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.