Friday, 8 April 2016

Walk A Mile In Our Shoes

Two comments stood out for me following Tuesday night's game. First, how about this excerpt from an Ipswich fan's account of the match and their prevailing mood? "The entertainment value in Suffolk has been sub-standard for most of the season and Mick McCarthy's men have now produced three dire home displays in a row to leave many fans questioning whether to renew their season tickets for next season." Walk a mile in our shoes.

Second, McCarthy himself was quoted as saying "why they are in the bottom three heaven only knows". He is of course perfectly well aware why we are where we are, it doesn't require omniscience. But beyond stating the bleedin' obvious (our habit through much of the season of conceding a lot more goals than we scored) it's perhaps worth stressing that the team Ipswich played last night was only assembled through January and February under a new manager and is perhaps only starting to gel.

Just compare the squad for our last couple of games with that which played our final game of 2015 (a 0-2 home defeat to Wolves). I'm not going to games and can't comment on the merits of many of our current squad (there are a number I've never seen play and never will), but the former contained recent incomers Fanni, Teixeira, Sanogo, Yun Suk-young and Motta, recently returned from loan Harriott, and recently returned from injury Vetokele. The latter contained Sarr, Ba, Ghoochannejhad, Holmes-Dennis, Vaz Te, Ahearne-Grant, Charles-Cook, Ceballos, Moussa and Muldoon. To be fair, at the end of 2015 Cousins, Diarra plus I think Bauer and Gudmundsson and obviously Vetokele, were unavailable through injury, while Watt (now apparently back with us and out for the season) was either injured or already out of the door, I don't really remember. But the only players common to both squads - and we are talking only a few months apart - were Henderson, Pope, Solly, Fox, Lookman, Jackson, Manienok and Lennon. That's eight out of an 18-man line-up.

So we began this season with a new team, one that looked competitive on paper - especially as Cousins and Gudmundsson had been retained - but rather threadbare. We saw it progressively decimated and as results and confidence deteriorated there was too much denial for too long. I remember the comments about us 'underperforming' and that we 'shouldn't' be near the foot of the table; even in his recent rambles recorded on his inspiring visit to London, Duchatelet commented that it hadn't occurred to them that we might end up in a relegation fight (I can't be bothered to find the exact quote). Obviously the spreadsheets said the outcome would be different; we all know football doesn't work like that.

The regime's assumption presumably was that any change of head coach would do the trick. So in comes Karel Fraeye in October as Guy Luzon was appearing to lose it, like Bob Peeters before him. Not surprisingly people are citing that change (ie the decision on who to replace Luzon) as the key reason for our probable relegation; and a record of two wins in 14 games has to be right up there. But just consider what resources were available to Fraeye, with an incoming brief probably along the lines of: 'use the youngsters, whether they're ready or not (we need to beef up their sale value), get a new head coach bounce (because all our changes are the right ones), and if we're still in the merde in January we'll throw a few new players at it to ensure we stay up (as we never fail)'.   

By the time that Fraeye was disposed of, to go for another new head coach bounce, the question wasn't whether we were in a relegation fight but rather whether we were already down. Jose Riga returns (after the unbelievably daft option didn't come to pass), the brief presumably being 'keep us up and if you're lucky we'll keep you on for another year, as long as you pick the kids and don't object to who we bring in/sell'. A manager seemingly at least a bit more interested in getting results than prioritising the youth fish-farm strategy. He did seem to be given a bit of licence when it came to who should come in to try to rescue us. Let's not attribute the 0-6 drubbing at Hull to him, but just consider his record over 11 subsequent games in charge. Overall, it reads played 13, won 4, drawn 4, lost 5 - kind of mid-table form. Split it into the first seven games to the end of February and the six since then and it's a different picture: for the former its played 7, won 1 (the remarkable victory at Rotherham), drawn 2, lost 4; the latter reads played 6, won 3, drawn 2, lost 1.

Sure results are affected by who we've played against. But it seems reasonably clear that there is a turnaround in form and results as the changes made bed in (and of course as winning a game or two builds momentum of its own). With six games left a repeat of the results of the last half-dozen - no mean feat as three are against teams in the top six - would see us end the season with 47 points - almost certainly not enough unless someone else implodes or we win almost every game. Of course, if Meire really believed in what she says, the best thing we could do now to boost our chances would be to sack Riga, as our results have always improved with a change..

In short, this season the frailties of the Duchatelet approach have been laid bare by a combination of injuries, some inadequate spare parts and some factors that people who understand football take into consideration (momentum, confidence, partnerships in key areas, team spirit etc). It is encouraging, going on the reports, that the players are lately showing determination and character, which rightly has supporters behind the team. It is unacceptable that this seems not to have always been the case this season. And it is galling that we could end up going down with a reasonable Championship team which will of course then be decimated (just as the teams at the end of each season under this regime have been ripped up rather than built on). If we stay up - and next up on Saturday Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will have yet another chance to finally do something positive for Charlton - Riga will deserve the freedom of SE7.


