Monday 31 March 2014

Riga tried to get in another striker

Charlton head coach José Riga tried to get in another striker before the loan window closed, but was not successful. Hence, he has to rely on what he already has in the squad: Striker

He may, of course, not have the range of contacts within the game that a British coach would have.

Michael Morrison says that the Addicks will have no one to blame but themselves if they get relegated and he will take personal responsibility: Morrison. He also says that coach José Riga will rely on squad rotation given the hectic pace of games for the rest of the season.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Addicks just out of relegation zone

Charlton lost 3-0 to Derby today, but stay out of the relegation zone on goal difference above Barnsley who won 4-1 at Yeovil. Millwall drew at home. The Addicks forced Derby keeper Lee Grant into several excellent stops, but were unable to find the back of the net.

Patrick Bamford set up Johnny Russell to score the Rams' first goal and then pounced on a poor back-header by Johnny Jackson to squeeze home their second. Charlton created the first clear chance when Reza Ghoochannejhad (subbed at half time) let fly from the edge of the area, but Grant pushed it behind to make his first significant stop of the day.

Derby scored with their first meaningful attack, which saw Jeff Hendrick play the ball in from the right before Bamford found Russell to turn and fire home a low shot. Bamford made it 2-0 before half-time after Jackson's error and only an excellent Hamer save stopped Andre Wisdom adding a third. Grant made further stops to deny Callum Harriott and Joe Piggott after the break but Derby's top scorer Martin made sure of victory.

A friend who is a Derby fan who was at the game said, 'Not bad going forward, but the defending for all three goals was horrible.' Usually it's the other way round.

Alnwick leaves Orient

It was argued that letting Ben Alnwick leave Charlton was a mistake. However, he played only one game for Orient and his contract has now been cancelled by mutual consent: Alnwick

Friday 28 March 2014

Charlton now harder to beat

Steve McClaren is too astute a coach to chalk up tomorrow's match against Charlton as three easy points. Rams fans are still celebrating their 5-0 thrashing of rivals Nottingham Forest last Saturday, but then slipped up in an away defeat at Ipswich. McClaren thinks that one time Ram Chris Powell was unfortunate to lose his job, but considers that Jose Riga has made the Addicks harder to beat: McClaren

Derby's home record is a bit more mixed than I expected: won ten, drawn four, lost five. Charlton are now 12th in the form table whereas Derby have slipped to 18th. They have won only one of their last six matches.

Derby are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the two clubs. In last season's encounter, they won 3-2 and they also won 2-0 at The Valley earlier in the season. I would be surprised but delighted by a Charlton win, but a draw is possible. However, I think that a home win is the most likely result.

Odds are Derby 8/13; draw, 11/4; Charlton, 9/2.

Katrien asks for patience

A message from Katrien Miere and the board recognises the importance of dialogue with the fans and developing a shared vision for the club, but asks for patience at a very busy time for the club on and off the pitch: Board statement

Some have argued that postponing meetings with fans until after the end of the season is a classic delaying tactic. My view is that Roland and Katrien want to do all they can to keep the club in the Championship. There are also a number of matters that needed to be sorted out off the pitch were Katrien can play a key role. Even Voice of the Valley paid her some regard in the last issue.

The results of the CAS Trust survey of fans are now available and they make interesting reading, although would respondents be as sceptical now about the chances of José Riga keeping us in the Championship?: Survey results

Thursday 27 March 2014

Addicks try for Petrucci

As a search for a winger continue, Charlton have been successful in signing Manchester United starlet Davide Petrucci on loan for the rest of the season: Petrucci

Brighton and Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest were also reported to be in the frame: Competition . However, Petrucci has now signed whilst Tudgay has returned to Forest.

In other breaking news, the SLP's Richard Cawley has tweeted that Danny Hollands may go on loan to Portsmouth. The fan run club have sacked their manager this morning as they face the possibility of playing non-league football next season (with Portsmouth v. Eastleigh a possibility).

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Addicks swoop for Eagles

Charlton are trying to persuade out-of-favour Bolton winger Chris Eagles to come south on loan, preparatory to a longer term move: Eagles

The 28-year old was a youngster with Manchester United. Originally from Hertfordshire, the Spurs supporter started his career in the Watford youth system: Career

I think that this attacking midfielder could add something that we don't have at present and I hope the move goes ahead. However, this is now looking much less likely. Apparently, despite his southern origins, he want to stay 'oop North.

The Evening Standard is reporting that Arsenal are keeping a 'close watch' on Jordan Cousins. Perhaps they should keep a close watch on Arsene Wenger.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Important win at Forest

A 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest this evening moved Charlton three points clear of the three teams on 32 points, Millwall propping up the table after their 2-3 defeat at home to Birmingham. Charlton's winning goal came ten minutes from the end when Jordan Cousins slotted home after Jonathan Obika's effort had come off the post.

Charlton, with Jose Riga in charge for only the fifth time, attacked only sporadically, but they did give Forest a scare when Astrit Ajdarevic broke down the left and squared the ball towards Marvin Sordell, who had to stretch to deliver a shot, but still managed to hit the foot of Karl Darlow’s left-hand post.

In the first half Astrit Ajdarevic had a couple of efforts early on for Charlton, but both shots were unable to find the target before Reza Ghoochanneijhad saw an attempt of his own blocked by the Forest defence.

Apparently there was some aggravation between Astrit and Lawrie Wilson at the end of the match and they had to be pulled apart, no idea what that was about.

Full report from Sky here: Victory

Big match for both teams

Nottingham Forest will be looking to take an easy three points off Charlton tonight as they seek to blot out the memory of the 5-0 loss to rivals Derby. Something has clearly gone wrong at Forest and the answer for owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi was Billy Davies. With no wins in eight games and two points from 18, talk of automatic promotion in January has given way to real concern that play off qualification will not be achieved. Although Forest are just outside of the Championship play off places at 7th, they are bottom of the six game form table (Charlton are 13th).

Injury problems have played their part in the slump in form, but the Football League Paper commented after the defeat at Derby, 'Forest are in desperate need of a midfield. Guy Moussi and Jonathan Greening had all the mobility of a rock with eyes, and were utterly overrun. Henri Lansbury cannot return soon enough. But there were more fundamental problems here. No fight, no spirit, no heart or confidence.'

Forest are still without a host of players for Gary Brazil's first – and possibly last – game as caretaker manager. One time popular Addick Andy Reid is two to three weeks away with a hamstring injury. Both Kelvin Wilson (back) and Henri Lansbury (ankle) are nearing a return having taken part in training of late. Jack Hobbs (ankle), Chris Cohen (knee), Eric Lichaj (hernia), David Vaughan (knee) and Dexter Blackstock (knee) are all definitely out. Lee Peltier on loan from Leeds is expected to feature in defence.

For Charlton, Callum Harriott remains doubtful after an ankle knock kept him out of the game against Burnley on Saturday.

One might think that Charlton might have a chance to get at least a point out of the game. The problem is strikers who cannot score - and who do not get decent service anyway given the lack of a decent wide player. One only had to look at the quality of the cross and the finish for Burnley's first goal on Saturday.

The record against Forest is a poor one. Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in the last seven meetings in all competitions, winning four. Charlton's last win was 3-0 at home in the old Division One in January 2000. The home side are unbeaten in the last four meetings at the City Ground in all competitions, winning two. Charlton's last win there was 1-0 in the Premier League in October 1998.

The odds reflect the reality of the situation: Forest 5/6; draw 5/2; Charlton 10/3.

Striker who is Addicks fan chooses Hull

Described as a 'teenage sensation', 18-year old striker Johan Ter Horst has opted to sign a three year contract with Hull City. As many as 20 big clubs have been chasing his signature and Charlton gave him a trial, but at the end of the day it came down to a choice between Bolton and Hull.

One of the attractions of the Hull offer was that he could finish the season with Folkestone Invicta and help them to secure their place in the Ryman South play off places. He scored in their 4-0 victory over Horsham on Saturday, although even the keeper managed to get on the score sheet.

Monday 24 March 2014

Pigott recalled

Joe Pigott has been recalled from Gillingham ahead of Charlton's trip to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday: Pigott. Looks like a somewhat desperate measure.

Following their 5-0 drubbing by Derby, Forest are expected to announce the departure of Billy Davies (the hoped for replacement for Curbs) and the arrival of Neil Warnock from his Cornish smallholding. In the event Warnock decided not to accept the poisoned chalice with this report referring to 'strange goings on' at the club: Forest

Pope aids York surge

With one goal conceded in the last seven matches and eight clean sheets out of thirteen, Charlton goalkeeper Nick Pope is aiding the surge of York City up League Two. After Saturday's 1-0 away victory at Portsmouth, the Minstermen are now in the play off places and are top of the form table. Pope has played a key role in their progress: Pope

With Ben Hamer's future in doubt, Pope is looking well placed to be No.2 keeper next year and possibly No.1 if we are relegated.

