Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The naive Boy Scout

When 'the Thomas Driesen Affair' broke in Voice of the Valley recently, I read the article with more amusement than shock. If I am honest I wasn't sure if the story was something of an exaggeration or even if the whole thing was not a spoof. 

However, all of the follow-up thus far has backed the veracity of the story and additional colour has been added from other quarters. How does a young man with no footballing background, no management experiencing and zero coaching knowledge come to have the ear of a billionaire as they play fantasy football for real? With Charlton Athletic, a club that has absorbed my waking thoughts and determined the timing of my holidays, other people's celebrations and caused me so many downs and ups in my life for forty years. Three times as long as Thomas Driesen has been an adult.

Then today, the somewhat naive Driesen's interview with the SLP makes for sobering reading. Pretty obvious from his naive and unguarded comments that he has been interviewed off-message from Duchatelet and unawares of Meire's expensive new PR representatives. You can read the article for yourself but I am going to ponder on a few things the Boy Scout has to say....

Talking about Chris Powell he said "because he got so many players to strengthen the team we just tried to give him as much information as possible about the players." Presumably he includes players like Loic Nego and Thuram Whatever-his-name-was? Two of a number foisted on us who were proven to be woefully out-of-their-depth. He then has the audacity to say about Powell that "of course they try to defend themselves when things don't work for them." I assume doubting Thomas couldn't imagine that his gushings over a particular player's stats might encourage the Shareholder to have words in Powell's shell-like about playing particular players that had been recommended as some of us know happened.

"I see all the games on a live stream." Sorry, I don't believe it. They are not all available to stream and like Roly Poly it's just a line that looks to cover up for the fact that they live in another country and rarely see us at all.

"Katrien and Roland have been getting wrong advice from people who gave them very good advice in the past, that’s the biggest problem we had. Everybody wants to blame the bad performances and bad players on them, but it’s not they who decided, they only followed the advice from other people." Ah! The SS defence. I wonder who he's talking about here - obviously not himself!

“Some things I read, like entire families who have been going to The Valley on Saturdays for 20-plus years and now don’t come any more, that’s what I think is sad. Fathers and sons who came every game together and now stay home. It’s because people say wrong things in the media – and its no surprise it’s people who have been sacked.” Ah! The disgruntled ex-employee line. Sorry Thomas but our fans haven't deserted in droves because of what the media have been told. It's because of the chronic mismanagement of the club, the ongoing and consistent alienation of the fan-base, the under-investment in the football team, depressing football and relegation. If you watch all the games on a live stream you might have a clue. As it is your reading of what's actually happened is about as good as your judgement of players.

In addition to telling us he's still "involved to the same degree as it's always been" (please God no) the killer line is his one about Roland Duchatelet. According to the Boy Scout, "he's not doing any experiment. it's just like in any other club." One day when you are a grown man Thomas you will realise how naive you sound and you will able to see for yourself what an absolute disaster Roland Duchaletet and Katrien Meire have been for Charlton Athletic Football Club. You will be able to tell your children that you played your part.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Charlton Athletic 1 v Oldham Athletic 1

Worked late this evening but couldn't be arsed to go. Second home match of the season missed so far - the cost of not renewing my season ticket. Still, I was probably in the majority given the photos of empty seats this evening. Look what you have done to my club Duchatelet and Meire. An official gate of 8,745 that might have actually been less than 6,000 allowing for absent season ticket holders and comps.

My decision to say at home was vindicated. Another unsatisfactory performance and a draw barely deserved. Konsa returned in defence and Holmes started but Lookman was on the bench and Novak got a start. First half sounded abysmal but we got the lead through a well-worked goal that Magennis finished. Oldham had seen more of the ball and more the likely to score but when you are down it often goes against you.

Lookman and Foley came in for Jackson and Crofts after 63 minutes which did at least look like Russell Slade was finally gambling to ensure a win rather than hang on to what he had. As if to warn him against future recklessness, Oldham duly equalised with ten minutes to go. Those present mightily unimpressed. Booing all round at the whistle and fans ready to see Slade sacked. Even I think that's premature, not least because I have zero confidence we would get anyone better.

Can we fail to beat Rochdale at Fortress Valley on Saturday? I have at least brought my matchday spending for the season to date to £25 in order to see this one.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Kick Meire off the FA Council

Just looked in on on David Gill's petition to have Katrien Meire kicked-off the FA Council for the unfit person she is to be on it in the first place. He only needs another 534 votes to hit the 5,000 mark. If you haven't already added your name, click on the link and show your support.

Let us not forget that the grasping incompetent has also put herself forward for election to the EFL Board! It really is hard to think of anything more inappropriate.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Oxford United 1 v Charlton Athletic1

Another away point but not one those who made the trip appear pleased with. Russell Slade again being accused of negative tactics and of leaving two points at the Kassim Stadium. Not much of a match either by the sounds of it and Oxford looked a distinctly average side.

Harry Lennon came in for Jason Pearce and didn't look confident. Having picked up one yellow, he allowed himself to get sent off in the last couple of minutes for second yellow following a foul on Oxford's man-of-the-match, Liam Sercombe. Maybe an opening for Texeira to step back in alongside the BFG?