I didn't decide through the second half of last season not to renew my season ticket because expected us to get relegated (I'm not omniscient either, and there was the additional factor of finding the network concept utterly repugnant). But I did think on the basis of experience that given the nature of the beast (and there's nothing unique, even special, about our owner) he/we would sooner or later screw up. If your objective is to scrape by there's precious little margin for error (especially when you throw in incompetence and arrogance). Duchatelet got away with it by the skin of his teeth in his first season, having seriously undermined an already depleted squad, and learnt nothing. That expectation created (for me) ambivalence while watching games, such that in the later stages of last season I wasn't looking for reasons to not renew, rather for reasons to make me stay. Those reasons boiled down to whether or not the regime could change its spots, learn from its mistakes, the acid test being some signs of a switch from arrogant contempt for supporters to active engagement. Some chance. 

20 comments:

a2c said...

Yeah well I don't agree with wot your sayin. Iss funny ow some on ere ave such short memories when we always earin the Club should be playin more youngsters then there damned if they do n damned if the don't dahn our gaff.

The owners should've kept old of Riga when e first came dahn our gaff instead of appointin another gaffer at the end of the season cos thass wot most fans wanted n all. But we all make mistakes n the owners are learnin from them n are provin as such all the time n are doin a good job in turnin things rahnd n I ave every faith that if ourn do go dahn to L 1 ourn will do well n be ahrt of it quicker than the likes of Sheff Utd as Katrien cares abahrt the club unlike Varney n Murray who didn't when ourn last went dahn n it was left to Jiminez n Slater to turn it rahnd still we can't say a bad word against V n M despite all their experience cos there English.

Still I reckon ourn ave a good chance of stayin up juss wait n see wot appens but unlike some I always support the players, club n owners n will carry on standin up against exenophobic bullyin n intimidatin of staff dahn our gaff. Still you aint goin to games anyway to support ourn so I rest my case.

c2a said...

ere a2c, you goin dahn our gaff tomorrow to see the boys gainst shrewsbry? reckon 3 more wins will see our ilk make the play-offs n then who knows. reckon we'll be bove this mob next season though - see you dahn the den tomorrow mate

Blackheath Addicted said...

OK, here we go again, let's see if we can follow the argument. Nothing wrong said against Varney and Murray because they're English. Jiminez and Slater are also English, so that means they couldn't come in for criticism. Oops, wrong, start again. You say you always support the players, club and owners. Fine, obviously means you don't believe in constructive criticism. Then we have the repeat of 'xenophobic bullying'. Let's try to be clear on this a2c, are you saying that my dislike of the current regime is down to xenophobia? You don't know me, so you can't speak from personal experience. You are just making an assumption, one that goes against all the evidence, presumably because that fits your agenda. That's why people keep questioning whether you are a club plant or Spanner rather than an Addick who merely disagrees with what is by now obviously the overwhelming majority of our supporters.

a2c said...

Ere are BA. Well readin stuff like Belgians ahrt, seein it dahn our gaff n other anti Belgian drivel to me iss exenophopia n thass all there is to it. As for my support as a fan, I first went dahn our gaff when Graham Tutt was goalie but we aint all against the owners n wot there doin so less not ave the comments questionin my support. Much of wot I read on ere n elsewhere aint constructive iss negative n attackin.

Anonymous said...

A2C IS BACK
NURSE NURSE COME QUICK! LOL

DON'T FEED THE TROLL THE TRUTH IS POISONOUS

True Charlton fans don't write like that,
they're FAR too intelligent. Silly Billy.

Blackheath Addicted said...

But hey, I'm a glutton for punishment. You didn't answer my questions, a2c. Do you believe that my opposition to the current regime and desire to see them gone is down to xenophobia? If you do, I have to say I believe you are quite simply wrong and you are calling me a liar. If you don't, you have to accept that not all criticism of our owner is related to his nationality. I'll have no truck with any xenophobia/racism/sexism etc and am confident that the vast majority of Charlton supporters feel the same way.

I didn't actually question your support. I said that they way you condemn any criticism of the regime makes people believe that you're not genuine (I mean can you seriously suggest we should be happy that things are being turned around?). Of course there are Addicks who are not in favour of the protests and probably some who support the owner. I don't agree with them but would never suggest that they are lesser Addicks because of this.

a2c said...

Some of wot you sayin against the current owners iss very negative n aint constructive like arrogant n incompetent. I don't remember yourn sayin the same against Jiminez n Slater or Varney n Murray n ourn went dahn under the last two, thass wot I'm sayin n there's a difference between constructive criticism n negative criticism n thass wot I'm readin on ere n elsewhere iss always negative n we aint all against the board or wot there doin either. Opposin exenophobia, omophobia, sexism n racism dahn our gaff is wot I always so, iss a shame loss of them protesters condone it.

Blackheath Addicted said...

For sure the time for constructive criticism of Duchatelet has long gone; there's nothing to be said except please sell us on asap. I'd suggest arrogant and incompetent are fair labels, quite mild ones given the evidence. There was plenty of criticism from me of the secrecy of the Jiminez/Slater set-up; I was probably a bit slow at the time to pick up on their turning off the taps, but by then they were looking to sell anyway. Fact is they came in and chose Sir Chris, oversaw the creation of a splendid team, and we went up. There was never any conflict of interest even if all they were after was a return on investment. Murray/Varney oversaw a great period in our history, they earned some goodwill.

