Friday, 8 July 2016

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I'm sure there have been many fine academic studies into the potential negative impact of sales and marketing campaigns, just that I'm blissfully unaware of them. I do know that downsides, in the form of consumer boycotts, exit. For example I continue to balk at any Virgin service because they once sponsored an inferior south London team. We don't forget. So while it is possible that for once Ms Meire is telling the truth and ITRM is indeed a "forward-thinking (I've added the hyphen just to correct the English for the benefit of the club website), successful business which does (correcting from 'who do') great work in the community", I will forever think badly of the company and in the unlikely event of the situation arising would decline to use their services and urge anyone I know not to use them.

It is disappointing to see the news of a new club website, not because there's any affection for the current one (in normal circumstances we would be welcoming a return to a bespoke site) but as any evidence that the regime is planning ahead for anything other than a sale of the club goes down badly. ITRM MD Dave White may say that "this is an exciting project for the Club and all the fans". He is clearly wrong and should be ashamed of himself, if he does indeed have some affection for Charlton Athletic. As for the fans, I hope that every grouping, up to and including the Trust, sees it as in our club's best interest to shun contact with the regime, unless and until there is a commitment from Duchatelet to sell.

You may infer from this that nothing's changed as far as my attitude towards the regime is concerned. And you'd be right. Of course the appointment of Slade and developments since then have given cause for reflection. It is quite remarkable that Duchatelet has completely abandoned his masterplan for the selection of and duties of a head coach, and that the strategy for selecting players to bring in - one so eloquently expressed by Murray not long ago - has gone out of the window with relegation. Those changes are, in themselves, to be welcomed - although surely Duchatelet's regular U-turns (let's not forget the silly reliance on financial fair play) should remind us that he's not implementing some insightful grand plan but rather scrabbling around and moving from one failed initiative to the next. There can be no confidence in him sticking to any particular path, other than one which might involve making money (or minimising the drain on his finances).

The bottom line is that the regime is still in place and there do not appear to be ongoing initiatives towards a sale. The hapless Meire continues to pretend to represent Charlton. So the best we can hope for is that Duchatelet will stay away and not interfere (with luck he will occupy himself with his repurchased Belgian toy), that Meire manages to say and do nothing for as long and as often as she possibly can, for the sake of our club's future and its reputation, and that Slade will put together a squad capable of getting us promoted. In the interim I see no reason to ease up on the campaign to rid our club of the regime, to target all revenue streams etc. And yes, I have no doubts that CARD's shirt sales set against the official strip will tell its own story, as it would seem are season ticket sales.

That doesn't get around a real problem for CARD. I don't go along with the notion that 'we made our point' last season and now should just shelve/abandon the protests so as to maximise our chances of getting back into the Championship. But some fans probably will - and for good and understandable motives. The regime may be thinking that it's seen off the worst and that the recent changes might prompt a change of heart in sufficient number of Addicks. It makes it a tough call for CARD, to maintain the backing of the overwhelming majority of fans, how to define in practise 'support the team, not the regime'.

I've no insight into CARD thinking (I just turn up and help hand out the pre-match materials) but would personally favour something along the lines of 'the protests - of course - continue but for now nothing will be done inside the ground before and during matches, when we urge Addicks to get behind Slade and the team'. If hopes of a promotion push prove groundless, the picture changes and CARD would be ready to lead that change, while in the interim keeping up the pressure on club revenues, including urging no spend inside the ground. The alternative approach - continuing the same level of protest, even increasing it - only works if Duchatelet is led to a sale. If there are grounds for backing that in the short term, terrific and let's do all we can. If not, the risk becomes one of crash and burn, of Addicks being alienated or just bored with continuing, regular disruption to games.

So a new club strip, Welling again, and off we go once more. Nothing has changed (except of course the division we're in, the manager, probably close on the entire squad by the time we actually start the season).

Friday, 10 June 2016

Reason To Believe

I sometimes tell my partner Suzanne things that are not true. She will usually react by suggesting that I’m lying to her. I will reject the accusation, on the grounds that a reasonable definition of a lie is ‘a false statement made with a deliberate intent to deceive’, whereas there wasn’t a bat in hell’s chance that she would actually believe what I had just said. So while untrue, what was said can’t be a lie. Now Katrien’s comments (and we all know the track record) really do seem to fall into a similar category as surely she can’t imagine that we (or anyone in football generally) would actually believe them. They, like the fact that she retains her job, come across as nothing more than a bad joke, at our expense.

