Tuesday 8 May 2007

The Blame Game

Tomorrow we think about possible takeover and the positives from a return to the second tier. Today we weep. Whatever slant we might put on it nobody wanted anything other than a glorious, improbable escape from relegation.

And let's assume we have been relegated. In theory we could win at Anfield and end the season above Wigan, then get the West Ham decision changed. But it isn't going to happen. Personally I hope we initiate/participate in any legal action to try to have points removed from West Ham, or some compensation, if there is the remotest possibility of success. Forget all the nonsense about 'it should be decided on the pitch'. Only eligible players are entitled to be on the pitch.

If the panel which opted for just the fine had said something along the lines of 'having considered the nature of the breach of rules and possible punishments we decided the deduction of points was not appropriate' I don't think anyone would still be complaining. But to acknowledge that the outcome was influenced by a desire not to punish West Ham supporters (what about us?) and the change of ownership at West Ham (totally irrelevant), and that the outcome could have been different if the decision had been taken sooner (again, should be irrelevant), is to lay bare the fact that the punishment should have been more severe - ie included a points deduction.

This isn't papering over our inadequacies this season. It is to acknowledge that an injustice has been done to us - even if we finish second-bottom. Who can say how the season would have ended if West Ham had been sent down by a points deduction? Maybe with the thought that we only needed to get above one other team during the run-in would have eased the pressure. We will never know.

We are one of the victims of an injustice (primarily a financial one) and if this can be rectified in full or in part through the courts so much the better.

So, when it comes to the blame game the three-man panel who decided West Ham's punishment are right up there.

If that factor is set aside, who should carry the can for our failure this season? My feeling is that with so many new signings it was always going to take time for the squad to gel, while a difficult start to the season saw pressure increase on Dowie and the board, pressure which in the end they could not handle. These are my assessments of the degree of culpability.

Alan Curbishley - 0%. No blame whatsoever should be attached to him. We know that he left a poor squad that would need revamping. If he had stayed no doubt he would have made better use of the money made available, while his record as manager of our club speaks for itself. It is plain daft to make Curbs partially responsible for what has happened after he left.

Ian Dowie - 25%. Fact is he was given the money to improve the squad and the bulk of his signings have not worked (Hasselbaink, Traore, Faye, Reid, Puoso).

Les Reed - 10%. I'm inclined to be lenient. He was appointed coach and (to the best of my knowledge) had no aspirations to manage the club. He had no opportunity to buy/sell players to. But he has to take a bit of the blame as he clearly failed to get the team to play for him. He still comes across as a decent man with the best interests of Charlton at heart.

The Board - 20%. There has to be some reflected blame for the decision to appoint Dowie and for the imposition of a management structure that didn't work.

The Supporters - 5%. Maybe the growing dissatisfaction with mid-table 'mediocrity' helped to create pressure that contributed to the season's failure.

The Players - 39%. Collectively their level of commitment fell well short of what we as supporters can realistically expect. I'm sure the management changes were unsettling but too often players seemed to be looking for excuses and to hide. Together they were not good enough and lacked the character to compensate for shortcomings in ability (obviously there are exceptions: Bent(D), Carson, Holland).

Epicurus - 1%. Epicurus was an atomist and believed that atoms followed pre-determined paths. But he didn't want to be a determinist and to reject freewill. So he came up with the 'Epicurean swerve'. According to this every now and then, for no apparent reason and totallly unpredictably, an atom swerves from its path. I suppose it's really another way of saying shit happens.

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