Saturday 27 January 2018

Welling United United 3 v Braintree 0

I have a pretty good record watching Welling this season. From memory I have only seen one defeat, in the cup against Haringay Borough, and a couple of draws at home and away. Apart from that it's all been sweetness and light. I was reminded of this as I took my first pint in the Rose before the match.

Braintree arrived riding high and I feared a home defeat before the game. The first half was unusually short of chances for either side and at nil-nil at half-time, we did wonder whether Braintree would come out in the second-half and open up. They didn't and Welling deserved the lead they took from a free-kick at the Park View Road end. It gave me the perfect opportunity to predict a top corner finish that Calum Driver duly applied. Acheampong was on hand minutes later to finish a loose ball in the Braintree box as the Wings pressed home their advantage. Two-nil and Braintree were finished. They rarely threatened and their heads dropped when substitute, Jack Jebb, cut in from the left and unleashed a swerving drive from 25 yards which beat the visitors keeper all ends up. That killed the game for the 500 gate and it leaves the Wings pushing for a play-off place. 

Meanwhile, Charlton's match 270 miles north at Blackpool was called off unprofessionally late after 1pm on grounds of a waterlogged pitch. Jimmy Armfield, who died this week and who was due to be honoured at the match, would have laughed his socks off at the cancellation. Sullay Kaikai, signed on loan from Crystal Palace on Friday, may have made his debut alongside Michal Zyro although probably late on. Both will have to wait to etch their names in Charlton history. In the meantime I will continue to watch the Wings and urge them on to an unlikely play-off which somehow looks a better bet than the Addicks.

Thursday 25 January 2018


I can't believe I am saying this, but, if Charlton Athletic don't sell anyone else in the remaining days of the transfer window, then there is half-a-chance that we might make the play-offs. I fully expected Konsa to have gone weeks ago but the word is that Liverpool and Everton are baulking at the £5m fee. The Kaikai deal looks off too but he looks less of a need now that 'winger' Michal 'paa-rty' Zyro is on board.

Konsa staying for the run-in would be a big boost and he will have something to prove in the shop window. With Pearce and Bauer closer to being fit again and Chris Solly back in the side, we can expect to tighten-up defensively. 

The midfield has never been short of options although a returning Forster-Caskey would be helpful. We will need Fosu to make up for Ricky Holmes' early season goalscoring and supply form. If we can manage that then it's just a case of can Josh Magennis find his scoring touch again and can Micahl Zyro weigh in with seven or eight goals that should give us a fighting chance of holding on to sixth and maybe challenging strongly in the play-offs.

The thought of Old Yellow Teeth enjoying the rewards of a Wembley visit is hard to take but if it saves him some face on the loss he takes on the club, then I could bear it. We would all know that an appearance there would be in spite of him, not because of him. Millwall finished in an unlikely sixth-place last year and managed to get-up, so there's no reason why we can't do it, if we can hold our nerve.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Michal Zyro loanee

Michal Zyro signed on loan from Championship Wolves yesterday.  He is a tall winger who can play down the middle but his scoring record suggests he has either spent most of his career out wide or isn't a natural goal-scorer. At 25 the Polish national has made limited appearances for the Old Gold since joining in 2016 from Legia Warsaw.

Zyro is a typical signing under Robinson or, more accurately, a typical signing under Duchatelet during the last couple of years since he stopped actually buying players with the aim of improving the team and as potential investments e.g. Igor Vetokele and Naby Sarr. What we have seen is a stream of stop-gaps. Short-term loans or players acquired on free transfers whose wages have been within the limits of the overall pay budget and invariably to replace an outgoing player who was costing us more. My guess is Zyro is on better money than most of ours, so my presumption is that we are only paying part of his wages. 

Given our abundance of midfielders, it would appear that Zyro may have been signed to play up front alongside Magennis and Robinson has suggested that in highlighting his left-footedness as a complement to the struggling lone striker. Even that needs to be thought about for a minute. We have signed a winger to play upfront to plunder the goals we need to maintain a play-off push. I am hopelessly qualified to give Karl Robinson advice but I will be bold enough to suggest this won't be a success and Mr Zyro will be on his way in May.

Still, beggars can't be chasers and, let's face it, Karl Robinson has been made to beg. My fellow.Charlton Lifers seem much more positive about Zyro than I am, so I hope it's just my increasing cynicism with the way things are going for us and that Michal surprises me.

