From the ridiculous to the sublime! Sir Chris set to return to The Valley as manager, a true ex-England saint taking over rather than the ex-England sinner we had feared. For sure it’s a risk, but sometimes gut instinct is a good guide. I had to stop and think exactly why I would have despaired had Wise been brought in, even leaving aside conspiracy theories, after someone asked the question in a comment. The instinctive reaction was that Wise was all wrong, which you can then try to explain in more prosaic terms. Hearing that Powell is about to be confirmed for me prompted a smile and a good feeling. That’ll do for now, especially as the creative juices aren’t exactly flowing at the moment (how would you feel after an extra night’s stay in Amsterdam prompted by a celebration bash the downside of which was having to surface at 04.00 for the flight back so that I can unpack and then pack again to go off to Lyon tomorrow?)
The process of finding a new manager also seems to have been conducted well. It was pleasing to see that Howe said that the two clubs which wanted him to decamp (us and Palace) did it by the book (the fact that he seems to be off to Burnley is a matter between him and Bournemouth). Tracking the news from abroad it seemed clear that the fact that Curbs didn’t get the Ipswich job but wasn’t ushered in as our new manager closed the book on that one, with the bookies going on to make Johnson favourite. That in my view would have been a reasonable option, although I’d been pondering on the outside possibility of Dailly being persuaded that the time might be right to take on the job, with Peacock retained to carry some of the load. Instead we’ve got someone with a cast-iron guarantee of the fans’ complete goodwill, whatever the reservations about experience.
(Note to players: if things go badly in the coming months don’t think that the crowd will be turning the heat on the new manager; we all desperately want him to succeed and it’s far more likely that those on the pitch will take the rap; so make bloody sure you do all you can to make it work.)
What does the appointment say? My first reaction is that it suggests that the new owners are taking a realistic approach to the chances of promotion this season. We’re in with a shout, given our position, but with Brighton some points ahead and Southampton having ominously moved through the field, plus the fact that we haven’t been playing like world-beaters, I think we’d all grab a play-off spot now if that was on offer. Bringing in Powell should give the place a lift, which we hope will extend to performances on the pitch, but it’s not the sort of appointment that suggests a ‘promotion or else’ attitude. Barring abject disasters, Powell will have to be given next season as well as this to prove himself, which points to the sort of steady progress that the owners have talked about (which is not to say that the objective for this season doesn’t include promotion if possible and more enyoyable football).
I should add that in previous posts I wasn’t trying to say that I believed there was a conspiracy going on regarding sacking Parkinson – rather that if Wise had been given the job I would have belived that and that for me it wouldn’t have reflected well on the new owners. He hasn’t so there’s an end to it (of course for those who like conspiracy theories they had lined him up only to be taken aback by the strength of the fans’ opposition to the idea and changed plans). Instead we have a new manager we like, admired as a player and as a person (see, we long ago forgave him for his unwise dalliance with Palace, which must have been forced upon him as an unsuspecting youth). I do believe I even shook his hand at the Champions dinner (along with Keith Jones). And yes, it will feel good to get some positive media coverage rather than the ‘fresh evidence of Charlton’s slide’ of recent seasons. So well done the new owners.
Saints preserve us, if that wasn’t enough we’ve even got something concrete out of a promised deal, with Liverpool’s Eccleston coming in on loan for the rest of the season. Fast, young, eager forward who one assumes will be able to play alongside Anyinsah or Sodje and putting the pressure on Benson, hopefully also providing the sort of movement and threat to get the best out of Racon and Martin. If that means, as Wyn Grant for one has mentioned, Abbott going out on loan, well I don’t think there will be too many tears.
You see, just the appointment of Powell and we’re coming over all optimistic again. That will do for now for me. Just the dream ticket on Saturday to look forward to: couple of pastis at the Croix Rousse market, some port to get me through the scanning of the BBC website to track our trouncing of Sheff Wed, then off out to watch Lyon Duchere win in the evening. May it come to pass.