Saturday 28 February 2015

Same old Charlton: winning 3-0

Our most common result this season has been 1-1. But our most common winning score is now 3-0, all three victories achieved with Guy Luzon as coach. This was the result against Huddersfield Town this afternoon in front of a 'football for a fiver' crowd of over 25,000.

Charlton opened their account just before the half hour mark with a great free kick by Gudmundsson opening the scoring and in the second half Tony Watt scored two goals, the second goal a superb one. Despite being a network player, Charlton fans have quickly taken to Watt with his attractive attacking style and real skill with the ball.

Guy Luzon claimed in the programme that he is trying to create an attractive attacking style. Although we were dangerous in the opening five minutes, we had not really threatened until the set piece. However, we attacked with increasing pace, although the Terriers were capable of threatening on the counter. Henderson made some first class saves, keeping the clean sheet. 'Now don't cock it up,' yelled the Bloke Behind Me when we went 2-0 ahead, but we increasingly took charge in the game.

Charlton have gone up to the top half of the table again in 12th position and are 11 points above Millwall who lost at Rotherham. So what's going on? The explanation in CAS Trust News, distributed at the ground, was that the Head Coach has 'momentarily turned things around.' So it's a blip, but it's a decent blip and looks increasingly like keeping us out of League One.

I rang Derek from Dymchurch who has been at the UKIP convention in Margate and he told me, 'Clearly it's all down to the fighting spirit of the players. It's nothing to do with Luzon.' So if we had lost 0-3 today, what would he then say? 'Oh, in that case, it would be down to Luzon. I don't begrudge him his bit of luck, but these Belgian geezers always get found out in the end.'

Chris Powell got appropriately warm applause on his return, with many fans also applauding at the third minute. I was particularly pleased to see Richard Rufus walking round with the Academy players after all his troubles. My late wife was his kit sponsor for many years and he heard and acknowledged the shout of 'Roofus' from our row.

Player ratings

Henderson was certainly a close second for man of the match. He was particularly tested by Wallace's close range shot, but dealt with everything. The 17-year old Gomez was a great advert for the Academy in the centre back role. The yellow card he received was harsh. Giving Johnson a 8 this morning the Football League Paper said 'Four games, three clean sheets for Charlton since Johnson arrived at The Valley.' He wants to get his career back on track and that works for us. Of course, fans will say, 'why did we hold on to Morrison?' but I would think his wages were higher and we are losing £7m a year. I thought that Fox had a decent game, even though Scannell did get behind him once. Solly put in a very solid and professional performance, once again showing that his more mature than his years (something discussed in his interesting exchange with Johnnie Jackson in the programme).

Gudmundsson took his free kick well and he was active in midfield, but he didn't take a great part in open play. Even so, I was a bit surprised when he was the first player to be substituted, but maybe he was fading a bit or perhaps had picked up a knock. Cousins was very active in midfield, always available to receive a ball and pass it on well. In my view he is becoming a class act, a Lee Bowyer without the petulance. There was some debate around me about whether the yellow card was deserved. I think there was a shove, but the player shoved made the most of it. Bulot had some good bursts down the wing and provided some quality crosses and got warm applause when he was substituted. Buyens comes in for a lot of criticism from fans, but I thought he was better yesterday. The FLP gave him a 8 and said, 'Nothing flashy, but his neatness and protection enabled team mates to flourish.'

Igor combines well with Watt and provided the assist for both of his goals. Watt got a rare 9 from the FLP and was clearly man of the match. Luzon was impressed with him at the mother ship and wanted him at Charlton.

Wilson was energetic when he came on and didn't do anything wrong. Diarra looks a bit of a lump, but he can move the ball around nicely and knows how to pass to a Charlton player. Eagles moved the ball around confidently.

I know we don't do 'Hiss of the Match' any more, but I certainly would have given one to Vaughan who abused the referee for some time after a yellow card was finally given to a visiting player. He was lucky not to get booked for dissent.

Big day at The Valley

It's Football for a Fiver day at The Valley and most seats should be filled (some season ticket holders may not make it). For those who resent casual supporters turning up, it should be pointed that this is the only occasion when many families with tight budgets can come to The Valley. In this connection, it is good news that season ticket prices are to be frozen next year.

I would also point out that Crystal Palace had difficult selling out their allocation at West Ham and had to extend their eligibility categories. Glaziers received an e-mail from Alan Pardoo urging them 'to leave the sofa for this one. We're still short for Saturday. It's a massive game for us, if you can get there, please get there.' Prices are a bit higher than at The Valley, £43 for adults and £25 for children.

It's clearly going to being an emotional day, particularly for those who venerate Chris Powell or simply think that he was badly treated (which he was). However, we do need to take three points off Huddersfield Town who are close to us in the real and form tables. Away from home they have won four, drawn four and lost eight. They have conceded more goals than us away from home, but also scored more.

Jordan Cousins is expected to return after recovering from a muscle complaint. This is great news as he has been a key player in midfield, showing energy, skill and real commitment. He is, as the Covered End sings, 'one of our own.' New signing Alou Diarra and Chris 'Red Robin' Eagles could make their full debuts, while skipper Johnnie Jackson remains sidelined with a leg problem.

The last two home matches against them have been drawn. We also drew away at the beginning of the season. We last beat Huddersfield at home in League One in 2011. Odds are: Charlton 9/5, Draw 9/4, Huddersfield 13/8.

Friday 27 February 2015

Chris Powell remembers

On my way back through London today, I picked up a copy of the Sub-Standard (which actually has improved) and there was a full page article by Chris Powell talking about what happened when he left Charlton. The article speaks for itself, and although some of the material is familiar (at least as a subject of speculation), it is interesting to have his perspective all brought together in one piece: Chris Powell

Chris Powell has also given an interview to the CAS Trust magazine which will be distributed around the ground today: Preview

Estuary-style tacky?

Southend on Sea: I seem to find myself in League 2 cities and towns on Friday morning. Last week it was Plymouth, this week I have a view over the Thames estuary. It reminds me of when branding consultants hired under the previous regime suggested that the club should be re-named 'Estuary' to reflect where most of the support now lives (albeit on the Kent side).

So it turns out that the sex video was a publicity stunt and you can vote on whether it was tasteless or not: Tacky?

I can't imagine that either Roland or Katrien dreamt this one up, but no doubt there will be a piece in the next VOTV by Rick Everitt saying 'it wouldn't have happened in my day.'

I've got a busy day ahead, so won't be able to focus on the match until tomorrow. I am all for showing our respect to Chris Powell when his name his read out and when he comes on to the pitch but not during the game. We are not out of the woods yet and we need three points off Huddersfield.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Pitch sex video

The current regime at Charlton has talked of providing a broader range of attractions at The Valley rather than just football. It has never been quite clear what they have in mind, but the intention was to provide family oriented entertainment.

They certainly did not envisage a couple appearing to score on the Valley pitch. The video, which has been widely circulated, is now under investigation: Enquiry

Rumours that the male in the video was top fan Jonathan Acworth appear to have no foundation.

In any event, it makes a change from Charlton fans being accused of being anoraks, train spotters or even Onanists.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Charlton lose to league leaders

The early exchanges between Derby County and Charlton Athletic were not decisive for either side, but then Derby County got an easy goal after nine minutes with a tap in from Hendrick after it had seemed that a home player was offside, but Bent had been given free scope. No one expected it to be easy, but such an early setback was disheartening.