Monday 22 January 2018

Two things Roland

After a rare weekend of relative satisfaction on the Charlton-supporting front - Richard Murray shared what he could in terms of the takeover as well as likely activity during the January transfer window and we won again at home - there are two points that I am left reflecting on and Roland Duchatelet would do well to consider more seriously than he may be appear to be doing.

1. Chances of Promotion

Richard Murray stated the bleedin' obvious in that the club would be worth more in the Championship than as a League One side. This was trotted out as part of the discussion about timing of a sale and, possibly, in response to a question about his commitment to the success of the side during a sale - maybe both. We aren't party to a transcript of the conservation but both topics were covered and Richard made this point. The inference was that Roland may choose to wait three months post-January to see if he can command a Championship price for the club. There was an apparent contradiction in a related point Murray made and that was that Roland doesn't want to be holding the baby come August when he will head into another season of operating losses (c £7m) which effectively increases the price Roland needs to break even and would lower the value of the club to any sane buyer.

The point about Duchatelet's commitment to the success of the side during a sale was clearly around his refusal thus far to sanction any significant strengthening of the side following Holmes sale and the decision to take cash instead of a part-exchange for Carruthers. Richard tried to convince us that he believes Roland will support incoming player deals if Richard pushes the point but I think he failed in convincing his audience at large that there is any realistic chance of this beyond robbing Peter to pay Paul.

That leaves the irony of a man clinging to the prospect of potentially maximising his sale of the club by millions based on a possible play-off promotion but refusing to spend a smaller part of what he might recoup this month to help achieve it. I am reminded of the person who would love to win the lottery but never buys a ticket.

2. Sale Price of the Club

This wasn't covered in the summary and it may be that the Trust knew it was probably pointless asking it, given confidentiality and ongoing negotiations. However, the figure of £55m has been rumoured by more than one party supposedly in the know and the sum fits closely with the idea that Roland's game plan has always been to pile the running costs of the club onto the existing debt and to recover that as a minimum sale price. 

Any notion of the club being worth treble what he paid for it (including debt) given his disastrous period of ownership is laughable. The club has been reduced from a stable Championship side to a League One outfit and the relationship with it's supporters is at a historic low-point with season tickets at giveaway prices and merchandising, hospitality and advertising revenues stunted. Personally, I can't see any reason why it would be worth any more than he paid for it (£18m?) and the hot rumour is no-one will pay much more than half of Duchatelet's asking price in any event.

Richard Murray made the point well that an interested investor will have to have funds to cover two years losses (£14m) but that they will typically have a five year plan to make the purchase a success and that short-term timescales, like missing a transfer window, aren't serious concerns on that timeline. Similarly, if a price cannot be agreed and Roland holds on to determine which division we will be playing in next season, the tide will turn from a Sellers to a Buyers market if we aren't promoted.

There is also a debate about Duchatelet constructing a sale whereby he gets what he wants for the club but over a period of time as and when the debt can be repaid based upon the idea that we become very successful and reach the PL. Why would any buyer agree to share their possible future success with Roland? He wouldn't construct a deal to underwrite future losses so why would anyone give him money in future over and above what the club was worth at the point of sale?

In summary, I see very little chance that the side will be strengthened during January and that we will be overtaken by at least one other club to finish just outside the play-off positions. Duchatelet will have to face the dilemma of either trying to grow the value of the club himself by actually running it properly and investing heavily or having to take the best price he can get for the club. He clearly isn't interested in the first option so sadly for him, that is likely to result in a significant and humiliating loss for him which, frankly, is the only to be expected given the way this club has been run for four years under Duchatelet (and Meire). 

Using the house-buying analogy we all love, when you have your house valued and all the estimates are close, it's pretty pointless trying to flog it for twice what it's worth. Not even I believe Duchatelet is thick enough not to have to see logic and cut a deal.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Charlton Athletic 3 v Walsall 1

After a horrendous December and hangover start to the year, Charlton Athletic recorded their third successive league victory with a 3-1 win over Walsall which keeps them in 6th place and has closed the gap on the three sides above them. Rotherham and Portsmouth continue to breathe down our neck but 6th today looked unlikely after Gillingham beat us at the Valley on New Years Day.

In front of a laughable official attendance of over 10,000, Charlton took a first-half lead through Joe Aribo, who now appears to have found his eye for goal, which will bring the sharks closer to our tank. Walsall duly equalised through former Academy youngster Erhan Oztumer and after that it was a game of who could score next. Walsall continued to create chances but it was the Addicks who looked more like scoring next. Mavididi had already struck the bar when Magennis headed onto a post. The winner came through a Roberts own-goal and Mavididi got his second for Charlton at the death to wrap things up. Tarique Fosu made a telling substitute appearance which raises hope of more goals in the coming weeks than we have been able to muster in his absence.

