Sometimes (but not always) how you feel, without necessarily knowing why, is a decent guide. And through yesterday and today, as the news unfolded that the club had been given permission to talk to Chris Wilder (to end any speculation I have no idea if he is coming), the abiding emotion is confusion. How could it be otherwise when we as supporters are once again having to try to delve into the unwired head of our owner to attempt reasonable explanations and possible interpretations? Ah, if only we could be babies for a while and just accept that our owner is almost god (omniscient, omnipotent, just not quite omnipresent).
For example, we have a decent guy opting to leave us, having failed to repeat his previous achievement, of taking the squad of another manager and being able to get enough out of it to keep us in the Championship (I do remember taking a fair bit of flack after we stayed up first time around for suggesting that Sir Chris deserved a good deal of the credit as the squad he had passed on had the character to outweigh the disastrous interventions of our owner; the one passed on to Riga second time around was, not surprisingly, deficient in that area). We don't know whether he was pushed to quit, whether there has been any settlement regarding the time left on his contract, or whether the decision was just his. The press conference given by Jose Riga, in which the use of the word 'liar' cannot have been accidental (not least in view of the splendid bedsheet), suggested he had no appetite to oversee an attempt to bounce back under the current regime.
Given that either side of his spells with us Riga was manager of Blackpool (there was as well another brief network appointment), I wouldn't blame him if he turned his back on English football. But I hope that he gets another job here, one where he is given the chance to create and mould a team of his own. We might then see whether or not he is a good manager. Either way, for us he did his best and merits a warm welcome at The Valley should he pass through again; unfortunately for him his tenure will always be inseparable from the lunacy of the regime.
As Riga walks away implying interference and the prospect of more of the same, in comes a relatively young manager who has come off the back of an outstanding season, seemingly being given a free hand over transfers (and by implication also team selection). Just why Wilder might opt to leave Northampton and join us in our current circumstances - if indeed he does - we wait to hear, but can we infer anything from it regarding the thinking and motivation of our owner?
It's reading between the lines again of course, but I'd offer two alternative - but not necessarily mutually exclusive - lines of thought. Which one proves closer to the truth (of course I'm not ruling out other possibilities, or that we may remain in the dark) may influence how at least this Addick responds.
First, Duchatelet's 'I'm still right and stupid' way of thinking: 'We put together a squad that should not have been relegated; a combination of circumstances - injuries, some customers wanting failure etc - conspired against us and we have a temporary setback to my grand and infallible plans. League One is beneath me and my associates and is not compatible with my vision. So I will select and appoint as head coach someone who has experience of the lower reaches of English football. I will bring in players that he wants, for now, and sit back to watch us get promoted. Once back in the Championship, Wilder will have done his job and may or may not be retained. He could stay if he accepts that we are back in charge now and the priority is once more to break even (huh, what do you mean this remains a pipe dream?). Of course if Wilder does not get us promoted he will have failed and will be replaced, there are still plenty of extremely talented network contacts that haven't yet had a go.'
Second, Duchatelet's 'I am learning' way of thinking: 'I cannot acknowledge it in public (I'm not yet that mature) but the decisions I have taken since buying the club have not worked out as I expected. I am now going to take a decidedly backseat role (ie not interfering as well as not appearing) and will give our new head coach the support he might reasonably expect to get us promoted back. He was selected not just because he understands the lower leagues but because he will be feeling confident and upbeat, can dispel any feelings of failure around the place, and from his record clearly values qualities such as character and team spirit (and anyone who draws any comparisons with my first head coach can leave right now).'
I don't know which might be closest to the truth. What I can say is that any normal owner would, in his own interest, provide some clarification, to at least attempt to get the fans back on board. For me, in itself bringing in Wilder is nowhere near enough to consider buying a season ticket or returning to The Valley on a game-by-game basis. However, we've discussed before what might be enough and if the move was followed by the dismissal of Meire and a mea culpa from Duchatelet - apologising for mistakes (including those arrogant statements), accepting responsibility for getting us relegated - plus a promise to look to sell the club when we are back in the Championship (and in the interim to at least discuss investment possibilities with interested parties), the picture changes.
We all want Charlton to get promoted back to the Championship. I want to be back watching games, with no thought in mind other than urging us to victory; I miss it. As things stand, it still isn't possible and I'll continue to protest and boycott as there is no evidence that Duchatelet can really learn, holding out the possibility of our club thriving under his stewardship. We've just been kicked out of the Championship and our club is currently a byword for abject failure for crying out loud!
To round things off, belated congratulations to Burnley and their fans for their behaviour and support on Saturday, all the reports and photos show they were excellent. Congratulations also to CARD, for getting the balance pretty much right. On the other side of the coin I hope that Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey is hanging his head in shame for his awful (at best badly ill-informed) statement about the "safety operation" at The Valley on Saturday; and that West Ham owner David Gold chokes on his cornflakes for his attempt at justifying having fleeced London taxpayers; no criticism or ill-will at all towards West Ham, but when you've royally screwed the other side in a deal best to just keep mum about it and live on the proceeds. And my own personal award for hypocrisy goes to the lady in the tunnel before Saturday's game. She curtly refused my offer of a poster, advising me loudly and in no uncertain terms that she was "here to watch a football match", while clutching a CARD free programme.
And last is the post-weekend Lyon Duchere update: round 27 (of 30) of CFA Groupe B proved to be a setback but not a terminal one for my adopted French team. Duchere managed a 0-0 draw away at Villefranche, not a bad result in itself (with them fifth in the league); but title and promotion rivals Grenoble secured a 0-1 away win against Sochaux B. This means that Duchere's lead at the top has been cut back to one point (there's very little in it regarding goal difference but I have a feeling that if points are equal it goes on head-to-head results, which I think favours Duchere) with three rounds left. It really is getting into grinçant bum temps.