Sunday 23 March 2014

New ideas don't make us madmen

That's the headline on the back page of the Football League Paper today illustrated by a large picture of José Riga captioned 'Leading the way'. But, of course, the world of football is inherently conservative and new thinking doesn't go down very well.

The article refers back to a FA coaching manual produced in 2010 called The Future Game which identified a need for more innovative coaches. However, Graham Westley notes that Jose Riga at Charlton was adopting methods 'I have preciously used successfully previously with players. Riga, particularly, was getting very positive reviews from his players as a "leading edge practitioner" ... English football will not progress by sticking to old fashioned ways.'

Riga talks about his involvement with the CogiTraining system here (scroll down): Riga. However, his involvement with Real Madrid was mocked in the latest issue of Voice of the Valley.

Divided fans - and no smoking gun

A long-standing fan who was with Charlton through the Selhurst Park and West Ham days yesterday said to me, 'I have never seen the club so divided.' Regrettably, I think that is the case. I find myself on the opposite side of the argument from Voice of the Valley to which I have contributed in the past.

Let me say that I still think VOTV offers good value. It is well written, well produced and printed on good quality paper and I can't imagine that Rick Everitt is making any money out of it, particularly once he has allowed his elves a bowl of gruel. The article I enjoyed most was Matt Wright's account of Alan Pardew which did contain some revelations which were new to me and confirmed my view that Pardew is less than a complete human being. Matt Wright also wrote an eloquent tribute to Chris Powell, drawing on his personal knowledge of the former manager.

Taken as a whole, it does, however, look more like the Voice of the Everitt than before with four articles by the Rickster. There was no sign of the Sage of Prague, Richard Hunt, who has an interesting perspective as a member of the CAS Trust Board and the Royal Oak group. The last article in this issue is a rather impenetrable account of the evidently fractious and ego ridden office politics of the former non-playing side management team at Charlton. I acknowledge that there are important points to be made about the treatment of loyal staff, but as an outsider I found it all quite difficult to follow.

There is then a detailed critique of the season ticket pricing strategy which may well be flawed. The argument here appears to be that there was a more robust testing of the model when the old management team was in place which may well be the case. However, again it has a 'back to the future' tone which is evident throughout the whole issue.

One time Valley Party candidate and former club employee Steve Dixon wades in with an account of how his breakfast was spoilt by Chris Powell's dismissal. Dicko goes in for some hyperbole about us becoming a 'basket case' club which some of us were concerned about under the old Slater/Jiminez regime, but their shortcomings seem to have quickly been forgotten.

Dixon does raise the issue of the club's identity and this is something that does concern many fans and has been puzzling me over the last few weeks as I try to work out just what is so special about Charlton. For the likes of Dixon and Everitt, it was clearly the whole Valley Party experience which was unique. Indeed, Peter Cordwell can't wait to relive his youth and get his fading banners out again, but even he acknowledges that then there was one clear target and today's fans may see themselves more as individual consumers rather than motivated by some sense of solidarity.

For me what is distinctive about the club is its extensive community work, but that is largely separately organised and funded (although Chris Powell was an asset to it). As far as I understand it, Roland Duchâtelet also values this work and there is no threat to it.

Anyway, let us turn to the main course which is Rick Everitt's article about integrity. As one would expect, this is an effective critique, although Everitt does have an 'aqueducts' moment when he acknowledges Roland's focus on youth development and the investment in the training ground, although we learn in another article that this was based substantially on work done by Peter Varney (Whom God Preserve).

The Rickster complains that Roland has weakened the team. However, Kermorgant is apparently now injured at Bournemouth and out for the rest of the season, while Dale Stephens has hardly set the south coast on fire. As for the imports, there is a failure to acknowledge that some of these, e.g., Koc, were brought in as development players. As for interference in team selection, it is only in football that you would be told that, having spent £16m on a business, you can have no influence on personnel policy.

My critique of the article is based on what is not there. First, what would Everitt have preferred to happen? Should Slater and Jiminez have turned down the Belgian offer and let the club go into administration? Perhaps he thinks that this would have produced a knight on a white charger, or rather Peter Varney coming up the North Kent line from Ebbsfleet with his much mooted consortium. Next week: Leamington's board decide to use this year's profit to launch a bid for Charlton.

Second, what do the VOTV crowd think is the way ahead for medium-sized clubs like Charlton that continue to lose money? I do agree with Everitt that Roland's break even objective is unrealistic, particularly given that I think that he places too much faith in the early arrival of financial fair play (something which curiously is not mentioned). The article resorts to the traditional argument that one should make a small fortune by starting with a large one and investing in a football club. However, I do not think that there are going to be enough benefactors of that sort around in the future.

Third, and perhaps most important, I had expected a smoking gun, some revelation that would unveil the true nature of Roland's dastardly plot to undermine the club and wreck his investment. But I couldn't find it.

Those of us who are well disposed to the takeover are now left with a dilemma. The CAS Trust is going to meet with Katrien Meire and they do make an effort to consult their members and seek their views. The Royal Oak group is also going to meet with her and they did try to cast their net as widely as they could in the time available. I was invited to attend, but was unable to do so. That was probably for the best, as younger fans seem to be conspicuous by their absence from this group.

One does get the sense that some of the Royal Oak group are Napoleonists. What I am referring to here is a book that was written about the mostly dotty aristocrats who supported Napoleon in England during the Napoleonic Wars (come to think of it, a similar group of people backed Hitler). However, the author goes on to make the more general point that there are some people who enjoy being in permanent opposition to whatever is the current regime.

Where this leads those of us who have a more measured view of the takeover is an interesting question as our voices are not going to be heard in Katrien's office. I certainly don't want to muddy the waters by forming yet another group to roam The Valley like some group of dinosaurs who know their time is up. One possible course of action is to write an open letter to Katrien and invite others to write in as well with their own version.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Keep the faith!

That was the plaintive plea of Big Dave Lockwood over the tannoy as disconsolate Charlton supporters left The Valley after today's 0-3 home defeat by Burnley. The Clarets looked like a side destined for promotion. There was, I thought, some improvement in Charlton's play, particularly in the first half. There was less hit and hope and more passing along the ground to someone in a red shirt. But ultimately Charlton were outclassed.

I have read some comments from fans since first writing this which said that Burnley were very ordinary and we made them look good. There was a sense in which the Clarets never had to get out of second gear, but I thought they had more in reserve and a lot of their play was impressive.

We held our own for the first half hour or so, but then Burnley scored with a bullet header after a good cross from the left. They then put the Addicks under the cosh for the remainder of the half with Ben Hamer making two excellent saves. José Riga made the first of three substitutions at half time, taken off Green and replacing him with Astrid, and I would commend the new coach for trying to change things around. We seemed to lose our shape somewhat in the second half and then Burnley were awarded a penalty which they scored to make it 0-2. I thought that the penalty award was rather generous in the sense that I have seen us not given penalties in similar circumstances. We kept on trying, but no avail and the third goal come out of nowhere in time added on.

The one crumb of comfort is that with Millwall losing and Yeovil drawing, we are still out of the relegation zone, but we have some very tough matches ahead.

I rather liked the following chant from the Burnley fans in the train to London Bridge: 'We speak with an accent exceedingly rare. Our side of Burnley will always be there. In our Lancashire home.

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Diego Poyet who was a class act despite being the target of some cynical fouling which should have been penalised by the referee who seemed reluctant to give a card for anything. Either they are card happy or the opposite.

