Friday, 20 October 2017

Why Duchatelet is selling and why we need to move on...

News of the ongoing takeover of our beloved football club continues to stir debate and emotions. Whilst the majority look delighted, there remains a rump who are worried about the risk of incoming owners and some who think we would genuinely be better off with Duchatelet 3.0 or that change risks our promotion chances. There are even a few members of the Flat Earth Society who refuse to believe it because they still think Duchatelet has a long-term commitment and plan to atone for his disastrous ownership!

1) Worried about new owners?

It's an obvious concern. Unknown new owners are going to carry risk. What we do know about the Aussies (if indeed it is them as believed) is that they have had one bite at the cherry previously and appeared not to have had all the money or to have been able persuade Duchatelet to sell. Indeed, the rumour was that the deal excluded the Valley and Sparrows Lane which would have left us at the mercy of Duchatelet. However, given the turmoil of the last three and half years under this man which in headline terms has seen us relegated, gates halved, revenues slashed and the club reduced to a laughing stock, the only thing that could possibly get worse is we could end up in financial difficulties. New owners would be investing millions. They are taking the biggest risk here, not us. Plenty of clubs get into financial difficulties and the vast majority resurface - look at Southampton and Palace. 

2) Better off with Duchatelet?

There is a debate that pre-supposes there is a even a medium term choice here! This bloke wants shot and has done for over two years. He bought us as part of a network of purchases to exploit FFP and that failed within a year of his acquisition. By far the two biggest financial liabilities in that network of clubs was Standard Liege and Charlton Athletic. The sum total of the other three would still make them third in that list. Liege were promptly sold for a profit but Charlton Athletic were not in a position to be sold for profit as Katrien Meire had steered us over a cliff and the club was at "war" with it's supporters. We were heading down and were duly relegated. He had to steady the ship and that has taken time. Look at the facts, he hasn't even seen us play at the Valley in three years! Meire has been put in a cupboard (and humiliated in the process, let's face it) for almost a year and Pitch PR have been providing common sense and pragmatic judgement on key operating decisions which has seen the steadying Duchatelet needed to sell. Duchatelet has continued his cost-cutting and there has been no real term investment for a very long time. 

Some see this 'steadying' as an option and proof that Duchatelet has learnt his lesson and changed. To some extent he obviously has but it's been driven by his desire to cut his losses not because he wants to continue to run, develop and progress a football club he has no interest in any longer.

3) Change and Promotion Chances

Again understandable but a chance that we have to take if the opportunity is there to move Duchatelet out. From what I can see, new owners will have a very long list of things to tackle and changing the manager and playing staff are definitely not top of the list. We will be halfway through a season and the January transfer window will be upon us. We are handily placed and there are no clarion calls for Robinson to go beyond those who would like a completely clean sweep. They are far more likely to give him the rest of the season and some money to see if he can immediately inflate their asset. How much do you reckon Roly's going to give him otherwise? Do you think Roly would avoid the opportunity to cash in on one or two players if he's still a reluctant owner?

If Robinson wins promotion he would deserve the role going forward. If not, he should be replaced so we have a complete fresh start next season. Any new owners would be better served getting rid of the likes of Tony Keohane and all the others who have followed orders with unnecessary enthusiasm and enjoyed doing it.

As for the Flat Earth Society, well it's all over when it's all over. A few might content themselves with still believing they knew better but most will be wise after the event.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Aussie takeover back on!

At long last, news that a takeover is back on and that it's still the Aussies. Rick Everitt has once again sniffed it out at VOTV which always gives me more confidence because he is a good judge of when it's safe to say something and when it isn't.

No doubt there will be hurdles left but hopefully nothing like Theresa May's Brexit negotiations. The story fits given the continuing effective absence of Katrien Meire and the lack of any real financial commitment on the player front or any other front this year. The fact that it's still the Aussies supports a view that they didn't go away and that negotiations have continued, albeit that the previous leakage may not have helped things along. 

