Monday 10 February 2014

What Roland might do

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.


Burgundy Addick said...

Wyn, how can we suddenly so disagree? Duchatelet strikes you as a nice and sensible person; he strikes me as an arrogant fool (time will tell). Will it be boring? Watching the guts of our team get ripped out and a Charlton legend being treated with contempt, materially increasing our risk of being relegated, is not my idea of fun.

Anonymous said...

What worries me the most is who is making Transfer decisions,it is clear in the period after Curbs left and before Varney arrived again as CEO that it was a disaster and who was controlling it all then a certain Mr Murray.I have flagged this before as a worry and I am sure he his having an influence, what does Katrien know about football,with respect her role is corporate management and eyes and ears of Roland.
During Varneys time under Slater and Jimenez he was involved in all things to do with team building and a great job he did.
Murray thinks he knows but is clueless, and if Roland is doing it without input from him and listening to Powell we might have half a chance.
But it does feel like we have the blind leading the blind all the way to Division 1.
Our record in League under new Chairman and Owner is lost them all.

Anonymous said...

reading with interest about the 6 clubs roland duchelet owns: in the pecking order which one currently has the better income and which one potentially has the better prospect of the highest income?. I would suspect that in the event of Charlton reaching the premiership it would be the best bet for a better return on investment.

Anonymous said...

100% agreed. There is no mileage in the idea that roland saves £4mn by getting relegated.As our gates will drop to sub 10,000 and income will drop accordingly and he will have to run at at least a £5mn deficit a year to get promoted back to Championship, so that doesn't make sense.
Whereas spending some money now on Loans to keep us up and then investing in the summer for a Premier League push could see him double or treble his investment.

Wyn Grant said...

@Blackheath, I think it's quite possible that RD is arrogant as many successful people are, but I do not think that he is a fool, but time will tell. He does have strong views. I think that we can overdo the 'Charlton legend' and it can get in the way of good decision-making. Football clubs should be run as a business like fashion. On the second comment, I think that Katrine's focus is on the commercial side, although some accounts see her involved in the Kermorgant removal. I think that Roland is taking the big decisions on transfers. Murray is a front man, but perhaps more will be known when he has appeared at the CAS Trust meeting, although somehow I doubt it. As for losing matches, we were losing them before the new regime came in because the players weren't good enough and that hasn't changed. Standard Liege is clearly the biggest club at the moment. Given that Roland's scheme to merge the Dutch and Belgian leagues got nowhere, getting Charlton into the Premiership would yield a very big return. However, one concern I would have is that he thinks it is possible to break even when all Championship clubs (well, maybe not Yeovil) are losing money big time, even well run ones like Brighton and Hove Albion.

Anonymous said...

Agree , the only way to break even in Championship is to get crowds of 25,000 every week at valley , get better sponsorship deal and brand the stadium. But can only do that by spending money up front to get a decent team challenging at top of league . Catch 22 and ain't gonna happen , only way to make money is speculate to accumulate , no reason to buy a championship club unless going to go for premiership or washing dirty money.