Player ratings

Hamer did make two good saves and it would have been difficult to save the first goal or the penalty, let alone the own goal. However, I think he was indecisive at times, seeming uncertain what to do with the ball when he had it and wasting time as a result. Morrison was solid, although one might want to look at his positioning for the first goal. Dervite was singled out for attention by José Riga in the programme, praising him for having two feet like all Frenchman, but all saying that he was too introverted. Whether as a result, Dervitte did seem more confident to me and got forward well at times, bringing the ball out of defence. Wiggins had a rather disappointing game by his standards, he seemed to be sluggish and often dwelt on the ball too much. Wilson was a mobile presence on the right flank, although some of his passes forward could have been better. Green was, as always, inconsistent, at his best rather good, but not at his best often enough. He needs to beat his man before crossing the ball. I thought that Riga was right to substitute him at half time. Jackson seemed to be out of his depth against Burnley and crowned it all with an own goal, although that was an unfortunate ricochet. Cousins was energetic. I did ask Steve from Petts Woods whether he was involved enough, but he pointed out that while Poyet was providing the pleasing passes, Cousins was doing the hard graft. Both of us were still uncertain what his best position is. Church has a good work rate, but is not clinical enough in front of goal. Another striker might have scored when he burst through on 25 minutes to find himself one on one with the keeper, but his effort was tame. Obika was tireless, but not that effective. He burst through well at one point, but should have passed to Green who was better placed. Ajdarevic made a difference when he came on, testing the keeper will a well taken free kick. Reza may be getting us a virtual following in the Middle East, but he doesn't offer much on the pitch. The arrival of Sordell and his white boots did little to raise morale late in the game, but he did get stuck in and showed some skill.

José Riga was offering plenty of instructions to his players. He is featured in the Football League Paper this morning and I will post about later.

Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to the bald East Stand lino. Bald officials always seem to under perform and this one must have broken his bottle of hair restorer in the dressing room because his mind was not on the job at hand. Someone advised him to stick his flag where the sun doesn't shine, but he preferred to hold it limply by his side and either not raise it all or belatedly.

Friday 21 March 2014

Tough test tomorrow

The injunction to keep calm above reminded me of my uncle's cat Sandy of whom I still have a picture. During the war Sandy would ignore all invitations to go down the shelter when the alert was sounded, even if a tasty morsel was offered. However, the moment he heard the hum of Luftwaffe engines, which was well before any human heard them, he would immediately abandon his patrol and head into the shelter. The morale is only take shelter when it is imperative.

Burnley look destined for promotion this season, in second place ten points ahead of Derby. A win on Saturday would all but clinch promotion for them and they have the fewest number of defeats of any team in all four divisions. Their away record is impressive, having won eight, drawn seven and lost just three matches. Our recent record against them is not good, having one only match out of the last seven we played against them, a 1-0 win at Turf Moor last season. This season we lost the away fixture 3-0.

One ray of hope is that Burnley will be without leading scorer Danny Ings. Full back Kieran Trippier is also a doubt. Charlton have doubts over Astrit Ajdarevic, Reza Ghoochanneijhad and Callum Harriott. Jonathan Obika could start up front. Charlton have kept a clean sheet in last three games, but their real challenge is to score goals. They have the worst goals scored tally in the Football League.

Burnley offer an example of a well-run club that has been able to punch above its weight as I suggested in this piece written some years ago: Burnley

More recently, their one year stint in the Premiership helped with parachute payments.

Odds are Charlton 12/5; draw, 11/5; Burnley 6/5.

Katrien backs dialogue

Katrien Meire, de facto Charlton chief executive, says that she recognises the importance of dialogue with fans, but considers reasonably enough that any discussions should be postponed until after the relegation fight has been dealt with and the preparations for next season completed: Dialogue. These tasks are more important than allaying the fears of over anxious fans.

By the way, 'dialogue' seems to a Franglais word in French. I couldn't find it in my English-French dictionary, which admittedly I bought in 1959. However, according to Google Translate, the same word is used in both languages, so that should minimise any misunderstandings.

The big question is dialogue with whom, on behalf of whom? I think that it has to be with CAS Trust which is the nearest thing to a representative organisation we have, but clearly only organises a small minority of the Addickted in terms of paid membership. Moreover, not all of them agree with the Trust's line, although in all fairness they have tried to consult extensively with their members. I am far less sceptical of the takeover than the Trust. That doesn't mean that there isn't value in finding out more about Roland's strategy.

Trust sources have asked me to point out that, 'It also has an unpaid subscriber member count of 1700 and a network of nearly 5k. Simply put it is very unlikely for a trust in our circumstance to be bigger. We are also adding online to our membership 2-3 a day which is unheard of during an inactive phase. I would also point to other Trusts who are nowhere near as successful, even ones who part own their club.' Once again I would urge anyone who is not a member to consider joining as I do not see any other effective collective voice for fans and if one doesn't agree with the Trust line, that view needs to be heard within the Trust.

Voice of the Valley is now available online, but I will purchase it in the traditional way from one of Rick Everitt's elves at The Valley tomorrow. As far as the Royal Oak group is concerned, I am reminded of Clement Attlee's remark to the troublesome Labour NEC member Professor Laski: 'A period of silence on your part would be welcome.' Nevertheless, a statement released by Rick Everitt says that Ms Meire has stated that she will also meet the Royal Oak group. The one group she will not see is fans who are relatively well disposed to the takeover!

Of course, any group of fans is entitled to come together and express a common view, although I am going to hold back from forming 'Les amis de Roland.' However, it was possibly all a little hasty in the wake of the emotions stirred up by Chris Powell's dismissal. I think that we need to focus now on the relegation battle and, after a period of calm reflection, see what concerns we have.

José Riga's red and white army

I was contacted yesterday by a journalist who was under the mistaken apprehension that I was a member of the Royal Oak group. I suspect that another 'fans up in arms, they've taken our club away' story may be on the cards. My sense is that most fans would like to get behind the team and focus on the four difficult matches we have ahead of us, giving Roland Duchâtelet time to set out his stall (which hopefully will contain some Belgian beer). Meanwhile, I am not inclined to spend time sticking pins into a chocolate model of the Belgian entrepreneur.

I find it difficult to see Roland as the devil incarnate. He bought the club when it was at risk of administration. As a successful businessman who had bought a failing business, he wanted some say in how it was run. He is very keen on the Academy model and further investment is under way at the training ground. He is going to sort out the pitch and he is not going to move Charlton away from The Valley. Of course, he comes from outside the 'world of football', but that tends to be rather incestuous and conservative and could do with some shaking up.

His European network model is rather utopian, although it is an interesting experiment. He has made an effort to communicate with fans. At worst, he is a mild eccentric who thinks it is easier to change things than is in fact the case, but he comes across to me as a decent man and has to be seen as an improvement on his predecessors.

It has been hinted more than once that the Royal Oak group knows more than most of us. That may be the case and perhaps Roland does have some dastardly plot. I understand that Voice of the Valley will be on sale around the ground tomorrow and perhaps we shall learn more.

Meanwhile, there has been some interesting debate on the boards about whether we should chant 'José Riga's red army' tomorrow as I understand happened on Tuesday night. There is also some doubt about how to pronounce José: he was born in Belgium but his family comes from Spain.

My goal for tomorrow is to actually reach The Valley, hopefully it will be third time lucky. For the Huddersfield game I only got as far as Marylebone and for the Bournemouth one my back gave way, but I had a successful visit to the osteopath yesterday. COYR!

Wednesday 19 March 2014

CAS Trust and the G21/Royal Oak Group

The CAS Trust has issued a statement about what is variously known as the G21 or the 'Royal Oak' Group from the location of its initial meeting: Oak Group. The CAS Trust emphasises its status as a democratic, membership-based organisation, but indicates its willingness to enter into dialogue with the Oak Group.

Some fans consider that the latter group is too closely associated with the 'Old Guard' of Valley Party campaigners, although they would argue that their experience is relevant to the present situation. The CAS Trust does make a considerable effort to consult its members (of which I am one) through online surveys.

I suppose that I am somewhat less concerned about the supposed threat to the club posed by the takeover than either of these groups, particularly when one considers what the alternative might have been. However, there is always value in more information and greater transparency, if only to kill off some of the wilder rumours that have been circulating.

Varney slates Powell sacking

Former Charlton chief executive Peter Varney slates the sacking of Chris Powell in a long interview with the South London Press: Varney

The Ebbsfleet supremo reckons that owning half a dozen clubs dilutes the passion. But perhaps we can leave the passion to the supporters?

I watched Roland's latest video and whilst it didn't tell me very much that was new, he is making more of an effort to communicate with the supporters than his predecessors.

The recent initiative by a group of supporters to set up a dialogue with the board has come under criticism for being self-serving and pompous. Others argue that the initiative should be left to the CAS Trust, although that only has just over 1,000 members which is at best about 10 per cent of the hard core support. If you haven't joined, I would urge you to do so, as it is the nearest thing we have to a collective voice for the fans.

The 'Royal Oak' group is formed around a core of old Valley Party warriors which means relatively little to 'Generation Y' younger supporters. One fan commented, 'Gen Y have a habit of disregarding anything that involves a struggle. In the research I have seen their number one priority is themselves and is a huge move from previous generations where it has been family, friends, community.'