A Johnson header was required to deal with a Derby attack. The front three of Ince, Lingard and Bent were giving Charlton problems. A Derby shot went not far wide. Cousins, out injured, was being missed in the middle. Derby were flooding forward once they got the ball with a five man attack and Lingard buried Derby’s second. Roger Johnson was furious. It was all too easy. Charlton needed to tighten up in midfield. One pass and Buyens was out of the game.

Every time Charlton got the ball they couldn’t get into the Derby half and the Rams were threatening every time they came forward. As soon as Charlton went forward, there were three men on the ball and it was unsettling the Addicks.

Henderson had to pluck a Derby free kick out of the air. The movement from the Derby players was very fluent. Charlton tried to launch an attack, but the momentum disappeared and they went backwards.

Charlton got a corner after Bulot threatened, following a loose pass in midfield snapped up by Buyens. The ball was eventually cleared from the corner. Derby did seem to have taken their foot off the pedal. Charlton were recovering their organisation which they had had at the beginning of the game.

Sloppy work by Ben Haim gave Derby a shooting chance, but fortunately it went just left of Henderson’s goal. The keeper would not have reached it.

A shot from Solly needed a save from Grant. Charlton had managed to put some serious pressure on the Derby goal. Watt was fouled and Charlton got a free kick in a promising position. Gudmundsson’s effort from 25 yards out needed a save at full stretch from Grant. It was panic stations at the corner, but ultimately it was unproductive. After a disastrous first fifteen minutes, Charlton were getting into the game.

Darren Bent got in behind the defence, but the move was unproductive. With one minute of injury time, Charlton found themselves under pressure after a poor ball by Wilson. Derby then hit the crossbar. It was a frantic last minute. However, the Addicks had recovered well from a disastrous first fifteen minutes.

Rams 2, Addicks 0

Wilson had not a good first half in midfield and Diarra was brought on. Buyens had to make a good tackle to break up a Derby attack.

Diarra put in some excellent defending with an excellent tackle to win the ball back for Charlton. An attempt by Diarra was blocked by Keogh after a free kick. The Derby tried to rally their team after Charlton applied some pressure.

Diarra put in another excellent tackle, he had won three or four challenges. On 68 minutes Bulot went off and Chris ‘Red Robin’ Eagles came on.

Lingard went off and Dawkins came on. Charlton brought on Harriott and Watt, who may have taken a knock, was taken off. Derby brought on Mascarell. Derby took off Hughes and brought on Bryson.

Charlton got a free kick five or six yards outside the penalty area, but Gudmundsson’s effort went just over the bar. Perhaps the ball should have been directed to Harriott.

Harriott did well to win the ball back for Charlton. The Addicks made a good move, but the ball was collected by the keeper.

Ben Haim put in a good tackle and then a shot cannoned off Diarra to give the Rams a corner. Henderson took the ball comfortably.

Three minutes were added on, but they were uneventful. Word came through that Millwall were losing 0-3 at home to Sheffield Wednesday (final score 1-3).

All the damage had been done in the first fifteen minutes, but at least it was not a rout at the hands of the league leaders. Charlton fell back to 16th, but were eight points above the top relegation spot occupied by Millwall.

<>The local Derby fan has commented: 'You gave our young talented midfielders far too much space in the first twenty minutes by standing off and defending deep. Once you pushed up and crowded midfield it stopped the flow for us but killed the game for your as well. To be honest on the first half it looked as if they were trying to waste time to get in only two down. Charlton were much better second half doubling up on our providers but actually the best chances came in the first half. The last hour was a bit of a damp squib to be honest.'

It should also be noted that the only top eight side we have left to play is Bournemouth (on the last day of the season).

Monday 23 February 2015

Fans divided on Diarra signing

Fans have expressed divergent views about the signing of Alou Diarra. One commented, 'We are his 12th club in the last 15 years - a player at 33 who has been criticised for lack and effort of application and cannot settle down anywhere or hold a regular place in a team (Lyon, Rennes and West Ham) and has played less than twenty games in the last three years. Does not look like a great signing, but you never know.'

The contrary view is that there is more to him than his Wikipedia entry which you can read here Diarra. 'Those of us who remember him as a fine, deep-lying midfielder for Bordeaux in the Champions League not all that long ago, may perhaps view the statistics as, at best, only half the story (as they would appear to have been with Watt, and Bulot recently).

In my view, he's needed cover, no more, no less.

Ram gives it large

I have just been round to the office of a colleague who is a Derby County season ticket holder and asked for his views about tomorrow night's match: 'Easy three points' was his reply, and I think that he genuinely believes it. The Rams in his view have no problems scoring goals and he sees Darren Bent as a great acquisition (something I would very much agree with!). However, he also admits that they concede goals rather easily, as happened against the Massives on Saturday.

Given that, I hope that Guy Luzon sticks to his disciplined 4-4-2 attacking system. Some Addicks say we should be focusing on our goal difference, which has improved. However, I doubt whether we would be relegated on goal difference. If we go on the attack and lose 4-2, I wouldn't blame Luzon (or Roland), although no doubt many will.

I had this chalked up as a defeat at the beginning of the season, so I think we should just give it a go, relying on the skills of Henderson in goal and the ability of the defence to circle the wagons. Morgan Fox is a possible weak link, although the Football League Paper was quite positive about him on Sunday. We also have issues in midfield, given the absence of Buyens and Jackson.

A word about Fredéric Bulot, dismissed as a waste of space by Steve Dixon in Voice of the Valley. The Football League Paper gave him a 9 on Sunday and that is not an accolade they give very often.

I am also heartened by the signings of Roger Johnson and Chris Eagles which to me is a possible sign that Roland may be reducing his reliance on Belgians (Tony Watt, of course, came from the network, but is Scottish and already a fans' favourite). Johnson may have had a few personal issues in the past, but he puts a shift in. Chris Eagles wanted to join us in the summer, but was stopped by the Trotters. He has roots in the area and is father is said to be a Charlton supporter. He also showed on Friday that he can deliver. Come On You Reds! Let's have a Ram raid.

As far as the bookers are concerned, it's a 'no brainer': Derby 1/2, Draw 10/3, Charlton 5/1. I don't bet, but the odds on a draw or a win look quite favourable.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Club continues to make £7m loss

You need special skills to read and understand company accounts and I am grateful to the New York Addick for providing an analysis of the latest Charlton Athletic accounts: Accounts

Interpreting the data is a complex matter, but for me there is one key headline: the club continues to make a loss of over £7m a year. Indeed, results in the current financial year are likely to be somewhat worse, given that revenues were boosted by a cup run last year, and attendances have fallen recently.

Any further cuts in spending would have to focus on the biggest item on the expenditure side, player wages, and, as it is, we have struggled to achieve the standard required to stay in the Championship. One just wonders how sustainable the situation is, although, of course, we are not the only Championship club to make substantial losses. However, some of them have wealthy benefactors who are prepared to make substantial subventions. Charlton also has significant debts.

Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt made the following comment on his blog, 'The publication on Friday of the club’s annual accounts underlined that the size of its debts continues to grow apace and the extreme unlikelihood that this can be addressed by anything other than an eventual return to the Premier League. Some £28m was owed to Duchâtelet’s Staprix by June 2014, against £15m to the former owners’ British Virgin Island company a year earlier. This financial hole is going to get deeper and deeper, especially if the additional revenue paid to all Championship clubs as a result of the new Premier League TV deal and amended Financial Fair Play rules simply inflates player wages.'

Saturday 21 February 2015

Charlton slump to 14th

Charlton fell out of the top half of the table following this afternoon's results, going down from 12th to 14th. As Derek from Dymchurch tweeted, 'These Belgian geezers always get found out.'