The next three games will present more of a challenge than the last three, with away trips to Blackpool and Wimbledon but we have a very winnable home game against Oxford United in between. Six points from those should see us maintain sixth place but I think that might be a tall order.

Away from the football, Richard Murray took time out to respond to some questions from the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust leadership. The summary of the conversation here matched what the club have put out (not that they didn't trust the Trust of course) and whilst many are disappointed, I have to say Murray has certainly given us more than I expected. Confirmation of two firm bids and a view on the timeline is helpful and whilst it's only his view at the moment, I do think it gives us a position and some expectations and he will know more any of us even if he isn't a confidante of Duchatelet. His best view of a February sale fits with the decision not to backfill the Chief Exec or Finance Director and Duchatelet's actions thus far in the transfer window, although he was at pains to make it clear that this was only his opinion. You or I might be forgiven for having reached the conclusion that the deal would have been this month for the same rationale. The elephant in the room was any detail or speculation on the price Duchatelet is rumoured to be asking for the club and the huge gap to any firm offers. I didn't expect Murray to comment on that but I had hoped it would be asked (even if he was obviously going to claim no knowledge) and it does give him an out downstream if the club isn't sold although logic screams that Duchatelet's best time to sell is now however much less he is being offered than he has lost on his ownership.

Less convincing for me is his response to minimising the loss of players in the January window. In typical Uncle Richard style, he tries to reassure us that he would call Roland out "forcibly" on the need for key replacements and that his chances of convincing him to spend were "good." That ignores the very obvious fact that this wasn't the result over Carruthers when Holmes was flogged cheaply to the Blades. He also reinforces that point by justifying Holmes' sale by saying that we have lots of midfielders and need a striker to "help Magennis."

So, we stagger on hoping for the best. Good takeover news aside, we probably ought to concentrate on the next three league and see if we can maintain a very unlikely looking play-off place. If Duchatelet doesn't sell before the season ends, I think we will see the season ticket numbers step down significantly once again and real gates next season drop below 5,000 which would see our new-low historic status under Duchatelet cemented and turn us into a proper middle-of-the-road League One club as an epitaph to his disastrous reign. 'Competitive in League One with a constant fear of relegation.'

Thursday 18 January 2018

Murray to speak to CAST and Everton interested in Alex Willis

News from CARD today that they have called off Saturday's pre-match protest given Richard Murray's decision to answer questions from the leadership of the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust (CAST). The news will also alleviate concerns of those over-sensitive Charlton fans who thought that a protest might somehow put off prospective buyers or that it might infuriate Roland Duchatelet to the extent that he continues to torture us even more than he has managed to do so far.

Richard Murray will be pleased but he will also know that he is going to have to put-up on Saturday because if we are none the wiser come Saturday night, the less sensitive Charlton fans among us are going to be rightly hacked-off and CARD are likely to up the ante.

On Tuesday night at the F A Youth Cup match, we spotted a bloke in an Everton coat watching the game from behind the visitors goal. He changed ends with us at half-time. News today that Everton may now be interested in taking youth scoring sensation Alex Willis when they conclude their deal for Esri Konsa. Damian Matthew is clearly earning his corn scouting for Everton in the south of England although you would think he might be getting out and about rather than just giving them an increasingly long list of Charlton targets. 

Roland Duchatelet resisted the temptation to sell Ademola Lookman to Everton too early and was rewarded six months later after he broke into the first team and began scoring when Everton were forced to pay £11m for him. Ordinarily you would expect him to reject any deal for Willis at this early stage in his career but if he's confident of selling the club anytime soon, he may just decide he's another asset to be sold at any price, like Ricky Holmes.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Charlton U18 3 v Reading U18 4 (aet)

I saw my first competitive Charlton match of the season last night as our under-18's took on Reading's Grade 1 Academy side in the F A Youth Cup at Welling United's Park View Road.

It was a bitterly cold night but that didn't stop a fast, feisty and, at times, physical encounter between two well-matched sides. I have been to a number of these bigger youth games over the years and normally the latter stages of cup competitions. From memory we have always run our more illustrious opponents very close but been pipped at the post and last night we were certainly pipped at the post and have done more than run them close.