Poyet situation being monitored

After what was apparently a stunning performance by Diego Poyet last night, Charlton coach José Riga says that he has his 'eyes opened' about the player's situation: Poyet

It's not going to be easy to hold on to such a talent who is out of contract, but he might have better chances for development playing in the first team at Charlton than sitting on the bench at a Premiership club.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Three points for Charlton

A 92nd minute goal by Dorian Dervite saw Charlton secure all three points against Bournemouth at The Valley tonight. Unfortunately for the second evening match in a row, I wasn't there to witness it. All set for an early start, I reached up for my Charlton top and my back went. Our Erith-born eldest answered my plea for help and using the skills acquired while working for St. John Ambulance got me fit enough to listen to the commentary.

For all the giving it large by Simon Francis before the game, there was no sign that the players were unwilling to play for José Riga. Bournemouth started the brighter, but Rhoys Wiggins and Lawrie Wilson were shutting them down well. In the last ten minutes the Addicks were definitely in the ascendancy. An injury to Callum Harriott in the 40th minute meant that Jonathan Obika came on and brought a switch to a 4-4-2 formation.

Charlton did well at probing and keeping possession in the second half. The allegedly useless Riga threw caution to the winds and brought on a third striker with Sordell replacing Green.

I know that in the summer there is probably a lot of diving off the Isle of Wight, but that doesn't excuse the referee ignoring the antics of Fraser. Riga had a word with the fourth official more than once, but shouts of 'Sacré bleu' made no impression. Instead Obika got booked for giving Fraser a diving opportunity.

Yann Kermorgant came on, but although there was warm applause, I would say that it was controlled, showing that the Addickted are starting to move on.

Poyet shot over the goal from a difficult position and with ten minutes to go it looked like the same old Charlton when two golden opportunities to score were missed: there were just two many Charlton players in the box. But then Dervitte did the business for Charlton, while Jackson picked up a yellow card for a late challenge as he defended the lead.

Charlton are out of the relegation places as they are ahead of Millwall on goal difference. They are five points behind Doncaster and Birmingham with three games in hand.

Let's focus on the football

My Number 1 objective for me today is to get to The Valley for tonight's match after getting no further than Marylebone last Wednesday and having to turn back. I will be leaving earlier than usual and I am fired up for a win.

Let's just focus on the football and leave to one side the discussions that have been going on. Is Roland the devil incarnate, a mad professor, a mild eccentric, a man with interesting ideas, a true visionary? Time will tell.

The return of Jonathan Obika has given morale a boost. He didn't find the net that much, but his pace carved a path through opposition defences. However, like all the forwards, he has suffered from a lack of good service. We really need a good winger. There have been rumours that one is about to arrive and I live in hope.

Russian-owned Bournemouth are 12th in the table, but 6th in the form table and may fancy a late run to at least approach the play offs. They have a good record away from home with five wins, five draws and seven defeats. They seem a bit defensively suspect as they have scored 44 goals but conceded 52. We have conceded fewer goals, 41, but we have only scored 24, the worst record in the league and probably in all leagues. Whether we have the firepower to unlock the Cherries is the big question for tonight.

Former Addick Simon Francis (remember him?) grumbles about his treatment at The Valley and stirs the pot by arguing that his 'contacts' suggest that the club is in a shambles and the game comes at a good time for the Cherries: Cherry ripe

I fear another draw, but I am trying to be optimistic and I am going for Belgium 2, Russia 1.

Odds are: Charlton 7/4, Draw 23/10, Bournemouth 6/4. Referee James Linington will be making use of the most expensive ferry per mile in the world to come from his home in Newport, Isle of Wight via Cowes and Southampton to reach The Valley. Cherries fans on the island are no doubt reassured by his presence, although far more people support Pompey or the Saints. There are also quite a few Addicks fans who have retired there.

Monday 17 March 2014

Welcome back Jonathan Obika

Striker Jonathan Obika has been recalled by Spurs from Brighton and Hove Albion and will spend the rest of the season on loan with Charlton. He will be available for tomorrow's clash with Bournemouth and José Riga may not be over cautious about using him.

Obika's 93-day stint with Albion was not due to end until April 11 but his opportunities have been limited and both Will Hoskins and Craig Mackail-Smith are now easing back towards first team contention.

It's difficult to square Obika's return with a narrative that sees Charlton as little more than a receptacle for Standard Liège rejects.

Fans in 'wait and see' mode

Most fans are in 'wait and see' mode in relation to Roland Duchâtelet's takeover of Charlton if the results of our online survey of fans are to believed. It was the most popular response to three of the four questions in which it was available as an option. It seems to me to be a very reasonable response. We don't really know yet how things are going to pan out and some us do not have access to the worrying information that some claim to hold.

Some of the initial responses have been a little over the top. The notion of Charlton being a feeder club to Standard Liège depends on the willingness of players to go there or to any of the other clubs in Roland's network (the Hungarian one seems to be in deep do do, see an important post by the Chicago Addick). They are not university students in an Erasmus scheme with some knowledge of foreign languages. As for being Standard Liège reserves, this overlooks the great longer run potential of the Addicks as an investment.

I do not claim that the survey is representative of Charlton fans as a whole. It is based on 165 responses from fans who happen to visit this blog and bothered to answer the survey. It may, however, be indicative of the state of opinion, particularly among less vociferous fans.

Asked for their overall view of the takeover, two-thirds chose the 'wait and see' option, while 15 per cent approved and 18 per cent disapproved (1% don't know). Only 15 per cent said that Chris Powell should have been dismissed when he was, although I didn't include a 'should have been dismissed in January' option. 24 per cent chose the 'wait until summer' option, 15 per cent approved the action and 8 per cent didn't know.

Asked whether the identity of the club had changed since the takeover, nearly half of those responding (46 per cent) thought it had with 'wait and see' coming in second this time at 31 per cent. 21 per cent thought that there had been no change and 2 per cent didn't know.

Roland's European network model won approval from just 14 per cent of respondents, although nearly half (47 per cent) chose 'wait and see' in relation to his experiment. 31 per cent disapproved and 2 per cent didn't know. Slightly more (20 per cent) thought it would be beneficial for Charlton, just over a third (34 per cent) thought it would be harmful but nearly a half (47 per cent) chose 'wait and see'.

60 per cent said that they would continue to attend home games and only 5 per cent said they wouldn't. 15 per cent said they would come occasionally (but that might have been their pattern of attendance anyway). 11 per cent said they would come until their season ticket expired but some of them might well renew when the time comes. 3 per cent didn't come anyway, probably supporters living a long way away.

My summary would be that most Charlton fans are less agitated about the takeover than some of the activists and are at least prepared to give Roland a chance to show what he could. Given that the alternative to accepting his bid would probably have been administration, it may be best to stick to nurse for fear of something worse. Some believe that something worse is in store, but I haven't seen their cards.

Kermit doubtful for Tuesday

Charlton fans may not be able to show their appreciation to Yann Kermorgant at Tuesday's game with Bournemouth after all. Perhaps that's just as well, as he would probably score at least one goal!

Cherries manager Eddie Howe admits Yann Kermorgant is facing a race against time to be in contention for the Russia versus Belgium clash. Kermorgant has been sidelined with a heel injury since bagging a hat-trick on his full debut for Cherries during their 5-0 rout of Doncaster. The Frenchman, who has missed Cherries’ past three games, has been receiving intensive treatment, both at Dean Court and at the Villa-Stuart Clinic in Rome.

Howe told the Daily Echo in relation to his £400,000 deadline day signing: “We firmly believe it is just a bruise so it is just a case of whether Yann could tolerate any pain in that area. We will, hopefully, step up his rehab in the next couple of days and see if he could be fit for Charlton.”

An ideal scenario for us would be if he came on for the last ten minutes from the bench so that the Addickted could show their appreciation but he wasn't able to score.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Patrick Collins writes about Chris Powell's sacking

For the first time since I started this blog I am getting a little weary of blogging about Charlton. It's taken up too much of my time over the last week and it's a nice day out there. However, Patrick Collins has had a long association with Charlton and his article in the Mail on Sunday is worth reading, even if much of the material is familiar: Chris Powell

I will continue to provide links like these, and I will publish the results of the recent poll of fans tomorrow, but for now I am going to sit in the garden and forget about the controversies surrounding Charlton. I am, however, going to make a determined effort to reach The Valley on Tuesday after being thwarted last Wednesday.

