Wednesday 30 November 2016

Meire & Duchatelet exposed

The eminent WW1 historian, Clive Harris, talks about the conclusion to the war as a series of stunning and decisive battlefield victories which saw us climb out of the mud of Flanders and roll Jerry back.

The analogy here is not dissimilar to the stunning series of victories the Clubs protesting supporters have scored against Roland Duchatelet and the Vichy Regime of Katrien Meire. A decisive victory has yet to come but it can't be far off after today's email revelations....

This piece in the Mail reveals damning emails that expose the truth of Duchatelet's interference with Chris Powell's team selection and tactics within days of ownership. It also joins the dots on the Thomas Driesen affair and shows, yet again, that Katrien Meire has continued to lie in an effort deny the truth.

Anyone with a shred of personal integrity would have walked by now let alone have been deserving of the sack multiple times over. You have to wonder if perhaps Meire is actually related to Duchatelet. That's about the only plausible explanation for why he continues to let her crucify the business that was once Charlton Athletic as she washes away his investment in our club.

The club's response? "We dont comment on private emails." The equivalent of the bang-to-rights criminal's "no comment." Surely, there can be no Charlton fans left still defending the indefensible?

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Karl Robinson - Duchatelet's No.8

It may have taken a week, but Karl Robinson was finally confirmed as our latest Manager yesterday. He travelled to Bristol last Tuesday to watch Kevin Nugent get a five goal performance out of his temporary charges and it was strange that Nugent was left in charge on Saturday whilst Robinson took a seat in the Directors Box. Did they want to risk avoiding him start with a defeat I wonder?

In any event he was revealed to the SLP in an unusual press conference where he was interviewed alone standing in the West Stand. All very low key but maybe that was deliberate after the embarrassing fawning over previous managers whose tenure was short-lived and consequently damning for Meire. It may also be a sign that new Comms Manager, Tom Rubashow, has managed to avoid the high risk of Meire putting her size tens in it once again.

I was impressed with the enthusiasm Robinson displayed and by the commitment of his language towards ensuring his players understand the importance of the shirt. He would also appear to be genuinely impressed to be at a club with significantly more pedigree than MK Dons. I wasn't miffed either at his comment about the need for "unity" between the fans and the club's employees. It is what we need to succeed but therein lies the issue when the Owner's true ambitions fall short of what the fans and the clubs employees actually want to see.

I was left with just one big disappointment and that was the hard-to-believe comment that Robinson asked Chris O'Loughlin to stay on and not return to Belgium (or the Congo). I have to believe that O'Loughlin was actually Duchatelet's first choice or that he was deployed as a spy-in-the-camp as he learnt the ropes for future elevation. If O'Loughlin was a first choice when he was redeployed two weeks ago, it may well be that they changed their mind and went for another English-League-experienced managerial appointment when the cynical fan-base rumbled their intentions, and that accepting Congo Chris as a number two was effectively a condition of employment for Robinson. They may have agreed to save Robinson's face by allowing him to bring in his own man additionally. That would mean too many cooks in my view so I would expect the unfortunate Kevin Nugent, as a minimum, to be exiting stage-left in short order.

Robinson may have had a limited non-league playing career but his managerial record at MK Dons is admirable and they have largely punched above their weight under him. That's precisely what Duchatelet needs him to do in order to stem the protests, win-back some of the fans and make the club more saleable. Whether he can do that with a limited depth squad and the sale of Lookman in January looks a tall order but perhaps he will get some of the proceeds to strengthen our Achilles' Midfield? He first needs to get one over his former club - not always an easy task.

Monday 28 November 2016

Charlton Athletic 1 v Sheffield United 1

This was the fifth home match in all competitions that I have missed this season. I planned a weekend in Amsterdam with my wife for her birthday which was a no-brainer given the state of Charlton Athletic Football Club. I have to say that I didn't even think about the match during the afternoon and it was early evening before I learnt that we had sneaked another undeserved point via a another late, late goal, the sixth time we have done it this season. As we know, these things have a habit of evening themselves out over a season so we can expect to lose points in similar fashion. Millwall to score two late goals to snatch a draw next month?

