Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Best wishes for 2016

As we approach the end of 2015, it's not one we can cherish as Charlton fans. Sadly, 2016 doesn't look like it will get any better and it could well get a lot worse. 

In the meantime, I have had a little look back over the year's posts and I would again like to thank all of you who take the team to read my outpourings. In particular, to those of you who took the time to fiddle with the authentication thing and successfully leave me a comment. The number of unique visitors is on the decline and has been for a couple of years, although I post less than I used to. As of today I have had 683,000 visitors since I started in August 2007. The current run rate is around the 5,000 mark a month on average but it's those of you who comment that give me the most satisfaction. During 2015 I had comments from around 55 of you have been bold enough to leave a name and hundreds more from eponymous Anonymous.

There are a mixture of regulars, some fellow Bloggers and some Charlton mates but thanks all the same to all of you;

Chicago Addick, PH, Pembury Addick, Martin Cowan, Bob Miller, Geoff, 801912601, Dave Walker, Devlin Powell, Pete, Pedro45, Scoops, Tony, Blucher, Dave the Train, AC, Brian Cowan, Kings Hill Addick, Wyn Grant, Marco, Confidential Rick, Bristol Addick, Hungry Ted, Thanet Addick, Ian, Boneyboy, Herek Dales, Thamesmeadirons, Bazza, Samuel, Colin G, Ray, Ketts, Stuart, Albury Addick,Matthew Blake, Buzzaboutabit, Colin G, Swede Addick, Malcolm, David Todman, Colin GPhil, Dan Briordy and anyone else I have managed to omit.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for 2016. I will raise a glass to you all tomorrow.


Roland, I shrunk the club!

Hi Roly Sweetknees,

Just wanted to update you on progress here in Charlton FC. It was great to see you the other week in person and the staff were all in amazement at seeing 'Father Chrissmuss" as they all called you afterwards. Thank you also for the strong words of encouragement to focus on the task.

Anyways, we managed a draw with Cellino's team as you will have seen. He was such a sweet guy and says he has a job for me anytime I want to perform it, but I am always happy serving you, Roland.

We didn't get the points at Burnly but Karel says he is hopeful next season if we play them again. We lost in the Wolverhempton game this week but it was too close to call and he said we weren't sharp in attack or defences in our box or in their box. I think too many presents for Karel at Chrissmuss, all these boxes! Karel was abused by the 2% at the end but he knows his job and he will carry on. He has tough shoulders and is too pleased to be in this special role. It's also true that the fans know we don't win the Kids-a-Quid games so no damage.

The new signings we are hoping to talk soon with will help things maybe. Karel thinks the squad can be competitive in League 1 with ambitions for the Championship without new players but we can't sell too many in one time. There are other young players we can register. We can have youngest side next season.

Bad news is Lookman has hurt his leg and maybe we can't get the money in January. The Doctor left this week so I will give Lookman a rub in the week to get better. I don't need to say again that to make the break-even, we must raise £2m in January. Johan will not speak with me and his agent was rude last time. He has told Karel he can't play for the team and I am looking for the holes in his contract. He hasn't played for the team even when he has played for the team now.

The new Comms guy will help us sell the season tickets for the next year. He will start when we need him to help us with this. Sales next year will drop by 50% they tell me on season tickets unless we cut costs again. We may need to shut the North Stand as well as the East as agreed. Savings of 20% more on match days costings. Everett tells me we can run with half the floodlights if we do that.

Cost-cuttings are good and staff now at minimum. I have also a Chrissmuss present for you, Roland. I have sold-off 80% of the ticket space to Call Centre for the International Health Service here in England. The deal is a win-win for us (which we don't get so many of) as it uses spare telephone capacity now fewer people want tickets on the match-days. Your great idea to close the ticket office to pest who can't get online one more day has worked and soon we move to another day closed until relegation. Next season youngest team in League 1 and all online sales. Young people love online :) Old people not so good online :( - except you Roland :).

My Web Summit expenses were cleared and I have lots of views on my interview with comments which will return the costs - no worries. Who needs a Comms guy eh?

One last thing. Peter Varney is making much of not listening to him. That Rick Brown one has now looked at embarrassing us by printing all the emails. I hope the fans can see for themselves that we do reply to the emails - well the polite ones :). Richard is very angry but no change there hey! He really is boring and I decided not to sit next to him anyways now.

Hoping to see you before D-Day.

Yours,

K x.

Chief Executive Officer
Charlton Athletic Football Club




Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Revelations

I bought a copy of Voice of the Valley yesterday but only got a chance to read it this morning. Two highly damning articles from former CEO Peter Varney that, frankly, are hard to comprehend.

In the first, titled "a problem with Murray," he talks about his last involvement with the club when he came back to broker the sale between Murray and Jiminez (Slater and Cash)i in 2010. Varney is very clear that Murray has tried on numerous occasions to taint him with responsibility for the decision to sell to Jimenez (Slater and Cash) and for the subsequent escalation in operating costs e.g. Steve Kavanagh's new contract. He explains why these decisions were Murray's and the Board's alone and goes on to talk about the parlous state of the club when 3,000 or more season ticket holders don't bother turning up every week and how the first team is being neglected which will spell ruin for the club in the long run.

There is then a second piece which is a complete exchange of 17 emails between Varney and Duchatelet/Meire and someone called Demi King between August and November this year. It's an illuminating account of a previously highly successful CEO of Charlton Athletic Football Club, attempting to get 30 minutes time in the diary of Duchatelet or Meire to discuss "an interesting investment proposal ..in relation to Charlton Athletic." 

This is not an unemployed has-been looking for work. It's the current CEO of Kuwaiti European Holdings Sports Ltd who are in the process of a £2,500,000,000 (yes, billion) development of the Swanscombe peninsula. He also happens to also be Chief Exec at Ebbsfleet FC. 

What the exchange reveals is either startling or no surprise at all, depending on your point of view. Frankly I am both amazed and unsurprised. The bottom line is that Meire cancels three pre-arranged meetings at short notice because she's too busy and it's clear from the exchange that Varney is not going to be entertained and they have no interest in hearing what he has to say, even for 30 minutes. We all know how busy Katrien must be what with trips to Dublin for Web Summits with trumpet-blowing interviews with foreign newspapers, but to fail to give someone like Peter Varney 30 minutes of your time is staggering. 

Personally, I have encountered a similar situation at work on more than one occasion when my boss has told me not to waste time with a Customer or Supplier but I have made the decision over whether or not to see them on my own merit. On occasions I have given them the courtesy, if nothing else. 

What to conclude from this?

First, I don't believe they haven't seen him because of any particular advice from Richard Murray. I don't think Duchatelet listens to Murray and Meire only does what she's told.

Secondly, you are left considering why they wouldn't want to hear Varney out for themselves, presumably having never even met him before. It's unclear from the exchange what the "interesting investment" might be. Personally, I would want to know if I were being asked to invest in anything or whether they wanted to invest in Charlton Athletic. It's pretty evident from the exchange that Duchatelet (and therefore Miere) have no interest in either. Varney is obviously credible so why not see him?

My conclusion would be:

1) They have badly misjudged Varney (and the business he purports to be representing), possibly on advice from Murray. That's most likely what Peter Varney believes given the piece on Murray and the emails that follow. However,  why not hear him out irrespective? I don't believe Duchatelet really listens to Murray, let alone acts on his advice.
2) They have absolutely no interest in selling up short-to-medium term. Given he's sold Standard Liege and looking at the direction of travel, I can't believe this or at least that he wouldn't be interested in a view on price  or share? If this were the case, why not shut Varney down in the first response instead of wasting his time over three months and a string of embarrassingly failed appointments?
3) Duchatelet has more fish to fry and has left it entirely down to his Chief Executive. Varney offers to meet him in Brussels in the first email, so it can't be about convenience. Perhaps it's just her sheer incompetence? I can't even believe that one. I mean, she has actually replied or got a minion to reply to most of his emails.

