Sunday, 10 December 2017

Charlton Athletic 0 v Portsmouth 1

I said on Friday that this game had all the Charlton trademarks of a disappointing match and result - so it proved. On a bitterly cold day with 4,000 gobby Pompey visitors, some of whom had hired a box in a direct attempt to provoke Charlton fans in the East Stand, we failed to get any momentum and eventually succumbed to an own goal after the restart.

We seem to save particularly uninspiring performances for any game which attracts a number of returning supporters. The gate was a few hundred over 16,000 which suggests around a 12,000 Addicks. Allowing for the usual number of complimentary tickets on top of season tickets, would suggest we had a similar number of 'match-by-match' buyers as the visitors which is clearly disappointing given the significance of the game. My view here is that this is a strong indicator that several thousand fans, maybe up to four or five thousand, have been lost under Roland Duchatelet's tenure, much of those to the failed Meire Offensive in 2015-16. Relegation obviously hasn't helped, nor has the merry-go-round of poorly-chosen managers, but the club has been managed in a very deliberate way with a hope of over-achievement from an under-resourced first team squad. 

It was evident in August that we were desperately short of forwards and Karl Robinson's tunnel vision on playing 4-2-3-1 also signalled to the ageing Lee Novak that he needed to get away, leading to the last transfer day fiasco where Novak was reluctantly sold and we made the panic signing of Do-do from Rangers. That has been the story of this season and, aside from a purple patch in October which helped mask the deficiencies, we are now seeing the effects of limited striking options and an inability to react tactically to falling behind because the manager has a squad built around a 4-2-3-1 formation.

At the end of November I said December looked a challenging month and that my focus was on not finishing 7th - forget the clamour for the top two spots. It's now looking increasingly likely that Wigan and Blackburn Rovers will win automatic promotion after finding their feet and both are on good runs. The scramble below is also evening out and given our poor resent results, our game in hand now changes little. Portsmouth are breathing down our necks and if one of Oxford United, Rotherham or Peterborough put a few results together, we will be fighting to make the play-offs. 

An unlikely promotion this season could propel the club under new ownership. Better-informed people than me believe we are now very close to a deal which is very encouraging given the doubts that appear to have emerged in the last couple of weeks. We have to hope and pray that there is good news before Christmas that gives the club a transfer boost in January. If no deal is done, Duchatelet will surely cash in on some of the playing staff and settle for another season of mediocrity in League One. 

Finally, I was pleased to join many other old faces and friends in the White Swan last night for an impromptu 'Valley Party' 25th anniversary celebration. I got to meet the inspirational and courageous Julie, who along with her son have gone down in Charlton folklore as 'the Liar bed-sheet' heroes. Good, too, to catch-up with some of those behind the ROT Party who are continuing to carry the battle to Duchatelet in his hometown. If you sell-up Roland, you may avoid any potential embarrassment in your local elections next year!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Karl Robinson breaks rank...

An interesting few media quotes from Karl Robinson in the last week or so. 

In his latest local press interviews he has revealed that he hasn't spoken to Roland Duchatelet since September but was in touch recently asking for support to take Leon Best on loan until January. First, no contact with the owner for three months during the season - that would be surprising with any other owner but I suppose when ours isn't interested enough to even come and see us play it shouldn't be shock to anyone. Secondly, does he really have to speak to Duchtelet about a short-term loan? Either Meire has been told "no more" and he's had to over her head, or she really has stepped down in more ways than one. 

The second piece to this story is that Duchatelet apparently asked him if he had an Academy player he could put in. A logical enough question but clearly Duchatelet is totally clueless on the playing staff front. Karl then tells us that Richard Murray followed up to tell Karl he could sign Best until January. Does this imply Old Dickie is forking out for his wages? Good luck to him, if he is, and he has done this in the past to help out and avoid embarrassment e.g. when bills couldn't be paid under the Spivs.

He also went on to talk about his job being at risk with any new ownership, which implies that's on his mind when only a couple of months ago he had asked upstairs about the rumour and been told there was nothing in it. Maybe Karl is feeling he has been lied to (shock, horror, who would do such a thing?) and is subtly trying to re-align himself ahead of takeover news?

Then today we get a piece online from the Telegraph, which whilst quoting Robinson in parts from a month or two ago, appears to have him talking about CARD directly and in tones which are not unsympathetic if not outwardly supportive.

If you are going to the game tomorrow, I hope you enjoy it and that we win. There should actually be a crowd for a change, although sales to home fans looked disappointing midweek. My understanding is that we had only sold c 3000 to home supporters (excluding season tickets) which would be a big disappointment if true and we don't get a decent 'walk-up' gate tomorrow. There would be every prospect of Pompey having actually sold more for this game than we managed. I am guessing c 16,000 as a published attendance? I have to say that this has all the Charlton trademarks of a disappointing match and result.


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The ROT has set in!

Can't help but smile at the news today, on the 25th anniversary of our return to the Valley, that Charlton Athletic supporters are again forming a political party to stand at local elections. The amusing bit is that it's the "Roland OuT" or ROT Party who have launched their intentions here. 

I believe the idea of contesting local elections in Sint Truiden was floated nearly a year ago, so timing might appear odd given the ongoing takeover rumours and Roland's public announcement that he looking to get out of football and is open to offers for Charlton Athletic. However, you have to plan for all eventualities and by the looks of things, I wonder if there are Sint Truiden locals active here in the background who would like to see an anti-Duchatelet candidate irrespective of whether or not he is still calling the shots at the Valley next October. 

On the basis that it won't be Charlton supporters voting anyway, the whole idea, I guess, is to give locals the opportunity to say through the ballot box what they are very well prepared to tell us to our faces but perhaps not so keen to shout around town, and that's that they really like him about as much as we do.

The ROT Party launch has already been picked up Belgian media and news is twittering all over the shop. The best bit about this, of course, is that it's likely to really irk the old goat. Marvellous! Those bloody subversive social media campaigns eh Roland?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

AFC Wimbledon 3 v Charlton Athletic 1

Out of the F A Cup at the second round again. Another of the perils of having dropped into League One. 

