Just had the opportunity to listen to part three of Getting To Know The Network. As with parts one and two we should both praise and thank Jimmy Stone and all those who contributed to a project which will no doubt form the basis of doctorates and university courses in sports administration, under the heading of 'how not to do it'. And while we have the fourth and final part to look forward to (in a strange, depressing sort of way), let's not forget that this isn't a history lesson. The play is still going on.
There are insights but for me the most important aspect of part three is just the overwhelming impression left of the utter incompetence of Duchatelet and Meire, how ignorant they were - and from all the evidence in front of us still are - of what it takes to succeed in running a football club. Positions of advantage not exploited, assets not utilised, behaviour almost designed to fail. And to those who might respond by saying that from Duchatelet's point of view things are not that bad, sell young players and minimise the financial drain, it should be said that this is only the latest 'objective' thrust upon him because the others have not worked.
Take a simple example, the treatment of Michael Morrison (and to a lesser extent Simon Church and Polish Pete). Just listen to the accounts of how a guy who had given sterling service to our club and proven his quality was pushed out. OK, they wanted him off the wage bill. But how dumb to do it in the way they did, nastily and with no respect. Add to that stupidly, because everyone could see how they behaved. Players would start to conclude there's no point busting a gut for this club, the mood in the dressing room sours, etc etc. Why is it that arrogant buffoons don't seem to stop for a second to consider the consequences of their behaviour and whether those consequences are sufficient to mean it is in your best interests to behave differently - never mind of course questions of ethics? The answer I guess is because they are stupid, or to be kind have a skills set which is not suited to making a success of team enterprises. How long do we have to wait before our owner realises this?
Anyway, I hope all Addicks listen to the podcast and draw their own conclusions. It is after all rather timely for it to be released on transfer deadline day and to contain testimonies to support fans' views that Duchatelet's attempts to do things on the cheap are not a recipe for success, or perhaps that we can only expect success despite the actions of the regime. (Of course, this was penned before confirmation of the signing of Messi.)
On that front, the splendid victory at Bolton must give us grounds for hope as those sorts of results are seldom fluked. They usually require good team spirit and if Robinson is succeeding in that area - and continues to - I will try to stop laughing at what he says.
Finally, I'd only offer my belated sympathies to the family and friends of Big Dave Shipperley. He is held in affection by all Addicks who saw him play. My favourite memory of him - leaving aside that own goal, which did have rather more style about it than Darren Bent's recent classic - is what seemed to be an entirely predictable but utterly unstoppable tactic from corners. Big Ship goes to the far post, ball hung up there, he heads back across goal, Killer puts it in the net. Ah, football was so much simpler back then.