I had been planning to go to see Leamington play Barrow, the former Football League club now bankrolled by a Texan oil billionaire. However, I felt too unwell to go to the exposed New Windmill Ground and in fact the Brakes lost 0-2, ending a mini run.

My Plan B was to watch Final Score, but I fell asleep for an hour and woke up with two cats asleep on me. However, the second half saw an interesting afternoon in the Championship and elsewhere. 33 goals were scored in the Championship to add to the three scored yesterday showing that it is a highly competitive league.

Pictures showed a grim faced Pardoo as Palace lost 1-2 at home to Arsenal. 'Is the honeymoon over for Pardew?' asked the commentator. Apparently, both Arsenal's goals were dubious, the Gooners first getting a soft penalty and then scoring when offside. The Glaziers pulled one back late on and could have scored an equaliser. My heart bleeds.

Millwall drew 0-0 with Fulham. It leaves them in the relegation places and Foolham below us. 'You're going down with the Fulham,' the Brentford fans sang last week.

Tuesday's opponents, Derby County, are now top after a 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday who were ahead at one stage. There has recently been debate over whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, the clinching argument that there is given that it has chosen not to make contact with us. It is also said that some space aliens got the hump when they started to follow Wednesday after being told they were as massive as Jupiter.

If they wanted further proof that they were dealing with a planet full of morons, they only needed to read the press report of a police raid on an unlicensed sex cinema in New Cross where middle-aged men were reporting to be 'pleasuring themselves'. If you can face reading more about Onanistic practices near the New Den go here: Police raid

I hope that Luzon keeps the 4-4-2 formation against the Rams because we might just unsettle them when they think they will have three easy points in the bag.

Alou Diarra on trial

Former West Ham midfielder Alou Diarra is on trial at Charlton and could sign next week if he impresses. Luzon is in the market for a central midfielder after Johnnie Jackson was ruled out for a month with a leg injury. Buyens is also out for two matches after picking up his tenth yellow card of the season.

However, one Addick commented, 'Since he did not impress in a recent trial in the US I doubt that he could help us. Apart from a few name players in their declining years MLS is about League 1 level.' Diarra was at Chicago Fire, but was let go: Alou Diarra

Any offer to the 33-year old, a one time French international, would be on a short-term basis to meet current needs.

Friday 20 February 2015

Charlton win 3-0 after Red-Robin scores on debut

Either Guy Luzon is riding his luck or he is a better coach than we thought. Derby will be a tough test.

Charlton got their second 3-0 in a week at Wigan to go 12th in the table. Although we will go down a bit after this afternoon's game, we have played six of the top eight twice. It was Charlton's first double of the season. As one fan tweeted, 3-0 is the new 1-1.

Vetokele had an early attempt from 20 yards out but it went over the bar. Charlton were marking well in the early exchanges. Johnson challenged Fortuné at the expense of a corner. Leon Clarke got his head to it and Henderson had to tip it over. Ben Haim hooked the second corner clear.

Charlton blocked a series of Wigan efforts, although they were living dangerously with Fortuné given too much space. The Lactics continued to apply pressure as the sparse home crowd became animated.

Morgan Fox was evaded too easily and Buyens had to take one for the team, his tenth yellow card of the season. Charlton counter attacked from the free kick.

Morgan Fox was beaten again by Ojo. Bulot scored with his left foot, a good finish in the 16th minute after Tony Watt beat his man.

Kvist went off due to an injury and McCann came on. Charlton won their first corner following a Buyens free kick. Wigan counter attacked but Charlton dealt with it. There was a minute’s applause for a Wigan player diagnosed with leukaemia, the Addickted joining in.

Leon Clarke went down and a stretcher was called for. There was a break of several minutes as the necessary precautions were taken. He had to be given oxygen. He was later taken to hospital: Leon Clarke .

The referee spoke to Solly for being too vigorous. The Wigan fans were starting to get on their team’s back after they made a simple mistake. There was great work by Johnson as Wigan tried to mount an attack.

There was a cynical foul on Solly by McClean who received a yellow card. Ten minutes were added on. Vetokele scored in the 47th minutes to make it 2-0 to the Addicks after Bulot had won the ball and put in a glorious cross.

Ojo went past Fox and won a corner. Henderson collected the high ball. McClean had a little bit too much space, but put his header over.

HT Lactics 0, Addicks 2

Urged on by the home fans, the referee gave Vetokele a yellow card for a foul. Watt applauded the four hundred or so Addicks behind the goal as they chanted his name. The keeper just got a hand on the ball after Vetokele made a great run.

Tony Watt got away after a flick by Vetokele and should have scored, but he put the ball just wide. Big lump Fortuné was taken off and replaced by Waghorn.

Charlton conceded a corner. Roger Johnson put the ball clear and then had to make two more clearances for which he was well positioned.

Another corner was conceded. Johnson won the header. Henderson had to make a save from a ball which he saw late. Wigan won a free kick off Vetokele in a dangerous position. Henderson caught the ball.

Wigan won a corner off Solly halfway through the half. Tony Watt came off and Chris Red-Robin (formerly Eagles) made his debut for Charlton. Charlton won a corner which was unproductive. Gudmundsson fired in a shot which was just over the bar.

It was raining heavily. Some Wigan fans started to leave, the empty stands becoming even emptier, and others were booing. Cousins got in the way of a dangerous shot. Wilson was waiting to come on. Luzon and Mackay were having a disagreement. Cousins, who had taken a knock, came off. Gundmundsson fed Red-Robin who scored his first goal for the Addicks. Vetokele came off and was replaced by Harriott.

553 Addicks made the journey and were able to celebrate on Wigan Pier afterwards.

There is quite a long report on the game in The Times this morning. As is inevitably the case when Charlton win, it mainly about what is wrong with Wigan. Apparently, we were lucky and boosted by having players from SL.

The end of the pier show

Plymouth: I was expecting to hear news of Argyle at dinner last night, indeed I had promised Radio Scilly a feature given that they are the most supported club on the islands. However, neither of my hosts had been near Home Park and one was a fanatical Cardiff City fan whose opening gambit was, 'Charlton aren't doing very well these days.'

I have urged them to finish today's talks (which start with the presentation of my passport to prove that I am EU citizen) so that I can be back home in time for the commentary on tonight's crucial match. They have generously paid for first class travel to entice me to Plymouth, but judging on yesterday's experience, I wouldn't like to rely on the WiFi on Virgin Cross Country.

At the beginning of the season, Wigan were judged to be likely candidates for promotion back to the top flight. Now they are in a relegation battle and look in danger of going down with fellow Lancastrians Blackpool. Is Charlton's name on the third relegation place? Even those who regard RD as an existential threat to Charlton as we know it accept that the short-term objective has to be to stay in the Championship. If Roland goes out, someone has to come in. Hence, tonight justifies the cliché of six pointer.

Johnnie Jackson, unfortunately out injured for a month, stated at the five year season ticket holders meeting in the week that last Saturday was the first time Guy Luzon had got the team playing as he wanted. (Incidentally, the timing of this meeting the night before the Woolwich meeting was not a ploy by Katrien, it had been fixed weeks beforehand).

I liked the tight and disciplined 4-4-2 formation that Luzon produced last Saturday. However, as pessimists were quick to point out, one swallow does not make a summer, even if it has a Scottish accent. We have also lost Wiggins and while Morgan Fox tries his best, he is still on a learning curve as a player. Chris Eagles can play in an attacking role on the left, but having been criticised for her lack of knowledge of immigration law, Katrien now faces the challenge of getting his surname changed to Red-Robin by this evening.