Not one of our better performances by all accounts but again we had chances which we missed. Magennis comes in for some stick and Ricky Holmes was disappointing, although it's probably unrealistic to expect him to perform wonders in every match he plays. 

After falling one-behind on 10 minutes, that man Ahearne-Grant followed up with another goal having broken the log-jam against Peterborough in the week. Unfortunately he limped off later on and we have to hope that he's not injured sufficiently to miss more matches when he needs games now.

Nabby Sarr has been playing well in recent weeks but was turned inside-out for their second and was part of a shaky defence throughout. Anfernee Dijksteel is being praised again for another decent showing although it was he who conceded the penalty for the killer third late on. 

It feels like three defeats in-a-row even if we stole a point against Posh late on. We will need to be back to our best to keep 4000 Pompey fans quiet next week and to pick up the points we need to maintain our promotion push. It's Bristol Rovers away the week after before we entertain an in-form Blackburn Rovers who were today held at home by Crewe Alexandra.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Duchatelet recants

An "Updated History of Charlton Athletic" will devote several chapters to the last four years of Roland Duchatelet's ownership. Ultimately, it will not be kind to the absent owner and it will tell of an engaging and dramatic struggle between his executive management team and the clubs' supporters (through the supporter group's coalition, CARD). 

It will detail a long sequence of events which show the 'regime' in charge (Meire, Keohane & Co) being accused by CARD of failing the supporters, making ill-informed decisions or telling blatant porkies in the course of spectacular mismanagement and an historic decline. The story-lines are all similar and have the Regime strongly denying what they are accused of, only for time and events to prove them wrong and/or expose their lies.

The current classic is "the club is not for sale" and "Roland is here for the long haul." This has been trotted out over the last twelve months following the intervention of Pitch PR/Tom Rubbashaw when they tried to wipe the slate clean with the "we have made mistakes and we have learnt from them" mantra.

For much of 2017 rumours have been rife, despite intense secrecy, that the Australian Football Consortium (AFC) were attempting to buy the club and that other subsequent bids have been made, notably by what is believed to be a revised Aussie consortium. The club attempted to deny any sale or that Roland's long-term commitment was in doubt, famously telling us that speculation wasn't "helpful." 

So, the Times article yesterday in which Duchatelet is quoted saying "actually, I wanted to leave football after the sale of Standard Liege" makes clear his intentions to sell. He also says in relation to his remaining clubs "I haven't decided anything, I am open to possible offers,"which leaves us wondering whether this is all just paving the way for an announcement of a sale or if it's a last-ditch pitch for alternative interest?

Either way, we appear to be firmly in the end-game and we can only hope and pray for a swift conclusion to this disastrous Regime which is already a full year past it's sell-by-date.  New ownership will bring it's own challenges and risks but it will also bring a fresh start and the optimism of once again having owners whose primary ambition is to develop and grow the club we all love, but which Roland Duchatelet has only seen play once or twice in four years of ownership.

Friday, 1 December 2017

CARD to recognise Valley Party contribution

Pleased to see that the protest groups involved in CARD have decided to mark the 25th anniversary of our return to the Valley by distributing thousands of red and white rosettes ahead of our clash with Portsmouth.


CARD's statement explains that "the rosettes are to celebrate the part played by fans in the re-opening of the SE7 stadium, and particularly the role of the Valley Party, whose 60 candidates amassed nearly 15,000 votes in the 1990 local elections, changing Greenwich Council policy in the process. The club’s then directors wore red and white rosettes when the first match back, also against Portsmouth, took place on December 5th, 1992."


Th irony here is that the Regime have found the whole anniversary decidedly awkward. Katrien Meire is on record saying she doesn't care about the club's history and the fact that the vast majority of the 60 Valley Party candidates still alive are vehemently opposed to her and Duchatelet have seen her try to sidestep those primarily responsible for the return. That includes the Directors at the time who put their personal wealth on the line to make it happen. I would love to see photos of those guys proudly displaying their red and white rosettes and giving Meire the metaphorical finger.

So, if you are attending the match, please grab a rosette and make it clear who we should be acknowledging on 9th December for bringing us back to the Valley. It wasn't the Belgians or Sir Bufton Tufton.

Almost inevitably, the clowns in charge have failed to put vinegar on their chips ahead of the game and have, controversially, decided to give Pompey 700 more seats in the East stand in addition to having sold out the away end. I can just see them roaring Pompey on to a victory an closing the gap on us in the table. They will argue it was for safety reasons because Pompey fans were trying to purchase in home areas but we have a fairly comprehensive membership scheme which has safeguarded this previously, even against Millwall whose supporters would have a better contacts and local addresses to get tickets in home areas if they were so motivated.

Frankly, 3000-odd should have been enough to satisfy all of those Pompey fans who have loyally followed them to most of their away matches to date but part of me would have wanted to acknowledge the sacrifice they made 25 years ago when they agreed to take only 150 tickets so that more Charlton fans could attend what they recognised was an historic match for us. I would have done it for those reasons and planned it properly, not just decided to cash-in and sod the inconvenience and potential risk for home supporters. On their heads be it, as usual.
 


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Charlton Athletic 2 v Peterborough United 2

I said after our defeat at Scunthorpe on Saturday that I was now looking nervously at avoiding a seventh-place finish. Especially with the current 8th and 7th placed sides the next Valley visitors. 

Up stepped inconsistent Peterborough this evening, whose away form has been poor, and they took a point but will rue missing all three after conceding in the 89th and 94th minutes. After the cup this weekend (AFC Wimbledon), Portsmouth could also give us trouble based on our current form. To rub a bit of salt into the wounds, Blackburn used their game in hand to batter local rivals Blackpool and open a gap above us.

