The past few days have I guess gone as well as we could hope for, although having put Keith Peacock in temporary charge it would have been rather churlish to deny him the opportunity to clock up at least one game in charge of Charlton. I just hope we’ve gone overboard in our fears that Wise will get the job; the new owners can’t be blamed for the bookies making him odds-on favourite (it is nice to see that he’s eased back in the betting from 1/4 to 2/3), although the cliché is that you are judged by the company you keep. We continue to wait and hope that it isn’t him.
So who do we want? There are it seems now two names that are entirely to be desired but extremely unlikely to be tempted by the opportunity, or to fall within our price range. Curbs for me would be a shoo-in if he expresses an interest; I’d go so far as to suggest that the first task last week should have been for Murray, Varney et al to at least put it to him. Of course there are drawbacks in going back, but even if he’d never been at Charlton he would be by some distance the best manager currently whiling away the hours that we could hope for. And if Martin O’Neill can be currently cited at only 33-1 anything has to be possible. Roy Hodgson would be a marvellous alternative. It’s disappointing that he’s not been successful at Liverpool, especially since it would appear to remove another obstacle in the way of the Rednapp getting the England job. And I can’t imagine that he would be interested in dropping this far. I can only hope.
Those aside, do we want a gnarled old campaigner who might have an immediate galvanising effect on the players or do we look to rebuild more with a younger alternative? It would help if the new owners’ comments on their objectives were more consistent. Michael Slater has been quoted as saying that “what we won’t do it create unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky expectations”, that “we will always live within our means”, and that the aim is “to make steady upward progress”. That’s fair enough (although I doubt we are currently as a club living within our means), but what about the other comments cited elsewhere to the effect that nothing less than promotion will do and that given the position we are in sacking Parkinson was geared around going up? The positions aren’t contradictory, but overall I think the impression is that we’re in with a decent shout of promotion and that the new manager has to hit the ground running and be available quickly, especially if we want to make a couple of signings. That for me suggests a bias for experience and motivation rather than long-term potential.
In that context I don’t think you can rule out the likes of Coleman, Southgate, Taylor or Hart or Waddock, even though they’re don’t currently have the shortest odds. I also think the current odds of only 3/1 for Howe look much too short. It’s worth stressing that I have no problem with a suitable manager who has Palace or Millwall connections. That’s not why Wise is unacceptable. Of the longer shots, I’ve always liked (in the non-Biblical sense) Wilkins. He’s measured, thoughtful and would, like Poyet at Brighton, establish a pattern of play for the team. Of course his knowledge of the third division would be limited, but if we want an ex-England player I’d choose him over Hoddle any day. I have to say that there are some others in the betting I’ve never heard of (I could look them up to disguise my ignorance but life’s too short).
Perhaps KP will lead us to victory tomorrow and over the next couple of weeks establish a claim for the job. The Spurs game has acquired more interest, given that another man has to assess what is our strongest available team (without the suspended Benson). But as I said before I won’t be there. I just don’t care about the cup as long as we are languishing in this awful division. There’s also the small matter of having to get to Amsterdam on Monday morning and then at the end of the week to Lyon, returning – Eurostar permitting – in time for the Plymouth game. I do expect to be able to take in a Lyon Duchere home game next weekend; it might make a welcome break. The Valley half-full to watch dire football isn’t a treat and a lot of good supporters have decided to jack it in. It’s not surprising that Wise is viewed by a good number more as the final straw. All I’m asking is that it is anyone else and that he takes us up, however it’s done.