Nicky Ajose also sat this one out as we again went with Magennis as the lone striker and Lookman out wide in a now familiar five man midfield. This is what's frustrating fans and when Holmes was ready to come off the bench, it was Lookman who made way. There's been a lot of criticism over our slow and defensive centre-midfield but we aren't exactly spoilt for choice upfront, especially if Lookman is played out wide. Ajose has struggled to touch the ball in the games he's played. Novak is a journeyman and he looks like he's carrying weight and Magennis, whilst a decent target man and an aerial threat, has never been a prolific goal-scorer. We really do need our midfield to join the attack as a formation and not simply sit deep and look for Holmes or Lookman. 

Slade looked quite happy in his post-match questioning and spoke of turning draws into wins. He said he's looking forward to the next three games - all at the Valley, including a cup game I've forgotten about and won't be attending. The trouble is, we really need six points against Oldham and Rochdale and I can't see us beating them both. What we can't do here Russell, is turn wins into draws.

Two wins from the opening nine isn't good enough if we have any realistic hopes of promotion and we have managed only three points in September. Sitting in 16th place in the table this evening, we really have to avoid dropping down any further or we risk inviting doom and gloom into the dressing room once again. What won't help matters is if we do continue to stumble is our fans. Already sick-to-the-back-teeth with the owners and a painful relegation still fresh in the memory, there will be no quarter given to Russell Slade if his side struggles.

Injuries could be a deciding factor this season. We can't afford Holmes or Lookman to get badly crocked. Holmes has been suffering with a bad back and may need some protection. We have defensive cover but could do without having to introduce a fresh goalkeeper. We have options in centre-midfield but they all look very similar and not good enough to support a challenge for the play-offs.

We were relegated last year because we failed to invest in the side and I don't believe the changes made during the close season were enough to realistically expect to mount an automatic promotion campaign. Knowing Duchatelet and Meire, I suspect that was never an ambition. I think they would rather underspend and hope to catch a play-off spot and squeak up that way. The trouble with that, of course, is you end up with what we have seen already and it can quickly turn into a struggle and another downward spiral for all involved.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Roland sneaks in and ticks boxes

It's a sign of just how much antagonism there is towards Roland Duchatelet, when a rare visit to England to check on his investment has to be managed in top secrecy. None of the club's staff were aware of his planned visit but a select group of the Target 20,000 committee were given an audience as Roland the Magnificent met the people. I'll bet they didn't know he would be attending.

The Club were quick to put the story out on the website although those familiar with the history here will be angry that we are again being pedalled the same tripe;

-  Roland splits his time proportionately amongst his business interests which explains why he pops over only several times a year and has only managed to see one match in getting on for three years. Charlton represent 1.5% of his financial empire, hence so little interest.

- He took the opportunity to come clean on Thomas Driesen, the curious boy scout who advises Roland in the background on which players to buy based upon his computer algorithms. He's still there in the background but Roland says he has never had a direct say on who plays. Chris Powell will be pleased to finally know where his unwanted advice was coming from.

- Roland said that communication with the Club's supporters had been poor and needs improvement. This must be the third or fourth time we have heard this, although his visit will now be quoted repeatedly for the next six months by The Regime as evidence of the improved communication before the line is trotted out again.

- Duchatelet said Phase 1 of the Sparrows Lane redevelopment was nearly complete and Phase 2 was due to start. This will inevitably draw some reaction because no-one involved seems to understand that and the project is well behind schedule with lots of unanswered questions.

- Roland confirmed that the faded Jimmy Seed Stand sign that adorns the away end will be replaced, even if Jimmy's family have sadly distanced themselves from the PR coup The Regime were hoping to stage around unveiling it.

- Roland trotted out Meire's line about making the experience of going to a game more entertaining by turning it into more of a circus a la some rugby matches. Roland quite likes rugby. 

- Charlton will continue to develop the Women's team.

That was it. No mention of the strategic aims for this season or any longer term ambition. Not even a 'competitive in League One with hopes of promotion one day."

I would have thought a comment on the progress being made by the Target 20,000 committee might have been appropriate given their attendance and a further view of plans in that direction?

I am sure those still involved in Target 20,000 are real fans and are doing it with the right intentions but they must realise by now that they are being manipulated by The Regime for PR ends because practically every step Katrien Meire has taken in the last two years has resulted in shrinkage of our fan-base. The irony is delicious.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Scunthorpe United 0 v Charlton Athletic 0

A creditable performance tonight from a Charlton side missing Ricky Holmes through injury and Lee Novak who was ill. Esra Konsa was also rested as widely predicted, which meant a first start for The Big Friendly German. Jackson and Foley came into midfield with Crofts and Ulvestad. Lookman and Magennis were the nominal attackers but Lookman was played wide in a five man midfield.

I listened to the game on  BBC Radio London and we held our own in a match short on goal-scoring opportunities. I think we shaded possession and created a few more chances than our hosts who head the early season League One table. Johnnie Jackson might even have nicked it at the death with a free-kick that grazed the post. A good point in the end against a side who had scored 12 goals in their preceding three home league outings. Russell Slade will be satisfied with the clean sheet and the point after seeing his side throw the points away on Saturday.

Two wins, four draws and two defeats from eight league starts is less than many expected. Our record away from home matches that at the Valley (a win, a loss and two draws), which is all the more disappointing for those not motivated to travel and that's quite a lot of us - looked like less than 100 Charlton fans behind the goal this evening.

Jimmy Seed's grandson snubs The Regime

News today from James Dutton, grandson of the legendary Jimmy Seed, that he will not participate in The Regime's plans to big-up the replacement of the "Jimmy Seed Stand" that adorns the away end at the Valley. James gives his reasons very clearly in his blog on the topic and, frankly, I couldn't have put it better myself. Well done James, your Grand-father would be proud of you.