The pre-match news was that we have finally made Leon Best an offer of a two month contract. Two months? He must be absolutely desperate. Having already been training with the squad for two months you would think he might have held out for an end-of-season loan having shown us what he can do. What it tells me is that Karl Robinson is also desperate. Desperate to increase his goal-scoring options but realising that Best is probably not going to be able to do that, irrespective of how much he might want a longer deal. Nonetheless he started this evening in a strange formation which inexplicably saw Magennis go out left. Best hardly touched the ball and was subbed after 70 minutes.

In front of another pitiful home gate (laughable given as 9,532) we had another stuttering first-half. Playing in fits and starts but not really troubling Posh, whilst Amos was forced into a couple of saves and couldn't stop Gwion Edwards' free-kick for the opener. Edwards turned provider early in the second-half as Marriott scored at the near post. Peterborough had a strong penalty appeal waved away after a poor Kashi tackle in the box.

Ahearne-Grant and Aribo came on for the hapless Best and the anonymous Marshall but it took a last minute penalty to throw the Addicks a lifelong. That man Forster-Caskey stepped up to give the Reds hope and in the dying seconds of added time, Karlan Ahearne-Grant finally scored a long-awaited and much-needed equaliser. Some light then at the end of another dim evening at the Valley. I was thinking about KAG earlier today and thought about how long it took Carl Leaburn to start scoring. I meant to check but didn't get around to it - maybe tomorrow.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Scunthorpe United 2 v Charlton Athletic 0

Not a great surprise to go down at Scunthorpe given their league position and our growing injury list. However, we again had chances before they scored with Magennis, in particular, seeing a close range first-half header somehow pushed onto the post.

Josh Morris won the game for the Iron with two fine strikes from distance; the first a peachy free-kick around the hour-mark and the second a 20 yard strike on the run and we had no response. Karlan Ahearne-Grant came on but it was a tough ask at two-down and Hackett-Fairchild also got the last five plus added time. 

Down to sixth and some distance lost but we still have two games in hand over Bradford and Scunthorpe and one on Shrewsbury (who lost again today) and Wigan. One of those games comes on Tuesday at home to Peterborough. Being a Charlton supporter since the seventies, my natural pessimism causes me to look at 7th place (where you miss the play-offs) and there we have a five point gap over 9th December visitors, Portsmouth. So, a six pointer there before we head to Bristol Rovers. Blackburn Rovers are on a roll and they visit the Valley after that before we go to Southend in the week and finish at Wigan on the Saturday. A real challenge to our end of '17 finish. Let's hope there's no further injuries and we make a fist of it.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust AGM

I attended the CAS Trust (CAST) AGM last night and it proved to be a very worthwhile and interesting use of 90 minutes. Chair, Richard Wiseman,  opened the meeting by quoting from Richard Redden's 'the history of Charlton Athletic' and a similar meeting in the same location (The Bugle) in 1913. If you know, your history.......

The business of the AGM reminded those present of the rationale for the Supports Trust and it's link to other Trust organisations via the umbrella group, Supporters Direct. Richard spoke about the constitution and the key operational facts before giving a review of what the Trust have done through the last 12 months. It was a useful reminder of the campaigning the Trust have done on behalf of supporters over various issues, which largely involved formally raising various questions and complaints with the club and other bodies.

What stuck out, for me, was the number of times the Trust did not even receive the courtesy of a reply. I remember the Trust writing to Russell Slade seeking an apology from Roger Johnson for abusing supporters at Bury. That wouldn't have taken more than ten minutes but Slade didn't see fit to do even that and his subsequent comment that "Roger apologised to me" wasn't good enough on a number of fronts. 

The Club itself still refuses strategic dialogue with CAST, although they do tick the EFL regulations box by holding a Fan's Forum four times a year at which CAST have a seat. The output from those sessions is, sadly, limited to routine domestics which don't trouble Katrien Meire or her team to share any information or insight which supporters might find genuinely useful or engaging. The Supporters Trust has a bit over 1,000 paid-up members (it's only a fiver a year), all of whom should be entitled to a bit more respect. Members receive a weekly email bulletin from the Trust which is a handy catch-up and reminder of all the key things going on in an around the club. 

Membership also entitles attendance at the AGM an other periodic Trust events. After the business of the meeting was done with last night, we had an open session with Steve Avory, Director of the highly successful and much-envied Charlton Athletic Academy. I have never heard Steve speak so it was a very pleasant surprise to listen to his dulcet northern tones. What came through very strongly was his absolute dedication to coaching and development of youngsters. In the mood of Lennie Lawrence, we was formerly a PE teacher (at Hurstmere amongst other schools). He has an authoritative but engaging tone and he couldn't have been clearer or more convincing in the answers he gave to questions thrown at him. He knows exactly what he wants from his staff and players and he was clear about the standards expected from everyone. 

It was touching to hear him speak with so much evident pride in the success that Joe Gomez is currently enjoying. He regretted not being able to get to Wembley to see Joe make his sparkling England debut, despite being offered tickets, because he was down in the west country with a Charlton side in a cup competition - typical of what you would expect from him. We got a good insight to a whole range of questions and some good anecdotes about Scott Parker, Diego Poyet, Jonjo Shelvey, Callum Harriott, Regan Charles-Cook, Karlan Ahearne-Grant and a number of others in between - Steve spotted Jonjo Shelvey watching a session at the training ground recently during the international break which shows the sort of impression it's made on so many.

Steve was also clear about the ongoing upgrade of the facilities at Sparrows Lane. Things are much improved under Duchatelet and the two full-size 4G pitches make a massive difference to the "60 by 35 yard" ones that the likes of Diego Poyet trained on.  He was complimentary too about Karl Robinson and made the point that he has a really good working relationship with him and that he believes Karl listens closely to his advice and invariably follows it when it comes to emerging players.

All that over a few pints - can't be bad. Anyway, as a plug for the Trust;

or by cheque to CASTrust , 83 Heathwood Gardens, SE7 8ET.

or you can make a direct payment to: Charlton Supporters Society:  08-92-99  a/c 65612954  (reference your name)

Alternatively, you can renew at our stall behind the North Stand before home games - they have stall which operates for 45 minutes up to 15 minutes before kick-off. 




Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Charlton Athletic 2 v Rochdale 1

The proverbial cold night in November and a home game against the archetypal lower league strugglers, Rochdale. The official gate was 8,801 (inc 146 visitors), although many season ticket holders took the opportunity to swerve this one.

Whatever, Charlton eventually rose to the occasion after a woeful first-half when Dale took the lead through debutant, youth product Matty Gillam, a goal he will probably remember longer than anyone else present. The visitors could have gone two-up before half-time when they struck the inside of the post but we survived into the second period when an early finish from Forster-Caskey from a Da Silva cross levelled matters and put Charlton in the ascendency. 

Forster-Caskey has been weighing in this season and he duly notched the winner which Amos preserved with two good saves before the whistle. Ahmed Kashi did also see an effort cannon off the post.

The win lift us to fourth and with a game or two in hand over those above us, we sit pretty. Ben Reeves limped off last night and with Tariq Fosu out for five weeks, the squad is now being challenged. Given our proximity to Christmas, the fixtures before New Year and our points position, we will finally enter a January transfer window in a position that Duchatelet promised us would merit a gamble in the market to strengthen the side for a real promotion push. 

It will be very interesting to see if the owner is finally as good as his word if he is still calling the shots come New Year. What does look clear, is that we will cash in some chips on Konsa irrespective and my fear is that money might talk over Ricky Holmes. Robinson has spoken about a possible loan-back of Konsa in the event of a sale, although I have to say I can't ever remember us managing to do that. Fair to say that centre-half is the one position we aren't short of options, although Konsa has proven very solid in a number of other roles. Money eventually talks and I wonder whether Chris Wilder will pay over the odds to get Holmes and boost Sheffield United's surge to the Premier League (oh the irony)? That chance might also prove compelling for an older footballer who deserves his crack at the big time.

In summary then, if Duchatelet is still carrying the can come January, we are going to see where is mouth is, to use a local expression. In addition to at least one proven striker, he may have to re-use some of whatever he recoups on a very decent attacking midfielder and good-fit defender in order to honestly say he has supported a second-half promotion push.

In terms of the takeover, the continuing delay in any news breaking officially tells us two things; first that there must be something going on for the club not to have denied it or at least to say that speculation isn't helpful, secondly, that the process is beginning to take longer than might have been expected which begins to get worrying. Due Diligence was rumoured to have completed a number of weeks ago with the majority of the issues on the list having been dealt with. This week the rumours of those purporting to be getting whispers, is that one party may have pulled out and the other is equally exasperated over the stubbornness of the owner and his desire to keep an interest. 

I am not panicking just yet but if we get into December with no news then my hopes will begin to fade quickly and if takeover fails publicly, supporters are likely to vent frustrations again. Remaining hopes this season would be pinned on promotion and once more Duchatelet's actions on that front would be put under heavy scrutiny. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Hemel Hempstead Town 2 v Welling United 2

An hour around the M25 and I was at Vauxhall Road to see the Wings take on the side one below them in the table. It was a wintry day and the match was played in a light drizzle throughout but it didn't stop a fine match with plenty of good football.

The Tudors bossed the first-half and a finely taken early goal had the Wings on the back-foot. They nearly forced an equaliser after about half-an-hour but the home keeper did well to keep a Tom Bradbrook effort out. Welling were coming more into the match but Hemel were stronger in centre midfield where man-of-the-match, Jordan Parkes, pulled the strings whenever they moved forward. Five minutes before half-time and Welling conceded a penalty which Hemel converted to go in two-up at the break.

Kicking down the slight slope in the second-half we were treated to a rejuvenated Welling. Elias Phipps was on and his pace and threat down the right had Hemel pegged back. However, it was a splendid overlapping run from left-back Archie Johnson which lead to a pearler of a cross which Tom Bradbrook fought to get his head to and he did it justice with a rasping header which flew in under the bar. 

Welling sensed blood now and they threw everything at the home defence. The Hemel keeper was forced out wide to clear but his downfield kick was knocked quickly in field to the wily Joe Healy who planted a 40-plus yard shot towards the goal with the keeper still sprinting back to his posts. There was nothing he could do as the ball bounced home for 2-2 (see Joe's longshot here http://www.thenationalleague.org.uk/match-info/match-centre/1-2850626)  were rocking now and minutes later Welling should have made it 3-2 after the mother of all goalmouth scrambles. The  ball cannoned off bodies, spun, was defected and palmed off the line before it was eventually hacked clear. 

The scare was enough to send Hemel straight back at Welling and they struck a post as they took the match to the visitors again for ten minutes. Callum Kitscha in the Welling goal has struggled with crosses since stepping into the side and his lack of command of his six yard box was painful to watch as defenders around him made block after block and clearance after clearance to keep Hemel at bay. 

The draw was the right result and a good return for the Wings after a torrid first-half. They are missing on-loan Dylan Barnes in goal after he returned to Colchester but Kleton Permtreou should be fit to return soon.

At the Valley the Addicks also drew 2-2 but it was a case of two points dropped after missing yet more chances and seeing the Dons get a fortunate last minute penalty just after we had gone 2-1 up. Despite our great start and sitting in fifth, having only one capable striker at the club is costing us points.
                                                                              

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Cashing in....

First, good news for St. Truiden that Roland Duchatelet has sold-up and freed himself of the tiresome responsibility of owning his local football club. Japanese media group DMM have stepped in to take his full shareholding after a period of part ownership. Not a bad model when you can 'try before you buy the whole shop?'

The obvious interest for Addicks fans here, of course, is that it would appear a clear sign that the ill-fated network-experiment is finally being aborted after the earlier sale of Standard Liege and the ongoing cloak-and-dagger negotiations at the Valley. The fact that the sale of St. Truiden still leaves Roland owning the stadium and associated infrastructure isn't such a bright point and something we must view negatively, especially if price becomes a stumbling block on our own sale.