So while I can understand Peter Varney being livid at what Meire said and to want to see a formal retraction, as demanded in his statement, I also hope that he needs no reassurance that whether or not he gets one, and whether or not there is litigation, will not influence any Charlton supporter as regards who and what is actually believed. We merely add Varney’s name to the list of those who have earned our respect and trust who now find themselves at odds with Ms Meire when it comes to the truth. We know from both deeds and words over many years that Varney is a Charlton supporter and wants the best for the club. Ms Meire has told us of her love for Charlton but all that she says and does run at odds with that notion. Such words consequently aren’t cheap, they are at best worthless.

In that context, wouldn’t it be insightful if we heard something from Richard Murray on this particular episode? He recently expressed his disappointment at the treatment he has received from fans. He is undoubtedly in a difficult position; he can only quit once and when litigation is in the air silence is perhaps understandable. But whatever their differences of late Varney is a guy who worked alongside Murray for many years and with the addition of Curbishley of course the three together can claim the plaudits for the most successful period in the club’s recent history. Whatever goes on behind the scenes, saying and doing nothing public risks putting Murray even more squarely in the Meire camp and in that event he could hardly complain if he is increasingly seen in that light by fans.

The following is taken from the programme for a game against Preston on 8 March 2008 (the season when we failed to bounce back to the Premiership), to cover Varney's decision to stand down as chief executive (for 'personal reasons'). Murray on Varney: "Every single director of this football club is disappointed with the decision that Peter has reached and will be disappointed to see him leave. He is without doubt the most impressive individual I have worked with throughout my business career." Varney on Murray: "... I must pay particular tribute to Richard Murray, who took something of a gamble when appointing me to the role 10-and-a-half years ago, and who has supported me enthusiastically in everything I have set out to achieve." Where did the love go?

As for Ms Meire, I’ve just seen the announcement from the Football League that clubs will from now on be required to hold at least two meetings with a representative group of the club’s supporters. I sincerely hope that Charlton, as represented by the Trust, will decline to take up any invitation to attend a meeting at which Ms Meire is present, on the grounds that she is not a real representative of the club. I hope that all those who have dealings with Charlton Athletic follow a similar course. Only Roland can sack her but we don’t have to deal with her in any way, shape or form. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Perhaps Not So Dumb

I can't say whether Russell Slade was being refreshingly open and honest or craftily indiscreet at today's press conference, going on the reports and quotes that I've seen. Only time will tell but for me, for now, he has the benefit of the doubt. Many will conclude that he needs his bumps felt for signing a contract which apparently does not include "control over my players", instead relying on a "verbal agreement". I'd guess it's a little more complicated than that - and Slade may be boxing smart.

Assume that Slade wants the job but either knows or suspects he can't get full assurances over player transfers and team selection put down in writing. And to be fair it's not easy once you start going down that road to try to cover all possible eventualities, even if the club CEO portends to be a lawyer. No contract can do that. So instead Slade gets some words, words which he will remember but Duchatelet and/or Meire will no doubt remember differently. He must know that were he to resign on the grounds of these assurances proving to be lies, actually winning any case for compensation would be very much in doubt, his word against theirs (and they lie) - with nothing on paper. Pretty poor deal on the face of it, one which Chris Wilder did not sign up to (and which may not be far removed from the sort of contract that Sir Chris also rejected).

However, by answering today's question as he did Slade has put it in the public domain that assurances have been given. Consequently, if at some point in the future he walks away the world and his dog will believe him and not them. If the club was not toxic to potential managers before, it would be then, probably leaving Duchatelet with little option but to bring in either someone so desperate it would be laughable, or revert to a network crony, which in light of the latest U-turn (now we want a manager, not a head coach etc) would be absurd. So by my reading Slade is not without cards in the game, even if his only meaningful one would be to actually quit (meaning once or twice he could threaten to do so). Doesn't sound like the start of a relationship built on trust, but who in their right mind would trust this regime?

Otherwise it seems what Slade said was reasonable and fair; in other circumstances there could be grounds for optimism. Unfortunately for him Ms Meire could not keep her trap shut, so the conference will be remembered as much for her continuing defiance of reality as for our new manager's hopes and aspirations. And Richard Murray seems to be right beside her. "Fraeye stayed too long, that was probably the biggest mistake". I suspect most would suggest that appointing him in the first place was somewhat bigger, but of course Meire has said previously that every change of head coach has led to improvement.