Cawley: my take on Powell's exit

Experienced South London sports journalist Richard Cawley gives his take on Chris Powell's exit from Charlton here: Powell

I think that Cawley is right to emphasise the lack of investment last summer. Chris Powell had a list of targets, but he had very little money available with Millwall spending £3.5m more. That was more important than anything than RD has done, even though the disposal of Yann Kermorgant was a mistake.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Charlton get draw at Millwall

Charlton secured a 0-0 draw at Millwall this afternoon, their second of the week. With Barnsley and Yeovil losing, they moved up to third from bottom, but Millwall are three points, while there is a gap of eight points to Burnley and Birmingham.

Possession was marginally in Charlton's favour at 52-48, but both sides had just three shots on target. Once again, Charlton's lack of firepower was apparent.

A lively start saw both teams make chances, the best of Millwall's a header from the 17-year-old Fred Onyedinma on his first start for the club and which he put wide from Shaun Williams' left-wing cross. Charlton freed Callum Harriott down the right seven minutes later and although he got into the box ahead of his pursuer and had a clear look at the goal, a weak shot straight at the keeper was easy enough for David Forde to deal with.

Riga stood impassively in his technical throughout, at one stage calling over Bradley Pritchard to tell him to switch to the left. The Addickted passed over the chance to offer Powell another minute's applause in the third minute as they had done in the Huddersfield game.

Millwall had a chance to take the lead just before half-time, Ed Upson hammering a 25-yarder to the bottom corner which Ben Hamer scrambled past a post and soon after the ball twice failing to drop for Steve Morison when in space eight yards out after a corner from the right.

Charlton switched to a rather defensive formation in the second half, while Millwall pushed three up front.

Onyedimna broke well 10 minutes into the second half only to pull the ball back into empty space and Hamer appeared to take the ball out of his area as he slid along the ground to take the ball, with Charlton defending gamely and both sets of supporters getting louder.

Morison fired a low cross in three minutes from time and the 6ft 8in Austrian substitute Stefan Maierhofer, a free agent signed on a short-term deal in the week, could not turn the ball in when it looked easier to score.

Give your views on the takeover

A variety of views have been expressed on the recent takeover of Charlton. I realise that those who visit this blog and answer a survey are not a representative cross-section of Charlton supporters. Nevertheless, a survey may give some idea of what supporters think: Survey

The Mourinho of Wallonia

Belgian journalist Maarten Breckx talks about Charlton coach José Riga and also about Roland in this Sky News interview: The Mourinho of Wallonia.

There is some interesting material, although Breckx seems to be emphasising the French accent to compensate for his presumably Flemish origins. The clip unfortunately starts with a promo for Newton Heath. I am curious to know who the fashion victim with the home knitted jumper standing next to Riga is.

Breckx says that Riga is keen on movement in midfield by his players, but questions whether Charlton players have the quality required to provide this, a reasonable enough observation.

With his usual tact, Jeremy Paxman called Belgium a pointless country yesterday. Let's hope that we are not pointless after this afternoon's encounter at The New Den. If Riga can secure all three points, he may even be a temporary Valley hero.

Millwall will be without striker DJ Campbell and defender Danny Shittu for this key relegation battle. Campbell faces a couple of weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring strain while Shittu could be set for a long spell out due to an Achilles injury.

Friday 14 March 2014

Skipper stays

Johnnie Jackson has signed a two year contract extension with the club. He may not be the fastest player on the pitch, but he has an eye for goal and is a stalwart of the side. This also suggests that some of the wilder speculation about Roland's intentions is wide of the mark.

The skipper said, 'For me there is no better place to be and as long as the club will have me I'll be happy to stay.'

Respond to survey on the decision here (this is a new experiment): Survey

Statement by Charlton supporters

The statement below has been issued by a group of well-known Charlton supporters. Most of the names will be familiar to long-term supporters. It is a sensible and constructive statement which represents a good way forward and has my full support.

A meeting took place on Wednesday evening prior to the match against Huddersfield Town at The Valley bringing together campaigning Charlton supporters from across the generations. It was called by supporters who formed the Valley Party in 1990 to contest the local Greenwich elections in the light of recent events, including the dismissal of Chris Powell, and in response to widespread concern about the identity and future of the club following the latest takeover.

The meeting included people who have previously been directors or senior and long-serving staff of the club, ex-Valley Party candidates and officers of the former Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Club and well-known local journalists who write about the club, as well as current representatives of Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust and fanzine Voice of The Valley.

This group is not intended to be exclusive. An invitation has been extended to Charlton Life, members of the Fans’ Forum and others with an Addicks internet presence and all concerned want to proceed without factionalism or internal politics. Any other supporters’ groups are welcome to participate too. The purpose of the meeting was to try to establish a temporary umbrella group from which to seek a constructive and positive dialogue with the new owner of the club, and if that does not prove possible then to create a basis to recommend and to co-ordinate any appropriate action to respond to events.

In the first instance, the group is seeking an urgent face-to-face meeting with Roland Duchatelet or Katrien Miere in order try to get a better understanding of the owner’s intentions and report back to the wider support. If we are unable to enter into a useful dialogue with the owner or his representative then it is our intention to call a public meeting in early April to take matters forward.

The group recognises that it cannot direct the owner, but we hope to persuade him of the merits of constructive dialogue with Charlton supporters, with particular reference to the achievements that we have all had working together with the club over the last 25 years. In the meantime, we want to let fans know that we are all coming together for the good of the club and that however they are feeling about the current situation there are experienced and committed people working behind the scenes to improve it.

Issued on behalf of the following:

  • Jonathan Bangs
  • Steve Clarke
  • Peter Cordwell
  • Steve Dixon
  • Rick Everitt
  • Mick Gebbett
  • Richard Hunt
  • Corinna Huxley
  • Glynne Jones
  • Dominic Matthews
  • Kevin Nolan
  • Hazel Nolan
  • Craig Norris
  • David Norris
  • Nigel Pamment
  • Steve Perfect
  • Ken Sinyard
  • Sue Townsend
  • Ben Tegg
  • Jeremy Watkins
  • Matt Wright

The flaw in Roland's model

There are lots of rumours floating around about the nature of Roland Duchâtelet's takeover, whether he is part of a larger consortium and whether he will stay for long. I have no independent or verifiable evidence relating to those rumours, although up to now he has been a purchaser rather than a seller of clubs. Given that he buys relatively cheap, money is not an issue, as is evidenced by the fact that he has not accepted what he saw as an inferior offer for the mother ship.

What I can say something about is the European dimension of his plan. I don't suppose for a moment that he has read our 2011 book The transformation of European football: towards the Europeanisation of the national game but it is certainly consistent with his model. Unfortunately, Manchester University Press have not issued it in paperback. The responsible editor is a mad keen Rochdale fan (yes, really) and took umbrage when he came to The Valley for our cup tie with them some years ago and heard my name being read out as match ball sponsor. What is worse, we could end up playing them in the league again next season! Crawley, Stevenage, Rochdale. Oh the glamour!

In our book we argued that the Commission had an agenda in relation to football as they saw it as a Europeanising force that could reach EU citizens. However, in our view UEFA was even more important in this respect which is why we asked a senior UEFA official to contribute a chapter (in a personal capacity, and he has now left). He argued that a European public space might be emerging 'which describes the direct transactional interaction between citizens from different member states who share the same concerns; it would be an essential step towards the creation of a European demos.'

After discussing the Champions League as one of the most effective European symbols, he discussed the need for a 'Europeanisation' of football so as to promote 'greater sensitivity to a common European identity'. He acknowledged the presence of strong local identities in football, but also thought that it placed people in an enlarging European framework. The challenge was how to link clubs across Europe. Well, Roland has an answer.

However, his answer does depend on the success of financial fair play of which he is a great supporter. It is been my view for some time that UEFA's scheme is open to challenge in the courts under European competition law. I consulted two sports lawyers yesterday, and although I am yet to read the materials they sent me in detail, they agreed with me.

How this affects the Football League's domestic financial fair play scheme is a more complex problem. British competition law has its own particular features, some of them borrowed from the US. However, the Commission was given strong powers in the original Treaty of Rome over competition law (rather broadly defined) and this should prevail over member state law in the event of a conflict.

QPR (and other clubs) are understood to have already instructed solicitors (Brabants) and a warning letter has been sent to the Football League. If the matter goes to court, as it surely will if the Football League does not modify its plans, and the English court found in the League's favour, the matter could then be referred to the European courts. At the very least, this would lead to substantial delays in implementation.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Top clubs track Poyet

According to Sky Sports News, three Premier League clubs in London plus Inter Milan and Barcelona are tracking Diego Poyet: Poyet

Of course, 'tracking' can simply mean sending one of a large number of part-time scouts to take a look. However, there is no doubt that he is a real talent. I still wonder, however, if he might join his dad at Sunderland. What is almost certain is that he won't stay at The Valley, even if we stay up.