Mind-boggling. It also took 34 days to respond to the first email! This is hardly believable in the modern age in a business of Charlton's size. The initial email was addressed to Duchatelet but Meire was copied and it was her who eventually responded. I could believe a fortnight if someone was on holiday or possibly three weeks but nearly five weeks?


Monday, 28 December 2015

Charlton Athletic Nil v Wolverhampton Wanderers 2

Routine home defeat this. After the opening twenty minutes of enthusiasm and effort, our tempo dropped and Wolves realised we were there for the taking. They should have gone in ahead at half-time but Afobe failed to connect cleanly after getting goal-side six yards out and Henderson blocked. He was also a yard short of meeting a dangerous right-wing cross which beat the Charlton defence and Henderson.

The second-half start was delayed whilst the fourth official was brought into play. The ref had been knocked flying by first-half sub Makienok shortly before the break and clearly couldn't continue. Makienok himself had come on for Lookman who pulled a hammy in the first-half. We are having no joy with injuries but perhaps Lookman's will keep him with us through the January window? Anyhow, it took Wolves less than ten minutes to break the deadlock when Afobe stormed into our box and squared. The first effort was blocked by diving red shirts but the second was unmissable. After that it was really only a case of when they would score a second and that came in the 83rd minute when Lennon put through his own goal under pressure from a driven corner kick.

The best bit of the day was the spontaneous chorus that rang out after Wolves scored of "Stand up if you want them out" which was joined by what looked like half the home crowd. Even if it wasn't quite half it was certainly the majority of regulars given their were so many kid-for-a-quidders in today. Karel Fraye and Madame Meire must have been cringing.

As I left the stadium I could hear the Charlton fans singing about us always losing. There can be very few left who haven't now seen the writing on the wall with regard to Duchebag and Nightmeire. Even the biggest optimists will be struggling to see how we can avoid relegation.

Karel Fraye's post,match comments said it all for me - "second half we weren't sharp enough in either box, offensively or defensively." That's right Karel and you are the manager who picked the side and motivated them to go out and play what was not a great Wolves team. Your half-time team talk also had the desired affect as we conceded inside ten minutes. What's your next trick? Do the honourable thing and walk before you are pushed.


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Farewell Karel Fraye...

I reckon tomorrow will be Karel Fraye's last match in charge of team affairs.

With Diarra likely to miss through injury we will be reliant on the inexperienced central defensive pairing of Naby Sarr and Harry Lennon. In turn, their protection is likely to be Jackson and Ba. Sorry but I can't see any chance of a clean sheet and we will likely need to score several to win and I can't see that either.

I also suspect that our players will likely know that Fraye is teetering in the brink and one more depressing performance and a fifth home defeat will be enough for Duchebag to order his sacking so another extensive scouring of the world's best football coaches can be started by the ruthlessly efficient Katrien Meire. I fully expect her to announce the latest Flemish speaking Goon before the transfer window opens so he has maximum opportunity to bring in the eleven superstars required to avoid us slipping into the Third Division. Even now I am wondering who the Galactico signing will be. Sacking Fraye tomorrow night will enable a week in which to make the changes ahead of the home match with Forest.

Of course, the books will need to be balanced. Tony Watt's undisclosed transfer to Cardiff should be announced first and I am expecting us to sell at least one other. The spin on Watt could well be that he has been released reluctantly as the club wouldn't want to stand in the way of a player who wants to leave. Gudmundsson could well be the other. He has looked unhappy for a couple of months having extended with us in the hope of being part of a successful side. I suspect he's made it known he wants away and will be one we can sell relatively easily and pick up another undisclosed fee. Lookman is the other obvious candidate and any decision to sell him could be telling. He is clearly needed to help us avoid relegation and Duchebag is likely to get a much bigger fee in the close season or even later if Lookman continues to flourish in our first team. If we do sell, it may well suggest that Roly is working towards cutting his losses as he looks to bail out of Charlton Athletic. What's obvious is that our trading will confirm how keen or otherwise Duchebag is to avoid relegation. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Bristol City 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Under normal circumstances there is no such thing as a poor point away from home. Indeed, a last minute equaliser usually feels like a victory. The mark of how apathetic and despondent most regular Addicks have become, is that many are expressing disappointment that we stole a point at Ashton Gate.

The general feeling of many, and I share it, is that we would rather take our pain all at once in a bid to get shot of Fraye and ultimately Duchatelet and the leech Meire. A draw gives a false semblance of competitiveness that Meire sees as success and it enables Duchatelet to procrastinate for another match, hoping Fraye throws a double-seven. The facts from this afternoon's match was that City were all over us and only woeful finishing preventing them from putting the result beyond any doubt long before our last gasp equaliser. They even managed to miss a penalty.

Karel Fraye was forced to make more changes again today with Diarra partnering Lennon in central defence. With Cousins and Jackson in central midfield again (our weakest pairing) it allowed Fraye to pick four strikers. It's all a bit 12 year old schoolboy tactics. Vaz Te and Lookman walk the striking roles but when you contemplate playing Makienok and Reza as well you are going to struggle to get any genuine width or keep formation. Almost inevitable then, that our goal came from a centre-half.

Not sure if I can be bothered with Monday. Friends beckon and my Mum was taken into hospital this morning. Perhaps I will have a better time holding her hand than suffering what I suspect will be the icing on another miserable footballing Christmas. Bah humbug.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

I am encouraged to see that the Charlton Athletic Supporter Trust (CAST) has made a statement on it's website about the current disharmony amongst the club's supporters. It is overdue but it comes with a respectable degree of supporter qualification and it asks the pertinent questions. 

We need to know if Karel Fraye is staying or going. If he's going we need a decision sooner rather than later. Whatever happens we need an honest view on what the budget for January looks like and how we aim to avoid relegation. These are not questions Madame Meire can dodge for much longer if she's not to lose any shred of credibility she has left with some people (none with me obviously) and I see the Trust are asking to hear from the Organ Grinder himself. That speaks volume of their view of Meire following the recent emasculation meeting.

Our fixture at Bristol City is a six-pointer and I have very little confidence we will  get anything from it. We have a history of performing badly at Christmas and, for some unfathomable reasons, I always seem to remember being left scratching my head at the team selections and wondering what has happened. Years of seeing the best performing players suddenly missing and more kids thrown in which inevitably hasn't helped us gets results. I always wondered if some of our players simply went AWOL or got plastered on Christmas Day and were unfit to play or omitted from the Christmas fixtures. Perhaps there was more truth in that in the more distant past when fitness and measurement was less high profile and obvious.

In the meantime, I would like to wish you and your families a Merry & Peaceful Christmas.




Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A few bets for 2016?

New Year is always time for reflection and for looking ahead. Given the year we have just had, please forgive me for only wanting to consider what the future may hold for Addick fans. To help me weigh these up I am showing my own odds on them coming to pass.

1. Karel Fraye walking the plank before mid-January - 1-2

- I can't see us picking up the points we need for Roland to be able to justify making poor Karel our full-time manager (thankfuily). If we are to have any chance of staying up we will need a new manager bounce. Bye Karel - you will go down in Charlton history with Les Reed and Ken Craggs.

2. Charlton Athletic to go down - Evens

History and stats tell you that relegation beckons for those in the zone at the half-way mark. I see very little chance of Duchatelet spending what he needs to be sure of safeguarding his investment. I also think he would happily settle for a lower geared club and big fish in smaller pond syndrome. He could convince himself he would have a better chance selling us on as a newly promoted League One club as opposed to perennial Championship strugglers.

3. Katrien Meire to be sacked this season -3-1

Not as unlikely as some think. Roland's investment is going in the wrong direction and at some point he has to acknowledge the mess the club is in and her part in it. He has already shown us he can be ruthless as Chris Powell, Jose Riga, Bob Peeters and Guy Luzon will attest.