Murray apparently said "I was disappointed with the treatment I got last year, considering what I've tried to do for this club". He has been called a lot of names on some sites and has had to listen to some unpleasant singing after some games. Can't be pleasant for sure, but the stage has been reached whereby we can't say whether his support for the regime is motivated by his sincere belief that they are good for Charlton Athletic or personal financial interest. I have no idea. If I remember correctly he was retained by the regime to provide a link between the board and the fans. Given what has happened since, it isn't just Meire who should consider whether the extent of their failings in the job should result in resignation, before any sensible employer gave them the push. It is fair to say that whereas when Duchatelet bought the club the retention of Murray was seen as a clear positive (including by me), when the next change of ownership comes (may it be soon) nobody will want to see him involved any longer. And the longer he acts as an apologist for the regime, the further away shift the memories of the good years under his stewardship.

There's a rule in logic/argument form that I remember (and may have used before), reductio ad absurdum. This states (if I remember correctly) that if you can take an argument to a contradiction you can go back and change one of the assumptions (on the grounds that at least one of them has to be wrong). Today Meire reportedly said both "I want to stress, we have the best intentions for this club" and that "the club is not for sale". (I'll gloss over the other one - "I'm very positive we made the right appointment and this will start to bring the fans back" - as it is obviously wrong, or at best wishful thinking.) I'd suggest the two amount to a contraction; if they were truly motivated by best intentions for the club it would be for sale (or at least they would be talking to potential purchasers/investors). But it's not her decision anyway.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Good Luck Russell

Russell Slade it is then. I couldn't get excited at the prospect of Chris Wilder and suspect that nobody, with the possible exception of Mrs Slade, has ever had their temperature raised by the approach of Mr Slade. He doesn't cut that sort of figure. But let's face facts: given the circumstances we can't be anyone's first choice and there would probably have been a shrug of the shoulders from most of us whoever ended up taking the post. Duchatelet hasn't left yet, the rest is secondary, especially as Slade's appointment cannot be said to either accelerate or postpone his departure.

Others have been doing a good job of late keeping up the appropriate criticism of the regime. Having celebrated the promotion of my adopted French team Lyon Duchere (who rounded off their season on Saturday by trouncing Olympique Lyonnais B 4-1), I've instead been reflecting on how I felt about all the speculation of recent weeks, and why. In a nutshell how can I be so indifferent about who takes over? And just what do I want going forward?

For the latter, over and above all else the departure of Duchatelet, for the good of our club (which also explains the former as no good can come of their remaining). And on that front it has to be said that recent developments have been disappointing. He is still our owner (quite simply no news is bad news), there is no indication that he is about to sack Ms Meire (which itself beggars belief), and with his formal reacquisition of Sint-Truiden he cannot be said to be on a path of extricating himself from football. And he is of course still daft as a brush ("it was not my intention to return to Belgian football ... I'm back but I've never been gone ..."). There's not even a hint of irony, let alone apology, from his partner and Sint-Truiden's new president when she declared that while she will handle the business side "Roland will focus on the sporting side". What a spring in the steps of all Sint-Truiden supporters that must have put; they have our sympathies and, like us, must hope that this period in their history will pass quickly. If they're lucky he'll pull on the shirt next season, that would save on the wages.

That means two things: first, the protests continue, hopefully intensify when the time is right; second, we are really still in the dark about plans for the season ahead and will be until there's some idea of what sort of team might take to the pitch. If there is a secondary objective for me, it is that Duchatelet spends every penny he has in trying to get us promoted - before selling us for a higher price than he could get now. I don't care if that leaves him/the club open to a financial fair play fine, if we have to endure him for another season (which I fervently hope we do not) it seems only fit and proper that he should pay through the nose for the privilege, give Slade everything he asks for, and don't interfere (other than to make the ridiculously long overdue change of CEO).

We know that's not going to happen. I can't help thinking that Daddy Roland thinks we've been a bad baby, that we deserve to sit in the naughty chair for a while under the auspices of Nurse Ratched. Same approach as before in the Championship: hope to be competitive, be ready to take a profit on any player sale, and, by setting the bar low, probably fall short. The degree to which Slade can alter that mindset remains to be seen. In any event, disunity is seldom a pointer to success and there is no chance of that at Charlton under the current regime, something which surely Slade realises.