Chris Powell to issue statement

Richard Cawley of the SLP has tweeted that Chris Powell is to make a statement via the League Managers' Association (LMA). This is not an unusual course of action following a dismissal as it allows managers to use the LMA's facilities and advice. Nothing has been posted on the LMA website yet, but should something appear, a link will be provided.

The statement is now available here: Powell. It is the sort of dignified statement one would expect which makes clear his devotion to the club.

I sponsored his socks!

Great to hear that former Charlton keeper Mike Ammann is in town. He was at the Sheffield game on Sunday, he was at The Valley last night and he will be in the commentary box at Mill**** on Saturday. You can take the man out of Charlton ...

I have actually been especially interested in the keepers at Charlton ever since Sam Bartram was my childhood hero. An American keeper was of special interest to me as I used to spend a lot of time on the other side of the pond and have lived and worked there.

Mike was recruited by one of our then directors, Mike Stevens, who saw him Statesside and offered him a trial. He made 30 appearances for Charlton in the two years he was with us. He was keeper at a time when we very short of cash and the hospitality areas were located in temporary buildings on the West Stand car park. It was actually possible to sponsor individual components of a player's kit in those days, even £20 being useful to keep the lights on, and I sponsored Mike's socks! He was very polite about it when I met him. In the States you would call him a 'regular guy'.

I keep in touch with Mike on Facebook and it is clear that he has a great family, including a son following in his footsteps. After leaving Charlton in 1996, he had a successful career in the MSL but had to retire through injury in 2002: Ammann.

Since leaving football, he has worked in the IT industry, but is also involved in running a goalkeeping academy.

As I recall, his wife had a professional knowledge of wine.

Incident at South Ruislip

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

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Articles on Charlton

A highly critical article published in the Daily Mail about RD's involvement at Charlton (nice at least to see us referred to as a 'great club' which makes a difference from 'tiny club'): Dumping ground?

Author, broadcaster and Charlton fan Charlie Connelly pays tribute to Chris Powell (he was at university with one of our children, so I am always interested in what he has to say): Powell

Cut out and keep guide for our new coach

I will be heading down from the Midlands later today and expect to get home around half past midnight. I am looking for three points to cheer my long homeward journey.

Here is a cut out and keep guide for our new coach to try and improve our performances on the pitch in terms of things to avoid:

  • Don't use players out of position
  • Use substitutions intelligently and don't delay them
  • Don't fail to have a Plan B and if possible a Plan C
  • Tell the players not to hoof the ball as if they were in the non-league, but pass it along the ground to another Charlton player (clue: they will be wearing red shirts
  • Don't defend too deeply
  • When defending corners don't have all in the players in the box, but leave one or two upfield as an outlet. They only get in each other's way and obscure the goalkeeper's vision
  • The bloke with the beard is our first choice goalkeeper

Huddersfield don't have a brilliant record away, they have lost more matches than us (ten). They are mid-table and are 9th in the form table, but they have a reputation for inconsistency which manager Mark Robins admitted was the case after last week's 2-0 defeat at Doncaster. He said, 'They wanted it more. They looked up for the game. It becomes a symptom of feeling safe in mid-table. It seems we only get a good performance every fortnight and we get a performance every couple of weeks which dips below what we expect.' Let's hope it's a case of the latter rather than the former tonight.

The advantages of the feeder club model

I thought that the following post by a fan on the Glynne Jones list was worth a wider airing, although arguably it is a little too optimistic about how the feeder club model might work out at Charlton:

'Manchester United and Chelsea both use Belgian clubs as training clubs. If we are to be a proving ground for SL players this is not a lot different. There is no reason why the feeder system should not operate both ways.

'I do not think that the concept of being a proving ground is necessarily an indication that things will take a turn for the worse. If SL prosper, as we have to hope they will in the circumstances, it is likely to result in their attracting ever better young players that will be loaned to us for development.

'The Belgian teams working with MU and Chelsea are stronger for the loans and it is perfectly conceivable that within a short period we will also be receiving quality players on loan to work with our own home-grown talent. The chance to have a strong squad with little need to buy in has a lot of attraction to me and the owner's idea of running without loss becomes perfectly realistic.

'The only downside is that the best players will always be cherry-picked during transfer windows, but I see nothing in this scenario to prevent us becoming a decent Premiership club once the system starts to work as every cherry-picked player will be replaced by a decent replacement in the ideal scenario.

'Part of that scenario requires the management of feeder clubs to give playing time to youngsters that have been sent over for development. The rumours suggest that Powell was not prepared to be told who should be playing, but although that goes to his credit for his principles it does suggest a certain failure to recognise the reality of the motive behind the takeover and when has had a chance to reflect it may be that he may feel he could have handled it better.

'If the owner has a bought a club as part of a plan he is entitled to require that the manager, as an employee, buy into that plan. If that means that he be required to accommodate certain players then so be it.I am sure there will be disagreement but I do not see that the owner is totally in the wrong here.'

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Official statement from the club

Charlton Athletic have released the following statement: 'Chris Powell has been relieved of his position as First-Team Manager at Charlton Athletic with immediate effect, the club announced on Tuesday morning Following a disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of Sheffield United on Sunday, Charlton are currently bottom of the Championship having taken 27 points from 30 games so far this season. Owner Roland Duchâtelet said: “We have been working with Chris Powell and his representatives for a couple ofweeks to try and agree a contract extension which would have seen us continue to work together.

“There was good progress, but we could not reach an agreement over the club’s football strategy going forward. The situation put a strain on the working relationship between Chris and the board. Therefore I think it is best for all parties that we part ways at this stage. I would like to thank Chris for his commitment and hard work over the past three years. The club enjoyed a number of good times under his leadership. However, given the club’s position in the league and the number of important fixtures upcoming, I felt this difficult decision was unavoidable at this time.

“We will look to quickly appoint a replacement who we feel will give us the best chance of avoiding relegation from the Championship. I can assure supporters this was not an easy decision, but it has been made with the club’s future in mind. Time will tell if it is the right decision.”

The timing is unfortunate in the sense that it would have been better to do it earlier or in the summer. However, the literature on changing football managers shows that the long-term effects are generally limited, but there is often a short-term boost as players seek to impress the new manager. However, this may be undermined by a negative reaction from the crowd.

I am assuming that Chris Powell's 'mate' Alex Dyer will go, as well as Jason Euell, but I have no news on their fate. However, Dyer and Matthew took training today, watched by Riga.

My correspondent at the training ground reports, 'First team squad wandered over to watch the U-21s match after training - all seemed in good spirit. Also saw the first appearance of 'Polish Pete' in a red shirt, playing alongside Anil Koc. Good to report that Leon Cort back to fitness and showing well. Sky camera crew at the gate, presumably waiting for 'a few words' with Sr. Riga. [Possibly a 'wind down the window' moment?]

I support the club rather than a particular owner or manager. Otherwise, I would have given up when the Glikstens replaced Jimmy Seed with Trotter. The reaction of fans has been polarised between those who think that Powell was overdue and those who see him as a Charlton legend. Unfortunately, this status and his personal charisma gets in the way of any balanced evaluation of his success as a manager. He is passionate about the club, but I would place success on the pitch before passion.

He deserves our thanks for getting us out of League 1 and achieving a 9th place finish in the Championship last season. Unfortunately, sufficient funds were not available to strengthen the squad last summer, although not all of his hires have been successful (Mark Gower comes to mind). There wasn't a lot of evidence of progression in his skills as a coach and people who know more about football than me and work in the game at a higher level had expressed their concerns to me, given their goodwill towards Charlton.

I am sad to see him go in this way and I wish him well. However, I am pleased that Charlton looks likely to get a foreign manager. Perhaps we will see a more sophisticated style of play with less long ball and more emphasis on passing and keeping possession.

Powell departs: accueil Jose Riga

Accueil Jose Riga

Chris Powell has left Charlton, multiple sources are reporting. He is to be replaced by the 56-year old Jose Riga, currently technical coordinator at AC Milan but with a pedigree in Belgian football, including a spell at Standard Liège: Riga . I do not know who will take charge against Huddersfield.

Richard Cawley has tweeted that he has no confirmation, but would not be surprised if it has happened. Trouble has been brewing for some time and Chris Powell was deeply unhappy about a number of issues at Charlton.

Here is a report from Talksport which offers confirmation: Powell

Even more speculative reports suggested that the replacement would be Paolo di Canio. He would at least meet the spec for a continental manager, but would have been a controversial choice on footballing and non-footballing grounds.

