As others have commented, it really ought to be the time of year when we start to get geared up and enthusiastic for the campaign ahead, rested and raring to go. Perhaps it’s the skinfull last night, the storm during the night, the two weeks-plus of builders (for some very necessary repairs), or the prospect of a late afternoon basking on the heath (which I hope won’t involve falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the next storm). Perhaps it’s the weeks of additional footie handed to us on a plate (we will gloss over my previous outstanding prediction that having luckily got past Chile, Brazil will go on to win it; I didn’t plan for the absence of the two key players or the fact that the rest of them, plus the manager, proved to be pants). But I’m not up for it yet.
I passed on Welling on Saturday as the front wall needed painting and after years of going to a glorified training session didn’t really fancy another. You can’t infer anything from the result or the players’ contributions. In recent years I’ve come away thinking that Mambo might be ready to make the first team (I hope he’s thriving at Ebbsfleet and does go on to have the career he promised) and that Pigott might make a major contribution to the campaign (again, hope it’s only a case of delayed a year). It isn’t malaise, or even antipathy towards the new owner, rather the usual prospect of being away for the start of the season and so mentally some way off getting prepared. As things stand, due to the rigidity of the French holiday season, it won’t be until the Derby game on 19 August that I get my first taste of it, and that’s a long way off.
I may be against us being consigned to Duchatelet’s consortium for a period of time (and may have been tempted to contribute for the Valley wall the fact that my favourite memories were all before he bought the club and will resume after he’s handed it on, but that would have been churlish), but I’ll readily acknowledge that a good sum has been spent on the ground and that the past few weeks have seen us bring in players that at least on paper look as though we can have confidence in being competitive (I’ve no comment on any of those brought as regards their abilities as I know no more than I read, but of course they are welcome and we trust they go on to be heroes, or at least make a more material contribution to satisfying our desires than Polish Pete has managed to date).
Of course it’s going to be a challenge for Peeters to get them to gel, work out the best partnerships and formation to play to strengths (assuming of course he picks the team). But the missing parts are getting filled in, so who knows? It’s daft at this stage to be making any sort of predictions for us, but whereas a few weeks ago it was a case of expecting decent players to be brought in, now it’s one of setting our doubts against those of other clubs and feeling that at worst there will be others facing a tougher challenge than us. Poor Jose (whose gone from being instructed to get the best out of a disparate bunch thrown together by someone else to being asked to create a new team almost from scratch but reportedly not from buy a new team but reportedly not having the backing for his choices), poor Fuller.
On other matters, we still wait and see. Still no news that I’ve seen regarding the promised meetings with supporters groups (no, it won’t be forgotten), some interest in the outcome of Standard Liege’s Champions League third qualifying round in late July and early August (if they make it into the competition proper, does the pendulum swing back to other elements of the consortium supplying decent players – and vice versa?), and now it seems the possibility of the Red, Red Robin being dropped.
On that one I’m in agreement with Wyn Grant (which hasn’t always been the case over recent months) that the song is part of the Valley experience. If it doesn’t suit the players and the manager (what the owner thinks is irrelevant) and fans are not strongly in favour of its retention for when the players come out, shift it to another slot. It isn’t the most rousing of songs, but it is fun and does get us singing and clapping, if not in a rabble-rousing manner. The argument that we’re not Robins so it should go doesn’t hold water. The club badge is an even more recent creation (of the 1970s I think), from a miserable effort to rebrand us as the Valliants. I’d be happy to see that one go, but it would mean more spend on a new crest (and let’s face it incorporating an ‘Addick in some way shape or form wouldn’t be easy). Perhaps Glenn Tilbrook can get the necessary permission to record a version of Mull of Kintyre which would be fit for purpose.
One more acid test of the new regime’s intentions might become apparent when we get to sample the new facilities at The Valley. Prices are for me an issue. I hope we’re not fed some line about the cost of a bottle of water being commensurate with those in airport lounges. It is a cartel approach. I expect (but of course don’t welcome) to get royally legged over if I want to buy some water in that sort of environment; I’m in a captive environment buying something from a company that doesn’t give a monkeys about my interests (which of course means I don’t buy, bar in extremis). At Charlton fans deserve to be treated as welcome guests playing their part rather than exploited to the max. We shall see.
So that may be it from me for a while. A Eurostar to Lyon awaits at the end of the month, by which time my partner Suzanne will have expected me to have finished the post-building work complete redecoration of my place (I have very limited abilities on that front but happily slosh around some paint) and to arrive ready to sort out her shower, washing machine etc before we head off on hols. By the time I return I expect Peeters to have us purring along like a well-oiled machine, rolling over all and sundry. Blimey, perhaps I am getting ready for it after all.