Anyway, I was pleased to see that those who care enough to do something about the predicament we are in were out protesting again and that we managed to stop the match once more with a hail of rubber taxis. It would appear that some of the fans we have who are pre-disposed to Duchatelet but can't bring themselves to protest, because they think the nature or the protests aren't direct enough for their liking or that they think it's all Rick Everett's doing, are now becoming quite aggressive and threatening via the internet. Internet warriors - how pathetic? I believe some were also more directly disrespectful and anti at the match. This is a sad state of affairs given many of those don't support the regime and aren't doing anything themselves to fight Duchatelet but pontificating and telling others what they should be doing or not doing.

I am sure CARD will reflect on this but we have to ask ourselves what are we prepared to tolerate? I have been asking myself this question for a long time as any regular readers will know. I am simply not prepared to tolerate an absentee owner who has delegated his control and all practical management to an incompetent like Meire who has actively alienated the fanbase, shrunk the fabric of the club, seen us relegated, sacked seven managers so far and doesn't even know when she's telling lies because she tells them so often. The direction of the club is still trending downward and we are very obviously becoming a feeder club which is content to operate small-time and rely upon player sales to make up the running losses or even turn a small profit. 

What that means is that the match-day football will inevitably lack funding, ambition and long-term planning. That is exactly what we are now clearly witnessing and which is why the quality of the team is poor, why we have no continuity of management and why we are driving our fans away. Having missed five homes so far this season I see we have another uninspiring home game against MK Dons on Saturday in the Cup - sub-4000 anyone? It may be Karl Robinson's first full game in charge and against the side he took down with us last season but it's not one I can muster any enthusiasm for and I wonder how far I am away from packing it in altogether.

I hear rumours of potential buyers and Non-Disclosure Agreements and I read in the Standard tonight that the Saudi's are interested in buying a few London clubs that they would actively invest in and who could help them to establish clubs they own in the fledging domestic league. I am sure it could get worse than Duchatelet but it could also be so much better and it's a risk I would jump at. 

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Bristol Rovers 1 v Charlton Athletic 5

A second shock result in succession. Kevin Nugent couldn't have done more since stepping in as Caretaker but with uncanny timing, the Regime moved to appoint Karl Robinson last night.

Robinson was at the match and reportedly told one fan that we needed to "stick together and stop the protests from Saturday." Incredibly naive if true. His press conference should be interesting because even network appointee Jose Riga was wise enough to avoid that pitfall.

Five different scorers last night suggests that Nugent's approach differed considerably from Slade. He was far more positive with his game plan, played two upfront and carried the game to our hosts. Just what those still watching have been crying out for for weeks.

Sheffield United will be backed by 3000 noisy Yorkies when they arrive on Saturday and Robinson faces a baptism of fire. The home stands will again be depressingly empty in spite of planned protests and the reaction of our players to Robinson's appointment will be very obvious.

Very little sympathy for Robinson at this point, which seems harsh, but he can't say he didn't know what he was letting himslef in for. "Here for the pay-off, you're only here for the pay-off" is surely only a matter of time.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Charlton Athletic 2 v Port Vale 0

Birthday celebrations for two family members saw me decide to give this one a miss. I fancied Port Vale so the turn of events was a bit of a welcome surprise. 

Following the debacle at Swindon and the dismissal of Slade on Tuesday, I was expecting another half-hearted performance which wouldn't be enough to beat high-flying Vale. The loss of Ricky Holmes for a couple of months was added bad news and the rumour was Magennis would also miss out due to injury. 

As it was, Big Mag started and it was he who rose to backward-head home a fine cross from Morgan Fox after half-an-hour. It was Fox again as the provider before half-time feeding Nicky Ajose who stroked home the second. I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone comes in for Fox at the end of the season. After the break Vale put us under more pressure and despite having more possession and more attempts on goal, they couldn't get onto the scoresheet.

