Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Chris Powell - Charlton Player 1998-2005, Charlton Manager 2011-14

Roland Duchatelet moved this morning to authorise the sacking of Chris Powell. It would appear that this was a well rehearsed move with the appointment of a former Standard Liege employee, Jose Riga planned for later today. There will be plenty of time to comment on the consequences of this and what it means for our club but for now I want to reflect on Chris Powell. 

Powell the Charlton Player

So first thing, Powell's playing career with us was broken by two spells away at West Ham and Watford but for me his Charlton time was synonymous with our seven year Premiership spell which has been the highpoint for Charlton Athletic Football Club since the war.

He was an accomplished left back and a typical Charlton player. Modest, under-stated but capable, honest and competent. He joined us from Derby County where he had previously been their Player of the Season and I remember the very fond reception he received when he next played against them at the Valley. I remember him walking down to the visitors end after the match and throwing them his shirt. Absolutely typical of the man.

It was still some surprise, if not a complete shock, when he was capped by Sven Goran Ericsson in 2001. Not because he wasn't good enough but that an England manager wouldn't be prevented from turning to little old Charlton for an England international. Chris made five full England appearances and never let the side down, although we all knew he wouldn't. His fine playing career ended with that fairy-tale last match of the season against Coventry when he scored to seal things on a beautifully sunny day at the Valley.

Powell the Charlton Manager

After learning the ropes under Sven Goran Ericsson at Leicester, Powell was a pleasantly surprising appointment by Slater & Jiminez after they sacked Phil Parkinson within a week of taking control of the club with someone else's money. Four successive wins looked inspired but we were entering end-of-season territory and a winless sequence meant another season in League One. 

During that Summer he pretty much changed the entire squad and he lead the new side to a Charlton-record title winning promotion. The players he brought in established us back as a Championship side last year in finishing 9th, although I believe that flattered us somewhat. 

The "Sir Chrissy Powell" epitaph of 2011-12 wore thin with some fans during 2012-13, largely because of tactical differences of opinion and, I believe, in our relatively poor home form. I have always been prepared to accept that football professionals see things slightly differently from the rest of us and that managers invariably have insight we don't. It was always interesting to listen to Alan Curbishley (and others) at supporters evenings when he would explain particular decisions at given times and I was usually left thinking "I hadn't realised that." For that reason I was always more forgiving than some over Powell's substitutions although I do think it took him a long time to come to terms with the value of making them earlier on occasions. 

My main criticism has been his defensive approach to games but this played a huge part in us getting promoted out of the dreaded League One and you can't argue against his achievement last year even if it made us more vulnerable to lost points at the Valley when I believe we should have been taking more risk and gambling on winning and entertaining our home supporters in the process.

That all said, Powell has been dealt a shoddy hand this season. He has had to remain tight-lipped and professional when he has had very little support, no investment and plenty of off-field drama to contend with. The penny-pinching ruined the pitch and we have also had the ridiculous contract saga to contend with. It's to Powell's credit that he has remained focused and professional and taken the vast majority of his squad with him in terms of continuing the fight and a refusal to capitulate.

The arrival of Roland Duchatelet removed the threat of Administration and promised immediate relief. However, none has been forthcoming and I believe the side has been weakened since he has arrived with the cashing in of Stephens and Kermogant. Not only that but RD prevaricated over Powell's contract and also that of most of the remaining players whose contracts end in June. 

The news the other week that contract talks had opened as we somehow battled on through the F A Cup was welcome news although the failure to agree anything and then the news that "football issues" were the only remaining stumbling block was alarming given RD's footballing model.

I am posting very early today so haven't seen any official line but it would appear clear to me that RD wouldn't give Powell the assurances he needed over   a say in which players would come and go. I am sure the Club will cite our league position and Cup exit as the reason but that is gilding the lilly as far as I am concerned.

What I am going to bet on for Wednesday evening is that we get beaten. Powell's sacking will dwell heavily on the minds of our players this week and the arrival of a new coach today won't be anywhere near enough time for any change to that. The same may be true on Saturday when we look ripe for a rejuvenated Millwall to hump us again.

I hope Chris takes a deserved break this week and is somewhere hot and distracting on Saturday. Thanks Christopher George Robin Powell, it's been an eventful three years and you did your best in very trying circumstances. No-one can expect more. You have helped write another Powell chapter in our history and you will always be welcomed back in SE7.


Anonymous said...

Nice piece Dave. Quite refreshing in amongst all the emotion on other sites.

Pembury Addick

ChicagoAddick said...

Well said Dave. I didn't have to the stomach to write about the contribution Powell has made to the club.

Rarely has a person touched this club like CP.