Seems that Slade will be put through a press conference tomorrow and that probably won't be easy for him, especially with the fool to whom he will have to report sitting next to him (I hope for his sake Johnnie Jackson is on his hols and won't be required to provide moral support). He is bound to be asked about the protests and supporters' attitudes towards the regime. It would clearly be a mistake were he to call for the protests to stop, on the grounds of forging a united front to try to get us promoted. Simply not realistic and would only alienate Addicks. If I was him I'd probably go for something along the lines of: 'I've been brought in to get us back into the Championship and to progress as a club. All I ask of the fans is that when the team is on the pitch they given them their full support (and in return I'll do my damndest to put out a team worthy of that support). What happens outside of that is not for me to comment on'. Then if he's really lucky, Meire will say nothing. 

By taking the post Slade inevitably goes down in our estimation, as does anyone who opts to take the Duchatelet coin. But something along those lines would I think come across well, be not at odds with 'support the team, not the regime', and would be sentiments that CARD should be able to live with, while the protests continue.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Bravo Duchere (and Hull), Commiserations Sint-Truiden

It seems there is to be no final day drama for my adopted French team Lyon Duchere. They are promoted!! Bravo La Duch! Tonight they turned over Auxerre B on their own patch, 1-2, while rivals Grenoble were held to a 0-0 draw at home to lowly Montceau-les-Mines. Now with a game left it is still possible that the two can end the season on the same number of points. But the final ranking must be down to head-to-head results rather than goal difference as my partner Suzanne keeps sending me evidence of congratulations being sent around (I shall gloss over the fact that she's had weeks to find out what I needed to know). There is no doubt that Duchere are promoted, for the second time in four or five years, and Lyon now for sure has two football clubs.

Just how Duchere will fare in France's National, the country's third division, remains to be seen. Like many across the continent now getting promoted, no doubt they'll be among the favourites to come back down. We've been there. And there's no doubt they will be punching well above their (current) weight. National contains teams like Dunkerque, Boulogne, Beziers (I'd add Strasbourg, Amiens and Orleans but it looks like those three will get promoted). Duchere games I've been to sometimes have had crowds of a couple of hundred and only recently have ball-boys been a regular feature, rather than the players having to collect the ball. But who cares? Tonight Duchere can celebrate, I hope Lyon will celebrate for them, and planning for next season can wait until after what now should be a love fest against Olympique Lyonnais next weekend.

So Duchere join the ranks of those who end the season on a high. Add Hull to that list, given the outcome of the Championship play-off final today (and of course Barnsley, who confirm their promotion to the Championship tomorrow). Is there a lesson from the fact that two of the teams relegated from the Premiership a year ago kept their managers and have gone back up? Of course there is, just don't expect our owners to understand it.

Football is a zero sum game and as Duchere celebrate the fans of Grenoble will be crying into their Chartreuse (I will join them in a glass later). So will the followers of Sheff Wednesday, while supporters of other clubs have suffered even crueller fates. The news that Duchatelet has bought back Sint-Truiden only fills me with sympathy for their fans. They don't deserve him. Neither do we.

Of course if Ms Meire were to be transferred to them from us I'd be a little relieved. At least it would raise the possibility of greater competence in our neck of the woods. But overall I'm in the camp that believes it matters not. She has no business being involved in a senior position at any football club - obviously nobody else in football would employ her - and if the repurchase of a club rather closer to his heart actually encourages him to stay in the game it is a massive net negative, for us and Sint-Truiden.

We've seen the comments Duchatelet has made regarding "foreign owners" and understanding "football culture". It has been quite frankly sickening to read them. He has demonstrated that he doesn't understand football, what it takes to succeed in the industry. All he does with his words is drive home the message that he is incapable of learning why he fails, in football, politics etc.

Actually Albury Addick rather trumped me with a post about our owner being clinically insane. I had been considering the idea that if I was an offspring of Duchatelet, or a potential beneficiary of his estate, whether it would be possible to have him declared mentally incapacitated on the grounds that just retaining Meire is evidence of wilfull destruction of capital. What other reason could there be?