Kevin Nugent's press conference after the game was a thinly disguised pitch for the job, claiming Slade had laid the foundations and that it would be a great job for someone, if not him. Karl Robinson, meanwhile, has emerged as a possible candidate and he'd be free to take the job having been sacked recently by MK Dons. The job's a poisoned chalice but there are no shortage of Desperadoes who need to get another shot in order to possibly re-ignite their careers. Money talks and if they negotiate a good enough exit package, then why not.

The win lifts us to 14th and takes some of the pressure off. However, this has been a two-steps-forward-one-step-back season, so I expect we will falter at Brizzle Rovers on Tuesday or maybe at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The official gate of 8900-odd has been laughed-off by those I have spoken to who went. Conventional wisdom suggests the actual figure was much closer to 6,000. I think this is the new benchmark and Meire might do well to start a Target 10,000 committee because that's more realistic given where we find ourselves. How depressing.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Meire stumbles on

Forty hours after a delayed announcement about Russell Slade's sacking, we are no nearer knowing who his replacement will be. However, a statement on the Official Site now tells us that Chris O'Loughlin, the former first team Coach at St, Truiden has been appointed to support Kevin Nugent who will act as Caretaker Manager until they can sort out who will actually succeed Slade.

What a mess, or should I say, what another mess. Why sack Slade on a Tuesday evening, three full days after the dismal defeat at Swindon Town if you haven't already found a successor? If Swindon was the straw that broke the camel's back, you might have expected an announcement on Saturday after the game as we have had in the past and an understandably delay (of a few hours at least) whilst they interviewed thirty-odd applicants and decided on the bloke already employed by Duchatelet.

Instead, it begins to look like they took the decision to sack Slade but their plans to announce a successor quickly unravelled. News of Slade's sacking was announced by CARD because it took Charlton about four hours to put it on their website. The Club blamed technology but there were plenty of other ways to make the communication to the press and the supporters even if their website was down, which I don't believe. Despite their ongoing incompetence, it looks more like there was a hitch somewhere in their planning which lead to a short and terse statement of fact late on Tuesday evening that said there would be no further comment until they were ready to announce the new Manager. Clearly they don't feel able to take that decision today so we get the interim announcement about Nugent, Clark and O'Loughlin.

So, what next? The press and the bookies are suggesting names based on who is available in the market but most of those are established managers or those whose careers can't withstand another set-back. They are likely to be expensive, want long term contracts and assurances about transfer budgets and managerial independence, none of which will appeal to Duchatelet or Meire. 

I am then left wondering whether O'Loughlin is their preferred choice but that they are struggling to take the decision because they fear the backlash. Perhaps they now want to make it look like they have actually taken some time to look at the market to justify saying there wasn't anyone they fancied before appointing the soft option? Maybe they leave Nugent in charge for a week or two and then justify O'Loughlin? Today's announcement a half-way step?

As supporters we can't really win here because if they do appoint another established British Manager, it will be a sign that they are considering the longer term and a sellout may be kicked into the long grass. Having said that, my money is still very much on Duchatelet's man.

Whatever happens, my big pre-season bet on relegation is looking better. Holmes and Magennis are out for a couple of weeks and we face 4th, 5th and 6th with chaos ruling. Remember that horrendous sequence last season as Fraye fell when Colchester, Huddersfield and Hull humiliated us in successive matches? Deja-vu?

Wednesday 16 November 2016

A few days in Belgium

Coalition - noun - a temporary alliance for combined action.

"Coalition," the most important word in the C.A.R.D. acronym and so perfect a description for the work between Saturday and Tuesday of two separate groups of Addicks fans who both visited Belgium to take the battle to Roland Duchatelet  on his own turf. Superb concinnity.....