The St. Truiden Chief Executive, Phillippe Bormans, speaking about the takeover said that "DMM is very ambitious and we are looking forward to it.......they have seen with their own eyes that you can't handle a football club like you treat a company." Wise words indeed Mr Bormans - ambition is precisely the issue with Roland Duchatelet, because he has none.

Elsewhere, Katrien Meire seems determined to maximise cash for Roland, something else you might expect of a departing regime. We have already seen prices for the 'Back to the Valley' dinner set at an eye-watering £95 a head which seems indefensible even taking into account a donation to the Community Trust. This week's club update on tickets sales tells us to hurry because there are only ten tables (100 seats) left! Those re the hard-to-shift ones that less well-off supporters might have coveted.

Having listened to the various complaints of those fans unable or unwilling to fork out ninety-five smackeroos for dinner, they have compounded matters this week by ramping up tickets prices for the heralded 'Back to the Valley' league game against Portsmouth. Apparently, last year's League Two opponents are now 'gold' visitors and the prices will range from £20 to £31 and that's without the walk-up Meire Tax. Not sure what Alan Sugar would make of these tactics on The Apprentice but my guess is he might have two words to say....

The other news of the week would appear to be the ongoing expectation management that Esra Konsa will follow in Joe Gomez's boots and be heading out the door to bring in several million more in the January sales. No great surprise but interesting to see Karl Robinson continuing to put it out there and actually mentioning Arsenal and Everton as prospective buyers.

In the meantime, we wait and hope for white smoke from the Valley chimneys....

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Welling United 3 v Concord Rangers 3

An absorbing and entertaining match this, if slightly disappointing result from a Welling United point of view.  The Wings are the form side in the National League South and have moved themselves into genuine automatic promotion contention in recent weeks. A win today would have moved them up to second in the table but sharing the spoils means they have to be content with fourth spot.

In front of 636 fans, the Wings started like a steam train and really should have taken the lead and control of this game. In the opening two minutes Louis Wells in the Concord goal pulled off two excellent close range saves to deny Christian Nanetti who was following up from the right on two fine Wellings raids down the left lead by Jeffrey Monakana and supported by Jebb, Healy and Goldberg. Just as the home fans started to settle, Welling came very close again and Wells this time managed to save one-handed and push the ball up and out beyond his far post when it looked in all the way.

The Wings have been guilty of squandering early chances in other home matches and the early flurry of opportunities almost inevitably lead to Concord Rangers settling more into the match. They were disciplined and lead from the back by Steve King who had an excellent game. In front of King, Amos Nasha swept up and prompted the midfield in front of him. Welling were generally a match-up or better elsewhere but the Concord spine with Ben Greenhalgh at centre-forward was strong. It was Nasha who opened the scoring by running on to a ball in from the left on a quick break and steering it high inside the near-post with debutant keeper, Callum Kitscha, clutching air.

Welling continued to boss possession in the first-half but didn't have enough penetration in the centre of their attack to finish off some excellent play down the flanks with Jebb and Healy supporting Nanetti and Monkana. Bradley Goldberg is a decent striker but he is small and it's asking a lot for him to lead the line on his own. 

After the break, and with the Wings kicking towards the massed home fans at the main road end, Welling looked more lively but again it was Concord who scored after a counter-attack down the right lead by Greenhalgh in which Kitscha was caught out of goal and Farrell only had to hit the target in front of the ten visiting supporters. 

Two-nil and time for Jamie Coyle to change the game by bringing on the bigger and stronger front pairing of Phipps and Bradbrook. Almost immediately, Concorde were under more pressure and the very-cool Joe Healy took the ball through two challenges before driving home a low shot which Wells couldn't stop this time. Two-one with 25 minutes remaining and Welling went for it. The difference between the sides was now fully apparent and it was no surprise when Phipps met a swirling cross from left-back Archie Johnson to volley the ball home from close range with the outside of his boot. Welling continued to press and Phipps got his reward for a surging run under pressure which saw him force his way into the box and see his cross-shot deflected high past Wells into the top of the net.

Three-two from two-line down with only five minutes left but the visitors weren't done and the spine of their side had stood up and they had counter-attacked effectively all afternoon. So it was that they had the last laugh scoring in the 92nd minute when sub Femi Akinwande capitalised on a far-post mix-up which again had all the eyes looking suspiciously at Kitscha in the Welling green jersey.

It's a real shame that Welling struggle to maintain a consistent squad of players because they have the nucleus of a really good side. Dillon Barnes has been outstanding in goal this season but, like Eliah Phipps, is on short-term loan from Colchester and has just returned. However, they are competitive and disciplined, which they will need to be next week when they travel to fifth-placed Hemel Hempstead.


Monday, 6 November 2017

It's AFC Wimbledon away....

The reward for seeing off Truro City on Sunday is a second round F A Cup tie away at AFC Wimbledon. Hardly inspiring but a winnable away London derby is probably as good as it gets given who's left in at at this stage. It will give the angry Dons fans the opportunity to get their naughty Robinson banner out again and it will also fire big Karl up to beat them once again. We should have no problem selling our tickets for this one.

Elsewhere today, great news for oppressed football, as Valeri Belokin wins his high court case against the 'orrible Oystens at Blackpool FC, who have been told to buy-out his 20% shareholding as part of a move which will cost the hated owners a cool £31m. Belokin had argued "unfair prejudice" towards him as minority shareholder during Blackpool's Premier sojourn when he claims the Oystens used the club as "a personal cash machine" without any discussion or recourse to anyone else. Owen Oyston famously took an £11m "Directors fee" during the boom times. 