However, the Daily Mail is reporting that Jose Riga and Kariel Faraeu are arriving on Eurostar to take over: Belgians. This is being confirmed by Belgian sources: Riga Now that we are a Belgian owned club this would make more sense. Given that this last link is in French, I have provided a link which gives information about him in English here: Jose Riga.

It should make for an interesting atmosphere tomorrow night if these reports are true. I note that a number of fans are saying that they will not renew their season tickets. I support the club, not a particular manager or owner. Otherwise I would have given up when the Glikstens replaced Jimmy Seed by Trotter. Chris Powell has not been particularly well treated by either the former or present owners, but I am sure that he has a future in football management.

Le roi est mort. Vive le roi.

Monday 10 March 2014

Hamer is transfer target

Sky Sports News is reporting that several clubs are interested in signing Ben Hamer at the end of the season when he is out of contract. Among the clubs said to be interested are Burnley, Leicester, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion: Hamer

It is know whether his beard is seen as a plus by these clubs or whether he would have to shave it off if he moved to a Premier League side.

QPR job for Powell?

I don't give a lot of credence to this, but the Sunday People reported yesterday that Harry Redknapp may step aside at QPR and Chris Powell would be on a short list to replace him. First, QPR may still get promoted in which case Redknapp would probably stay. Second, being on the short list is not the same as getting the job. What I do think is that if Chris Powell was let go at Charlton, he would soon get a managerial job elsewhere.

Of course, following yesterday's defeat there are those who would like to get rid of him. But it is the players who are on the pitch not the manager.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Kermit: j'accuse Roland

The 'Big Interview' in today's Football League Paper is devoted to Yann Kermorgant. He is clearly very sour about Charlton owner Roland Duchâtelet and gives it large to the Belgian whom he regards as not being a 'proper owner'.

Kermit makes clear his affection for Charlton: 'I was happy at Charlton. I had a very good relationship with the fans who always gave me great support and encouragement. I had a great relationship with the staff and of course the gaffer, Chris Powell. I loved the atmosphere at The Valley. It was a real family ground with grandparents and parents and children all coming to games. My heart wanted to stay but my brain was saying "It's time to depart."'. But 'it was a tough decision, the hardest of my career.'

Kermit insists that he didn't demand a big contract to stay at Charlton and his wages were not a problem [although they are believed to have already been the highest at the club.] His long-term plan is to return home to Vannes in Brittany where he is building a five-a-side centre.

Yann argues that Roland is not taking the club in a good direction: 'I think the only thing he wants is to make money ... He thinks you can make money easily.'

I don't think Roland, who is the 18th richest man in Belgium, wants to make money. However, he doesn't want to lose money. As he explained in The Times yesterday, 'So many people lose their money in football. Look at the losses. It's a very interesting phenomenon, so you need to be a bit creative not to lose money.' Kermit in contrast says: 'When you buy a club, you have go in thinking "I'm going to lose money."'

It seems to me that there is a lot to criticise in the standard of philosophy of making a small fortune by starting with a big one and investing in a football club. However, I do think that Roland's break even objective is unrealistic, partly because of the very high cost structure of football clubs which is driven not only by high player wages but the limited utilisation of their expensive capital assets. I also do not think that financial fair play is going to deliver a more level playing field as quickly as he thinks, if at all.

If Charlton are relegated, many fans will blame the sale of Yann Kermorgant and, to a lesser extent, Dale Stephens. More sales might follow relegation and support would drop.

I think Roland's vision is an interesting and innovative one, but I am less certain how well it will work for Charlton. It is results on the pitch, as always, that will count, starting with today. The Fink Tank in The Times puts the likely outcomes as: home win, 42 per cent; draw, 33 per cent; away win, 25 per cent. That seems about right to me.

Enfant terrible?

The Times carried a feature article on Roland Duchâtelet and Charlton yesterday and posed the question, 'Which of Roland's children are Charlton?' After yesterday's results with the Addicks bottom of the table, the answer might well be 'enfant terrible'.

The article describes Roland 'as something of an eccentric' and suggests that in addition to Italy and Portugal, he may add France to his collection of clubs. His attempt in 2012 to take over Fortuna Sittard in the Netherlands failed.

A civil engineer by training, Roland once calculated the best angle at which to make a throw in and demonstrated this in the dressing room to the amusement of the players. New signings often have to undertake basic mathematical tests to understand how players solve problems.

Very much an innovator, which of course goes against football's strong attachment to tradition, Roland believes in artificial pitches which would allow him to stage several matches in one day to maximise revenue. Once artificial pitches are approved, it is clear what the solution will be for The Valley pitch.

Roland regards Charlton as 'attractive and historically rich', but he rarely even watches matches at SL. Indeed, he finds the passion of Standard fans puzzling, wondering which former Belgian prime minister Yves Lterme travels hundreds of miles to watch matches.

What is clear is that he regards football as an interesting social phenomenon in the context of Europeanisation. And, as The Times points out, one Belgian, Jean-Marc Bosman, has already revolutionised the European game.

As for Charlton, as Mourinho was asked yesterday, which would you prefer, three games in hand or nine points clear?

Saturday 8 March 2014

Blades are sharp

Thousands of Addicks will be making the trek up to Sheffield for the FA Cup tie on Sunday. Some are there already and others will arrive later today. The prospect of a Wembley final has aroused the passion and excitement of Addicks fans around the world. Earlier FA Cup runs are reviewed on the CAS Trust site here: Cup runs .

However, before the dream of a Wembley semi-final is achieved, there is the far from small matter of beating Sheffield United. I think this is a far bigger challenge than beating Sheffield Wednesday. It is too easy to fall into the trap of believing the propaganda emanating from Hillsborough and assuming that there is a massive team in Sheffield and a pub team. The odds reflect the nature of the challenge: Sheffield United, 5/4; draw, 12/5; Charlton 21/10. Charlton are 150-1 to win the cup.

After a poor start to the season, the Blades have become very sharp, confirmed by a 2-0 midweek win over Peterborough when reportedly they rested some players in preparation for the cup tie. Even before the midweek win, they were third in the League 1 form table. Charlton were third from bottom in the Championship form table. In other words, the gap is a very small one and the Blades have home advantage. For manager Nigel Clough the Cup is now more important than the league: Clough . For his part, Chris Powell is a FA Cup romantic but is uncertain whether Roland is in remarks which suggest some tensions between the manager and the owner: Powell

Church, Cousins and Morrison all have injury problems (although the latest news is that they may all pass fitness tests) and the Daily Telegraph thinks that we might opt for a 4-3-2-1 led by Valley hero Marvin Sordell: Line Up

It's very easy to say that a game could go one of three ways, but it is one of those games. My guess would be that the most likely outcome is a draw which would add to our fixture congestion as we struggle to survive in the Championship.

Friday 7 March 2014

Italian club to join Roland's network?

Belgian media are claiming that Roland Duchâtelet is closing to buying Serie B club Bari: Bari

Roland has certainly been interested in adding an Italian club to his network for some time and he has also been exploring opportunities in Portugal. Purchases of this kind should be possible without raising additional capital by selling the mother ship.

Bari are effectively bankrupt. The club was at one time in Serie A. The family business Mataresse ran the club for 37 years but could no longer cope with the debts. According to a Google translation of one Belgian report, Bari share many similarities with Charlton 'even in dirty financial papers and bottom dangling in second class.'

There are no known plans to invest in France or Switzerland.

Powell seeks to raise the bar

Chris Powell aims high in this in depth interview in the Daily Mail as Charlton prepare for their cup trip to Bramall Lane: Powell .

He is now the eighth longest serving manager in all four divisions which says something about the short-termism in the modern game.

Grounds for cautious optimism

Thanks to CAS Trust for providing a very full report on last night's meeting between Katrien Meire, Richard Murray and VIP season ticket holders: VIP meeting. It's a very informative report and clears up some misunderstandings. Katrien was clearly in feisty mood and showed once again that she is a very sharp cookie and dedicated to Charlton. Whether she will swing from the crossbars at Bramall Lane remains to be seen.

Charlton supporters really need to read the report for themselves. One thing that did interest me was that Richard Murray referred to what I regard as the one weakness in Roland's strategy, the reliance on the early delivery of financial fair play. Murray acknowledged that QPR and other top clubs are already consulting their lawyers and they may well have a case against the Football League. In any event, it could hold up the application of sanctions.

Inevitably Yann Kermorgant came up again. It was one subject I discussed with the Premiership adviser I had dinner with last night. He thought that Kermorgant and Stephens were our most creative players and it was a mistake to get rid of them. He was also critical of Simon Church, although I think that his recent performances have been somewhat better. I regretted the departure of Kermorgant in particular. But it was difficult to match the offer being made by Russian bankrolled Bournemouth. Kermorgant was already the best paid player at the club and there is a real question about how much one is prepared to pay for a player of his age.

