Russell Slade it is then. I couldn't get excited at the prospect of Chris Wilder and suspect that nobody, with the possible exception of Mrs Slade, has ever had their temperature raised by the approach of Mr Slade. He doesn't cut that sort of figure. But let's face facts: given the circumstances we can't be anyone's first choice and there would probably have been a shrug of the shoulders from most of us whoever ended up taking the post. Duchatelet hasn't left yet, the rest is secondary, especially as Slade's appointment cannot be said to either accelerate or postpone his departure.
Others have been doing a good job of late keeping up the appropriate criticism of the regime. Having celebrated the promotion of my adopted French team Lyon Duchere (who rounded off their season on Saturday by trouncing Olympique Lyonnais B 4-1), I've instead been reflecting on how I felt about all the speculation of recent weeks, and why. In a nutshell how can I be so indifferent about who takes over? And just what do I want going forward?
For the latter, over and above all else the departure of Duchatelet, for the good of our club (which also explains the former as no good can come of their remaining). And on that front it has to be said that recent developments have been disappointing. He is still our owner (quite simply no news is bad news), there is no indication that he is about to sack Ms Meire (which itself beggars belief), and with his formal reacquisition of Sint-Truiden he cannot be said to be on a path of extricating himself from football. And he is of course still daft as a brush ("it was not my intention to return to Belgian football ... I'm back but I've never been gone ..."). There's not even a hint of irony, let alone apology, from his partner and Sint-Truiden's new president when she declared that while she will handle the business side "Roland will focus on the sporting side". What a spring in the steps of all Sint-Truiden supporters that must have put; they have our sympathies and, like us, must hope that this period in their history will pass quickly. If they're lucky he'll pull on the shirt next season, that would save on the wages.
That means two things: first, the protests continue, hopefully intensify when the time is right; second, we are really still in the dark about plans for the season ahead and will be until there's some idea of what sort of team might take to the pitch. If there is a secondary objective for me, it is that Duchatelet spends every penny he has in trying to get us promoted - before selling us for a higher price than he could get now. I don't care if that leaves him/the club open to a financial fair play fine, if we have to endure him for another season (which I fervently hope we do not) it seems only fit and proper that he should pay through the nose for the privilege, give Slade everything he asks for, and don't interfere (other than to make the ridiculously long overdue change of CEO).
We know that's not going to happen. I can't help thinking that Daddy Roland thinks we've been a bad baby, that we deserve to sit in the naughty chair for a while under the auspices of Nurse Ratched. Same approach as before in the Championship: hope to be competitive, be ready to take a profit on any player sale, and, by setting the bar low, probably fall short. The degree to which Slade can alter that mindset remains to be seen. In any event, disunity is seldom a pointer to success and there is no chance of that at Charlton under the current regime, something which surely Slade realises.
Seems that Slade will be put through a press conference tomorrow and that probably won't be easy for him, especially with the fool to whom he will have to report sitting next to him (I hope for his sake Johnnie Jackson is on his hols and won't be required to provide moral support). He is bound to be asked about the protests and supporters' attitudes towards the regime. It would clearly be a mistake were he to call for the protests to stop, on the grounds of forging a united front to try to get us promoted. Simply not realistic and would only alienate Addicks. If I was him I'd probably go for something along the lines of: 'I've been brought in to get us back into the Championship and to progress as a club. All I ask of the fans is that when the team is on the pitch they given them their full support (and in return I'll do my damndest to put out a team worthy of that support). What happens outside of that is not for me to comment on'. Then if he's really lucky, Meire will say nothing.
By taking the post Slade inevitably goes down in our estimation, as does anyone who opts to take the Duchatelet coin. But something along those lines would I think come across well, be not at odds with 'support the team, not the regime', and would be sentiments that CARD should be able to live with, while the protests continue.