Roger Johnson is also unlikely to be available after playing through the pain of cracked ribs on Saturday when we had already had to make two substitutions because of injury. Even dedicated moaners have given grudging respect to his bravery for the cause.

Charlton won the earlier meeting this season 2-1 at The Valley in August. The home side have won six of the seven meetings between these teams, drawing the other. Wigan have won all three meetings at the DW Stadium, scoring eight goals and conceding three. Wigan won 1-0 at Reading on Tuesday - their first win in nine games in all competitions. Wigan have not won any of their last 12 home games, losing six. Their last win at the DW Stadium was 4-0 against Birmingham on 30 August

The bookies (Coral) think they know the outcome, offering 3-1 against a Charlton win, 5-2 for a draw and very short odds on a home win. If I was a gambler, I might be tempted by the odds on a Charlton win. However, all four officials are from 'oop North (two from nearby), so expect no quarter to be shown to the southern softies. I would be quite surprised to turn up at a Charlton game and find that the referee was from Margate and one of the linos was from Sevenoaks.

When I went to Wigan in our Premier League days, the typical supporter was a lippy twelve year old. They have now 'grown up', but one has been forecasting a 9-0 win on Twitter. With Henderson in goal, I don't think so. I still have many reservations about Luzon, but I am going for a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Thursday 19 February 2015

The Eagles has landed

Chris Eagles, a free agent after leaving Blackpool, has signed for the Addicks: Eagles

Eagles did seem to think for a while that he has signed for Sheffield Wednesday saying that Charlton are a 'massive' club. Anyway, he is over the moon and let's hope we will be. Fans have been calling for English players with Championship experience, and the winger fits that description. He could give us an attacking edge on the left.

His name is unfortunate and perhaps he could change it by deed poll to Red-Robin.

Fans turned out in force

There was a big attendance of around 400 at last night's meeting of Charlton supporters in Woolwich. There was a constructive atmosphere and it was agreed to seek further dialogue with Roland. A rather full report can be found here: Supporters' meeting . There is another interesting report from top blogger Kyle Andrews here: Chris Powell's Flat Cap

A video of the opening speeches is now available from Voice of the Valley: Opening Speeches

The Huddersfield 'football for a fiver' game was mentioned as suitable for some kind of protest, although what form that would take is not clear at present.

CAS Trust are to be congratulated on organising on what was evidently a well-run meeting which responded to a felt need among fans of the club.

I would just sound three notes of caution. First, there was a hint of a wish to revive the campaigning days of the Valley Party. That was a great achievement, but we mustn't try to relive the past. This is a different set of circumstances without one clear objective.

Second, I do not agree with those who think that the best outcome would be if Roland sold up (not that I think that he is likely to). It is by no means clear that a good quality alternative buyer is available. In many respects, I was had as many worries about the Slater/Jiminez regime as I have about the current one, although they were different concerns.

Third, Steve Dixon put a well phrased rhetorical question in terms of whether we wanted to be part of a Belgian franchise or an independent club based in London. At the end of the day, that is not our choice. The owner is the owner. That, of course, doesn't mean that nothing should be done and I would hope that Roland and Katrien will recognise that a constructive dialogue with fans is to the benefit of everyone.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

The Belgian club that plays in London

When Ismabard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway line south of Leamington, he put constructing a tunnel at Harbury in the ‘too difficult’ box. Instead, the navvies dug out an incredibly deep cutting before a short tunnel. 350,000 tonnes of earth are poised to engulf the line which is to be closed until Easter. My usual route to London is therefore unavailable. If I went via Coventry, I would only be able to attend tonight’s CAS Trust meeting for an hour and a half and even then would not get home until midnight, and I have a long journey to Plymouth on the following day.

Therefore I cannot attend this important and necessary meeting, so I have given some views in a rather long piece here. The meeting will need to be well chaired to keep control of one or two fantasists found around The Valley. I would also assume that the organisers have thought about possible draft resolutions to identify a way forward.

The CAS Trust has produced a summary of questions and answers at last night's VIP meeting. Some good questions were asked, but the answers were not always satisfactory in my view: Question and Answer

Charlton owners

Charlton has had some comedy owners over the years, and there’s only one regime that I have been really happy with. Let’s start with the Glikstens. Before the war, they put a lot of investment into the club and really built it up. But for the war, we might have won the league. As it was, just after the war, we won the FA Cup which had a much greater significance in those days.

However, then the momentum slowed, investment dried up, and we became a selling club. In Jimmy Seed’s view, we had a chance to become the ‘Arsenal of South London’ and we blew it. A key turning point was the death of Albert Gliksten in 1951 and his replacement by his brother Stanley.

I remember my father pointing out to me the figure of Stanley Gliksten standing in the stand, peering round the ground before the match. ‘He is trying to work out the gate and his takings,’ said my father somewhat sceptically. Indeed, some fans uncharitably suggested that not all the takings were recorded in a way that allowed the then entertainment tax to be collected.

Following the return to The Valley, there was a special atmosphere at Charlton under what I call the Murray/Varney regime. I did not get on with Peter Varney, but I pay full tribute to his energy, professionalism and dedication. This was a period when communication and involvement was good. I remember going on 606 after one victory and saying that everyone from the board to the fans was pulling in one direction. There was a fans’ director on one of the board, even if there were limits to what he could do. The Supporters’ Club was very active and involved in projects such as Target 10,000. At the Mercury sports editor Rick Everitt saw that Charlton’s message got out to a wider audience.

It is not surprising that fans thought there was something special about Charlton. The club got a lot of good publicity. However, towards the end of the period, mistakes were made. Now we have reverted to something that is closer to the norm. Indeed, there are clubs that are worse off: for example, Blackpool, Coventry City and Birmingham City. Richard Murray is a shadow of his former self and seems to be more or less invisible. It is difficult to see him in the role of fans’ friend on the board. Apparently, he did speak at the VIP forum last week and said that Roland would be a good long-term owner. So that's all right then.

I have never based my support for the club on what I think of the owner, otherwise I would have left long ago, and certainly under the last regime who get a relatively easy ride from supporters because they appointed Chris Powell and got us out of League 1.

Charlton managers

We have had some poor managers over the years, fortunately we also had three outstanding ones: Jimmy Seed, Lennie Lawrence and Alan Curbishley. Both had relatively long tenures and showed the advantages of getting the right man in and keeping him there.

When I saw Dowie for the first time, my heart sank. Why was he on the pitch warming up the players when he had people to do that? Was he massaging his ego? Dowie tried to put on a show of determined energy, but what he obviously meant to be a focused and inspiring expression simply looked glazed as if he was already on a rocket ship to Mars.

I felt that at the end of last season José Riga deserved to carry on, but Roland had other plans. I have my doubts about Guy Luzon, but I hope he succeeds. For me, the club means more than the owner, the manager or even the players, although at any one time there are usually at least a few players I can identify with.

Ms Meire

It has been suggested on the boards and in the ‘emergency’ edition of Voice of the Valley that Katrien Meire is not up to the job of chief executive. It is difficult for me to judge, as I don’t know her: I have only recently established any form of contact then and only, I suspect, because our mutual connections with University College London.

Ms Meire took her first degree at Leuven. Having taught there and worked with people there, I think that it is a very good university, arguably the best in Belgium. As a fellow of UCL, I clearly have a good view of that institution.

Ms Meire is a competition lawyer by trade. Competition law has had a substantial effect on football (think transfer windows), as has EU labour law (Bosman). Whether that qualifies her for the day-to-day practicalities of running a football club is an open question, particularly when she has a mercurial boss in Belgium.