Reading were a big, upright side who tried to control the match from the outset but Charlton wouldn't let them settle and they were rewarded with the opening goal. Attacking the Park View Road end, Sarong-Wiredu (my stand-out player) picked up a loose ball on the half-way line and raced forward towing Reading players in his wake, he played a superb pass into the path of Jordan Zemura who was brought down in the box for a very predictable penalty - Albie Morgan smashing the spot-kick in. Charlton could have gone two-up but the Reading keeper did brilliantly well to keep the busy Jeremy Sarmiento out following good wide play from Alfie Doughty.

Reading looked dangerous when they got forward but Charlton kept them largely at bay until added time at the end of the first-half when another quick break sent their man through and he beat Ed Harvey with a powerful, low shot.

After the break I was expecting Reading to take more control and that we would see the bigger lad's strength begin to tell. However, Charlton kept up their running and pressing and they forced a couple of corners in quick succession. The first was well placed for the in rushing Willis whose thumping header was superbly clawed out by the Reading stopper for another corner. The Addicks capitalised when another excellent delivery was met by Nwosu and this time the Reading keeper couldn't stop the Addicks from going 2-1 up. 

Charlton were rampant now and the Reading keeper saved again minutes later from another effort but he couldn't stop Willis from notching his 500th (five hundred) Charlton goal (over 11 years) after another delivery was knocked down in the box into his path. 3-1 and the Charlton celebrations looked fate-tempting and a tad premature. Sure enough we conceded within a matter of minutes as Reading headed home a deep cross and at 3-2 we were suddenly looking over our shoulders. Some last-ditch defending got us to the four minutes of added time and with that running out a Royals player was forced out wide by three covering red shirts. However, when he turned back inside, he caught all three out and was able to evade another challenge before slamming in the equaliser. This time it was Reading over-celebrating and it turned the result.

There had been a number of heavy tackles and bookings during the match but tempers were lost in the last seconds as a Reading player was chopped down by Birch and things boiled over. The on-field melee was mirrored in the main stand by what looked like squad players squaring up to one another. Birch was red-carded and my travelling companions reminded me at this stage that they had an early tee-off time the following morning so we decided to pack it in. I, of course, was very disappointed to be leaving the frost-bite behind as we raced for the warmth of my panzer.

Once back in SE7 we got confirmation that Reading did indeed get an extra-time winner and that both sides finished with nine men as the tackles continued to stick, although even then we had chances to have squared things. 

All-in-all another sparkling youth performance which reflects so well on our set-up and bodes well for a post-Duchatelet era.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

CARD calls on Murray to speak to the fans

As expected, CARD have issued a statement today calling on the club's day-to-day leader, Richard Murray, to end all the speculation about the future of the club and address supporters before Saturday's home match against mighty Walsall. The statement, below, speaks for itself but it's high time we heard from the horse's mouth about the ongoing failure to strengthen the side, the exodus of our best players and the laughable number of rumours of what's happening in terms of sale of the club.

A CARD spokesperson said: “We need to hear from Richard Murray about the club’s immediate future. He said four years ago when Duchatelet took over that he would be responsible for the relationship with the fans and that he would speak on behalf of the board when appropriate. We feel it is only fair that we should give him the opportunity to do so. At the weekend manager Karl Robinson promised a takeover update this week, but there was nothing new about that in Murray’s latest comments."
“Holmes has gone and Konsa is likely to follow. We don’t expect Duchatelet to put in extra funds this month, but it can’t be right that the squad is weakened with no guarantee of a takeover. It makes no sense even in terms of getting the best price for the club, because he is making Robinson’s job of securing promotion more and more difficult."
”We want a guarantee that if Konsa goes without a takeover then a significant part of the fee will be made available to Robinson to strengthen the team. We also want a timeline for takeover negotiations with clarity about whether a deal is possible or likely before the end of January. We urge all concerned fans to come and hear what Murray has to say."
The spokesperson went on: “We have not staged any protests this season because we have been aware of takeover moves and did not want to do anything that might have affected a possible promotion push. The club has now damaged that prospect itself, so we are giving notice that the period of truce is over. We will not be organising anything inside the stadium on Saturday, but the gloves are coming off. Unless the situation is resolved, this is likely to be the start of an escalating series of lawful protests, both at The Valley and in Belgium. It’s now up to Murray to explain why that shouldn’t be the case.”

It's simply not good enough to use secrecy of takeover talks for not explaining anything to supporters about what's going on at the club when we can see the damage being done in front of eyes. We don't need to know names or terms, but an indication about timescales and a proper statement re intent for this season is the least we should expect. Duchatelet himself mentioned our promotion push in his last utterance in December when talking about Meire's escape and it was only then that he finally acknowledged ongoing takeover talks.

