Sunday, 9 February 2020

Bowyer remains confident but the knives are out

Lee Boywer is confident that he can keep Charlton up, but the knives are out for him from quite a few fans to judge from social media and it's not just the likes of Desmond from Deal who has been calling for him to go for months. The Football League Paper also has a critical analysis which I will reproduce later. Or perhaps brave the wind (not too bad here) and buy your own copy.

Staying up was always going to be a challenge, but 21st place is sufficient. It just needs three teams to be worse than us, it doesn't require us to be that good. No one ever seems to factor in the Birmingham City points deduction. They were charged last month and although these things take time, another points deduction for breaching financial fair play rules is very likely.

Bowyer told the Football League Paper: 'Our squad ain't as strong as a lot of the other squads in this division. I think we are good enough to keep that gap between us and the relegation places. We will surprise teams and we will win games. I know what we have to do and how many points we need to stay in this division and I am confident we will get them.'

Let's consider some of the points made by Bowyer's critics. One is that he left the substitutions too late yesterday (72 minutes: the lacklustre Purrington and the tiring Williams off, Doughty and Oztumer on). That is a fair point: let's hope he didn't get this habit from Alan Curbishley who favoured late substitutions when the chances of them making a difference were diminishing. But it's hardly a sacking offence.

Another criticism is that he was good enough for League One, but not for the Championship. Well we shall have to wait and see. Having just given him an extended contract, which most fans seemed to welcome, ESI are hardly going to change their minds.

A rather different line of attack is the failure to sign a centre back in the transfer window. One of the reasons for focusing on midfielders was that a weak midfield was putting the defence under pressure. However, if there was a good centre back available as a loan, surely Steve Gallen would have signed him?

East Street Investments

Another line of attack is on ESI themselves, and I think there are some grounds for concern. However, a note of caution first. Many fans seemed to have read too much into what ESI said, although Matt Southall could have been more cautious in his phrasing. In general, however, I am amazed by the way in which fans expect owners to shovel money into a club. I would rather have a sustainable five year plan, yes, even if it means regrouping in the third tier.

There are some areas for concern. Many fans dismiss the questions raised by Rick Everitt in VOTV as an attempt to increase sales. Given the cover price and the print quality, I doubt whether he makes any money out of it. Anyway, let's assume for a moment that his carefully weighed points are simply the result of a bloated ego contaminated by being a Labour activist as his critics claim.

I have had two conversations this week with fans that gave me some concern. One was with a fan who has lived in the Gulf and briefed me about how those societies work. Given that my prior knowledge was limited to changing planes in Dubai, this was very helpful. His key point was that as someone born in Syria His Excellency would be viewed as an outsider, but he might nevertheless be useful to represent others in societies not noted for transparency.

The other conversation was with a local fan who has done some research on the Cheshire links of ESI. He has clearly looked into the situation in some depth, but further fact checking is required before anything is said.

We should be careful what we wish for. We don't want a reversion to Roland and there isn't a white knight round the corner, so expectations may have to be reduced.

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