Friday 12 February 2016

The Song, Not The Singer

Seems we have the first installment of the South London Press' interview with Roland Duchatelet. We look forward to more, but the headline message is his support for Katrien Meire, plus backing for Richard Murray. That's bad news for anyone still out there hoping for our owner to show evidence of learning from errors, of compromise and accommodation with supporters. It's good news for those who see no option other than a change of ownership if our club is to prosper, as Duchatelet digs an ever-deeper hole. I was toying with the thought of penning something along the lines of 'please stay Katrien' before there were the blog postings heralding the SLP article, on the grounds that retaining her provides continuing evidence of the delusions of our owner. It really doesn't matter whether she stays or goes, she is not important except as an acid test of our owner's intentions (ie nobody in their right mind would believe she had the skills necessary to run a football club in the first place, or cruelly keep her in her job when all the evidence shows she is not fit for purpose). To distort a very strange Dirk Bogarde film, it's the song, not the singer.

With allowances for anything lost in translation, here's some of the Duchatelet quotes with comments:

"I'm very sorry some people may have misunderstood what she said". Nobody has, this is not about failure to communicate, it is about the message.

"I can certainly say she never meant to hurt anybody and she really is working for the club. It's a pity because she is a fantastic lady and she has a huge heart for Charlton". This may all be true but is irrelevant. It's not about commitment and dedication (I do take some issue with the idea that she was in love with the club from day one; Slater was better at that, everyone knew he was a Man City fan but he talked in terms of a growing affection for Charlton), it is about competence.

I'm not going to repeat the garbled attempt to justify what she said in Dublin, we all watched the performance and understood well enough what she said.

"She is a fantastic woman, extremely dedicated. She has done extremely good work so far in all sorts of things. I'm very happy with it". First, please give us some examples of this 'good work' because I'm not aware of any (at least none that provide much counterbalance to the long list of errors). Second, it is a big relief to us all, Mr Duchatelet, that you are 'very happy with it', we can sleep easy now. After all, this is all that matters.

The defence of Murray that follows was going OK, until we came to this: "It's painful to say so, because he supported also Katrien, that some fans are starting to see him as an enemy - which is crazy". It is precisely because he seems to be supporting Katrien, and you Roland, that some fans are moving this way. I do think that some of the criticism of Murray may be going too far, at least at this stage. The past does give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to wanting the best for Charlton. But we can only go on what is said and Murray has commented that he thinks Duchatelet can be a good long-term owner of the club, so he could have good intentions but just be wrong. I would like to hear whether he still believes that and, if so, just why. It is of course possible that Murray regards Duchatelet as off his rocker but a necessary - for now - writer of the cheques to keep the club in existence. But that leads us back to the club's refusal to talk to Peter Varney.

I've only ever met Murray in an arranged meeting with some bloggers at the club, when (if I remember and interpreted correctly) having failed to bounce back into the Premiership he wanted to get across the message that the priority would be balancing the books. So I cannot claim any insight into his thinking and motivation. Which is just an excuse for regurgitating this little gem concerning Murray from Gary Nelson's Left Foot Forward. "There was a real 'up' feeling as we trained this morning. Richard Murray, our recently installed managing director, caught the mood as, emerging from his top-of-the-range Merck he drew in a deep breath. "What a wonderful day to be a footballer!" he exclaimed. "And a bloody sight better one for being a millionaire!" Alan Pardew instantly retorted. It was by some way his best strike of the season."

So, from Duchatelet no grand gesture to try to reconstruct some bridges with the fans, at least not yet. So be it. The fans, the manager and the players move on to the Cardiff game tomorrow, which has taken on much extra importance after the lame showing against Bristol City. I thought before that the Rotherham and Bristol games were primarily 'must not lose' rather than 'must win'. Cardiff, I'd suggest, is a 'must give the supporters reason to believe with a committed display' - although an indifferent display and a fluked win would be quite acceptable.


Terry Ryall said...

What is clear is that RD is not interested in releasing CAFC from his, thus far, catastrophic grip. His current statements through the South London Press even after the most cursory consideration will only serve to widen the already yawning chasm between the aspirations of the majority of Charlton fans and those of the owner. Making money from selling young talent produced by the Academy is his sole purpose, relegating CAFC to the status of a department store where the Premier League can do their shopping. It won't work of course because such a stubborn, idiotically myopic focus fails to take into account the true nature of the totality of a football club and the expertise required to make such a complex entity function well. Frankly, we can ignore what RD has to say as it is only necessary to focus on one aspect of his stewardship and that is his actions. Collectively, the culmination of ill-judged head coach appointments, the failure to then adequately support them, bizarre player recruitment, continuing support for a hopelessly out of depth CEO, sees CAFC at the foot of the Championship and most people's favourites to be playing League 1 football next season. But lest we should forget, CAFC under Duchatelet is, ultimately, no longer about aspiration and glory through football,it is about MONEY.
The following is what RD has to say on the theme of mistakes and I have altered only the order of sentences to emphasise the obvious point; " In my businesses we have a culture of learning from mistakes. This is very common in industry. If you don't do that you are stupid. We have sometimes made the same mistakes again" and again and again and again.
Turning briefly to football I agree entirely BA with your view about the Rotherham and Bristol games as being ones not to lose rather than must win but Riga has very little time to get some winning momentum going and you have to think that Warnock's appointment at Rotherham is not good news for Charlton. At any point now the wrong combination of results could see us hopelessly adrift especially with the wretched goal difference.

Burgundy Addick said...

Terry, I'd agree with almost all you've written. Just the issue of whether it's all about money for Duchatelet. At one level I'd agree, that whether or not he makes money is the yardstick by which he judges success or failure. But I suspect there's something less noble in there, he wants to be proven right, to show the world how clever he is by making money where others fail to do so. Also, having now had the chance to watch the interview clips on the club site, there is that weird passage where he seems to outline the wonderful vision for Charlton as a sort of glorified boys' (and girls') club, while providing a nice meeting place for supporters. At the same time he says Charlton are over the long term "potentially the best club in London". So being the best club in London is perhaps no longer about being the best at football but the one contributing most to the positive development of young people. Utterly confused nonsense.

Terry Ryall said...

Yes, I take your point BA. He is clearly a dreamer but for most this particular dream has long turned into a nightmare and Duchatelet's CAFC has become a medium for which a football club was never intended. From what you say (I haven't heard the interview)it seems highly likely that relegation will not significantly dent his real ambitions for the club. Dark days indeed.

Burgundy Addick said...

Do listen to the interview if you have the time Terry, it really is curious listening to the guy. He is obviously ready for the prepared question and gives the appropriate sort of first response, then seems often to drift off into his own world. It's like 'yah, I saw and bought this really nice bakery, it makes good bread. But I think we can be really good at making bicycles. We've made a few mistakes but we learn from them and even though I've had to sack every head cyclist for running out of steam and falling off our bikes we are making bikes that young people could be proud to ride, in the community. Now we just need to stop losing money ...'. And he passed the 'fit and proper' test.

Terry Ryall said...

Just caught up with RD's interviews. As somebody else commented he keeps returning to emphasise the importance of the Academy,the training ground, improvements to the Valley and so on, continually trying to emphasise the merits of the least contentious aspects of his stewardship.
It seemed like he really believed that turning up in this fashion, like a remote self-styled emperor stooping to calm his angry subjects,and giving interviews with, to say the least, less than vigorous and challenging questioning would somehow ease the situation. Quite incredible.