The club has become an absolute shambles during the last three years and we are now a national laughing stock. The flogging of our best players at a time when we are within realistic grasp of a play-off spot is criminal and an indictment on Duchatelet. All that guff for years about if we are competing in January. Yes he's selling but there is a link to what he takes out of the club and what someone is prepared to pay for it. To use his old family analogy, it's akin to Dad smashing up the family home before he deserts the children.

As usual there are far more questions than answers and we only have Richard Murray as the link (currently the missing link). Let's hope he gets up on his hind quarters on Saturday and tells the club's remaining supporters what on earth is going on.

Monday 15 January 2018

Holmes flogged, Konsa next

Confirmation as anticipated today that Ricky Holmes has been sold to Sheffield United. Ricky has acknowledged some of the criticism aimed at him in leaving as expected by talking about the clubs having agreed a fee and him having a decision to make but it's a promotion and whilst he would love to have done that with Charlton he has finally realised there's no chance etc.

As far as the Holmes deal goes, I made a big error of judgement the other day but saying I didn't understand all the commentators saying Holmes is overrated, can't cross, is greedy and so forth. There was I defending his technical abilities, superb goals, eager running and assists, only to find out today that he's really just a £400k League One midfielder at the end of his career. You learn something everyday.

Next asset under the hammer is Esra Konsa. The much speculated move to Everton, in the footsteps of his buddy Ademola, will happen in the next week or so but no rush because he won't be called on by the Toffees for some time yet. However, he is likely to go for ten times what Roland raked in for Ricky, and that will all drop into the Belgian's bin. "Lovely-jubbly" we say here Roly.

The good news for Karl is that he will be be allowed to use the wages (or part of them I am guessing) to fund another stop-gap has-been as we bid to win promotion.

Meanwhile, all eyes and ears are on Richard Murray as we await a takeover update from the de facto-Chief Executive. Never has the link between the supporters and the Owner been in more of a position of power and expectancy. 

Saturday 13 January 2018

Bury 0 v Charlton Athletic 1

Mark Marshall was there to tap in a winner after good work from Aribo to draw the defence for the cut-back. It was probably what Charlton deserved given several better first-half chances which saw Magennis miss twice and the post struck from a near own-goal. 

Bury looked every inch the worst side in the division but the points move Charlton back into play-off contention in sixth place. With Walsall to visit the Valley next Saturday, Karl Robinson will be hoping to be able to field a full bench which he couldn't manage today. That will likely mean we need another couple to return from injury.

The mood around today's match is very much one of anger and resentment, largely aimed at Roland Duchatelet as it becomes increasingly clear that he is asset-stripping either ahead of an imminent sale, or because now is the time in the January window. Ricky Holmes should be confirmed a Sheffield United player and the only possible glimmer of light from that deal would be if United give us long-term Robinson target Samir Carruthers in return. That doesn't help line Duchatelet's pockets but given the relatively small size of any transfer fee, he might decide to swallow that one and hold out to cream off the £4m expected for Esra Konsa.

Fans are calling for action and some sort of statement is expected from CARD in the coming days. The club is looking even more of a laughing stock than it has so far managed under the disinterested Belgian and there is a massive silence from anyone other than the manager (unlike Richard Murray not to take his opportunity), who is clearly venting his spleen at every opportunity - this evening's press conference at Bury will give him another chance to let rip. He's not exactly a unanimous favourite in SE7 but most appear to be enjoying his tirades aimed at the "bastard/idiot."

Next week promises to be a long one for all involved in the Duchatelet Saga.

Friday 12 January 2018

Bleak mid-winter

As Karl Robinson prepares his side for tomorrow's testing trip to bottom-club Bury, it would appear that the only thing we can be sure of, is more uncertainty as we creep through the transfer window and pray for a takeover that finally rids us of Duchatelet.

Ricky Holmes is apparently quoted as saying he wants away although Robinson has contradicted that by saying he is happy here and would like to stay despite obvious ambitions for Championship football. Unhelpfully, Robinson has also said on two occasions that we haven't had any offers, yet. At his age, we are unlikely to recoup millions but with Duchatelet desperate to offset losses, he could be sold on the cheap (a million or less). It would be a big mistake, in my view, to sell an exciting player like Holmes who has scored 19 goals from midfield in the last year. I also find myself staring in disbelief at some of the comments on social media that Holmes is too greedy, can't cross and is overrated etc. Really? Have you seen the technical quality of most of his goals and the number of assists he gets? He might look greedy because of his work-rate and enthusiasm for the ball but open your eyes and see the bigger picture.

