It’s not yet clear whether Lyle Taylor has turned down the new contract offered as part of an as yet unfinished negotiating process or whether he has made up his mind to leave in January. As in most cases there is a strongly positive outcome for us, a clearly negative one, and plenty of grey in between.
The strongly positive result is that Taylor signs a new contract in the very near future, ie before the end of December. That would end the matter and leave Steve Gallen and our new owners all of the January transfer window to make changes they want to. His re-signing before the end of January for me still falls very much into the positive category. We are in a relegation struggle and a fit and motivated Taylor would be a massive factor in staying up. You’re lucky if any replacement gels quickly and there no doubting that the team plays at its best when he is part of it.
The strongly negative outcome is of course the uncertainty dragging on through January and Taylor being sold at the last minute. Past history indicates we are not very good at dealing with those situations. I’d also list as negative Taylor not signing a new contract with us but not being sold, perhaps with a pre-contract signed for the summer. We would then be in the twilight zone, unsure if Taylor will be up for the struggle (and then doubts about how fans would react if it looks like he is not).
What is clearly needed is resolution. If Taylor makes it clear that he wishes to leave there will be no griping from me. He’s 29 years old and this would probably be the final move higher of his career (if it is possible to go higher than Charlton). Nobody should blame him even if it proves to be just about the money. He’s been an outstanding player for us, played a central role in our promotion, and has been a leader on the pitch. That some fans might feel in some way betrayed by someone they have made a talismanic figure deciding to walk away really is their problem, not his.
Just please Lyle, make it clear very soon, for your own benefit if nothing else. There is no reason to part on bad terms, if him and us must part. If he is indifferent to such concerns he is not the man we thought he was. Who knows where paths will lead and when they will cross again.
Whatever the outcome, if Taylor leaves now and were to return to The Valley at some point in the future, I’d applaud him. There’s an element I guess of ‘salute the rank, not the person’. He has played a major role in our recent history; it’s not an exaggeration to say that without him we would be scrapping it out in League One and probably with the lunatic still looking for a buyer. That contribution should not be forgotten.
I though the booing of Karlan Grant during the Huddersfield match was a little silly but not outrageous (as opposed to the abuse he received on social media, which was shameful, disgusting and utterly unacceptable). I can’t blame anyone for taking the opportunity to advance their career and to escape from Duchatelet’s oversight. But when the history of Charlton is updated he isn’t going to get more than a line: ‘Brought into the first team too soon, had a number of chances to shine, finally got it right and after a very good half-season took the chance to get away’.
What I do find absurd, if it is repeated, is the booing of Scott Parker, if it gets repeated when he brings his Fulham team to The Valley in January. Parker is a Charlton legend and we don’t need to go over the reasons why. To say that he deserves our respect and thanks really ought to go without saying. Yes, he left us in acrimonious circumstances. That is unfortunate. But it should in no way overshadow what he did in a Charlton shirt.
There’s no question surely that if Taylor goes he will need to be replaced. I’ve no idea if and when Hemed might be available, which leaves Bonne and Aneka plus Leko trying to operate as another forward when he is surely a big asset playing in a wider and freer role. Our midfield problems can be fixed with players returning from injury, but options up front are too few to be confident. We need to know soon what they are.