If it is Andrew Muir, as I am sure it is if Rick is willing to give us a name, then I am happy with whatever he and the Australian Football Consortium bring to the table. Anything but the hopelessly out-of-touch Belgians who took three years to learn some basic lessons about how to deal with football supporters and even then were reliant upon expensive PR people to tell them and get hands on with the decision-making.

Let's all hope and pray that this is finally the deal that gets done and we are shot of Roland Duchatelet and his Harridan.

My personal hope is that I haven't lost too much love for the Old Girl in the meantime. That remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Oxford United 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Something of an end-to-end match at the Kassam Stadium this evening but those amongst the 689 Addicks present will be disappointed we didn't take full control of the game in the opening half-hour when we were dominant. Holmes, Fosu-Henry and Sarr all missed chances before Fosu-Henry continued his scoring running with his sixth of the season. Having failed to go two-up we duly conceded an equaliser and suddenly Oxford were at it and they might have gone two-one up minutes later.

The game opened-up after that and Amos made a couple of very good saves as we continued to create chances at the other end. Reeves got a breather after 66 minutes making way for Billy Clarke. Oxford made all their changes and the last saw Jon Obika enter the fray. I feared the worst but he was kept quiet. Instead, Fosu-Henry made way for Ahearne-Grant who promptly spurned a good scoring opportunity. I think we burned Ahearne-Grant by over-playing him when he was younger but he really hasn't added anything to the team for a long time now and if it wasn't for the fact that we have very few other options, he shouldn't even be getting these late substitution appearances because he has no confidence and looks one dimensional.

A draw was a decent result this evening on a night when there were eight other matches drawn (seven finished 1-1) so very much a case of 'as you were.' We are in fifth with a game in hand which could move us to third on points with Bradford City, so best we beat them on Saturday and save the game in hand for trying to catch Wigan or Shrewsbury!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 v Doncaster Rovers 0

A solid result by all accounts as Charlton edged passed Donny courtesy of another Fosu-Henry goal. We should have made the game safe but inevitably had to suffer as Donny made strides for an equaliser. The referee was knocked out at the start of the second-half so our match went into ten minutes of added time. The win lifts the Addicks into fifth but it's tight in the play-off contention zone and we will do well to hold our position this week as we travel to Oxford United and Bradford City.

Oxford won again today and sit one place below us so have the incentive of leap-frogging us in the week. Bradford have had some topsy-turvy results but are above us and will also put up a big fight to maintain their differential. It's very much a test of of our play-off credentials because these are the sides we need to better if we are to be there come May.

Meanwhile, the Wings continued their good sequence with a 2-0 win at Weston-Super-Mare. Colchester loanee Eliah Phipps opened the scoring after 22 minutes and the always-interested Joe Healy killed the game just after half-an-hour. Welling move into the play-off places in National League South and I am heading to Gloucester next week to see if they can sustain their current fine form and really get themselves in the mix.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Papa Roach

Out last night with Mrs Peeps to see Papa Roach at the Brixton Academy. I missed them awhile back when they 'bottled out' of a Wembley Arena appearance in the wake of the Bataclan atrocity in Paris. I was a bit miffed at the time but returned to see them last night when performing on their own south of the river.

I am a bit ashamed to say that I have never been to the Brixton Academy before and it was actually 30 years since I last set foot in SW9. We had a few pints locally before going in and I was impressed with the size of the venue, if not the condition as it's definitely looking very tired.

I always contend that you can get to really like any music if you listen to it often enough. I grew up listening to a lot of Elvis Presley and early rock n roll and was then indoctrinated in Country before finding my own independent way in music. Over the last fifteen years it's been American rock with a hard edge in my house courtesy of my wife. What was always ok has since thrown me a few real favourites and Papa Roach have been a staple.

Frontman Jacoby Shaddix exudes Californian showmanship and he knows how to work a crowd. The routinely heavy rock numbers are interspersed with some decidedly 'hard rap' numbers which Shaddix seems to revel in, especially when he has the audience tied to his raised flat right hand as he conducts them to his tune. For me, rousing renditions of 'getting away with murder' and 'scars' were the high spots but there were no really low numbers. 