The critical article published in VOTV makes a number of interesting points and concludes that the club would be better off without Ms Meire. I can understand why someone with a long record of service to the club might feel aggrieved at their treatment. However, it might be that Ms Meire wanted to distance herself from what she might have seen as ‘the old guard’ at The Valley.

VOTV also expressed concern about a conversation with Ms Meire in the street about her lack of interest in the Kent market. Clearly many long-standing Charlton fans have relocated to the Garden of England. However, I did feel sometimes in the past that there was an excessive interest in Kent and that there was an implicit message that Charlton was ‘the Kent club that played in London.’ I wasn’t bothered too much about upsetting Gillingham, and I am in favour of getting the likes of Derek from Dymchurch to the ground on the Rickshaw. But I also thought that perhaps sometimes we didn’t put enough effort in to possible new markets. So I have some sympathy with Ms Meire’s stance.


Some fans are clearly unhappy with Belgian ownership. I am interested in a player’s quality, not their nationality, but it is probably the case that we have had too many Belgian players of variable quality, although to be fair to the current regime they do have a commitment to the Academy. There is not much mileage in being ‘the Belgian club that plays in London.’ Arsenal have supporters who come over from France on Eurostar, but I can’t see the same thing happening with us, nor is there that big a Belgian community in London (certainly compared with French expats).

My memories of Belgium are associated with boring and often pointless meetings in windowless rooms in the Commission, trying to defend UK interests. As I got to know Brussels more, I did identify good restaurants that were not tourist traps and good places to drink unusual beers. I also regret that I have not seen more of the country outside Brussels.

It is important to remember that, given the ferocity of the linguistic divide, there are just two things that keep Belgium together: the monarchy (which has had its problems) and the national football team. Football has a special importance in Belgium, although most of the country’s best players play elsewhere.

Roland Duchatêlet

What are the drivers for Roland’s flawed and utopian network model? At a general level, he evidently feels that his business success can be applied in football, having largely failed with his venture into politics. He considers, I think, that football is an excessively conservative sector, and in broad terms, I agree with him. There is often too much talk of the ‘world of football’ as if it was hermetically sealed off from the rest of society. Think of how long it took to get goal line technology introduced. Of course, the lack of change can be appealing in some ways, but there isn’t enough innovation.

He thinks that football should be able to run without big subsidies. He put his faith in the arrival of financial fair play leading to a more level playing field that would reward the prudent. However, any student of football could have told him that FFP was likely to be diluted. As it happened, political pressure was put on the Championship by the Premier League. In addition, there could yet be a legal challenge based on competition law, something that Ms Meire should be aware of. In my view, this is the fatal flaw in a well- intentioned strategy.

The other driver is Europeanisation. Roland has compared the network model to an Erasmus scheme for footballers. In the book I co-edited with someone from Spain (whose younger brother was a Charlton supporter) and a German on The Transformation of European Football we discussed the European Commission’s search for a Europeanisation strategy in football that went beyond the application of EU law or the Champions League and Europa League, specifically one that involved clubs below that level and networked them across Europe. (I do not believe that Roland has read our book).

Roland has provided such a strategy. It could be a wave of the future, and has worked to an extent at Watford. But it needs better quality clubs and better quality players than Roland’s network has been able to provide. I think arguments that the Championship is a very special league are overstated. But it is better, I would argue, than all other second tier European leagues and I do not think that Roland has realised this.

In response to the ‘what has Roland done for us?’ question, fans resent constant references to the pitch and planned developments at the training ground. I would give Roland some credit for not pursuing the schemes for relocating the club on the Greenwich Peninsula mooted by the last regime. However, it does have to be realised that the club is still running at a significant loss. Someone has to meet that deficit. The usual expectation is that owners will ‘invest’ in a club; although I am not sure that I would regard spending money on players as an investment in the usual sense of the term. However, it is clear that fans could not afford to buy the club or to meet the running costs.

Despite recent rumours, I don’t think that Roland is likely to sell the club, and it could be a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. If the club was relegated, or if fans stayed away in increasing numbers, its attraction to prospective investors would diminish.

The best hope is that Roland learns from experience and modifies his strategy. In any business, it is not a good strategy to upset your customers. He seems quite obdurate, so the chances may not be good. A report from the BBC suggests that perhaps Roland could be persuaded to come to London for a meeting with fans at which he would explain his strategy, but I don't think that is very likely: Absent owner

Sunday 15 February 2015

Luzon: I will win fans round

Guy Luzon gets a back page splash in the Football League Paper and says that he is confident in his own ability to quick alter fans' views of him.

Well, maybe, if we get a run of good results. However, Charlton fans know that the greatest periods in their history have come with managerial stability: Jimmy Seed, Alan Curbishley (and backs against the wall) Lennie Lawrence. Incidentally, the Derek Ufton interviews in Voice of the Valley have been fascinating in terms of the replacement of Seed by Trotter. Ufton revealed that Seed had developed a liking for an occasional drink, but confirmed my long held view that Trotter was the wrong replacement.

However, I must not start reminiscing about Sunday morning chats between fans about the Seed v. Trotter rivalry against the background of the hissing gas lights in my uncle's newsagents in Lakedale Road. Let's focus on Luzon.

Luzon states: 'When I arrived in Belgium some of the people didn't think I was experienced in Belgian football, but in my first year there we did well. Mr Duchatelet sacked me because in my second year at Standard Liege we replaced all the players and we knew that we needed time to improve the team because it was totally new. [This does strike me as an odd way of running a club]. But Standard Liege is a big club and the fans didn't have the patience to wait.'

'We have a good relationship and if he didn't trust me I wouldn't be here, but he seems to trust me and knows my quality and that is why I am here. We don't need to think about my position, my position is not important, it is important that the team collect points'.

Luzon cites Avram Grant as his 'inspiration': 'Avram is my friend as he is from the same city, Petah Tikva, and he was the first Israeli coach in the Premier League.'

We shall see. Yesterday the Covered End was chanting 'We are Charlton's Red Army.'

Saturday 14 February 2015

A strange euphoric feeling

I experienced a strange euphoric feeling as I left The Valley today. Charlton had played well, had not conceded a goal and scored three against a team in the play off places at the beginning of the game. As a result, they have gone up to 18th in the table. Of course, it's just one game, but it may give the team some much needed confidence.

It was good to see Henderson back in goal and he made some excellent saves. The last time we won was at Reading when he was in goal and I sometimes think that not enough weight has been given to the effect his absence has had. He gives confidence to the defence in front of him.

Roger Johnson was derided as a useless signing, but he was much more solid than the off form Bikey whom he replaced. He marshalled the defence, giving instructions to the likes of Morgan Fox who had come on when Wiggins was injured.

We got the up front pairing of Watt and Vetokele that we wanted. Watt has a traditional centre forward's eye for goal and, even if he did not score today, he unsettled the Brentford defence. Igor Vetokele had an excellent work rate today and took his goal well.

Then there is Bulot. He was very poor last week, but a revelation on the wing today and took his goal well. In Voice of the Valley today, Steve Dixon asked, 'Is there any point in examining the contribution of Frédéric Bulot?' Perhaps professional gloom merchant Dixon will think again.

I was surprised to see elves around The Valley when I arrived, but Voice of the Valley has been brought out two weeks early because of 'the crisis engulfing the club'. The second part of the interview with Derek Ufton was excellent and the Rickster gave space to an article which looked critically at some of the excessive sentimentality that surrounds the notion of 'our Charlton'. Nevertheless, VOTV does increasingly seem to be the refuge of disgruntled former employees. Those who want changes at the club must be careful to avoid going back to the future with the Valley Party. As a fellow fan remarked to me, having looked at his copy, 'positive spin as usual.'