4. A five goal or higher walloping - 4-1

Got to be a real chance of this having suffered a 4-0 tonking already and on the back of a string over 3-0's, a few at home as well.

5. An official home gate of under 10,000 this season - 5-1

I can hear some of you dismissing this on the basis that we already have more season ticket holders. However, should we get past Colchester in the cup, we could be drawn at home against modest opposition.....

6. Roland Duchatelet to sell us on - 6-1

Not as unlikely as some may think. His Plan A has failed with FFP and it's hard to see what Plan B is without heavier investment. He was clear at the outset he had no intention of throwing money at the club. On that basis you have to consider that he is actively looking to sell. He has already sold his biggest footballing asset in Standard Liege and we are next in the value stakes.

7. Ademola Lookman to sign a contract extension - 7-1

Will he look at Diego Poyet and consider extending with us to get first team experience or maybe no further than Joe Gomez who was playing for Liverpool within months of leaving? Moneys talks.

8. Three or more recognised signings in January - 9-1

I am sure we will see a few new faces, especially if Fraye gets the tin-tack. However, we haven't a track record of bringing in established Championship-experienced players and given the expense and where Duchatelet might be in his head, I can't see him shelling out either.

9. A Charlton Player to score 10 or more this season - 15-1

Looking unlikely. Watt has gone and Lookman likely to go. Vaz Te has an outside chance but not at his present scoring rate. We are unlikely to fork out for a proven scoring capable of the equivalent of twenty a season.

10. Katrien Meire to acknowledge some of her bigger porkies - 50-1

Any betting field needs an outsider and there's sod all chance of her apologising because she can't see anything wrong.

What do you reckon?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Charlton prepare to move early in the January window

Confirmation from the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/35153159) that Pinocchio will conclude the sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff early in January. The article also says what we have already heard and suspected, that a sale deal was constructed when Watt left 'on loan.'

It's another lie and another feeble attempt to manage expectations. It's all been said already but we are going to regret selling Watt because of the player he will become and because of our own desperate need for him. The pressure's really on for Duchebag and Nightmeire to pull a few rabbits out of the hat in January. What's the chances given the fact they have already sold Watt? There's a lot more heat and anger yet to come.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Ambitious Burnley 4 v 'Competitive' Charlton Athletic Nil

As predicted, December is turning into a nightmeire of a month. A four-nil spanking at Burnley and we lost Vaz Te to injury. Will they bring Tony Watt back? No, because the deal's been done. Will they act on our interim Flemish-speaker. No, because he will get another chance at Bristol City and possible one last throw of the dice at home to Wolves. By then we will be points adrift and our chances of attracting anyone worth their salt will be diminished because they might realistically want a budget and a say in who comes in. So, expect another Flemish-speaker and several more unknown, undisclosed transfer deal arrivals to rock up to join the relegation battle with the kids.

Speaking of which, did you see the bench today? Pope, Sarr, Holmes-Dennis, Charles-Cook, Konsa, Bergdich and Ahearne-Grant. An average age of 20 and average number of appearances for us in single figures. Yep, let's milk that Academy because that's what it's all about now. Selling Lookman in January will be hailed as this year's must-do book-balancer.

Spare a thought, too, for the dwindling band if diehards who are still prepared to spend all day and plenty of money travelling to watch us away from home. A seriously humiliating experience the way things are going. Less than 250 there today. Maybe we need a Target Away following too? How about Target 20,000 Home and 2,000 Away? Put the focus group on the case. This needs some serious out-of-your-box thinking. Pass the Absinthe.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Charlton meh

I was eating posh Indian canap├ęs after 8pm last night speaking with a distant work colleague whom I discovered (much to my surprise) is a fanatical Boro fan, when he glanced at his mobile and told me were two-up. I replied "Lookman?" and he seemed impressed. I then suggested it wasn't all over and he said 'if you can't beat Bolton with a two-nought lead then you are going down." Indeed.

The Boro fanatic then proceeded to tell me that he once wrote to Steve Gibson in a moment of frustration and two days later his PA handed him a phone saying "there's a Mr Gibson wanting to speak with you." Steve Gibson spoke with him for half an hour and listened intently to everything my colleague had to say - the contrast and irony with our current situation couldn't be more stark.

With an unusually heavy head I have just about caught up with the verdict on our performance last night and it is all so sadly predictable. Around 8,000 actually present, dire performance and the only bright spot is an 18 year old who is doing all he can to ensure he has a brighter future next month away from SE7.

Whatever your perspective on the current owners, it's impossible not to view the club as a solvent shambles at the moment. Karel Fraye is a dead man walking despite the owner's desperation that he is able to carry it off. We have a total incompetent running the club who is presiding over a flawed strategy in an arrogant and patronising manner which is seeing the value of our club plummet as we become a League One outfit in terms of stature as well as performance. Target 20,000 empty seats is very close to achieving it's ambition and we still have half a season of suffering yet to go. Meire's response is to set-up an unrepresentative lame focus group - God help us.

Burnley must be rubbing their hands and even Bristol City will be targeting a six pointer over us. Christmas is always a difficult time for Charlton fans and this year promises to be a proper wipeout. 

Roll on 2016 but in all honesty it's most likely a relegation in Spring when I fear the club will take another massive and largely irreversible step backwards. I know I keep banging on about it but after 38 years I can't believe it has come to this and I think I am going to throw the towel in. 

The Cinnamon Club was a big disappointment last night (overpriced and under-spiced) but I didn't even think about our game until I was told the score and I am genuinely happier today because I wasn't there to suffer it. If it wasn't so sad and a tragedy in the making you might actually be able to laugh about it all.


Monday, 14 December 2015

Bolton nah

Bolton at the Valley tomorrow evening will be the lowest actual gate of the season so far. A perfect storm of sorts sees bottom-placed Wanderers, come to the Valley on a night match in December immediately following a home Saturday match. All on the back of increasing apathy and falling attendance numbers as season ticket holders can't be bothered making the effort and there is no longer a market for spare tickets.

Sadly, I am now amongst the number who will go if they have nothing better to do and tomorrow night I have a work event which I'd rather be at. I am hoping we fare better than the last five night games which have all finished in defeat. With two successive away games to come at Burnley and Bristol City, if we fail to beat Bolton, we could well be points adrift in the relegation zone, by the time Wolves visit on 28th December.

Speaking of which, Wolves is Quid-for-a-Kid which should, ordinarily, be close to a full house coming as it does on a public holiday. The current levels of disinterest will be truly tested this time around. Can we break 20,000?

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Charlton Athletic Nil v Leeds United 0

A disappointing match short on quality from both sides beset by ownership troubles. I fancied the draw before the game as we haven't had one in ten and it looked right on current form.

Harry Lennon made an impressive home debut (I think it was his first full first debut outing in SE7 but I could be wrong). As anticipated, he partnered Alou Diarra at the back as Naby Sarr was dropped. Solly and Holmes-Dennis tucked in alongside them.

The midfield saw Jackson return to partner Cousins and JBG was fit to start wide with Ademola Lookman on the other side enabling Reza to play up front with Vaz Te.

We had the better of the first-half but only really one Lookman shot to show for it. Leeds didn't have much more and we all hoped for better after the break. The second-half was better paced but full of mistakes and few chances until the latter stages. Vaz Te finished a fine move but his final touch was too tame to score and the Leeds keeper managed to steer it around the post. Both sides blasted over from distance with better options open before Leeds went for it in the last 15 minutes.

I've not been the biggest supporter of Leeds fans over the years but credit where credit's due, they gave the Upbeats stirring applause at half-time today on their lap of honour.