So tonight let's raise a glass to congratulate all those who have succeeded this season, to commiserate with those that have failed. And to bemoan the fate of those who, at least for now, have to live with the prospect of continued failure.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Regime Is Recruiting

Football in general may not yet be into the silly season - there remain small matters such as Man Utd lifting the cup, Walsall or Barnsley confirming a place in the Championship, and some international tournament soon to get underway in France - but as far as our club is concerned it began once the protests at the Burnley game came to a conclusion. It's always a dangerous time of thin news when groundless rumours can abound; sometimes it's necessary to knock these on the head before they gain traction.

I can for example confirm that contrary to speculation the regime is active and fully focused on filling key positions at our club. I know this to be true as I happened to see an ad for a work experience day for people to get a taste of being a steward at The Valley. We'll gloss over the cheap jokes, such as don't bother coming along if you're parents were married, but should be able to save some hopefuls' time: if you are happy to be instrumental in helping an appallingly-run company headed by near-universally despised (for good reason) senior management, one which needs as much protection as possible from law-abiding, peaceful and innovative protesting customers and which will probably not be around for much longer, get down there asap, it could be the career for you. Charlton Athletic may not have a manager, may have a plethora of unfilled positions off the pitch (and the prospect of plenty on it before long), but as long as we have enough stewards the Football League can continue to absurdly praise the regime, Pinocchio can sleep soundly, and our usually-absent owner can relax, knowing that his money is being well spent.

I do have to confess to moments of concern for Ms Meire in the wake of her comments from the audience at the recent London conference. People do crack up and nobody wants to see a young person with talents - albeit talents not suited to running a football club - succumb to the pressure of being in an invidious situation. But despite the embarrassment she herself must be feeling at what she said and the damage to the club's reputation that she caused, she has not resigned (or been sacked, as she should have been). There's been no public apology or retraction, so we can only assume that she actually believes what she said. Pinocchio In Cloud Cuckoo Land sounds like a particularly dire Disney concoction; but as this regime has turned our club into a laughing stock perhaps it is apt.

So no more sympathy, just a note of congratulations to CARD for the quick reaction to news of the planned 'networking' breakfast at The Valley featuring Ms Meire. The need to do all we can to facilitate and encourage a change of ownership of our club remains as pressing as ever and, although naturally protests will be more sporadic and probably less visible ahead of at least pre-season friendlies, this doesn't mean any change in attitude. That applies whoever the next manager/head coach proves to be, and whatever players leave and arrive. The regime pushed us into these obvious and necessary conclusions some time ago.

And so to the Lyon Duchere update as the fight for promotion from France's CFA Groupe B to National (the third division) saw round 28 (of 30) take place over the weekend. First up were Duchere, on Saturday evening. They did their bit, with what looks like a fairly routine 2-0 win at home against mid-table Mulhouse. It was a bank holiday weekend for France (please don't upset my partner Suzanne by suggesting that the French have holidays for everything as she may point out that, unlike in the UK, when holidays fall over a weekend, such as 1 May this year, there is no day in lieu) and the match for promotion rivals Grenoble didn't take place until Monday. Unfortunately they ground out a 1-0 win at home against (also mid-table) Monts d'Or Azergues.

So it's no change at the top. Duchere have a one-point lead with now only two games to go, just two more victories needed. The problem is that on paper at least they have by a distance the tougher of the fixtures: they will be away to Auxerre B, currently third in the league, in round 29 and then at home to Olympique Lyonnais B, currently fourth, on the final day; Grenoble will be at home to Montceau-les-Mines, who are placed 13th out of 16, and then away at Le Puy, who are 14th. Of course this is football, (unfortunately for our owner) it can't be reduced to an engineering equation or legal precedent. Grenoble's two opponents are both in a desperate struggle to avoid relegation (the bottom three of 16 go down), whereas Duchere's games are against the reserve teams of clubs which have already concluded their seasons, with most first-team players presumably either on the beach or preparing for the European Championship. Just how their reserve teams feel about still being required to be fit and ready for an extra few weeks (the final round of games is not until 4 June) is anyone's guess.

It could all be over on 28 May, if Duchere win and Grenoble lose in round 29, possibly even if Duchere win and Grenoble only draw (I'm still not 100% sure on the way teams on the same number of points are ranked - I sent Suzanne back to France on Monday with a mission to find out). This is after all a league in which the goals don't exactly flow; Duchere and Grenoble are the joint highest scorers but have only managed 38 goals in 28 games (while conceding 17 and 19 respectively). But the odds surely favour Duchere needing to win those final two games to go up. If they do, they will have earned it for sure - and while such an achievement may not match that of Leicester for pure delight (and publicity), in terms of resources and progress (it would be their second promotion in around five years) it will be something to celebrate, in this particular part of south-east London at least.  