Long-suffering Seasiders will hope that this leads to regime change with the Oysters finally forced to sell. The judge called it "an easy decision" and denied a right of appeal, additionally setting a condition that the first £10m must be paid within 28 days.That won't stop the Oysters from going directly to the Court of Appeal but it won't stop Blackpool fans either from celebrating in the meantime and praying for new ownership which will signal a return to matches for thousands who continue to boycott. I will raise a glass for the Seasiders this evening.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Two wins

Couldn't make it to St. Albans yesterday where the Wings picked up from last week's home set-back and beat fellow promotion contenders 2-1. That man Joe Healy scored again and Jack Jebb put Welling clear before St. Albans managed an equaliser. 'Charlton Tony' and son Bobby where amongst 140 Wings who made the trip and returned with their side sitting third in the table. A win at Park View Road against Concorde Rangers next Saturday could send Welling top of the table if Dartford and Braintree fail to win their games away from home. 

This afternoon, Karl Robinson fielded the strong side he promised Charlton fans at the Bromley Branch meeting this week. Reeves got two and Marshall added a third as we kept the White Tigers at arms length. Truro had a proper go though and can return to Cornwall with their heads held high. Addicks fans have a rare chance to listen with interest to tomorrow's evening's draw on BBC Radio 2 and BT Sport at 7pm, where we will dream of avoiding another potential banana skin. 

Katrien Meire will be praying for an away draw in order to avoid losing any more money. Today's disappointing F A Cup gate of 4,494 will have cost us and it means (I think) that we have set another new record low in a week following the Checkatrade Trophy 741 v Fulham. Assuming the rumoured takeover goes through, it would be fitting that these records have been set towards the end of Duchatelet's reign.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A pair of one-nils

Back home from a frantic week's break in Cyprus. I took the family to stay with longstanding friends in Pafos for half-term and was too heavily engaged watching their beloved Millwall on i-Follow to cover the Charlton (or Welling) game.

I was explaining why Ricky Holmes appears to score so many goals (because he's very good and has an unerringly accurate shot) when he duly obliged and we were able to see him bend yet another rasper in from an acute angle to see off what, I gather, was a typically scrappy Wimbledon side in what was an otherwise disappointing match. Still, the three points maintain the current fine run and suddenly we have a bit of a gap as we close in on Wigan and Shrewsbury. I keep saying it won't last...

Welling fell at home to the other National League South top form side. Ben Jefford's sending-off didn't help as Wealdstone ran out 2-1 winners at Park View Road. They face another tough game this weekend away at fellow play-off hopefuls, St. Albans. The Addicks, meanwhile, take on another of Welling's play-off contenders, Truro City, in a first round F A Cup encounter at the Valley at 2pm on Sunday according to my Flash Score app. Not sure how I missed that but probably a consequence of Duchatelet-induced lack of attention.

Speaking of which, we must be due some confirmation of pending takeover talks, if not wild, deep and long-lasting celebrations of an actual announcement that a deal has been done and we can finally move forward with hope and genuine ambition of engaged and committed ownership. Reading between the lines, the view is that those pesky former Director loans might be presenting a last-ditch hurdle. That figures as the individuals concerned probably have no better chance of getting their money back now than through any well-intentioned thoughts of repayment from a Premier League windfall. They can see Duchatelet looking to recover every penny of his disastrous ownership and are probably saying, 'fuck that, I will insist on my money now if he thinks he's getting out intact." Something like that anyway. There is obviously a danger it delays or even scuppers a deal but this is their best leverage and I don't blame any of them if they take it. We only have to hope that whoever is buying us holds  the line in terms of paying what the club and it's prime assets are worth and not paying through the nose, however desperate we are to be rid of the Belgian-ridden Scrooge. Pray too that change of ownership also means he is gone forever and not left holding any cards.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Gloucester City 0 v Welling United 1

I trekked over to Paddington this morning, met up with Tony and Bobby and we took the train to Evesham to see the Wings make it six league wins in succession. For anyone head-scratching at this, Gloucester are currently ground-sharing 25 miles from home, which is probably why the gate was a tad under 300.

We stopped in town for a quick pint before a taxi took us the Evesham club house and a few more pints in a relaxed atmosphere out of the howling wind. The conditions were the worst I have witnessed since that fateful day in Yeovil. The rain was light but the wind constant and it was clear from the off that there wouldn't be any goals at the westerly end. 

It was a tight first-half, played mostly in Welling's half as they defended the easterly goal. It was difficult for the Wings to really get the ball out of their half although they persevered and looked the better side with the ball on the floor. Dylan Barnes was relatively well protected given the pressure the back four were under and he mopped up what did get through to him. It wasn't a day for the dribbling left winger, Nanetti, nor really for Eliah Phipps, both of whom appreciation precision football. They eventually made way for Bradbrook and Goldberg in the second-half as Welling sought to use the wind. 

At half-time Tony and I were checking our coupon (Stoke and Luton let us down) and we noticed that Welling had somehow been moved from 6/5 to 3/1 to win. The bookies must have been going on the stats because nothing else warranted the change in odds and clearly no-one at Bet365 was accounting for the gale. We duly lumped on.

Into the second-half and, surprisingly, Gloucester managed to make much more of it in the Welling half against the wind but they still looked short of sufficient power to beat Barnes from any distance. Welling, meanwhile were beginning to create wind-assisted chances and we were still confident of a winner into the last ten minutes. After a spell of Wings pressure, another attack saw a congested penalty box as Gloucester got men behind the ball but it was worked to the clever Joe Healy who conjured a deceptively soft but accurate shot which crossed the box and nestled high in the net. The 60 Wings fans behind the goal celebrated wildly and minutes later it was all over. The jubilant players made their way behind the goal and every player shook every hand offered and thanked us for our support. Welling move up to fifth and are the side to beat in National League South at the moment.

In the taxi en route to the station I learnt that the Addicks had matched the Wings with a very good 1-0 win at Bradford. Ben Amos won the match with two fine last gasp saves but we were good value for the points and it's been an excellent week on the road for Robinson and his team. I only hope the takeover goes through quickly now so we can capitalise as a club on our league position and the feel-good factor of new owners. Please let it come to pass.

All-in-all a good day and one where we came home with more money in our pockets than when we left. Can't be bad.

Friday, 20 October 2017

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

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

1) Worried about new owners?