In the last fifteen minutes and with Charlton tiring fast, Leeds forced a number of corners and Henderson was tested on several occasions. After the move of the match, Leeds managed to square to one of theirs six yards out with only Henderson to beat but he snatched at his shot and somehow managed to hit the post. The Leeds fans were still celebrating at the back of the Jimmy Seed some twenty seconds after Henderson had taken the goal-kick. That was pretty much it and the point lifts us above MK Dons and just out of the bottom three.

Lookman was again the pick of the bunch. His pace threatened Leeds all afternoon but he was wasted on the wing. Shame we didn't have Tony Watt to call on today. Instead he earned Cardiff the lead having been taken down in the box after a fine solo run.

I attended the pre-match protest behind the West Stand. It was well attended and vocal but down on last time and with less onlookers, I would say c 300 in strength. Katrien Meire was visible in the Directors lounge above the main entrance enjoying the company of "The Manager-eater," Massimo Cellino, the current owner of the Leeds United Circus. No doubt La Meire will have been impressed with his 36 managerial appointments in 22 years at Calgiari although my guess is Massimo wouldn't claim that they were all successful appointments. At one point he turned to the protesters and smiled, shrugging, as if to say 'it's got nothing to do with me.' If he had looked a bit closer he might have picked out some Leeds fans amongst us. Irrespective, he got a chorus of what he could do with his £5 Pie Tax.

Bolton at the Valley on Tuesday. Surely we will win that one?

Monday, 7 December 2015

It's Colchester away.....

The F A Cup 3rd Round draw has served us a mouth-drying away trip to Colchester United on 9th January. The match-up is entirely in keeping with our fortunes in this competition since winning it in the last century. 

I am assuming we will be spared the embarrassment of seeing Calum Harriott running at us under the terms of his loan, although having been cup-tied at the weekend there is no chance of him being recalled to play for us. It will be a good opportunity for us to gauge ourselves against League One opposition and to write another sentence in our F A Cup history. I can't wait. I literally can't.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Welling 0 v Carlisle United 5

I was out all day yesterday with friends in London eating and drinking. There were a couple of Hammers, a Gooner and five Charlton fans amongst the throng which set-up some lively banter. I was asked before kick-off for an expert opinion on our chances of an unlikely victory at the Amex, given the bookies were offering 8-1. I reassured the Gooner that he would  be wasting his money on us. When we went two-up early on I was mocked for little faith and not knowing what I was talking about. At half-time and still two-up, I urged the same Gooner to fill his boots on the Seagulls at 9-1. He wouldn't and I couldn't be bothered to put anything on it.

The aftermath looks even worse with Harry Lennon and Gudmundson both crocked, Bauer sent off (he'll miss three) and Cousins limping. Karel Fraye looks to be on the plank and a defeat by Leeds at the Valley next Saturday could see him talking a walk.

Anyway, for a change of scenery and some fresh air, I drove over Shooters Hill today and took in the Wings second round F A Cup tie. There were plenty of Charlton fans in the Welling crowd as well as a former player in their side, although Harry Osborne got his marching orders after conceding a second penalty from which Carlisle wrapped things up.

I expected a bit more from the Wings. They struggled to create anything and St. Aime looked out-of-his-depth against League Two defenders. Wyke scored a neat opener, the first of three, and Carlisle netted their second on the stroke of half-time after Welling had managed to get a concerted spell of possession and a bit of pressure.

In the second half Carlisle won a penalty which Osborne was lucky to stay on for and which McEntegard in the Wings goal saved. A repeat from Osborne ten minutes later earned him a red card and killed the match off. Wyke netted again and got his third as it turned into a rout. Welling did hit the bar and were unfortunate not to have a penalty of their own but it was all too late. The half-time raffle funds were generously donated to The Cumbrian Relieve fund which was a nice touch for a club which operates on a shoestring. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December Crunch

With our side hovering in 21st and desperate for some sustained competitiveness as well as points, December promises to a pivotal month and should influence what, if anything, happens in the January transfer window. 

I've had a look at the fixture list and it's not encouraging.

Brighton (a) - Currently top of the table and going great guns. I expect us to lose with something to spare.

Leeds (h) - Should be a match to get something from as their current plight mirrors ours, although they will come to the morgue with 3200 loud-mouth Yorkies and will make life difficult. They have a decent record in SE7 and I can see them taking something back up the M1.

Bolton (h) - This is a Tuesday night and i am expecting the morgue to resemble just that. The night-match stayers-away should ensure the actual attendance is sub-ten thousand as Bolton will only bring a few hundred. It could be a new era low. We should win this as they are currently bottom but we should have beaten Preston in our last home night match and we lost that 3-0.

Burnley (a) - Up in 5th and strongly competitive. I expect us to go down here on the Saturday before Christmas in front of a hardy band of travellers and our Northern contingent. I am supposed to be at this one with the returning Mexican but even he doesn't fancy it this year - sign of the times.

Bristol City (a) - A real six-pointer but we look like being in the mixer and might be blowing a bit by then. It's also Boxing Day when our players are usually digesting a huge meal the opposition didn't have. We don't do Christmas, do we?

Wolves (h) - last Monday of 2015 and the Old Gold should have plenty of vocal backing. A winnable game this but much will depend on fitness of the squad and confidence or lack of it gained from the previous games. I suspect it will be a fitting low point to end the year.

In summary, I think we are looking at 6 or 7 points from that lot which I suspect will have us in the drop-zone at the half-way stage. What will Roly decide to do then? Back his incompetent interim manager or hang him out to dry before appointing number Six? I am pretty sure we will see two or three new faces but I don't expect us to shell out. Surviving on half-rations this year should see us close to break-even but the risk of relegation will be very real, especially if we don't gamble in January.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Charlton Athletic Nil v Ipswich Town 3

Another live TV match and another ritual embarrassment. The third there-nought humping at home so far and there is the real threat that some of these will get bigger as the season progresses and our heads drop further.

In truth, 3-0 probably flattered Town but they went for it from the off and when teams do that at the Valley we invariably capitulate. The first goal saw a game of head tennis which we just about managed to clear but when the ball was hoisted back into the mixer you knew that second-time around the visitors would have an extra spring and a determination to head home. On-nil and we were on the back-foot.

Just before half-time and with four minutes of added time being played, Ipswich broke and in a foot-race between Patrick Bauer and Freddie Sears, it was Sears who got a shot off under a blocking challenge from the German, however, all Bauer succeeded in doing was giving the ball the slightest deflection which took it home through the narrow gap between Henderson and his near post. 

After the break Ipswich were content for long periods to suck it up and with a misfiring Makienok (oh for Tony Watt) it was left to Holmes-Dennis playing left wing and Ademola Lookman to try and carve the openings in the resolute Blues back-line. No surprise to see Ipswich score a third on the break and that was that. The Covered End were singing an abusive Duchatelet  chant as I left the stadium for the comfort of the White Swan and a few pints of Darwin Origin. 

I had helped the enterprising young Joe Reid getting his '2%' leaflets out before the match so was slightly disappointed by the vaster-than-normal empty seating in the three Charlton stands. Even the North Upper had huge gaps which are normally solid. The stand-up protest in the second minute proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the malcontents number far more than 2%. By my reckoning there were a maximum of 8,000 home fans at the match, some 4,000 less than published which is a real mark of the depths we are plumbing when a third of those who have purchased tickets can't be bothered to turn-up. Live TV obviously didn't help the gate but it was a glimpse into the not-so-distant future the way things are going and makes complete mockery of the notion of a realistic Target 20,000 campaign.