I was very pleased to be asked a few weeks ago if I would be interested in taking a couple of days off work and joining other volunteers to mark the 70th birthday of Roland Duchatelet by letting him know he is always on our mind, even if Charlton Athletic aren't always on his. The dates worked for me and I ended up taking my car as one of the three drivers. The plan was straightforward enough although it was far from clear how successful it might be  but I was happy to take the chance.

It was apparent that the 'Belgian 20' (B20) were heading out for another leafletting drop of Roland's neighbours and that they were going to do their best to ensure Roland knew they, too, were still thinking of him. The plan for our group was to arrive on Sunday as the B20 left and carry on where they left off on Monday and Tuesday. 

On Saturday, the excitement and anticipation of our trip was heightened by a spectacular success for the B20 whilst visiting St. Truiden's ground. They actually managed to spot Roland having lunch at one of his restaurants that form the complex he owns there. A short video clip showed the B20 in the reflection of the glass window holding aloft one of the 'Roland and Katrien, time to go' banners as they sang 'happy birthday' followed by a chorus of 'we want Roland out!' The other killer fact was that he was spotted during the playing of the Swindon v Charlton game at Midday in the UK. This was particularly hard for me to take, killing my long-held image of Roly in his bunker swilling lager whilst eagerly viewing yet another Charlton performance from his notoriously 'live' feed. 

So to Sunday then and a dozen of us met at the Valley to begin our mission. Our secret weapon was 'Taxi for Roland,' a London Taxi that C.A.R.D. funding had paid to be professionally wrapped in a superb graphic which left nothing out. I was especially pleased because the owner, Chris, is an Addick who sometimes accompanies me to matches and someone I met thtough fellow Blogger, Chicago Addick. When I heard we were on the lookout for an Addict-loving London Cabbie, I knew just the man. Our group included a few C.A.R.D organisers but the majority were simply prominent opponents of The Regime. We all required some form of introduction even if most of us recognised each other.
Before we left, we held a brief and simple service of Remembrance by the memorial by the Bartram statue. Clive Harris and Ben Hayes recapped on the lives of the three Charlton Athletic men lost during the first world war and of the one from the second. More of that later...

We then faced a seven hour trek across to France and then on through Belgium and beyond Brussels to reach Sint Truiden. We might have done it quicker had Belgium not been playing at home. An evening's socialising helped us recover and get to know each other better.

The following day we were up and out in the main square in Sint Truiden where
we spent a couple of hours handing out leaflets to anyone who would take one and also beach balls and scarves to anyone more interested, especially the few kids we saw. The taxi was centre-piece and it drew plenty of attention with locals posing for photos. We were very well-received; there was plenty of empathy and one couple paid for 20 coffees in advance for cold volunteers. News of our visit had been signalled by the B20 and several journalists appeared to take pictures and ask questions. All of these were to reappear in the local and national Belgian press within twenty-four hours and be carried much further afield. 

We left around lunchtime and headed to St. Truiden FC at the Stayyen Stadium. From the road this was simply a hotel down one side, a shopping centre behind the goal and a development of flats and restaurants (including the one I recognised from the B20 video). The only evidence of a football club was a small stone monument that included a football. At the hotel reception we were denied entrance and were told we couldn't park the taxi outside or across the road. We couldn't stand on the pavement or congregate. Clearly we were not welcome. We explained why we had come and simply asked that they take our array of gifts for Duchatelet's birthday. At first they refused point-blank but eventually grabbed them up after we had placed them around the stone monument. Job done, we headed for Brussels.
There we battled through heavy traffic and endless one-way systems for photo opportunities for Taxi for Roland outside the European Parliament building as well as the Belgian Senate and even the Mannequin Pis. That done we made our way towards Dixsmuide, a charming medieval hamlet twenty minutes drive from Ypres and Roland's fortune-building Melexis. It was late by the time we arrived and we had heard rumours that Russell Slade had been sacked. Talksport were hosting a show and phone-in that evening so it was an early night and we all tuned in from our rooms trying, once again, to work out what the hell's going on at our club. Ben dialled in to participate in the show which was now clearly reflecting on the empty words of Katrien Meire very recently on the Jim White show where she was trotting out the 'English Manager' line and stressing how they would back Slade.