In any event the responses reinforce my mood of cautious optimism about the new regime.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Powell contract progress

Progress has been made on the financial side of Chris Powell's new contract, but footballing issues remain (possibly a director of football?): Contract

I had dinner yesterday in London with someone who acts as a consultant to Premier League clubs and may shortly accept a senior post with them. He says that he really likes Charlton and comes to The Valley from time to time. He is concerned about our current position, but thinks that the key to safety is beating Millwall.

He thinks that Chris Powell would benefit from working with a director of football. He thinks that he has surrounded himself with too many 'mates', notably Alex Dyer, and would benefit from some new thinking.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Curbs recalls times past

I don't have Sky because satellite dishes are banned by the local council, so I am reliant on another Addick for this report.

Just before the BBC piece on Charlton last night, SKY ran another of their informative 'Footballers Football Show' with Paul Tisdale (Exeter Manager for last 7 years) Jim Rodwell (Notts County Chief Executive) and Curbs where they discussed the thorny issue of the lack of manager stability in today's football scene.

From a Charlton perspective, Curbs mentioned a few things:

  • That he felt it was his longevity at the club that allowed the Charlton board to sanction the purchase of Jerome Thomas and the wages of Jorge Costa because of the trust that RM and others had of him.
  • That the Board's expectations of the club had changed so much that it had been proposed by RM that the players' 'stay up' bonus should be dropped.
  • That Curbs turned down two manager jobs elsewhere before he left us - he remarked that he in effect interviewed the clubs interested in him to see if he could work there after us.

Football League threatens Roland's model

The Football League is considering a ban on all foreign loan players, a move which would threaten Roland Duchâtelet's European network model. The proposal is one of a number now out for consultation with all Football League clubs as a response to the work of Greg 'Roland Rat' Dyke's FA Commission. At present League clubs are permitted to sign only eight players on loan from overseas clubs over the course of a season, while only five loan players of any origin can be name in a match day squad.

The League is also proposing a significant increase in the number of home grown players that must be in each match day squad with a minimum of nine next season to rise to eleven in subsequent years. They also plan to stipulate that two of the seven substitutes must be under 21, a rule that would not threaten Charlton as we often use young players from the Academy anyway, something that Roland very much endorses.

My immediate thought was that one could to some extent get round this by signing players from elsewhere in Roland's stable on one year contracts for a nominal fee. Using her legal skills, Katrien should also study the proposals in detail, in the first place to challenge them. However, as they require the support of only 51 per cent of all clubs, they are likely go through.

It's a moot point whether they are compatible with the right of freedom of movement of labour within the European Union as confirmed by the Bosman judgment. Presumably it could be argued that it doesn't extend to temporary moves, but I am unsure what the legal position is and in any event it is something that could be tested in the courts.

Late Kick Off

Before I got the watch the segment about Charlton on I-Player I was interested in these comments from an Addick which reflect my thinking about Roland:

'Well I’ve just read the BBC website story and watched the video and I don’t see anything to be worried about. Given the relative level of Standard and us we’re more likely to get players that aren’t quite good enough for their first team coming to us.'

'And since when have we not had to sell our better players to balance the books? We’ve done it throughout my time as a supporter going back to before the return to The Valley.' [It was certainly happening in the 1950s under the Glikstens].'

'This really does smack of the BBC trying to find a story when one doesn’t exist. The video appears to me to have been edited in such a way as to reflect negatively on both Duchatelet and de Sart. Duchatelet has said on multiple occasions that he’s not going to throw money at any of his clubs and that they need to stand on their own feet. Makes sense to me. It might also help us attract good young talent in this country if they know that, should they outgrow Charlton, they’ve got a potential shot of going to a Champions League team. Of course, time will tell.'

I have now watched the clip on I-Player which started with dramatic and gloomy music playing to set the tone. I suppose if nothing else it got a BBC reporter a trip on Eurostar to Liege. The independent coffee shop analogy amused me as the main consequence of my local coffee shop being taken over would be that I would no longer have to struggle with my order in Portuguese. (The broader point here is that we do live in a Europeanised environment). The most interesting revelation in the programme which no one else has mentioned is that there is going to be a meeting of all Roland's clubs in the next week to discuss how they are going to work together. That could be an important meeting.

The Liege fans were clearly very fed up with Roland when he arrived and staged demonstrations of a type consistent with the history of the city. However, they have all been mollified now that SL are top of the league, although they have lost their last two matches and could fall foul of Belgium's curious play off system (see Chicago Addick for more details).

One Liege fan said that he thought that Roland was out to make money, but he is too shrewd a businessman to think that you can make money out of clubs. He certainly doesn't want to lose money, and may sell Charlton players if that is necessary to balance the books, but his real inspiration is his 'grand projet'. Like all experiments, that could succeed or fail.

Jean-Francois de Sart struck me as a bit of a plonker in need of some media training, but his English is reasonably good and almost certainly better than Chris Powell's French.

I don't think we needed someone from Millwall to tell us that fans should be worried, particularly when he claimed that his team was playing well, just not getting the points.

If I have a reservation about Roland's strategy, it is its reliance on financial fair play working. I am certain there are going to be legal challenges at international and domestic level and some of them might succeed given a possible incompatibility with competition law. Even if the legal challenges do not succeed, it is going to take some time for the full benefits to be felt.

Monday 3 March 2014

Ajdarevic wants permanent deal

Astrot Ajdarevic has settled in well at The Valley and would like a permanent deal: Ajdarevic

Arguably he has been the most successful of the imports from Roland's network and has drawn a favourable response from Charlton fans.

BBC stirs the pot

In order to promote its Late Kick Off show, the BBC is trying to make something of Roland Duchâtelet's acquisition of Charlton. They have been trying to attract critical comments from the Addickted on Twitter. Most of this article is a rehash of what we knew already from Roland's video interviews, although there is an interesting quote from Belgium which suggests that Roland has a 'capital city' strategy (bear in mind that Liège is the capital of Wallonia, which enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the Belgian constitution): Late Kick Off

If I was Katrien, I would keep a close eye on this programme and, if necessary, use her legal skills to fire off a letter to the BBC.

Away end sold out

The away end for the cup tie at Sheffield United in the Jessica Ennis stand has now sold out. Congratulations to all those who got tickets: I am sure it will be a day to remember whatever the result.

This turnout has been achieved despite the kick off time and travel difficulties. I know that the coach being organised by the West Sussex supporters leaves at 4.50 a.m.

Some fans have been critical of those who turn up for such a tie, but don't, for example, go to an away game at Blackburn. But for some people going regularly to away matches is financially prohibitive, especially if a long journey is involved. Others have health or family reasons that prevent them from attending. As a home game at Charlton is an away match for me in travel time, I don't feel that guilty about no longer going to away games.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Wilson named in dream team

Burton defender Phil Edwards [who he? ed] names Lawrie Wilson in his dream team in this morning's Football League Paper. He writes, 'I played with Lawrie at Stevenage. He has bags of energy and pace, he got up and down the right well and he was an exciting player going forward but he was a good defender as well.'

With Chris Solly's future career sadly in doubt, some Addicks are talking of Wilson as a possible candidate for Player of the Year. Others think that his performances are too inconsistent, but I rate him highly for both dedication and skill. A good signing by Chris Powell.

Edwards also names former Charlton keeper Rob Elliot: 'We had him on loan from Charlton when I was at Accrington and he was outstanding. He had a great kick on him and was really commanding in the box and was a great shot stopper as well.'

Saturday 1 March 2014

Champions defeat Charlton

The prospective champions of the Championship, Leicester City, beat Charlton 3-0 at the Kingpower Stadium this afternoon. I had forecast a 3-1 defeat on the boards, so we didn't get the consolation goal. We remain third from bottom, one point behind Millwall, with three games in hand. You can read the BBC report of the game here: Outfoxed

Charlton used to do well against Stockport County when were in the same division. I remember standing on the Railway End at Edgeley Park and seeing Andy Hunt score and us establishing such a commanding lead over them at home that the Bloke Behind Me walked out in disgust. This afternoon I made the short journey to the New Windmill Ground to see Leamington beat County 2-1. Disgruntled County fans are complaining that the Brakes are a 'tiny' club. Match report here: Brakes

Elsewhere, former Addicks manager Alan Pardew explains the difference between a head butt and pushing someone away with your head. Come to think of it, he did score a few times with his head as a player: Using your head