Well, Pardew did suggest in his last programme notes that this might be the time for the purse strings to be loosened a little. Presumably – barring a takeover of the club - his pay-off further reduces the already very limited scope for the next manager to shape a team, as well as the potential for attracting a new manager if Murray decides against internal promotions. The third successive Charlton manager leaves us in a worse shape than when they arrived. How different we all felt when Pardew arrived. At least the next manager will not have to cope with unrealistic expectations.
Postscripts on the Pardew stewardship of Charlton can hardly be positive. Fortune undoubtedly did not favour him. If a linesman had not made a bad mistake in injury time against Fulham, if the Premiership authorities had not rescued West Ham, if Sunderland had not come calling for Andy Reid. He can’t carry the can for us being relegated (although with eight games to go we were still capable of staying up only to fail to cope with the pressure), can’t take all the blame for the failure to rebound, given the numerous changes that relegation imposed, but as he acknowledged he has failed to arrest the slide that in retrospect pretty much set in early this year as an automatic promotion spot and then a play-off place slipped away. This season he has singularly failed to impose any semblance of a consistent team or style of play, to get the best out of the players, and for that he pays the price.
A realisation of the position we are in should frame the debate over who succeeds him. This season is now all about avoiding relegation, with a dangerous gap emerging between us and teams above us, which is hardly surprising given recent results. Can we afford a lengthy process of advertising the post and interviewing candidates? It’s not as if the incoming manager will have the time or the resources to create a team suited to him. There can be comings and goings in January but the task is much more about shaping the current squad – and righting whatever has been wrong on the training ground and the dressing room.
It seems to me there are two initial decisions to be made by Murray and the board. Parkinson is effectively now the incumbent and it would be invidious to advertise the post a treat him as one of the candidates. Either he is given the job, whether permanent or as a caretaker, for a decent time or he is not. To my mind a decision to open up the position would amount to saying that Parkinson is not considered right for the job. I don’t know the answer.
If not Parkinson you have to assume that it would be worth a phone call from Murray to Curbishley to test the waters. If he wants the job and we can afford him and the associated changes (presumably he still comes with Day, so there would have to be further departures). I have no idea whether Curbs would want to come back, but of the immediate non-Parkinson alternatives he obviously stands out.
If not Parkinson and not Curbs, the choice is to promote from within or go outside. Pros and cons on both sides. Kinsella seems not to be considered as a suitable number one, Robson seemed to be being groomed but found himself out in the cold, and Powell still counts as promoting from within. Gritt’s name is not being mentioned either. None of these options (if they are indeed options) looks especially attractive. One that might – and which may serve as the wildcard factor – is to make Holland player-manager. He is coming to the end of his playing career and seems to be a manger in the making. I have no idea if the time and circumstances are right for him to step up, but of the internal options this strikes me as a possibility. It’s not so different from the start of the Curbishley reign.
If we go outside its anyone’s guess. Bottom line is we would be choosing from a list of motley candidates as no Championship manager is likely to jump ship to join us. Again, our priority now is to stay in this division and to install a manager that maximises our chances of turning things around in a short space of time. Time is decidedly not on our side. To my mind that makes advertising the post as much of a risk as promoting from within. Parkinson would find himself just keeping the seat warm and presiding over a difficult period, especially as he can hardly amount to a new broom.
We have seen, most recently at Tottenham, that a new face can work wonders when the face in question has the happy knack of good man management and good fortune. Equally new brooms have often led to failure. So once more no easy answers. But before we look at possible outside candidates the first two options – Parkinson and Curbishley – have to be decided on.
There’s no sense of joy today, or even relief, just sadness. I’m old enough to have grown up with a succession of short-lived Charlton managers, all of whom for various reasons failed in the job – or at least ran their time at a club going nowhere. Hill, Firmani, Stokoe, Foley (is he too old to come back?), Bailey, Mullery, Craggs all came and went. Lawrence was the exception to the rule for me – and a very welcome one. Fact is he presided over a difficult period but made a success of the job until he too ran his course (maybe he is a comeback alternative?). So undoubtedly did Curbishley. The next guy will at least have something in common with Lawrence and Curbs, that they take over a club in exceptionally difficult circumstances. The qualities they brought are the ones that I hope our next manager shares. Just please let him be a lucky one - and let him, like Lawrence and Curbs and unlike Dowie, Reed and Pardew, leave us in a better position than when he took over.