The final thought from me is that the next step simply has to be an all-out boycott. Those who are still too grateful just to have got rid of the spivs are numerous and they rightly point to a number of positives under Duchatelet. However, we don't owe the owner a living and the fact that the previous pairs' plans went belly-up shouldn't mean we should be ever so 'umble for the rest of our days. I am also blatantly aware of being careful for what you wish for but I honestly would take the chance of future Administration under someone else than watch us shrivel away as is happening before our eyes at the moment. A billionaire owner is little use when his policy is to run the club at break even and when he has only a passing interest in the first team performances and results. Bringing youth players through an Academy is merely a production line for someone else when you are under pressure to sell them on to pay the bills.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Let's crank up the volume

Ipswich Town are Saturday's lunchtime visitors and, maybe more importantly, so too are the Sky cameras. A perfect chance for those of us who are disilliusioned with Roland Duchatelet's nonsensical and ambivalent approach to owning our club and exasperated by the arrogant Katrien Meire's inept running of it, to again let them know we aren't going to settle for our club being run down and made a laughing stock.

Madame Meire has dismissed the protesters as a "negative 2%." Another typical self-serving poor judgement. On Saturday we will be behind the West Stand again at Midday let her know we want her out and to give her another opportunity to re-estimate the size of the disillionment and consider her position.

The crowd will again be well disciplined and as respectful as should be expected. This time we will also sound our frustration in the second minute of the match by holding up black and white 2% flyers and chanting "Stand up for the 2%." Let's make her cringe.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tony Watt, Played 24 Scored 7

When Standard Liege bought Tony Watt from Celtic a little over a year ago, I was excited. Excited because he had become a network player and one with a reputation for not getting on with others, thereby giving us the prospect of seeing him at some point in a red shirt. My Uncle is a huge Bhoys fan and he told me Watt was an unpolished diamond with huge potential.

Sure enough, Tony Watt made his way to SE7 last year in time to spur a revival in our fortunes and to show how just what potential he has. He was truly an exciting player and one capable of turning and winning matches. Yes, he had the playground immaturity to want to beat one player to many and his desperateness to get on the ball often saw him go out of position to seek possession. For all that, however, he was a distinct step-up from the likes of Simon Church and Reza Goochannejhad. He also promised to bring more out of Igor Vetokele.

In the 24 matches Tony Watt featured in, he scored seven and gave us some memorable moments. The bustling charge through the centre of the Huddersfield defence and his dramatic finish will live long in the memory as will his committed time-wasting as he ran the clock down against Forest. Watt was a real character and I was amazed to hear from excited Addicks that he was in McDonalds in Charlton barely fifteen minutes after a match finished and that he was happily chatting and signing autographs for all and sundry. He was an active communicator with fans and commentator about the club and other players. Not afraid to speak his mind but generally seen as supportive and positive.

After a fine start to this season where he again showed he can live with a better class of opposition (QPR and Hull), like the rest of the side, his form dipped. With little in the way of service, he was egged out of position and left having to beat three men to get into his striker position. He lost possession too often and he was dropped. He appears to have been disappointed more than most of the other players when Guy Luzon was sacked but well have also been picking up on the mood of the fans.

Irrespective, he hasn't featured in our two latest surprising wins and perhaps that has cast the die and emboldened Madame Meire to decide we can offload him to a Championship rival. She has already wagged her finger and said we are over budget. Vaz Te has come in and so Watty is taken off the wage bill. The person who told me he wouldn't play for us again on Saturday also said a fee had been agreed. That might not be the case but I doubt we will see Tony play for us again. At the grand old age of 21, I think we are making a mistake in letting him go. Reza Goochannejhad is still here, for fuck sake, and Makienok is clearly not going to weigh in with enough goals. There will be huge pressure on Vaz Te now and if he doesn't hit the mark we will be struggling again very soon.

Madame Meire really doesn't get it either does she? Already the target of the fans continuing protest, she must have known precisely the effect this casual move would have. Perhaps she has no option but again the club fail to attempt to justify the decision at the time it becomes public. It's true that the long awaited Comms Supremo won't start until February but that's no excuse. What we are left with is another huge own goal by the CEO laced with her usual slice of arrogance.

I am left eagerly awaiting the gift she offers us when she is finally forced into commenting. Her 'negative 2%' has already caught the imagination of more than 2% and I think she will be suitably embarrassed on Saturday when she has to endure another West Stand barracking pre-match and then listen to chants of "stand up for the 2%" on two minutes as decidedly more than 2% of those present make their point.






Monday, 23 November 2015

Charlton Athletic In Pictures 1975-2015

Returned home this evening to my pre-ordered copy of Steve Bridge's Picturebook showing off over one hundred of his best photographs of Charlton players, fans and venues over the last 40 years. 

The dates coincide close enough with my own Charlton history, so it feels fairly personal. Many of Steve's shots are familiar already but there are still enough I haven't seen before to make it particularly worthwhile having. His hard-back print run has sold out but he's planning on a paperback follow-up if there is enough demand. Let him know directly if you are interested at bridge@talk21.com. 

Ironic that my snap of Steve's cover doesn't do it justice!


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Birmingham 0 v Charlton Athletic 1

After surviving an opening-half barrage, Captain Johnnie Jackson rose to meet a Holmes-Dennis cross to plant a header in the Blues net and give Charlton a lead they held onto. This was another unexpected win and it lifts us out of the bottom three. Birmingham couldn't capitalise on a stream of crosses from the right in the first-half as we failed to protect Morgan Fox but Henderson played his part and the Blues fluffed everything else. Katrien Meire and Karel Fraye will both sleep easier tonight and we can all look up the table tonight.

The atmosphere should lift for next Saturday's visit of the Tractor Boys when we should get to see Vaz Te make his first appearance at the Valley in a red shirt. He came on in the second-half for Ademola Lookman who had another decent hour. A good mate is telling me that Tony Watt won't play for us again and that we are lining up his sale. I hope that's not the case but his recent absences have been a little unexplained and the arrival of Vaz Te begged a question in terms of affordability given the fact that Madame Meire has been told to balance the books. If there is any truth in this then it will be another step towards confirming the direction that the protesting Addicks believe we are being taken in.

For now,  I am just happy that we are out of the bottom three and have halted the slide towards League One.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Meire continues to call the tunes...

News from the Charlton Athletic Trust (CAST) that representative, Steve Clarke, has been given a private audience with Madame Meire and Richard Murray as a promised follow-up to the recent meeting with wider supporters groups.

http://www.castrust.org/2015/11/supporters-trust-meet-with-club-executives/

It's another step in the right direction, in that there has been more dialogue, although it's hard not to be cynical about the outcome of the discussions. Seeking supporter help on Target 20,000 is welcome, as is "a group to look at strategic development" although that could mean anything and nothing. The only other step was an agreement to revamp the Fans Forum although helping Target 20,000 and dealing with "day-to-day issues as and when they occur" sounds like more of the same.

No compelling commitment to wider or more regular, more open communication on club strategy and progress (or lack of it) towards achieving it . No commitment to responding to supporter's complaints or any of the other long list of discontent.

I can hear Madame Meire telling us at some hard-pressed point in the future that "I thought we had done all this last time when we had the fan's meeting and then met the Trust."

On with the protest!


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Muddling along

A tough trip to Birmingham beckons. We have moved to strengthen our striker options (and to give Ahearne-Grant a much needed rest) by bringing in Ricardo Vaz Te on a free transfer. That now looks like a pre-emptive strike before announcing that Igor Vetokele will not be fit to return until New a Year at the earliest.

Vaz Te looks like he may have had his moment in the sun a few years ago when his scoring peaked at Barnsley. West Ham paid £1m for Riccardo but he has failed to deliver and at 29 he could be in Last Chance Saloon which we will have to hope gets the best out of him once again. We are also being linked with a variety of other lower league hopefuls, although I am treating most of those with a large dose of sodium chloride.

Karel Fraye will be feeling slightly more secure having heard Richard Murray and Katrien Meire making supportive noises about him having turned a corner after the surprise 3-0 win over woeful Wednesday. Saturday should be a good test of the turnaround before we face Ipswich, Sky TV and another fans protest. 