Day 3 and we were up and out at 6.30am in order to be at Melexis for 8am to hopefully catch workers arriving. The Melexis factory wasn't easy to find, tucked away on an industrial complex and there weren't the volume of workers I had anticipated. Nonetheless, we leafletted all of those who did arrive and the taxi was there once again to greet them. We began to draw attention of those in the offices upstairs and eventually a couple were sent down to speak to us. Unlike the Oik at St. Truiden FC, the Melexis reps were very polite and courteous. After an understandable exchange of views we were shortly on our way to Ypres.

I have never been to Ypres before but it has been on my list for some time. This was an added bonus for all of us. Travelling with us was Clive Harris, a Guild of Battlefield Guides expert on World War 1 in addition to being a fervent Addick. A former soldier himself, Clive treated us to a history lesson that reset many misconceptions for most of us about the Great War. He delivered that whilst we all stood in a WW1 trench system which brought it all to life. After that Clive took us to the Menin Gate which was built over one of the bridge entrances to the walled and moated city of Ypres. Very hard to hold a dry eye when you convey the acres of engraved stone and realise that the 55,000 names recorded of the 'British' forces are just those "to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death." Coming after Remembrance Day, there was an impressive and touching mass of wreaths from far afield from those who will not forget.

From Ypres we had one last task and that lead into the countryside outside Ypres and the low, rolling hills and fields that are now Flanders. Here at the small R E Farm Cemetery we finished with another short service by the gravestone of Herbert 'Nobby' Nightingale, a Charlton player who went to take part in the Greatest Game and never came home. It was fitting that Clive and Ben were with us, these were the ordinary, if committed fans, who had worked tireless in recent years to identify Nobby, Jim Mackenzie, Fred Chick and Geoff Reynolds so they will not be forgotten. There at the foot of Nobby's memorial stone was a small Charlton badge we believe was left by the visiting B20 which was a fitting finish to a superb weekend's work by Charlton Athletic supporters working in coalition to save their club from Roland Duchatelet's disastrous ownership and Katrien Meire's gross incompetence.

I should add that the costs of all of those who travelled (barring the taxi's) were met by the individuals themselves as part of their contribution to winning "the war" with The Regime. It was a tiring three days but wholly worthwhile and great to spend it with like-minded Addicks who are all part of the C.A.R.D.

Monday 14 November 2016

Come in number 7 your time is up

Poor old Russell Slade was sacked today after 16 league games in charge. He will be disappointed but will be able to reflect on a record breaking run of nearly six months as a Charlton manager under Roland Duchatelet's ridiculous regime.

The announcement from the club will be hilarious and should be embarrassing to the point of resignation for any Chief Exec with an ounce of integrity or personal dignity. Not Meire though, she just can't see it.

I would post more but I am currently enjoying a short break in Belgium. More later.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Swindon Town 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

A Charlton side weakened by international absences was comfortably beaten live on Sky at lunchtime by lowly Swindon today.

If there were any doubters remaining who don't believe Russell Slade's squad is thin and particulary short in midfield, then surely there can surely be none now. With Holmes still missing following injury last week and Lookman on international duty, we were left with four pedestrian central midfielders strung across the middle. So no width or pace which left Novak and Ajose fighting for scraps.

I can't really a Charlton chance in the first-half and just before the break we conceded to a huge deflection which left Rudd stranded. Any hope of a fightback was killed off five minutes after the break when Swindon scored the killer second.. the third towards the end was salt in the wounds but then we dead and buried and a number had visibly given in.

Slade will rue his options today and, clearly, they may have made a difference but it was still a lack-lustre performance and those who came in failed to gake their chances. What's more worrying for me was the resignation of so many and the body language was poor. The next three games see us play 4th, 5th and 6th, in Port Vale at home, Brizzle Rovers away and then Sheffield United at the Valley.

