As the Addicks made a solid start, on-loan Standard Liege midfielder Ajdarevic was denied from distance by Smithies and Reza Ghoochannejhad turned wide from Rhoys Wiggins's cross. Michael Morrison and Ghoochannejhad both missed from Johnnie Jackson corners before Sordell wasted two good opportunities after the break.
Once again the limitations of the squad were apparent and in particular our inability to score goals, even though Sordell apparently put in a shift. But when you end up playing Cousins on the left and Bradley Pritchard, you can see what the problems are. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Charlton fans paid tribute to Chris Powell in the third minute of the game, reflecting the shirt he wore for Charlton and England. New coach Jose Riga (who apparently wears a very nice suit) said after the game, "That's the story of football, it's nothing new [on succeeding Chris Powell as manager]. I have so much respect for the ex-manager but it's football. The reaction from the crowd for my players was the most important thing. I am not here for me, I am here for Charlton. Often when something is new, people suspect it, but I will just focus on my qualities." Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
I was able to pick up a copy of the Evening Standard on my homeward journey which contained this article on Charlton: Lost identity?. It is clear that Charlton fans do think that their club has a very distinctive identity and I shall write something about this when time allows.
At least the more extreme conspiracy theories in terms of Roland's influence on the team were disproved when Hamer was rightly the choice as keeper. However, it does not seem unreasonable to me that someone who has paid a lot of money for a business should have some say in how it is run.
In the meantime it seems to me that the way forward is for a representative group of fans to seek constructive engagement with Roland and Katrien and to bring home to them the particular concerns of Charlton fans so as to try and avoid too great an erosion of the support base.
The report on the game from the Evening Standard, including comments from Alex Dyer on his 'surreal' situation can be found here: Surreal. I thought that Dyer would be out of the Sparrows Lane gate as well, and I am still not sure his position is secure. But then José does not have a contract.
You can learn more about José's 'Cogitraining' technique here: CogiTraining