Katrien won't be pleased that "the negative 2%" look like gaining support for the Ipswich demo and the fact that the similarly disgruntled Leeds fans are keen to join forces in the home match that follows, to unite in condemnation of useless owners. La Meire may have difficulty estimating the size of a crowd but the latest published record of the Fans Forum, released under Freedom of Information guidelines, tells us that 3,000 Charlton ticket-holders on average don't bother turning at games they have paid for. No surprise to any of us who have been going long enough to gauge it but something of an indictment on the attractiveness of what's currently on offer in terms of entertainment. 

Katrien should really reflect on that if she is serious about another Target 20,000  programme as we are closer to Target 5,000 the way things are headed. Roland Duchatelet will be looking at the P & L and you can't spin that for too long. Like Vaz Te, she looks in Last Chance Saloon to me and really needs to acknowledge some basic mistakes and reach out to all of our supporters including the Negative 7% before it gets much bigger.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

City A.M. on the money

Another fine piece from City A.M. here revealing a direct link between Tony Jiminez, Kevin Cash and Charlton Athletic - maybe for the first time?

Anyway, the pair are being sued by an unhappy US businessman, Darius Khakshouri, who leant them £1.8m in the September of 2013 in order to keep the club trading. Khakshouri's claim is based on his assertion that the pair agreed to include him in a Greenwich Peninsula property deal associated with the club developing land (we know where and what for) and that this was to be a key term of any sale of the club, which clearly it wasn't. Just why Mr Khakshouri has waited two years to get this point is unclear but the legal process isn't exactly quick. The loan was repaid but Khakshouri had sold business interests in the US on the basis of the larger opportunity he is now claiming he was denied.

What I find fascinating about this is why Kevin Cash, and Jiminez for that matter, would need to finance the club at that stage with someone else's money given their own wealth - particularly Kevin Cash. That assumes, of course, that the new ground on the peninsula was always a pipe dream and that Khakshouri might not have actually been a valuable contributor had it gone ahead. The fact that no clause was agreed with Duchatelet and that there were, presumably, a lot of major obstacles yet to clear before any possible move could have become a reality, does suggest that the motive may simply have been to play with someone else's money. The trio had all worked together previously on Jiminenez' Les Bordes golf club development....

 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

"It was unacceptable"

I was following the Tweets and updates from last nights select gathering of two dozen Meire-invited supporters to hear her, Richard Murray and Johnny Jackson respond to the escalating criticism and challenge of the leadership and direction our club is headed.

I had very low hopes of hearing anything remotely genuine in terms of a change of tack. Instead I expected some platitudes and a few token steps to address some of the smaller issues but that the main differences would remain and the struggle would continue to intensify as the club continues to drown.

I was staggered to hear that Madame Meire's plan was to accept zero responsibility and actually harden her stance. I cannot believe she had the temerity to suggest Saturday's protest was unrepresentative and only from those with negative attitudes! She actually said that she is expecting supporters who believe that Roland has a well founded strategy and that she is doing a brilliant job, to make their voices heard and, presumably, show more support than the protesters.

Kyle Andrew catches the specifics very well in his post on this so I won't repeat and, frankly, don't want to waste my time on.

A definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. I can't think of a more fitting description of Madame Meire at the moment. There is an argument, of course, that she will get a different outcome - a much larger and more viceriferous protest.

As we said last week, she has to go and unless he does something radically different, so does the dictatorial Duchatelet. The gloves are well and truly off now. The protesting must continue pre and post match and I will be cancelling my Valley Gold subscriptions this morning. I will also support any agreed plan of action including boycotting matches until she is gone.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Charlton Athletic 3 v Sheffield Wednesday 1

Well, well, not many will have seen that coming. Wednesday third in the form table and us bottom. Our side furthered weakened by the absence of Jordan Cousins and Tony Watt, but we bossed the match against a strangely subdued and ineffective Owls.

But first, I want to talk about the protest. My reckoning is that as many as 700 fans crowded around the main entrance behind the West Stand at 2.30pm to chant their opposition to the way the club is being run and about the incompetence of Katrien Meire's leadership. A respectful distance was maintained and the club had wisely decided not to waste money on a bouncy castle.

The chanting was predictable and sustained. Dozens crowded onto the stairwells for a birds-eye view and there were also those inside the lounges who peered down curiously. After six or seven minutes when the focus of the protest was perhaps shifting, she appeared at a window as if to taunt those below, maybe with a smile. I suspect she may have thought she was invisible behind the smoky glass but we could all see her as she took a couple of snaps on her phone. She flounced off trying to look disinterested but she can't have missed the size of the crowd or failed to hear us bellowing "you don't know what you're doing." She then appeared in the lounge below and tried to act as if nothing was happening. There weren't many there but it looked very awkward (good) from below.

To the game then and we started brightly. Injuries neccessited a reshuffle and Sarr partnered Bauer in the back four which meant Alou Diarra was moved into central midfield at the foot of a diamond with Jackson on the left, Ba on the right and Gudmundsson behind the front pairing or Rez and Mak. I honestly couldn't see us scoring with those two up top but both proved me wrong.

We started well and camped in Wednesday's half. Gudmundsson looked back to his best and tore into the Wednesday defence at every opportunity. Diarra anchored midfield and that allowed Ba to have his best game yet that I have seen. Time and again he picked up passes from Diarra and strode forward at pace into gaps in the Wednesday defence which allowed Gudmundsson, Solly and Fox to get forward and provide balls for Mak and Reza. 

After about twenty-five minutes Solly signalled to the bench and he made way for Holmes-Dennis. Young Tariq's first touched enabled him to skate into space and as he drove at the back-pedalling Owls, his attempted cross was diverted out for a corner which earned him a pat on the back from a couple of more experienced pros and you could almost see him growing in confidence. He had a solid game after that and it was from the corner he won that we opened the scoring. Johan Berg Gudmundsson whipped the ball into the six yard box and there was the Sheffield-Nemisis himself powering in at top speed to thump a header home. Johnny Jackson had a relatively quiet game but he had played his part and spurred those on all around him for the remainder of the match.

Just before half-time and without any threatened response from the visitors, Gudmundsson broke down the left and from the goal-line he picked out Simon Makienok's near-post run and the big Dane was able to sweep home from close range.

After the break and still no big response from an unusually small Wednesday side. Normally you have to be over six foot and fourteen stone with four vowels in your surname to qualify for the blue and white stripes. Then something quite amazing happened. We scored again. The persistent Fox exchange passes down the right before breaking clear and running the ball to the line and into the six yard area. Just when it looked like he might shoot, he pulled it back for Reza Goochannejhad to net from six yards and sew things up.

Wednesday did manage a consolation, after a Sarr mistake, but most of their fans had left well before the finish. The home fans were in good voice throughout and backed their side as we always do when they are playing for the shirt. None of us want to see our side lose, even if there would be a bit self-schadenfreude at the moment.

It will be interesting to see what Meire does next re Karel Fraye but she does appear to have got one message. The protesting fans sang "you can stick that effing sofa up your arse" and when I took my seat I could see they had already removed it. Small steps and all that. If only she could be a big enough person to acknowledge some mistakes, show some humility and actually communicate openly. Reports from Tuesday's select gathering should tell us more about where we go next but don't hold your breathe given her performance today.