Esra Konsa is again being linked with a £4m loose-change move to Everton. That one is not a surprise given the long-time linkage and Robinson's previous acknowledgement of the likelihood of a January move. Although if it's been a long time in the making, why is he still here mid-month? Perhaps we are struggling with the personnel to complete it without a Chief Exec and a Finance Director? I am guessing Chris Parkes would have to step-up to get any deals done because I couldn't see Murray or Duchatelet knowing what to do.

While the till remains shut and Robinson is stropping about it after every match, win or lose, I am firmly of the view that Duchatelet is likely to throw him a bone if he brings in several million in player sales. He won't be motivated by replacing the quality of the outgoing players or in strengthening the side but he has shown us over the last few years that he likes to have incoming players to justify selling, even if they are frees or loans and less expensive in wages than the outgoing individuals. In typical fashion, it will also likely be too little, too late. Laughably, there are even suggestions we may have to take Nicky Ajose back as a last resort. Whatever happens, any reduction in the overall strength of the side will be another glaring indication that Duchatelet has zero interest in promotion, as I have been saying for three years.

Meanwhile, the Donald Muir consortium rumour rumbles on as do rumours of Middle Eastern, Chinese and American interest. You have to wonder where all these potential buyers were when the Spivs were desperate to off-load the club and ended up taking Roland's £14m plus debt acquisition.

Good to hear from Peter Varney himself about his decision to step down at Ebbsfleet. Good, obviously, that he is not seriously ill as suspected following the vague announcement of his departure from Ebbsfleet themselves. It was pretty obvious that news of his departure would spark speculation in SE7 circles about involvement in a takeover and/or potentially about his health following cancer last year. I suppose he would say that stepping down from Ebbsfleet was the announcement and he shouldn't have to deny interest in a third party at the same time (especially if he has none) or that it was health-related (if it wasn't) although he has effectively had to do that now in any case.

So, to Bury tomorrow. They surprised us at Gigg Lane at the start of last season and a victory against us tomorrow would be less of a shock. They are bottom of the table though and Robinson will be hopeful of points. The big question is can we raise our game from the moribund dross of the last six weeks and manage two goals that we probably need to have any chance of winning?

Tuesday 9 January 2018

How much longer?

We wimped out of the Checkatrade Trophy this evening. Having taken an early lead through Ahearne-Grant, we succumbed to a second-half equaliser and missed three straight penalties to go out. The stats say we had 20-odd attempts but only two on target whilst Oxford had less than half that but twice as many on target.

After the match we have Karl Robinson complaining we are expecting too much of Magennis and that he's missed other targets in Newcastle's Adam Armstrong who has gone on loan to Blackburn and Kieffer Moore who's gone to Barnsley. When asked if there is light at the end of the tunnel, his response was 'no.'

Meanwhile, the word is that Alex McLeish was there again. There may be many reasons why he might show up once but twice in a few days is suspicious. I wonder if they are talking to McLeish as a precaution in case Robinson throws the towel in? I can't see Duchatelet wasting any money sacking him but there must be a risk he walks to try to protect his reputation. At the moment his second season record is shaping up to match the first - dismal. Last season he said wait until he gets his players in. At the start of this season he said he was happy with what he had, and that was after letting Novak go at the eleventh hour. He has had a lot of injuries to contend with but we have still fallen well short and simple fact is our squad wasn't strong enough in August and we have been exposed as many predicted. 

Sunday 7 January 2018

Peter Varney steps down at Ebbsfleet

Peter Varney has stepped down with immediate effect at Ebbsfleet United after five years as Chief Executive. Unusual timing coming mid-season and at the start of the transfer window. Initial Charlton-euphoria that this could signal a re-engagement at the Valley, where he lead the club so successfully last time around, has been tempered by concerns for the 63 year-old's health. Thousands of Charlton fans will be right behind you Peter, either way.

Elsewhere yesterday, reports of Karl Robinson telling fans in the car park after the game that he has been speaking with Duchatelet again and that he called him an idiot on more than one occasion - about time Karl, but a bit late for fan-sympathy. It appears he was told there will be no new players coming to the club this month despite having lined four up - he mentioned Birmingham City's midfielder Stephen Gleeson (formerly MK Dons - no surprise) as well as midfielder Samir Carruthers (previous Robinson target - no surprise). With a surplus of midfielders, you would have to assume at least one of these was a backfill for an exiting player, maybe Aribo or Holmes? I assume the other two were strikers because he would be laughed out-of-town if he just signed two more midfielders. 

