Keep coming back to those words from Richard Murray (I paraphrase) not long after the takeover. ‘Roland has two objectives: to get us into the Premiership and to break even’. There was widespread incredulity at the time of course, given the evidence, and when predictably the financial fair play rules were scuppered the chances of the former taking precedence pretty much went out of the window. The fact that Roland has also failed miserably to achieve the latter we shall gloss over for now.
Let’s be kind and attribute those January 2014 transfer window moves to just utter stupidity, the sort of actions undertaken by someone who knew nothing about football and who had a seriously flawed strategy to implement. It would seem that this time around Roland has another transfer window decision to make. We’ve all seen the speculation regarding Karlan Ahearne-Grant and are aware of his contract situation. Take the money on the table for a player who could walk in the summer (even if the prices quoted are very low if the player in question does have the potential to thrive in the Championship at least); or recognise that selling one of our only two fit forwards when the other is not going to be available for three games is not exactly compatible with a determined promotion challenge, even if a replacement is brought in?
Just depends on your priorities. Of course Roland’s have apparently changed since early 2014. We are led to believe that selling the club is his number one objective now. If that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter to him whether or not Grant is sold as either way it would feed into the price – and surely any actual purchaser of our club would at this point want some flexibility on that front depending on whether or not we get promoted this season.
However, if Roland has effectively given up on a sale this month, in which case the odds on him clinging on until the summer have to shorten, he could have a real decision to make. Now Roland isn’t very good at making real decisions. It’s one thing to have a strategy (which is of course a brilliant one because it is his) and to make decisions based on implementing it; it’s quite another to respond to changing situations and conflicting requirements. That requires thinking on your feet, which is not easy when they’re wrapped in gaffer tape.
All we can do is wait and see. Perhaps Roland’s job here will be made easy for him, if for example Lee Bowyer made it plain that if Grant is sold he is off too (that is of course pure conjecture, I’m never ‘in the know’).
On other fronts, many will be desperate to find out whether or not Lyon Duchere progressed to the last 16 of the French cup on Tuesday evening. They did! At half-time away at Andrezieux (to recap the team from a level below Duchere which had dumped Marseille in the previous round) it was 1-0 to the home team, but Duchere turned it around to triumph 2-1.
For acceptable reasons my partner Suzanne declined the option to drive to Andrezieux and back to watch the game, so I have only the highlights available on the Duchere website to go on. And from those it looked like a classic case of a game of two halves. In the first Andrezieux, presumably fired up by a large crowd, ran Duchere ragged. Their goal was a beauty, good movement by a fast winger to go around his man and deliver a cross to the near post which was met by a forward more alert than his marker. It looked as though they had the chances to put the game to bed. But didn’t.
As the snow fell the game turned when early in the second half Duchere fashioned an equaliser. A well-worked move which led to the ball being delivered to the left side of the box, from where their guy, Franck Julienne, slotted it across the keeper and into the far corner of the net. And eight minutes later they did the same thing. Same set-up, same shot, same scorer. Given that the highlights showed no Andrezieux chances after that, I’m assuming that Duchere saw out the game in decent fashion without scares, and the final shot shows them celebrating in front of perhaps 30 of their supporters, so some did make the trip.
Now here I have to confess to a simple mistake on my part. In my previous post I said it seemed the framework for the cup draws was already determined, but that was just me misreading a graphic. Instead it seems that tonight will see the draw for the last 16 involved. Really there are just two options to set the pulses racing: a home tie against either Olympique Lyonnais (they do have yet to get past Amien), to give the city a real derby match, or at home to PSG (who are through). I say ‘at home’ but in either eventuality I’m led to believe that the game would be moved from Stade de Balmont, which is said by Wikopedia to have a capacity of 5,600 but which would struggle to cope with the logistics of anything like that number.
As with the situation regarding Grant, we await further developments.