As I was going about my business over the weekend after the Swindon game there were two Charlton-related questions on my mind: first, how does CARD take the protests closer to our owner's heartland?; and second, would the manner in which Russell Slade was appointed - ie the hollow claim that the regime is capable of learning from its mistakes - get him a longer stay of execution than others? Didn't have to wait long for the answers.
The 'Taxi for Roland' stunt is splendid, fully in keeping with the wit, intelligence and effectiveness (in terms of positive media coverage, not yet in terms of getting rid of the regime) of the protests, and the accompanying fortuitous encounter with birthday-boy Duchatelet for the banner-wielding fans at Sint-Truiden, the 'Live Feed' recording, will go down in Charlton history, when the sorry chapter on the regime is written. It must have been upsetting afterwards for an elderly owner of some football clubs to have been told by some PR upstarts that it wouldn't be a good idea to deliver another lecture to his errant babies about his birthday burger being sacrosanct, so the pompous ire had to be directed elsewhere: sack the manager, for it cannot be Meire, or the Boy Scout.
I was out last night and only saw the news on a late return. And when you're late out of the traps you struggle to find anything original to say. I spent a bit of time Googling around a theme of when does farce become tragedy (or vice versa) but there's just no point in trying to be clever (it's never worked for me in the past). Fact is nothing going on at our club can really be considered tragedy and I'm not sure for most involved it even stacks up as farce.
Slade will presumably keep his mouth shut about events off the pitch, at least until the cheque has cleared (does that phrase show my age?). He can't be that surprised, given the league table and our owner's track record - and if the emerging reports are to be believed the undermining presence of his successor at recent games. He may not look back on his time at Charlton as the highlight of his career, but having signed a three-year deal in early June when he looks at his new extension and patio doors he might reflect on a good decision to take on an impossible task and get paid off asap. That is of course deliberately too cynical, I'm sure Slade took the job in good faith and did his best. Just that few if any in the football world will blame him for the failure of his tenure and when he moves on to his next lower league appointment, perhaps after a bit of a holiday to get away for a while from winter and Brexit blues, I'm sure he'll be feeling fine. (Have to say though, when it comes to being damned by faint praise the epitaph of being thanked in particular for "the processes and disciplines he has instilled at the training ground" takes some beating.)
The fact that the regime statement doesn't mention anyone taking charge of the first team even temporarily, plus the reports from others that the next guy already had one foot in the door, suggests that an appointment will be confirmed in good time for Saturday's game. Clearly no need this time to have to pretend to go through an application and appointment process. That in turn points to no good reason to go against the reports that one Chris O'Loughlin will be next on the conveyor belt (whether or not as manager or with a reversion to head coach remains to be seen). I know absolutely nothing about the guy, would just warn for what it's worth that getting embroiled in and identified with a Duchatelet network at this stage of your career doesn't look very bright, however hard you've found it to get a job in Northern Ireland. You could end up like Meire. Sorry no, no possibility of that as you will be out of the door long before she has the self-awareness to walk or her employer the common sense to sack her.
Meanwhile, the 1.5% owner can't have any sense of tragedy, let alone failure. If the price for Lookman in January doesn't prove to be high enough to keep the loss at an acceptable level, add in Konsa. Leave it to Meire and the PR team to peddle the nonsense about promotion being a 'number one priority'.
The only people for whom this situation comes close to a tragedy are those who care about our club. That includes some of the players, most obviously Jackson and Solly (and I really can't blame many of the others for not giving a monkey's and going through the motions), but primarily of course all Addicks. It does not include the regime and all its cohorts and hangers-on, including those companies daft enough to recently sign deals. They will not be forgotten when it comes to consumer boycotts, even after the regime has left the building.
In the face of never-ending farce, most Addicks are doing all that is possible: support the protests and inevitably care less and less. There have been some great pieces recently from others outlining with some despair how they are becoming increasingly indifferent to our fate on the pitch. All I can say is be of good cheer, put the emotions on hold. I'm into my second season of boycott but don't (yet) have any doubt that once they have left I will be back, whatever division we are in, and I'm confident that the passion will be rekindled. The response to the latest events is really just a shrug of the shoulders: it's what these buffoons do because from the start they didn't know how to succeed and without the backing of the fans success - in the sense that we understand it - is near-impossible. If the efforts of our guys in Belgium spoilt a certain man's birthday lunch I am absolutely delighted. The ridicule is only going to intensify and Christmas is coming soon.