In the meantime, flyers are cranking up the Spell it Out in Black & White campaign for the Ipswich game where we need to make our point as forcefully as possible to a wider audience.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Meire - the weakest link - [Reissued]

[This post is being reissued as Katrien Meire has paid to have negative articles about her largely cleansed from search engines - no-one should be able to control free information]

As Charlton fans prepare for their first day of protest at the Valley on Saturday at the current ownership and management shambles, I believe Katrien Meire has to become the target of our ire. She is Roland's representation in SE7 and her CV during the last two years includes the following off the top of my head and I am sure you can add more;

- sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One
- sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season
- failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January
- failing to tell the truth about the recruitment of Guy Luzon after being undermined by her boss and believing she could lie her way out of it
- refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints
- setting a V I P supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer certain direct questions
- deciding not to renew the V I P scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when V I P members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets)
- that Northstand lounge pass fiasco
- false economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service
- cocking up the offer of compensatory food vouchers for West Stand season ticket holders turfed out of their season to accommodate gloating Bournemouth fans in our end-of season humiliation game
- condoning the cheap shot sex-on-the-pitch advertising stunt which probably brought in bugger all additional revenue (she would have said otherwise after the furore)
- closing the ticket office on Thursdays and refusing to sell tickets to fans who arrived unknowingly
- cocking up the mailing out of season tickets and trying to blame Royal Mail
- deciding to stop disabled supporters from using the main lifts in the West Stand to reach their seats on Health & Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for them to use the service lifts)
- sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service
- that ridiculous sofa which makes our club look cheap and for what?
- being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling a complainant
- failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad
- publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchebag first on his intentions)
- sacking Damian Matthew along with Luzon, after all Matthew has done for our club, without any adequate explanation
- sacking David Martane only months after appointing him without any adequate explanation
- appointing yet another Belgian nonentity
- extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays
- now looking at options to develop the club shop for flats
- presiding over a new low point in Club-Supporter relations, which takes some doing given our history and at a time when we have the wealthiest owner in our history

What's next?

She has to go and soon.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Middlesbrough 3 v Charlton Athletic Nil

Fourth straight defeat and only two points from the last 24. We did manage to hang on for an hour before being swept aside but the other stats from today's game are alarming and make it clear that the squad haven't responded to the uninspiring appointment of another inexperienced Belgian network manager.

One effort on target and a paltry 26% possession. We did, however, make 16 fouls. Karel Fraye can obviously make an improvement on that but first we have to try and get something at Milton Keynes on Tuesday night. Fail there and the Valley could be a pressure cooker when the high-flying Owls visit on Saturday.

I can't see anything changing as things stand and the temporariness of Karel Fraye's appointment will come into sharp focus throwing even more ridicule on Roland Duchatelet's running of our club. In the meantime we fall further behind and join Rotherham as firm favourites for the drop.

Roland Duchatelet is rapidly turning our club into a national joke. Newcastle have been the perennial under-achievers, Sheffield Wednesday the most deluded and Leeds the worst run until now. The fact is we could challenge Newcastle for under-achievement, match Wednesday for our bouts of overblown optimism on the back of half a dozen results and make Leeds look a modicum of professionalism. The difference between us and those clubs, of course, is that they have larger fan bases who wield some power at their clubs and with the national press. The way things are going, "doing a Charlton" could soon have an altogether different meaning than when it was in vogue for us punching above our weight and steadily establishing ourselves in the top flight.

Pissed off, angry and strangely not bothered all at the same time.

Friday, 30 October 2015

They are rattled

The dire state of Club-Supporter relations has finally been noticed by those running the club. The Official Site is this morning telling us that Katrien Meire and Richard Murray will meet a select group of supporters to discuss the current lows. My guess is they are seeing an acceleration in the decline of all the vital signs in terms of income.

I have to say that opening dialogue can't be viewed as anything other than a step in the right direction but the damage has already been done and we will need to see action now to improve matters not just talk. They are already limiting the discussion to Fans Forum reps and a 'randomly selected' supporter audience. That isn't a great start as Katrien has already neutered the Fans Forum and I fully expect the randomly selected list of fans names to then be heavily vetted. In any event, I can't see what La Meire will do short of seeking to justify the indefensible in terms of what we have already seen and learnt. 

We live in hope, of course, but we know what we need and it's regime change because the leopard doesn't change it's spots. The timing of this meeting has yet to be confirmed but talk of "the international break" looks like an attempt to buy time and possibly defuse any protests in the meantime at the upcoming games. Speaking of which, no news that I can see of any output from the Trust meeting last night which is disappointing given the current furore.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

8-1

That's the bookies verdict on our chances of winning at the Riverside on Saturday. Simon Makienok may well be lumping on given his confidence this week following the arrival of the Flemish-speaker now filling the team-sheet out.

Personally, I reckon 8-1 is realistic odds for Boro hitting 8 (eight) against us. If you took it though, you would have to go for Charlton Nil, given our powder-puff strike force. I hope Big Mak gets a start so he can prove me wrong and show us his lethal finishing qualities as we power to victory. Hopefully he won't be repeating his line this week about the Preston game when he said "when I came on I tried to show some energy, but they scored their third and the game was finished." My advice is Simon might keep his gob shut this week and try to let his striking prowess do his talking.

Whilst in the mood for dispensing wisdom, my tip for Karel Fraye is to ham-up his inability to speak English so he can swerve some of the anticipated post-match questioning from the assembled hacks. He could always pretend that Guy Luzon is still working his notice and that he's not actually in charge until next week.

I might also suggest that Katrien Meire takes a lift if she's going to away matches in future because there will be a large queue wanting to harangue her, Watford-stylee, if she ventures onto public transport. Given the strength of feeling this is a serious risk for La Meire even if travelling numbers are likely to be down to double figures given the dross we are serving up.

I am not going to make the Trust Meeting this evening and have been put off by reinforcement of the fact that first and foremost, it's an AGM. It's about time we heard from the Royal Oak Rebels of whatever they were called. At least they had seen the writing on the wall and had the capacity to agree a decisive course of protest.....

Monday, 26 October 2015

Two Belgian Nonentities Confirmed

As widely predicted, Karel Fraye and another bloke unqualified to do the job, have been appointed as temporary First Team Coach and Assistant. As well as earning some decent money whilst it lasts (I hope they haven't accepted a month-in-hand), the pair should qualify for appearances on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here in future.

Katrien Meire has been working overtime to come up with the brilliant idea to appoint the pair 'temporarily' whilst the trawl of global talent doesn't continue in the background. It's a great wheeze because they can claim it was only ever temporary when the pair are replaced in short order once it's clear that the squad aren't convinced by two blokes from Belgium who can't trap a ball and are less qualified than they all are to be picking the team and sorting the tactics. Expect our consistent recent form to continue apace as the players send a message to Dumb and Dumber that they will only play for someone they respect.

In the meantime, let's fire-up the war machine and get our message across as supporters that we have had our fill of being dicked over, lied to and taken for complete idiots. In my view it's time for a boycott of sorts and everything we can do to embarrass Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire to sell our club on and get back to what they know and understand which isn't professional football. I wasn't going to attend the Trust Meeting this week but I am now rearranging my plans.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

It's not who next, but what next?

Charlton Athletic Football Club have been suffering under the Roland Duchatelet's 'network model' for two years. Four managers have now been sacked during that period and three of them  deserved more time or more financial backing (Powell, Riga and Peeters).

Luzon had lost the support of the players and had to go, although he too wasn't supported fully in the Summer and had to make do with a paper-thin squad outside his first choice eleven. The question we are all absorbed with now, is who next? The strong view is that whoever it is, it will be the wrong choice for our club and someone who will simply perpetuate the decline and the suffering of our supporters. Malky Mackay was photographed at the match yesterday which set some hares running. His appointment would reflect very poorly on Katrien Meire (what's new) given her recent vote of confidence in Guy Luzon and the fact that Mackay was bound to be spotted. Ordinarily you would assume that, that level of incompetence might suggest Mackay might have been  there for other reasons (Brentford are also to appoint a permanent manager) but given Meire's track record it would be entirely in keeping that she invited him. Karel Fraye is the other name being strongly bandied and as a network manager you can see him being appointed next after the customary exhaustive search for the best candidate on the planet. Fraye's credentials have seen him appointed to his current third tier Belgium club role where his side are struggling and who were hammered 4-0 yesterday.