It's never been about getting relegated. I've followed us in three periods before in the third flight. But we have never before had an owner who first made our club subservient to the interests of a network (which I think goes against the reasons for supporting a club) and when that plan went belly-up tries to promote us as a factory to produce and sell young players (which is entirely different from selling players from time to time as we have always done). It's these things that set him apart (plus the fact that he's deluded and clearly believes supporters should be seen and not heard).

Anonymous said...

Xenophobic as in not employing any experienced qualified English Championship not necessarily English managers of the six, when there's plenty looking for work. Ignoring them to appoint a 3rd division Belgium manager to manage a Championship club and proposing a 2nd div Slavic one. I'd be happy to see foreign ownership and management if they had any experience or nous. Bring back Sasha Illich (not English) he's offering, the difference is he's played here and knows the league. The troll doesn't admit or recognise that, thereby demonstrating they don't know what xenophobia is. When most shout "Belgiums out" they are identifying their opposition personally, not saying they hate Belgium all people, who does? but the troll is to thick to understand this.
How many times must we tell him!

Anonymous said...

Most of the fans are behind Riga and I wonder what nationality he is? addicted2charlton is still coming out with the same old xenophobic rubbish because the only other argument he's got is that the owners have given us a nice pitch - a lovely pitch for Accrington to play on next season! Personally I just think he's got a crush on Katrien. And the way he writes with that mock cockney accent. It's obvious he's just trying to take the piss out of the rest of us.
I can't believe that we're going down, having seen the the team that we started the season with, but the only ones to blame are the incompetent people that are running the club into ruin.

Anonymous said...

Typical a2c he gets his reaction and goes off to have a troll W**K, the tosser.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Well, it is a Friday evening, we should have better things to be doing. My red should have breathed enough. Peace, love and prosperity for all Addicks.

a2c said...

Wot evidence, constructive criticism is abahrt givin praise where iss due like savin ourn from admin, investin in the trainin grahnd n pitch, avin more meetins with fans wot I can ever remember n puttin them online. Ave you ever met Murray or Varney. When e was a Director Varney ad few meetins with fans groups, I only ever went to one dahn our gaff. E as made it clear e was up to movin ourn from the Valley to Kent cos it made good busness sense. Still yourn reserve all the bile n vitriol for the current owners who aint got such plans but fall for the scaremongerin yourn keep readin on ere n elsewhere.

I remember readin the boards wot were full of attacks on Chris Powell when ourn were in the bottom 3 n all n is style of play n ow many fans wanted im gawn so iss a bit ippocritical to say all was rosy in the garden now innit.

The current gaffer is playin the academy players when most fans who pay in Valley Gold want to seem them progress n thass wot there seein with the likes of Fox n Lookman n Riga is improving results as e goes along. As for bein seen n not eard, well I agree with im if thass abuse against staff, exenophobic chants, throwin things onto our gaff n showerin fans who stay behind to support the team like against Boro than walk ahrt then I support them all the way n always will do. Still Katrien is CEO n is seein fans at meetins as well as puttin them online the last board never did that so I reckon there doin a great job n will always get my support. Katrien is Queen of CAFC n always will be.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Give someone enough rope. A2c, I think you have just betrayed yourself. Utter, silly nonsense. Does your nose grow like Meire's?

a2c said...

Ardly as I've always been pro the owners meself, I don't spend all my time postin negative attacks bile n vitriol against them either on ere or belittle the CEO.

Anonymous said...

I think you'll be seeing how many Addicks agree with you, darn Roland's and yourn gaff next season a2c, about what 2%, you V silly Billy. You will not be seeing lot of fans who have supported CAFC all their lives. If you think that is a step in the right direction, then that's how deluded you are.

I also noticed you couldn't reply to a lot of the comments above so you didn't even bother trying, so how about applying to run Charlton's PR Dept. I'd love to read you writing Roland's big brother addresses to the fans. a2c = V V d1m

Anonymous said...

Doah! I just realised that a2c isn't a person at all it's Duchalet's robot and that's why it can't process information, but just repeats over and over again what it's programmed to say. What a bloody cheapskate RD is, he won't even pay out for a half decent robot. CARD have whip round will yer.

Anonymous said...

Will you all please stop rising to the a2c bait; its a wind up; let it go

a2c said...

Iss all so easy to keep for yourn to keep attackin the boards n owners on ere, juss like the exenophobes n their Belgian ahrt chants n the personal abuse against the CEO, I spose yourn condone that n all. I first went dahn our gaff when Graham Tutt was goalie but don't let it spoil your lies of all the anons n their ilk on ere. I'm elpin to recruit new fans over the summer who will support the team n players, not intimidate, bully n undermine the owners n post negative vitriol. Peraps iss time for yourn to move on after all, loss of other clubs ahrt there yourn can support.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Whether club stooge, troll, robot or not, best to let him/her rant on as the nonsense spouted does nothing but make the regime appear even more deluded and ridiculous.