Gudmundsson scored decisively on 27 minutes after Vetokele had turned provider. The moaners behind me had been quiet up to then, as even they could not fault Charlton's standard of play, but became nervous and vociferous after we went ahead. The Bloke Behind Me believes that we should man mark every opposition player, but how we could do that and engage in any creative play or attacks is beyond me.

Charlton doubled their lead 10 minutes after half-time when Watt dragged defenders towards him and set up Vetokele to finish well. Alex Pritchard had the best chances for Brentford but his free-kick and snap-shot were both comfortably saved by Stephen Henderson. A resounding win was completed late on when Dean allowed Bulot a free run on goal and he struck a left-footed shot.

As for Brentford, I got the notion that they somehow felt they just had to get on to the pitch and easily claim three points against a poor team. When things started to go wrong, they increasingly resorted to fouling, but even an elbow in the stomach for Johnson received nothing more than a quiet rebuke from the lenient referee. Their fans final chant of 'You're going down with the Fulham' gets a prize for face saving irony.

I had real difficulty getting to the game today with no trains from Coventry, the line from Leamington closed by a landslip and the M40 shut by a major accident. I was late getting to Marylebone, but probably had the fastest trip ever from there to the ground by tube and bus, just 35 minutes. It was a good omen.

Millwall lost at Leeds, while I enjoyed listening to the final phase of Crystal Palace's cup defeat as I drove back from Banbury.

A Brentford fan interviews Charlton fans in the pub after the game, good quality podcast: Besotted Brentford

Player ratings

Stephen Henderson was man of the match for me. In command of his area, the Bees couldn't get past him. His kicking out was also usually central. Ben Haim wasn't prominent, but did his job well. I have seen some comments that Johnson was slow and not up to it, but I thought that he looked reliable and had a good effect on other defenders. Solly had a faultless game as far as I could see. Wiggins was playing well, until he succumbed to the first of two first half injuries. The other was to Jackson who had been looking useful, but was able to come out of the tunnel at the end of the game to do the Chris Powell jump. Gudmundsson took his goal well. He does drift in and out of games a bit. Cousins showed some real touches of skill. It was good to see us dispossessing the opposition in midfield, rather than the other way round. He also showed great determination and had an excellent work rate. Bulot was a revelation on the wing.

Watt would also be a nominee for man of the match. He showed real character and gave the opposition no quarter. He displayed some excellent ball skills. Vetokele was tireless and combined well with Watt. Fox is not as skilled or experienced as Wiggins, but he played a decent game of honest endeavour. Buyens started the season well, but has faded badly. His first action on coming on to the pitch was to spoil a promising attack by putting the ball out of play. His passes forward were often over hit. Wilson had a cameo after Vetokele was withdrawn, but seemed a bit out of his depth.

Victory for the pessmists?

Although I am often critical of the negativity and pessimism that afflicts many Charlton fans, I am not feeling optimistic about today. Nor are the bookies: a Charlton is 2/1, a draw 11/5 and an away win 11/10.

Our somewhat sketchy record against Brentford is relatively good. Charlton are unbeaten in the last three meetings, winning two. Brentford's last win was 3-0 at The Valley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in October 2011. Charlton won the last meeting at The Valley 2-0 in League One in January 2012 - their first win in three meetings there in all competitions. We drew 1-1 at Griffin Park earlier in the season when our defence was more solid.

Some fans assert that our early season performance was 'lucky', but it's always worth remembering that football is a game of thin margins and it doesn't take much to tip the balance one way or another. Confidence is also a factor and a win today would give the team a much needed boost.

It is rumoured that Watt and Vetokele will start together up front which has to be positive. Vetokele plays better when Watt is there. If Watt isn't fully match fit, he should play for the first 70 minutes and then be taken off, rather than used as a substitute. There are also reports that Roger Johnson may be involved, but I think that would be on the bench.

I really have no idea what the result will be and the game may be overshadowed by events off pitch which is unfortunate. I am going to watch a football match and hope that Charlton may be able to show some quality over the 90 minutes.

Orient seem to be having problems with their Italian owner: Troubled Orient

Friday 13 February 2015

How crowds vary

A visit to the ballet is a rare experience for me. I have been to the Bolshoi under the Soviet regime; to see Cordelia at La Scale in Milan; and I once took our youngest daughter to Birmingham when she was into ballet. Her daughter has taken it more seriously and passed a succession of increasingly difficult exams.

I was invited to see Edward Scissorhands at the Birmingham Hippodrome yesterday and I have to say that it was an excellent performance, although I was quite surprised that when the director came on at the beginning to address the audience he looked a bit like a chartered accountant.

I go to live theatre in London, Birmingham and Stratford quite often, but what struck me is how distinctive the ballet audience is. First, the 1,800 capacity theatre was packed out (when I went to see the Welsh National Opera perform Anna Bolena last year it was half empty). Admittedly, that would be a good Conference crowd or a poor League 2 one.

I would estimate that the audience was 75 per cent - 80 per cent made up of women. I had also forgotten how enthusiastic ballet fans are: not just a standing ovation and many curtain calls, but also a great deal of yelling and hollering which you don't normally hear in the theatre.

This brings me to football crowds. They are still predominantly male and they are increasingly inclined to boo. I don't remember this in the 1950s. But then, of course, footballers were paid something like the wage of a skilled worker and lived in houses much like our own (often in club houses, note the pair next to The Valley, now in private ownership). Today, even in the Championship, players are paid very well compared to most fans.

So fans have an expectation that they will be 'entertained'. This reminds me that a well-known sports historian once told me that following a football club is really about suffering, and that certainly has some relevance to Charlton.

I accept than many recent performances have been dire. I'm not sure that booing during the game does anything to stimulate players whose confidence is already gone, but one can understand the frustration that leads to it as another pass is misplaced.

I am probably at variance with most fans in that I am not an advocate of Route 1, attacking football. Sometimes the best option is to play sideways or backwards, rather than lump the ball forward and lose possession.

When I arrived at The Valley on Tuesday, I was faced by a line of security staff, one of whom searched my bag but, to his disappointment, found only a scarf, a bobble hat, a copy of the Sub-Standard and some sandwiches.

There has been talk on the boards of various items that might be thrown on the pitch. Throwing flares is dangerous, particularly from the Upper North. Tennis balls are less lethal, but if they started falling on the pitch in numbers, the referee would have to take the players off and the club would be fined. Paper planes have been mentioned, but the young moaner behind me tries to get one on the pitch every half time and always fails.

Those who advocate such a course of action claim that it will bring media publicity, but I don't think Roland is bothered about that, either here or in Belgium. I think that a fall in financial revenue would concern him somewhat more, but would make the club less attractive to a new purchaser.

Roland is really driven by an experimental vision which is flawed and has led him into strategic and tactical errors, particularly when combined with a lack of much knowledge of football. However, I also realise that I am paying well below the full economic cost for my seat and that the owner has to fund the deficit which is at least £5m a year. If we were relegated, that might increase as fixed costs would be unchanged, but presumably there would be some player disposals, if only to cut the wage bill.

Once again I would urge fans to attend the CAS Trust meeting if they can and see what ideas emerge. It's not easy for me to get there from the Midlands on a weekday, particularly when I have to be in Plymouth the next day, but I will try.