Friday, 13 May 2016

Inferiority Complex or 'Go Away and Stay Away'

Can I add anything useful to what has been said by others in the wake of Ms Meire's regrettable breakdown yesterday? Always a first time. Start with the obvious: most of what she said was quite simply factually wrong. "I know what they're trying to do, to break me down ...". It's all been said before, by many Addicks, but she doesn't seem to listen or understand. Nobody means you any harm, we just want you to leave our club as with each passing day you are in situ you progressively ruin something we care deeply about. It's not because you are female, or Belgian; it is because from day one you have insulted and alienated us, ignored us, lied to us, and behaved in a fashion unacceptable for the head of any organisation, while at the same time you have made countless mistakes, related to matters both on and off the pitch, which along with the daft strategies and actions of our owner have resulted in our club progressively failing, with the prospect of more of the same. Just look at the evidence.

For the good of Charlton most (but not all) fans want the owner to sell and Meire is really just a bit part in the unfolding drama. It is sad that she does not have the insight to realise that she is utterly unsuited to be CEO of the club, which requires a very different skill set from a legal advisor. And for some time now it has been cruel of Duchatelet to leave her in the job. Many moons ago in a post I cited a comparison with the actions of the guy I sold a company to; he installed his PA and she told him everything that the employees, including myself, said and did. They in response shunned her, which led the new owner to complain to me that people were being unfair to her. The fault was his, he put her in place and kept her there for his own benefit, not the good of the company. No matter, Meire is ostensibly an adult and responsible for her own actions and career. We don't know if she has a contract (or who she is paid by), but if there is one the grounds for her dismissal on the basis of bringing the company into disrepute should be compelling. Unlike Ms Meire I'm not a lawyer so I can't tell if what she said constitutes grounds for charges of libel, but I hope someone is investigating that possibility.

You have to ask just what was Meire trying to achieve yesterday? To alert the world to her plight? Surely there's already been enough on that. To rally the media and football world to her cause? Now that is another area where CARD deserves praise for ensuring that these two groups remained on our side. Most if not all football fans who look at the coverage will, like us, be shaking their heads in bemusement. Besides bringing yet more humiliation on herself, all she achieved was to, yet again, drag our club's good name through the mud.

Of all that was reportedly said, there's two sentences that really stands out for me: "When I started supporting football 15 years ago, whenever there was a black player they would make noises. That has evolved, why can we not also educate fans ...." The first sentence is at best just clumsy (even glossing over the idea of starting to 'support football', as if the sport in general was graced by her benevolence) and at worst deliberately offensive; combating racism in football is an ongoing, serious matter and trying to associate that with peaceful, law-abiding protests against a regime is itself offensive. But really the insight is perhaps in the second sentence. 'Why can we not ...' Just who is the 'we'? Her and Duchatelet alone? Or perhaps she means all intelligent and successful people, or all people in authority, compared with the illiterate mob that constitutes football fans.

In addition to not being a lawyer I'm not a psychiatrist. I began by thinking that any good one could have a field day with what was said by Meire yesterday, but then perhaps not. Anyone whose studied psychiatry would take one look and point out the obvious. Just try Googling 'evidence of an inferiority complex'. The page I went to outlined seven signs:

1.  Hypocritical attitude: people who do not feel alright about themselves have problems feeling good about others;  
2.  Tendency towards blaming: some people project their weaknesses onto others in order to lessen and ameliorate the pain of inferiority;  
3.  Feeling of persecution: when carried to the extreme, blaming others can extend to believing that others are actively seeking to ruin you.
4.  Inappropriate response to flattery: some may refuse to listen to anything positive about themselves, others may be desperate to hear anything good and are constantly fishing for compliments;
5.  Sensitivity to criticism: although people who feel inferior 'know' they have shortcomings, they do not like other people to point this out;
6.  Tendency towards seclusion and sensitivity;
7.  Negative feeling about competition: not coming first is evidence of total failure.

Does it all sound familiar? I don't know what in Ms Meire's past made her what she is today and am well past caring. In the words of the immortal Debby Harry:

'Don't go pre-fab
'Cause you been had
Don't go be sad
Don't go away mad
Just go away (go away)
Go away and stay away'.