In any event it appears to matter not because Duchatelet couldn't care any less and isn't wasting another penny on Charlton - just like so many aren't wasting another penny on Duchatelet. Time for a call for an all-out-boycott if the old fool is still hanging on come season ticket renewal time. Don't give him your money - keep it for new owners.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Charlton Athletic 1 v Oldham Athletic 0

An ugly win but one that we desperately needed to halt the slide. Oldham were as poor as their league position suggests but we still needed Ben Amos to prevent them from taking something from this game after Stephy Mavididi put Charlton in front after careering into the box from the left, slaloming past two defenders before poking his shot in at the near post. 

Bury away next week is a match we should get something from before we return to the Valley and another point-rich opportunity against Walsall. If we could see Duchatelet off in that timeframe, the club might benefit from a big feel-good factor, although this season looks over to me. 

Karl Robinson is speaking out this evening about the need to strengthen the squad but has also said he has had to tell interested parties that "we are not trading at the moment." I feel slightly cheated that Duchatelet has a reasonable excuse for not spending because I am pretty sure he wouldn't be even without an impending takeover. 

I am still boycotting Duchatelet-owned Charlton and took myself over to Park View Road again this afternoon where the Wings rediscovered some form, inspired by fit-again talisman Joe Healy, to send Eastbourne Borough back to the south coast with a 3-0 defeat. Welling started quickly, as they have a habit of doing, and with Eastbourne on the rack, it was Durojaye who opened the scoring after 9 minutes as he arrived on the edge of the area with the Wings working it around. The ball was slid to him in a yard of space and he put his right foot through it to send his shot high and wide of Mark Smith and inside the right-hand upright. They might have score again minutes later when Tom Bradbrook lashed a ball across a pack box. It was headed for the top right corner but somehow, Will Hendon, standing on the line managed to get his head to it and divert it over the bar. Some of those around me thought it just hit him but it looked deliberate to me and was some save.

Disappointingly, Welling came off the gas after that and whilst Goldberg and Romain ran for everything, they weren't committing nearly as many men forward as they had been. Eastbourne didn't really create much until after the break but even then they struggled against the Welling backline. As the game wore on I was worried the visitors might find a goal from somewhere but the non-stop running Elliott Romain was rewarded for chasing a long ball down late on when he judged his turn in front Smith's downfield clearance perfectly and managed to get a deflection which flew back beyond Smith and spun inside the post.

Two minutes later Romain was named man-of-the-match. I understand his loan spell is coming to an end an it could be his last game for the Wings. Perhaps he was conscious of that too, because in added time he stooped to meet a driven cross and his powerful headed beat Smith in the centre of the goal.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Robinson unhappy with takeover hiatus

Karl Robinson has been airing his displeasure at the fact that ongoing takeover talks are likely to stifle any further spending in January. He was able to sign Stephy Mavididi on loan this week but that is a rough replacement for the injured Leon Best and we are still well short of what's needed to turn our season around. 

The big question is do you think Robinson is unhappy that talks continue during January which means Duchatelet is keeping his hands in his pocket or because talks continue during January which means we don't have new owners ready to splash the cash?

My view is very firmly the latter, given Duchatelet has never splashed the cash in January and I see no reason why he would this year, even without a potential takeover. Robinson is quoted in the article, saying "you don't know, if people come in, what the budget may be. There will be people who will be very football minded and will want to achieve something with this club." The obvious inference here that without people coming in, the owner remains uninterested in football with no ambition, which is, of course, exactly what we have had in reality for three years since FFP went south and it all became a damage limitation exercise for the Belgian billionaire.

What Robinson doesn't say, for equally obvious reasons, is that if a takeover completes in time this month, would new owners want to trust Robinson to bring in yet more players given his less-than-sparkling track record with new recruits or initiate the root and branch transformation ready for a fresh start in 2018-19? 

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Meire stirs interest at Sheffield Wednesday

There was a lot more traffic to this site yesterday than expected following another drab Bank Holiday defeat. Approximately 2700 more visits than anticipated and they all came looking to know more about Katrien Meire and why she is so universally despised at Charlton Athletic Football Club. I doff my cap to the Owls fans who did far more due diligence than their owner.