Our fourth and heaviest defeat of the season sees us drop down a place to 15th but the five sides below us are within a point and the relegation places are just three points off.  Lookman may well be sold in January but Duchatelet has to authorise a decent striking replacement as well pace and creativy in midfield. The big question is - "is Russell Slade the man to oversee it?"

Saturday 12 November 2016

England 3 v Scotland 0

My failing passion for the beautiful game received no help last night from another depressing Scotland performance in what was a poor match. I didn't qualify for a Scotland ticket from the initial allocation and couldn't spend a morning redialling the ticket-line once they opened a second lot. However, a fellow-Addick called me this week to say he had been invited to buy a returned ticket, so I was in.

I met up with fellow north-easterners who had flown in from Aberdeen and Stavanger and we caught up over a few pints in the Wellington at Waterloo where a couple of England fans joined us. It was a bright and promising day and we headed up on the tube for kick-off. I said my farewells and veered right around the stadium for a great view in the Upper tier. The minute's silence was perfectly observed as I expected, although the Scotland fans I was with were unimpressed at receiving a compliment slip with their match tickets from the English FA requesting that they respect the silence as if it we had no obligation to respect it for our forefathers who have fallen in all of our wars.

Apart from the football my only other disappointment was one of the blokes sitting next to me. A Weegie from Dundee who after following Scotland home and away for twenty-five years as "kilted warrior" was somehow a fervent England fan. He blamed it on the SNP. I am no SNP fan and was strongly opposed to Independence but I can't understand how you can change your nationality so decisively. He followed England in France for the Euros - weird.

Anyway, I thought Scotland played as well as could be expected and my mid-week bet of England by three or more was looking in doubt. Scotland lacked any goal-threat despite decent possession and England looked scared of their own shadow or maybe not that bothered? When the first goal came against the run of play my bet looked better and the second marked the card. 

I left ten minutes before the end as it was all over as a contest and the bloke next to me was getting on my tits. The journey back down the Jubilee line was full of both sets of supporters claiming their side were worse than the others. It felt like a friendly, not a World Cup qualifier, although for Scotland it was a actually a disqualifier. It will be a long time before I watch them play again.

Let's hope our weakened side can put in a better performance on the box today.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Regime in breathtakingly hypocritical move to celebrate fans fight for the Valley

An announcement on the Official Site this morning that the club will celebrate the 25th anniversary of both the Back To The Valley (BTTV) campaign in 2017 as well as the formation of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT).

In a slick PR move, the Club have appointed Sir Stuart Etherington to lead an 'independent committee' to oversee the celebrations. Sir Stuart is apparently a lifelong supporter although I have to say I have never heard of him. I would have thought they could have found someone much closer to the BTTV campaign to better legitimise their plans. The club really don't have dibs on the BTTV campaign, it was lead by Rick Everitt and other fans and directed at the club by Roger Alwyn. I will wager Rick's excluded from any of this that the majority, if not all, of the Valley Party candidates are currently heavily supportive of the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD). Indeed, the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust's most recent survey today reveals that 88% of those responding to their survey support the aims of CARD.

The announcement also puts Keith Peacock and Jason Morgan on the committee. No-one will argue with Keith as he is the last remaining link with the playing past who will still sit in the Directors Box and Morgan is at least well qualified to represent the CACT.

I think we need a properly 'independent committee' made up of supporters who played their part in the BTTV campaign to organise a proper Silver Jubilee of the fans fight and make sure Katrien Meire has nothing to do with it (Duchatelet either, although he won't get of his arse to attend this). After all "I shouldn't say this, but I don't care about the history of the club."

The announcement today is also unusual coming on a matchday and our FA Cup game at that. I wonder if the intention here, timing-wise, is to try and bury bad news of the embarrassing match attendance that they will announce later today as we exit the Cup? Pitch PR working overtime here - must be costing the club a small fortune. They would be better off trying once again to appoint a Communications Manager, although who in their right mind would take the job based upon Mel Baroni's experience?