This was the claim made by Richard Murray in the question and answer session at the Family Fun Day. Perhaps he was referring just to his own time at Charlton as it's quite a competitive league. Murray held his hands up to making a mistake about P45DUE as he is known at Newcastle, but pointed out that he had had many e-mails, texts and other messages from fans welcoming the appointment. I confess that I thought it was a good move at the time.
I was thinking of writing an assessment of the whole video, although the sound quality is not that good. In particular, one can't generally hear the question being asked. However, by kind permission of editor Rick Everitt (Whom God Preserve), I am writing about Katrien in the next Voice of the Valley. If the dispute between Rick and his gnomes about whether they should be paid the living rather than minimum wage is resolved, that should be available at the Wigan game (although the gnomes are also protesting against a proposal that they should wear the third kit which would certainly make them stand out).
So let's take a look at what Richard Murray said. Murray's role at recent events at The Valley is an enigma. I remember asking someone who is better informed than me about it a year ago (not the tea lady) and I got the reply, 'That's a good question.' Is Murray the fans' friend as he likes to portray himself, the guardian of the spirit of Charlton? Of course, Murray (or Murray-Obodynski to give his full surname) was originally a Wolves fan, but then he certainly put a lot of his own cash into Charlton. I appreciate his openness to fans in the past, particularly the meeting he held for Charlton bloggers. He could see that social media were becoming as important as news media.
Some fans have taken exception to his view that we should not expand the ground until we have sold out, i.e., have a waiting list for season tickets. Given that expanding the ground would be expensive, his stance seems a reasonable view to take. It would be adequate for a first year in the Premier League and if we stayed up, the position could be reviewed.
Katrien Meire looked understandably blank when Murray talked about events in the past, but the wise old owl was keen to demonstrate their rapport by slapping her on the back, at which point la belle Katrien managed a rather forced smile. As she pointed out, it was her close working relationship with Bob Peeters that was important, although this was emphasised by a comment that has a double meaning in English.
On Peeters, Murray said that he was a 'larger than life' character who was prepared to have some banter with the players but also drew strict limits to any familiarity. That sounds fine to me. I don't think that Alan Curbishley was all that keen on talking to the players and indeed complained to me about 'players knocking on my door' more than once, making it clear that he gave them short shrift. Keith Peacock was left to smooth any ruffled feathers and indeed that was a very good working partnership. I think the best insight I saw into it was on Chinese television. (I am shortly due to visit China again but I doubt whether I see any reflections on the current arrangements at the club).
But I digress. The events that surrounded Chris Powell's departure remain contentious and probably always will be. Richard Murray insisted, 'Roland was not picking the team. He was giving opinions.' Murray explained that when Powell asked for additional players, he was asked why he did not make more use of the players sent over from Belgium. Well, the problem was that most of them were not up to Championship standard, and that, along with the sale of Kermorgant, got the new owners off to a bad start with the fans. It has also been suggested in some quarters that Murray's account of these events was economic with the actualité. Chris Powell is too honourable a person to give his account of events publicly.
It was Murray, with Peter Varney and other directors, who got Charlton into the Premier League and, after a relegation, got us back up and kept us there. Charlton were punching above their weight. However, then was the disastrous appointment of Dowie, followed by Les Reed, who was out of his depth, and then Pardew.
We don't know what Murray said or did behind the scenes when the previous regime ran into difficulties. In all fairness, it should be said that Murray still has a lot of money at stake and that his own lifestyle has been reportedly curtailed. I don't doubt the sincerity of his attachment to Charlton, but whether he quite fits the 'elder statesman' mantle he would like to adopt is an open question. I wouldn't think that he has much influence on major decisions, and, as Katrien pointed out, the club does have a core philosophy under its new owners which is a refreshing change in football.
Katrien doesn't have a lot of real life decision-making experience and, I would suspect, little prior knowledge of football, but she is clearly intelligent and a quick learner who is capable of thinking strategically. Whilst it won't be from a bottle of wine from the Blackheath Addick, I am more than happy to raise a glass of Belgian beer to the new regime, particularly at a time when we are remembering how Belgian suffered during the First World War.