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

2) Better off with Duchatelet?

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

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

3) Change and Promotion Chances

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

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

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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Aussie takeover back on!

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Oxford United 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

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

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

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

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 v Doncaster Rovers 0

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

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

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


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Papa Roach

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The end of a dream

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Welling United 4 v Chippenham Town 0

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Non-League Day, this Saturday

The annual 'Non-League Day' is upon us once more and it falls this Saturday, 7th October. As Charlton's home match against Peterborough has been called off due to international call-ups, why not take advantage and get out to your local non-league club and show them some support?

Regular readers will know I have been frequenting Park View Road this season and I will be there again on Saturday to see the Wings make a case to move into the top ten of the National League South when they entertain Chippenham Town.

I have been quietly impressed with the quality of the football in this division and Welling are a capable team when they get going. They aren't consistently strong from 1 to 11 but they make up for that in team spirit and when they are on form they can be irresistible. They have drawn too many matches this season but have only lost three from twelve and are on a bit of a roll.

It's only £12 to get in (£2 discount for Charlton season ticket holders who bring their passes) and only another pound to get a seat if the stands, although I have enjoyed standing once again as well as the customary non-league tradition of changing viewing ends at half-time. There are two tidy bars as well with real ale and live sport.

The banter can be pretty good too. At a recent match one wag kept screeching at the referee that "that's nowhere near ten yards" at every infringement. Eventually he bawled out "can you quote for my carpets?" Down at Havant & Waterlooville last week, a 1980's throwback with Pompey's '6.57' tattooed on the back of his neck wandered up the assembled away contingent with the tired offering of "who wants it" to be met with a spontaneous song of "new Wealdstone Raider, we've got a new Wealdstone Raider!" A tad embarrassed he turned tail and headed back to the home section where he was met with the same humiliating chant. Getting to love non-league!

Karl Robinson ups the ante

Hot on the heels of his comments about 'guarantees' of transfer funding for January, Karl Robinson's latest press talk reveals what the supporters have always known and that was Ademola Lookman was sold in part to cover Sparrows Lane development costs as well as to offset the annual operating loss. 

Karl is now saying that "I think if Esra goes, people have to be aware that we have to have an injection to make this team better." My take here is that there are either firm plans to spend in January or else Karl Robinson is drawing a line in the new turf that enables him to excuse any failure to get promoted and publicly place a 'lack of backing' for Charlton's failure to return to the Championship under his management.


Monday, 2 October 2017

Fleetwood 1 v Charlton Athletic 3

A weekend away with a large party and a packed agenda meant I had to rely up score updates from others. I was down near Uckfield which appears to have next to no mobile coverage. Anyway, the news was good as we recorded a convincing away win against a side who are likely to be competing with us for a top-ten finish.

It was a surprise last night to hear that Tarique Fosu has added himself to our legend of hat-trick scorers. I have yet to see Tarique play but the reports have been mixed and it is some feat for a winger to score a hat-trick. I have yet to see the goals but there is also some inference that he was fortunate to score three times but whatever, that's what he did and he won the game. The surprise injury that Robinson alluded to in the week was clearly Chris Solly as Esra Konsa came in to the righ-back position. Let's hope that's a tiredness injury and not something that will keep him out for any length of time. The three points lifts us back up to fifth and must serve as a well-needed confidence boost after some poorer displays and failures to grasp or hold onto opportunities.

Karl Robinson has taken the decision to postpone Saturday's home match against Peterborough on account of us having the requisite three players (Magennis, Da Silva and Konsa) on international duty. I am not always convinced re-playing midweek suits us but given our current squad limitations and dependence on Josh Magennis, it's the correct decision.

Karl has also now said that Duchatelet has 'guaranteed' him money for the January transfer window if we are challenging for promotion so he can "have a right go." I have no doubt that there has been a discussion around this, as I am sure there has been in each of the subsequent seasons with the incumbent. Whether it's quite a 'guarantee' is something else and it was very interesting to hear Robinson also say that answering the question 'might get me into trouble.' Irrespective, I think it's helpful that Karl has put this out there and help set the expectation. Who knows, it might even force Roland's hand a bit to provide him with more funds than intended, if indeed, there was ever any intention.

Friday, 29 September 2017

"Two new injuries" to "very, very small squad"

In August he was telling us he was "very happy" with his squad and that we would be pushing for promotion this season. News today from Karl Robinson that he now believes the squad to be "very, very small" and he teases us that we have two new injury concerns but won't tell us for some unfathominable reason who they are.

In the SLP article he does say that we are still in a competitive position (despite dropping out of the play-off places) and that he expects us to "have a right go in the (January) transfer market." Those words may well come back to haunt him. We have never had a right go in the January transfer window under Duchatelet despite being told every Summer that we might do something after Christmas IF we were challenging for promotion etc. It's simple expectation management and why nothing will change all the time we have an unambitious and disinterested owner.

We sold Ademola Lookman for £8-11m last January but Robinson saw none of it.   We could cash in on Holmes, Konsa or Aribo in January but that would be about covering our operating loss for the season, not about strengthening our chances of promotion.

I assume from Robinson's comment on the official site today about the two new injuries that these aren't significant although it looks like one, at least, may be out for Fleetwood given what he says. Why he has to mention things every so often that he can't or won't expand on is reminiscent of school kids with unimportant secrets. I do wish he would grow up and learn to keep his trap shut if he isn't going to explain something properly. Let's all pray that Magennis isn't one of them or we could be fielding Craig Levein's infamous 4-6-0 formation.




Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Walsall 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

Ordinarily a decent away point. However, coming on the back of a couple of defeats and a drab home draw against Bury, it isn't quite good enough and conceding a goal in the last minute having just taken the lead for a second time feels like a loss.