The question we should all be asking is 'what next?' Whoever the incoming manager is, it will either make no difference to our relegation battle or it will simply prolong the inevitable and that is that we have to move Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire on. You can argue that we are financially secure and that Roland is investing in the future but it's also clear that he expects the club to break even sooner rather than later and that means we will be remain uncompetitive in the Championship where the only clubs who get close to that typically go down. The eternal optimist will also say that we should struggle on and wait until our Academy begins to bear fruit. That presupposes that Duchatelet would hold onto his emerging talent in sufficient numbers to get us promoted. The facts are that Poyet was sold a year ago and Gomez this year. Frankly, I don't trust him not to just sell the talent on and continue to fund a side that could compete in League One. I am not prepared to wait for four or five years to see and probably experience another relegation in the meantime.

I am going to vote with my feet and protest. Boycotts are never popular because they are counter-intuitive. As fans we want to watch our side and support them financially. However, the current regime is driving fans away more successfully than we have managed to attract them in the past. The money is irrelevant given Roly's wealth and, well, the football we have been playing is hardly an attraction either.

Like Riga, Peeters and Luzon I will support the individual and hope for the best but we can't let form affect our focus on removing the Puppet-Master and Pinnochio. Standard Liege fans have shown us the way and we must imitate their successful campaign. No-one likes bad publicity but businessmen and politicians absolutely hate it. My guess is Duchatelet will cut and run if we get our act together this season. The idea of a state of the art training facility is attractive but I'd rather we had owners who were committed to getting the best and most competitive side out that they can with an experienced and credible Chief Exec and First Team coach.

Credit to LeaburnForEngland for the cartoon.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Charlton Nil v Brentford 3

Back to close to a first choice eleven today but still nowhere near good enough to get a result. After the initial ten minutes of inertia when Gudmundson, Watt and Moussa all missed chances, the visitors settled into the game and took control in midfield. Old boy Alan McCormack and his sidekick Alan Judge ran the show although Cousins and Jackson gave them the floor.

Brentford's passing and movement was simple and embarrassed us. They were strong down our left and played triangle after triangle as they worked their way into our box. Possibly guilty of being too elaborate, they finally found the scoring formula with a fast break and delicious deep cross which was so good, Swift was able to time his run and shape his leap to perfection. Henderson had no chance as the header powered past him.

After that it was largely one-way traffic and McCormack deserved a goal when he finished a fine break with a shot from distance which beat Henderson but bounced down off bar and post. One down at half-time and I wondered if a second Bees goal would finish it after the break. Sure enough ten minutes in and with a Charlton attack stopped, McCormack broke out and with Judge supporting alongside they played a one-two, one-two before Judge looked up and curled a belter beyond the despairing dive of Henderson and inside the far post in front of the jubilant Bees. Two-nil, game over.

That's two points from the last 15 at home and we have conceded first in all five of those. The football we have been playing is fractured and largely hopeful. You can't expect to win games like this and Brentford showed us how it should be done. Sorry to say it again but our side aren't playing for the manager. I am not in favour of repeatedly changing but you can't keep one for whom the players aren't playing. Like his predecessors, he's not been given a good hand by Roland Duchatelet but he's not played it well either and must go.

As I concentrate on the rugby, I see we have conceded a third. Nail in coffin for Luzon.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Charlton Athletic 0 v Preston North End 3

Glad I missed this one. Guy Luzon cannot pin this on anyone but himself. He picks a bizarre looking weak and unbalanced side with three left-backs and we are behind within two minutes and play like no-one gives a toss. We fail to score again and concede three to yet another bottom three team.

Pretty simple really, he's lost the dressing room.

I feel another Katrien Meire foot-in-mouth moment coming on....

Monday, 19 October 2015

That's apathy for you

A first for me. A few weeks ago I was invited to a work dinner by my boss. It was a team meal but I declined as we were due to play Palace. Unusually, the meal was rescheduled (for tomorrow night) and I accepted the invite without checking my personal diary. I subsequently realised that the dinner is an excuse to say farewell to me as I started a new job (same company) on 1st October.

I was aware last week that we are at home tomorrow but the penny didn't drop until I looked at my work diary for the morning. The fact that home fixtures barely register is a sign of how disinterested I have become. Ordinarily, I would make another excuse and prioritise on being at the Valley, but having considered it for a few minutes I am going to break the habit of a lifetime and miss a game I could easily be at. It will be a decent meal and it would be rude for me not to be there after all. Will I miss anything?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Dr Eva Carneiro

We might be short on the playing side but I am told Chelsea's former high profile first team Doctor could be joining us to help deal with the queue of walking wounded. Having felt the wrath of the Jose Mourinho and having been hung out to dry by the Chelsea hierarchy, Eva would surely find a more welcoming environment at Sparrows Lane and the plans to upgrade would make it even more attractive. This could prove counter-productive!


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Reading 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

At 6-1, we were the longest odds in our division for a win today.  There's a reason for that and, frankly, it was what the vast majority of us expected. I assume all three experienced strikers are injured, even after the two week break, which was why we started with 18 year-old Karlan Ahearne-Grant and hitherto League One midfielder Franck Moussa as the front two.

So, it was a rear-guard action as we defended with two banks of four and sought to keep a clean sheet. Reading had 22 attempts to our two and I think we managed two corners to boot. No surprise whatsoever that we conceded and lost. Pretty hopeless but I guess you have to go with what you've got. It was clear to me we didn't start the season with enough goal-scoring threat and that's the simple reason we now find ourselves preparing for a relegation scrap.

We have Preston at home on Tuesday and Brentford visit us on Saturday. I won't say the obvious but they are two matches I am not looking forward to. Given current performance and player availability I suspect we will come out of the pair looking for three sides we might be better than.

What's just as worrying is the current level of apathy amongst our most loyal supporters. Barring the promotion season from League One, which wasn't exactly vintage stuff, it's been a slog going now since relegation 8-9 seasons ago. We have seen so much change in playing staff and managerial teams  that we have had no continuity of play or tactics. We may have managed several mini-runs but outside of those we have been inconsistent and particularly disappointing at home. Often losing to the bottom sides and failing, far too often, to capitalise in games where we have been ahead and on top. Far too cautious and unadventurous for far too long.

The running of the club has been a side-show but not one that has helped build any rapport with the fans which might have made things more bearable or hopeful. As duff as the football has been, it's been depressing to listen to an arrogant Belgian Lawyer telling us we can like it or lump it. The fact is, many are choosing to lump it and I believe that is doing us long-term damage. Damage that will continue to hurt us long after Roland Duchatelet finally gets tired of it and returns to his Chateau. Let's face it, he staked his lunch on FFP and that's failed. He's in this to prove a point more than to make money (he is worth £700m and his business continues to generate substantial income) and you have to wonder how much longer it will sustain his interest. Having sold up on Standard Liege we are his largest remaining footballing asset. He has committed funds to invest in the Academy and that will take several years to bear any fruit. That's not to say he couldn't sell up in the meantime and realise the equivalent value as part of any sale but you have to think he will be around for a couple of years yet and would want to ensure we were holding our own before he sold. It will take us a couple of seasons to be doing that looking at the squad we have.

Relegation is always a huge blow to any club but I strongly believe it could do us irreparable damage given what we have suffered in recent years and the fact that so many diehards are giving up or seriously on the cusp of packing it in. Katrien Meire and Co simply don't understand this or naively believe that any future success would see the fans rushing back through the turnstiles.

I watched the Rugby this afternoon and will be glued again this evening and tomorrow. If club rugby was anywhere near the spectacle of internationals, I would be at Blackheath on Saturdays. I am also drawn closer to watching Welling United where I expect the footballing ride is very similar to our own but you know they are managing it on a tiny budget and being as upfront and honest with their fans as they can be.