Today she begins the process of interviewing 28 candidates for the vacant managers seat. Let's hope for Owls-fans sake that she makes a much better job of it than she managed at the Valley, in six or seven attempts. What she didn't say yesterday as part of her fawning introduction to her new supporters was that she was about to scour the planet for the best football manager there is before appointing the bloke the owner knows from down the road first-thing the following morning and then having the bare-faced cheek to tell us she interviewed all the other candidates (on a Sunday evening) and Guy Luzon was the best. Like all the others he quickly proved not to be.

My warning to Wednesday fans is that she is charming and will come across as an open-minded enthusiast. However, what you have is a serial incompetent who struggles to work in a team and who's judgement is so suspect that she fails to realise when to stop digging in public. Those of you who watched the VIP Fans Q & A with her will have spotted the body language from a Director and the Captain sat alongside her when she was lying outrageously to supporters and believing she could carry it off, just because she was the Chief Executive. She was asked the question did she think she had been a success at Charlton thus far and her answer was "I must be, the owner appointed me." When ridiculed about the seven managerial appoints in less than two years she told us that "they were all successful, the rankings proved it." There was a stony silence of disbelief in the room because the rankings proved we were further down the Championship table and headed for League One. 

This is who are you are dealing with. It would be impossible for her to be as poor a Chief Exec as she was here and I expect she will try to keep a lower profile but I am a firm believer in not rewarding failure and that's what your owner has done. She simply doesn't deserve the position at Hillsborough because she isn't anywhere near competent enough to hold it. 

She admitted when she landed the job at the Valley as a naive 29 year-old that she had zero experience of football or business. Don't be fooled by her law degree either (Competition Law). Her negotiation skills have left us with a host of overpaid hopelessness on long contracts. The current owners negotiations to sell the club appear have not been going too well by all accounts (and how long it is taking). Probably due to his stubbornesss and desperation not to lose face and a huge chunk of cash in the process. Former Directors have first-call on loans totalling £7m in the event of a sale. Normally you might expect them to acquiesce or defer but when a billionaire with no interest in your club is selling, why not insist on your cash back? As supporters we have been debating this point for several years on every thread about mismanagement, club debt and takeover, but it would appear the Belgians may have been unaware of it which would be typical.

Elsewhere, proof that Roland Duchatelet is going to keep his hands firmly in his pockets once again this transfer window starts with news that the experienced goal-scorer we are absolute desperate for, won't be signed. Instead we have gone back for Stephy Mavididi from Arsenal, a young player whose first team action has been limited to 15 appearances for Arsenal, Charlton and Preston. He is a winger-cum-striker although he has yet to score a first-team goal. Giving him a loan to a club with only a few other strikers who also can't score will be a big confidence booster for him. 

On New Year's Eve Igor Vetokele posted a picture of himself in a Charlton shirt from when he was first here which caused a social media stir that he would be returning. As a network employee making the odd appearances between injuries at St. Truiden that is always likely, especially when Duchatelet has free reign over both end of the transfer arrangements. With takeover imminent I fully expect us to pick-up some network slack before it's complete.

Monday 1 January 2018

Charlton Athletic 1 v Gillingham 2

Gillingham rightly haven't won at the Valley in about a hundred years but today they secured an ugly double that sits like a dirty stain on the club's record. It doesn't look out-of-place under Roland Duchatelet's abysmal reign, of course, but what an embarrassment. 

Karl Robinson had a bigger squad of players to choose from today but proved that the real problem we have is his tactical inflexibility brought about by his one-eyedness about playing a formation that simply isn't reliable. Ergo another game where we are piss-poor first-half, fall behind and then slowly improve in the second half having finally brought on a second striker and become a tad more desperate yet eventually lose 1-2. Without an impending takeover, I think Duchatelet would have fired him around now but it looks like he will limp on for awhile. 

Three draws from the last nine games (including the F A Cup capitulation at Wimbledon) is relegation form and those still talking about promotion are deluded. 

I was in bed trying to prevent my flu from returning but I had a good day courtesy of Cash Out. I had a four team acca (Gillingham, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury and Peterborough) that would have paid £1003 and with three of those results going my way I was desperate for Scunthorpe to take the lead at home to Bury. With several minutes left they did and my cash out jumped from £160 to £650. By the time I actually cashed out it hit £697. A couple of minutes later Doncaster Rovers equalised at Peterborough with the last kick of the game which would have left me potless. Got to love Cash Out! A good start to the New Year even if we were beaten by Gillingham.