For the opening half-hour we really took the game to the Saddlers and should have had more than Fosu's goal to show for it. Josh Magennis saw a header tipped onto a post and we were shooting at will. The problem was we let Walsall equalise before half-time and the second-half was poor as Walsall came more into it and levelled the play up a bit. Substitutes were coming and going before Ricky Holmes volleyed home after Solly's cross was cleared and fell for him with a minute or two left. The 263 travelling Addicts were probably still celebrating when Walsall's Agyei curled in a 30 yarder to piss on our chips. Fleetwood won 3-0 at Bradford tonight and will be chomping at the bit come Saturday.

One point from two games away after our recent sequence isn't promotion form (two points from twelve going to Fleetwood) so Karl will need all his powers of hyperbole to fire his troops to avoid a grim trek back from the Lancashire coast . We sit in seventh after ten games but Blackburn and Fleetwood are a point behind and have a game in hand against each other, so realistically we are eighth. I would have settled for that in August but we will do well to match our initial ten results so mid-table beckons come Christmas with all that, that will entail.


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 V Bury 1

Another disappointing performance and result against a club and side we arrogantly believe we are better than and whom we should be beating. There is so much more to it than that but many can't see it.

We had a terrible start and a poor half having fallen behind to a fine curling shot from distance from the old stager, Jermaine Beckford. Big Josh headed a decent equaliser but we simply didn't have enough threat or dominance to win it. There were less than 10,000 there and the general feedback was that we look increasingly  more likely to be mid-table mediocrity than play-off, let alone automatic promotion contenders.

I was down in Goring-on-sea at Addict Pete's and we spent a fantastic afternoon strolling the streets of Arundel and walking our dogs out along the Arun before catching the second-half of a match at Worthing RFC. The news from the Valley once again confirmed that I am missing little this season as another Duchatelet annus horriblis unfolds.  I was also receiving regular updates from Havant & Waterlooville where the Wings won an exciting battle 3-2 in a game that sounded like it had everything, goals, a double sending-off and a penalty save.

Karl Robinson's post-match press conference was once again a mixture of the strange and the ridiculous.  He now seems to be open to the opinion his squad has limitations in direct contradiction of his early season pronouncements of how he now had what he has wanted all along and that we would be making a serious promotion challenge. He told us, too, that Bury are in a false position in the league, although I am not sure many would agree or that the table will look much different for them in 2018. The funniest line, though, has to be his statement that "an injury allowed us to change shape - we went from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3." It made no difference of course but that's Karl trying to tell us he has a Plan B but that it took an injury to try and which didn't work because we only have one out-and-out goalscorer who isn't prolific!

Two away games now at Walsall on Tuesday and Fleetwood on Saturday. We would do well to win one of these given current form although some will say these are minnows we should be rolling over, just like Bury. The truth is, we are a shrinking club whose squad of players are League One plodders in totality.

Friday, 22 September 2017

CARD fight on

A statement from the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet via the SLP makes it clear that CARD continue to oppose Duchatelet's ownership of Charlton Athletic Football Club and that they will maintain the pressure on him to sell up. They also say that they won't be organising any in-game protests whilst Karl Robinson's side have any realistic hopes of promotion.

I think that is a sound position as it broadly reflects fans current views and, let's face it, it's the fans who make the protests effective, not just the Card organisers. The statement does refer to ongoing support of other clubs who are suffering bad owners and being mismanaged, especially ones we are due to face, which brings the Blackpool game into question.

I am left wondering though whether we have seen the height of the mass Valley protests. I have no doubt that anger and resentment will again build this season based upon what I see as the inevitable consequences of lack of ambition and ongoing budget-cutting in a desperate bid to turn a profit for the billionaire. Already the squad size is being questioned and nearly everyone can see the folly of starting the season with only one proven striker. The last minute sale of Novak and the panic acquisition of Dodoo rubbing salt into the wounds. 

Regular readers will know I am no big fan of Karl Robinson, certainly the tosh he spews to the press, but he has done ok in difficult trading circumstances and he deserves our support. However, he is looking tactically limited given his move to tailor the squad to his preferred formation and the lack of strikers means we look unable to change things when it doesn't start well for us. We have lost all three matches we have fallen behind in this season.

The big question is, when the ultimate disappointment of this season sinks in, how will fans respond? There may be a spontaneous West Stand gathering or a call to protest by CARD but my fear is we will see something more damaging in that yet more disaffected supporters will simply walk away, finally convinced that it's Groundhog Day until we have new owners with some ambition and real transparency. This doesn't mean it has to be billionaire owners willing to throw money around like drunken sailors, just people with the club's best interests at heart and who are honest with supporters about the money available and what can or can't be done. 

It's mighty Bury tomorrow at the Valley in a match which takes on far more significance, given the two previous defeats, than it might otherwise have done. Ordinarily we should see them off but it may be a tougher test given the absence of talisman Holmes through suspension and the gloom of defeat at Gillingham last week. Whilst the focus has been on our lack of up-front options, the irony is we have shipped more goals than any of those clubs around us which means we have a poor goal difference. Lee Clark may set out to frustrate us and play on the break. Our fans have been solidly supportive so far this season but the first booing may be just around the corner. If the Shakers can open the scoring, it could be another bad day for the Addicks. Nicky Ajose is ineligible to play against us but former Addick Michael Smith may start alongside Jermaine Beckford. What price Smith to score?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Richard Collins RIP

So sorry to learn  of the death of former Charlton Athletic board stalwart, Richard Collins. Needless to say, Richard was a huge Addicks fan and one who served the club as Director, Managing Director and Chairman for a long spell in the 1980's. He stepped up in difficult times and was part of the "consortium" including Fryer and Sunley who saved the club from extinction after the Mark Hulyer debacle. 

Richard was from that era when local businessmen (I think it was all men) who were doing well could get involved and make a difference if they had cash to spare and an over-developed sense of loyalty. Collins memorably drove a Roller with personalised plates and I always felt a bizarre sense of reassurance whenever I saw him entering or leaving the Valley. Amazing to think it's the players who drive the big motors today and the Chairmen are billionaires, not millionaires.

When the time is right, it would be good to see Richard's contribution to Charlton Athletic recognised in an appropriate way.