BTW, humour can be an effective weapon as Guy Luzon's doctored Wikipedia entry shows: 'He was appointed to the post in January 2015.[1]. Despite his lack of knowledge of English football, any tactical prowess or nous, and perhaps not actually being qualified to manage in Sunday league football, Luzon was offered the role of head coach after Charlton director Katrien Meire conducted a thorough search of the footballing world, a process that she later revealed took around 45 minutes to complete. Chants are often heard emanating from The Valley's 'Covered End', along the lines of 'You don't know what you're doing' and 'You're not Mourinho!', the latter being a reference to Luzon's penchant for crouching on the touchline, like an idiot. Luzon is not expected to last very long at Charlton, although he will almost certainly end up managing another Roland Duchâtelet club in the near future.'

Wilson is Powell target

Lawrie Wilson is a target for Chris Powell's Huddersfield, but Guy Luzon wants him to stay at The Valley for now: Wilson

For me, Wilson has disappointed on his recent appearances (admittedly some think that he was only League 1 quality in the first place), but that is true of a number of players. For him, a loan to Huddersfield might be a good move.

Apparently the search for a striker is not going too well, no surprise really as good ones are thin on the ground and are not usually attracted by a relegation struggle. There is no prospect of 'Gucci' returning from Kuwait which in any case would not offer an answer in my opinion.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Odd situation for Bees

A Busy Bee I know has written this in advance of Saturday's game: 'Brentford go into the game against Charlton in an odd position. On the field, the team has exceeded expectations and currently sit in the play-off spots. Not only that, the football at Griffin Park has been superb and the team has certainly held its own against the other Championship sides.'

'Former Addick, David Button, has been fantastic in goal all season. There are one or two injuries at present – key midfielder, Alan Judge, has been out since early January and fans have yet to see our new signing from Rangers, Lewis Macleod. And, left back Jake Bidwell, will be missing on Saturday after being sent off in midweek against Watford.'

'But overall, the team is doing really well. Off the field, however, there is a mystery. News broke this week that current boss Mark Warburton may not be in charge next season. This has baffled fans, with whom he is (not surprisingly) hugely popular. Bees fans will be hoping that this confusion will be resolved soon, though on the evidence of Tuesday night’s game against Watford, the uncertainty does not seem to be affecting the players.'

The financial benefits of the Championship

The new Premier League television deal will boost payments to Championship clubs from 2016. Under a newly agreed formula, they will receive £5m a year, more than double the present £2.3m. In addition they receive about £2m in television revenue.

Payments for League One will also be increased to £750,000, but that will leave a gap of over £4m with the Championship. In addition, gate revenues are significantly higher in the Championship, with much more away support.

However, the new television deal will see parachute payments increase from £59m over four years to more than £80m. This will make it increasingly difficult for clubs like Charlton to compete, particularly given that some clubs have wealthy benefactors. The Championship may follow the model of the Premier League and split into a promotion league, a mid-table league and a relegation league.

It is often forgotten that Roland's whole financial model was based on financial fair play coming into force. This has now been diluted and made much less effective. This was always predictable because of political pressures and the fact that the whole scheme is open to legal challenge.

Some interesting revelations about the situation at Blackpool here: Where did the money go?

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Fight back was in vain

In a dismal first half at The Valley last night Charlton conceded two soft goals to go 0-2 down to Norwich at the break. The first of them happened after a rare error by Chris Solly, although even then their player had the time to line up his shot and shoot. The second game with Dimotrivic exposed by his defence and the ball was looped over him.

The players were booed during the game and also at the half whistle and coach Guy Luzon got an ironic chant of 'you're getting sacked in the morning' from the Covered End.

The reintroduced Bulot had made little contribution in the first half and Luzon substituted him after the break with Tony Watt. As one Norwich fan told a friend over the phone in the train afterwards, 'Suddenly they started to play football.' Watt showed that he had an eye for goal when he scored his first for the Addicks on 61 minutes, confidently dealing with a one-on-one situation with the keeper.

Then Vetokele lifted the hopes of the home supporters on 68 minutes when he scored after the keeper had parried an effort from Harriott who had been brought on as a substitute. However, as Charlton pressed for a win, they became exposed at the back and Jerome scored the winner with a header for Norwich.

Throughout the Canaries looked faster on the ball and also better at moving into space to anticipate it. Their passing was more accurate. Once again, when Charlton did get possession, they surrendered it all too easily. Possession was 60-40 in Norwich's favour.

Particularly in the first half, the midfield seemed to be awol at times and although Vetokele's work rate was impressive, he lacked service. Bikey had a bit of a 'mare in defence and Wiggins has never been the same player since he came back from injury. Ben Haim is a cultured player in my view who can play the ball well out of defence.

The Addicks are now in 20th place, and with Millwall winning away, are only three points above the drop zone.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Norwich seek revenge

Norwich City are seeking revenge for Charlton's victory at Carrow Road earlier in the season: Cheeky raid

At the time local police said, 'We are investigating reports of a raid at Carrow Road this evening. Eleven men masquerading as footballers got on to the pitch and sped off to London with all three points.'

The Canaries must fancy their chances after demolishing Blackpool 4-0 at the weekend. Charlton have great difficulty in scoring goals and have lost the defensive solidity which characterised the earlier part of their season, particularly at set pieces. Every opposition corner carries with a fear factor for me, whilst our own corners arouse little anticipation of the ball ending up in the net.

The bookies certainly favour Norwich. Odds are: Charlton 7/2, Draw 5/2, Norwich 4/5.

Nevertheless, I shall set out for London this evening in a hopeful mood, if not an optimistic one. No doubt many fans will be wallowing in pessimism and negativity before they reach The Valley, but there is little point in letting that mood seep out on to the pitch so as to undermine the players' battered confidence even more.

Our record against Norwich is actually a relatively good one. Norwich have won only one of the last six meetings in all competitions. Their only win since 2008 was 1-0 in the last meeting at The Valley in League One in April 2010. That win at The Valley is Norwich's only win in the last nine meetings there in all competitions. However, tonight Norwich have the incentive of trying to get into the play off places.

Bees manager to get the sack

Most fans would think that Brentford have had a good season. At the beginning of the season, one might have thought that the aim was to consolidate in the division with a lower mid-table place being acceptable. However, instead, they are in the play off places. They will be tough opponents on Saturday.

However, manager Mark Warburton has been told that he will be let go at the end of the season. Owner Matthew Benham, who has big ambitions for the Bees, thinks that the former currency trader is not scientific enough. A continental coach is just what is needed and he has someone from Spain lined up to succeed.

It seems to me that Warburton would make a decent coach at Charlton. He can get a team without individual stars to play together. Perhaps he has a long lost Belgian grandmother?

Brentford have now issued a partial denial of the story, saying that they are planning for 'various possible eventualities': Ambiguity

'I've moved on' says Powell

Chris Powell has said in an interview that he has 'moved on' after his dismissal from Charlton last year. However, as a former player, he will always love the club and is looking forward to his visit with Huddersfield: Chris Powell

Monday 9 February 2015

When the first live tv broadcast was at The Valley

The following report appeared in the Independent on Sunday yesterday: 'It was not, on the face of it, the most obvious choice for live television coverage. Charlton were 20th in the old First Division, Blackburn 18th.

But there was a reason the cameras went to The Valley 68 years ago today to produce the first live broadcast of a full club match, and it was not because there were no giant-killers to cover with everyone from below the second tier knocked out, nor that only Middlesbrough and Stoke of the top flight's top six were playing.

For production reasons only London matches could be broadcast, and this was the only game in the capital. In the event it was a poor game. Sam Bartram, Charlton's legendary 'keeper, wrote later "conditions were terrible with snow and ice transforming the pitch into a quagmire in some parts and a skating rink in others. Both teams spent much of the game trying to keep their feet."

