I was going to let this all pass. After all, it is going over old ground yet again, people will have had ample time to read the translations of the latest Duchatelet interview(here) and to draw their own conclusions. And nobody's going to be surprised that my comments are not especially positive as regards our owner. But it had been written, just overtaken by events (news of the death of Paul Went and confirmation of the sale of Ademola Lookman - and on that front Morgan Fox goes with similar best wishes for his future career). And it really isn't our fault that our owner continues to provide ample evidence to support the view that he is delusional, grossly ignorant when it comes to football, painfully arrogant, and disturbingly stubborn in clinging desperately to any line of thinking that might make him appear otherwise. So here we go again.
When questioned about interfering with managers' decisions, Duchatelet opened up with fresh blinding insight: "if you concede two goals per game, you can never finish in a good position". He went on with: "At Charlton ... we were at the bottom of the table and I have tried to help the manager. Suggested other options to him. Which is logical, I think. Apparently, he thought this was not done. That says a lot about the intellectual level of that manager. And also about the intellectual level of all activists who think that this is not done. They think that I should just get behind the wheel of a car and drive blindly." He went on to say that "managers that do not take into consideration advice by others, are stupid managers."
So, Roland, you did indeed suggest other options to Sir Chris, gave him some advice (while of course also questioning his decisions and at the least pressuring him to pick certain players). He quite rightly did not act on that advice as it was bloody stupid, as is plain for all to see from the published emails. Powell would have been stupid to have followed Duchatelet's advice, or rather he put a higher value on what was good for the team/club than pandering to an owner's ego and had enough common sense not to tell our owner just what he really thought of the advice (which with hindsight is rather a pity).
As for Duchatelet getting behind the wheel of a car and driving blindly, perhaps if he tried that the outcome would be better as we have witnessed his abilities when it comes to him actually trying to drive a football club. There is a worthy organisation which provides advice for elderly drivers (here) and perhaps our owner can get some useful tips. I'm just suggesting other options to him, trying to help him you understand ...
Now we move on from the duplicitous to the imbecilic. "For us, football is a place where people gather every fortnight and have fun. That’s the mission of football and in fact also the essence of a football club. The function of football is to have a great evening with friends and to sometimes also meet new people." He added for good measure that "supporters need to realise that this is the essence". Quite frankly, as a lifelong football supporter I don't take very kindly to being told just how I should view football and I don't doubt that very few football fans would agree with his sentiments. We can again just fall back on the evidence. Duchatelet added that "the main thing is that we fulfil a social function. That people meet in the stadium every two weeks". Far fewer people now meet at The Valley every two weeks than was the case when Duchatelet bought the club, despite the promise to improve the matchday experience. Now just why is that, Roland? Does it amount to failure to deliver on your part?
Then the interview moves more into the world of fans' protests and delusion and contradiction. Duchatelet commented that "when I was still the president of Standard it was already clear that the people who would cause all the misery were actually not supporters. It was people that were attracted by the fact that they could easily run riot." And of course Charlton protesters are disgruntled former employees, a faction which wants the club to fail etc. It is of course much easier for him to believe that protesters aren't real fans, just isn't the truth.
Then after acknowledging that the interruption to his recent birthday lunch was "very unpleasant" (thanks Roland, confirmation if we needed it that demonstrations in your home town make you uncomfortable) Duchatelet continued with "supporters can have a say in the logistics, like how the beer should be served" (how very kind of him; I used to make a joke about the Fans Forum being restricted to input on the price of Bovril but seems that was close to the truth) but that "if they want to choose instead of the board or the manager, then things go wrong". Of course no Addick has ever actually suggested that the board or manager should not make the decisions. Rather there's a lot of accumulated experience and know-how among supporters, all of whom want the best for our club. They would have happily given advice and insight on many issues if consulted (ie if there had ever been meaningful communication between the regime and the supporters). Such advice has been ignored by Duchatelet. Now didn't he say earlier something about people who don't take advice being stupid? Not really contradictory, just that what he really means is that his advice is valuable and should be acted on, the advice of others is worthless.
Duchatelet's partner Marieke Hofte chipped in with "there is not much we can do about it. It has started to live a life of its own. Roland is the scapegoat. It does not matter any longer whether he does something well or something bad. He is the symbol of their protest." Well of course he bloody well is! We are protesting because he has shown himself to be an unfit custodian of our club; he isn't a symbol of the protest, he is the essence of it if you like.
Back to Roland and "they first picked on Katrien Meire (general manager at Charlton). When I continued to back her up, they turned against me. A sort of witch hunt. Sociologically very interesting, but it has gone too far. Especially because they are bothering me personally." For the record we didn't first pick on Meire, she just laid herself open to being the object of some early themes through telling porkies. And it really wasn't clear for a while whether our owner was being misled by an incompetent CEO or whether he himself was really responsible for the daft decisions and strategies. Not surprisingly, we have concluded that your decision to retain Meire is evidence of your failings and that things will only really turn for the better when you are gone.
The interview concludes on a rather disturbing note. The interviewer asks Duchatelet when he does not 'simply give in and leave Charlton for what it is'. The response is typically blind. "I never give in to blackmail. I can determine myself what is good for the club." Now blackmail involves an attempt to extract money or some other reward in return for keeping quiet about something you know. Not exactly an accurate portrayal of the protests, is it? And Hofte comes back with "at Charlton protests are still playful. At Standard, it was really aggressive." Duchatelet should thank his lucky stars that CARD has been keeping the protests within acceptable bounds, as it rightly should. There is no excuse for any element of racism, xenophobia or aggression in the protests. As for Duchatelet being able to determine himself what is good for the club, we beg to differ. He is not.