I may be getting older but the speakers sounded and felt like they had been supplied by Boeing. There was a boom on the bass which actually vibrated your extra bits of flesh, if you know what I mean. Stone Sour next up in December and they are close to the top for me when it comes to this genre.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The end of a dream

Back in 1996 I saw all three of Scotland's European final games. A creditable scoreless draw against the Orange machine that included Bogarde, Davids,  Seedorf and Bergkamp set us up for that fateful 2-0 Wembley defeat where Gazza scored in his pomp and Alan Shearer administered the coup d'etat. We trekked back to Villa Park to take on Switzerland needing a win and England to wallop the Dutch. Ally McCoist's rifled home a 25 yarder at the Holte End to put Scotland in front and whilst we needed to improve our goal difference by five over the Dutch to qualify, the Swiss kept us out in the second-half. Meanwhile the Gods were having fun as England scored again and again and got to 4-0 over the Netherlands.  I know this because a tidal wave of noise and chaos swept around Villa Park. It was then that the Gods threw Patrick Kluivert into the fray at Wembley and he scored the consolation goal that put Scotland out.

It had been a hectic eight days and my mates and I committed to France '98 on the back of it. We hired a large place in the countryside outside Bordeaux and based ourselves there for a fortnight. It was a fantastic time as we travelled up to Paris for the opening match of the tournament when "we near-ly beat Brazil, we near-ly beat Brazil." An extraordinary day that lives long my memory. Walking across the Seine at 11am and hearing the strains of "Flower of Scotland" coming from way below on the river. I was staggered to see a fishing boat from my small hometown chugging upstream just to be there.

A 1-1 draw with Norway in Bordeaux left us needing a win against Morrocco in St. Etienne. I drove the minibus across France and back after a demoralising 3-0 humping. It was the end of another finals but we were hooked and all looked forward to many more adventures in the years to come.

I lost count of the qualifying matches I have traipsed around Europe to see since but I threw the towel in last year when I admitted defeat and said I couldn't muster the enthusiasm for another campaign. A couple of others also eased off but tonight there are five of them in Slovenia drowning their sorrows once again. Goal difference,  bloody goal difference! If only Armstrong had booted that ball out of play in the last seconds against England.......

I wouldn't have gone to Russia even if Scotland had qualified and, as for Qatar, you are having a laugh. The corruption of FIFA visited on the world's football fans for eight years. I will be in my 60's before there is any chance of seeing Scotland again in a finals. Who'd a thought it?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Welling United 4 v Chippenham Town 0

Welling have been threatening to trounce someone for awhile and today was the day as they hit four and might have had more. Chippenham looked a tidy outfit but they couldn't contain Welling when the Wings showed a little more quality. The bumper gate of 595 was treated to four excellent goals.

There were plenty of Charlton fans in evidence, including the German Addicks brigade who had clearly committed themselves to this weekend and had to make-do with what I am guessing was a first ever visit to Park View Road. I am sure they weren't disappointed.

The very capable Joe Healy opened the scoring for Welling on 38 minutes when he arrived with perfect timing to head home an excellent cross from Jeff Monakana who had beaten two Chippenham men out wide before popping his cross to the back post. The Wings had been sizing Chippenham up for the first half-hour and it had looked like a matter of time before they took the lead. No surprise then that Welling notched a second before half-time. Another fine move, this time down the left flank saw Tom Bradbrook peel away to reach a far post cross (from Nanetti I think) and steer a bold looping header back and across the Chippenham keeper which crept in at the far post.

After the break Welling slowed it a bit as they settled the game and Bradbrook secured the points, if they were in any doubt, with a glancing header which beat Thompson to his left. Mark Goldberg joined the fray before the end and netted the fourth after some neat interplay through the middle and he was denied Welling's fifth by Thompson who managed to paw away his effort.

The win moves Welling up to 8th in the table, one place outside the play-off places (six in the National League South) and they head to Gloucester in a fortnight on a roll. I have a train ticket and will be cheering them on. Up the Wings!