A few minutes from time Bartram, coming out to close down a Rovers attack, lost his feet and slipped, leaving an open goal. To his relief Rovers shot wide. Charlton soon forced a corner, Gordon Hurst quickly took it and it was Tommy Dawson who headed in the winner.

Coverage was a test exercise for the final, and proved a rehearsal as that was also won 1-0 by Charlton with a late goal, promotion-winning Burnley being defeated.'

Sunday 8 February 2015

CAS Trust meeting date

The CAS Trust open meeting on the direction of the club will be held in Woolwich on Wednesday 18 February: Meeting details.

Clearly those who 'want our club back' should try and attend although whether the meeting generates more heat than light remains to be seen. What is needed is a feasible way forward and that won't be easy to find.

Communication with fans has been unsatisfactory, but that was also the case with the Slater/Jiminez regime. Under the Murray/Varney regime, Charlton fans enjoyed a degree of communication and involvement that was unusual for a football club. We have now reverted to the norm.

Roland Duchatelet is a not unusual example of a businessman who having enjoyed commercial success thinks that he can apply what he has learnt in different spheres of activity, first, in his case, in politics, and more recently in football. From all I have read he seems to be a rather obdurate individual who is convinced that his chosen path is the right one. I agree with him that football is an overly conservative sector that needs shaking up in an era of globalisation. However, the network concept is utopian and, as it has been applied, flawed.

What outcomes do fans want and are they achievable? I doubt whether Roland is inclined to sell the club and, even if he was, it would be difficult to find a quality buyer. The notion of the fans raising enough money to buy the club is not possible. Even if they could, how would they fund the operating deficit which runs at least £5m a year?

Possibly many fans would like Roland to change his operating plan, relying less on the network and Belgian players more generally, and bringing in a manager with Championship experience. It seems to me that the difference between the way football is played in the Championship and other leagues is often exaggerated. In any event, I don't see Roland modifying his model.

Many fans have said that they will not renew their season tickets, arguing that the best way to influence Roland is to hit him in the pocket. However, that would weaken the club and make it less attractive to a new buyer.

Hopefully, someone at the meeting will have some ideas for a feasible plan of action.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Down the Football League we go

It was a changed team for Charlton as they faced Boro at the Riverside this afternoon. Church and Watt started up front with Vetokele on the bench. Harriott and Wiggins didn’t travel after being injured in training. Bikey was also relegated to the bench.

Watt advanced well, Buyens put in a cross but Gudmundsson was two yards away. Ben Haim defended well to rescue the situation after a poor ball to Solly. Solly had to clear for a corner after a dangerous ball came in. A free header from Bamford went into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-0 to Boro on six minutes. Once again the marking at set pieces was poor.

Solly conceded a corner. This time the free header went over the bar. Good work by Watt led to a Charlton corner on 10 minutes which was unproductive.

A shot from Leadbetter took a deflection for a corner. Charlton tried to counter attack but without success. Direct running from Watt in which he nutmegged two Boro players led to a Charlton corner.

Dmitrovic had to save well from the lively Bamford. Gudmundsson hit the post, but the referee had blown for a foul on Church. Gudmundsson’s effort went two yards over the bar.

Veljkovic went down in pain after a stamp on his shoulder. It may have been dislocated. No card was awarded. Jackson came on.

After a good move down the line, Gudmundsson smashed a powerful strike from outside the area into the top left-hand corner to make it 1-1 on 37 minutes giving a boost to the 240 Addicks who had made the journey.

Boro won a couple of late corners. Dmitrovic punched the ball away.

HT: Boro 1, Addicks

Boro 2-1 went ahead with a tap in just after the break after an initial attempt had ricocheted.

Charlton responded by winning a corner, but it was unproductive. Cousins did have time to put in a shot, but was unable to do so.

Boro put in a spell of pressure and won a corner. Charlton then applied some pressure, but to no effect. Jackson put in a half decent effort.

Church went off and Vetokele came on. Dmitrovic made a good save, although there was a hint of offside. Fox defended well.

Boro made a double substitution. An attempt by Solly went over the bar. A shot by Gudmundsson went wide when there were other players in a better position.

Cousins was clipped and Forshaw got a yellow card. Buyens was taken off and replaced by Lepoint. After a corner, Tomlin made it 3-1 for Boro.

Charlton are now 19th, but six points ahead of Millwall who lost 1-3 at home to Huddersfield.

Friday 6 February 2015

How would you set the team up for Boro?

Top place in the Championship is up for grabs tomorrow and financial imperatives make Middlesbrough desperate to return to the top flight. They are second in the form table and Charlton are bottom.

So how would you set the team up for Boro, given the squad that is available? One could go for a defensive formation making use of the counter attack and hope for a draw to continue Guy Luzon's unbeaten record. This worked at Wolves, but they have one of the poorest home scoring records in the league, 17 in all. Boro have scored 26 at home. What is the Plan B if Boro score?

The other option would be to go for a more attacking formation, starting Tony Watt up front alongside Vetokele. But that could risk another Watford style drubbing and a further increase in the already high volume of moaning. It should also be noted that Boro have conceded only eight goals at home.

The honest answer is that I don't know, but I am not sure that Guy Luzon does either.

Middlesbrough are unbeaten in the last nine meetings in all competitions, winning six. Charlton's last win was 2-1 at home in the Premier League in March 2006. Middlesbrough have won three of the last four meetings at the Riverside Stadium in all competitions, drawing the other. Charlton's last win there was 3-0 in the Premier League in August 2005.

Odds are: Middlesbrough 4/11, Draw 4/1, Charlton 15/2.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Lens to be added to network?

There are unconfirmed reports from France and Belgium that Roland is considering add Lens to his network: Lens bid?

The lack of a French club is a gap in the network and Lens have been struggling financially and on the pitch in Ligue 1. Indeed, the troubles of the club have been so serious that they could be expelled from the professional leagues: Problems at Lens

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Trust calls public meeting of supporters

The CAS Trust is to call a public meeting of supporters to discuss their growing anxieties after what it describes as a disappointing response from Katrien Meire to a request for a meeting to discuss the future direction of the club. More here: CAS Trust

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Striker in on loan?

Richard Cawley of the South London Press has tweeted that if Charlton did not get a striker in by the end of the transfer window, one would be brought in on loan once the loan window opened. (This happens next Monday, February 7th). Who that might be, or where they would come from, is a matter for speculation.

Network lacks quality

Joe Hall argues in this South London Press article that the Roland Duchatelet network lacks sufficient quality to provide a steady stream of Championship level players: Lacking quality

Monday 2 February 2015

Quiet end to transfer deadline day

It's been a relatively quiet transfer deadline day everywhere, no more so than at Charlton. It was evident that there were going to be no last minute signings when Chris Parkes made the short walk to his house at the top of Sparrows Lane for a relatively early supper. He is, by the way, one of the unsung heroes of Charlton.

Charlton could still sign a free agent and a name that has come up is 31-year old defender Roger Johnson who has been let go by Wolves where he has not featured for some time. However, the most urgent need is to score goals.

Riga returns to mother ship

The rotational merry go round in the network continues with José Riga returning to Standard Liege as head coach: Riga

Sunday 1 February 2015

Charlton linked with Danish striker

Free scoring Danish international striker Lasse Vibe, who plays for IFK Gothenberg, is being talked of as a Charlton transfer target. However, he would not come cheap. Reading have had a €1.3m offer turned down, but may be willing to make a higher bid. Career information here: Lasse Vibe

A Gothenberg website is now mentioning Charlton and other reports suggest bids of £2m from both clubs, but none of these reports can be confirmed.