Being an Addick has been for me a source of entertainment and pride, you invest emotional commitment, through choice, and take the highs and the lows. Today I feel ashamed. We’ve sacked managers before, sometimes with good outcomes, sometimes bad, for various reasons. At the time we could ponder on whether they were good or bad moves. But they’ve all been sacked ultimately for footballing reasons, in the hope that someone else will do a better job. At the extreme the dismissal of Sir Chris is no different in that Duchatelet presumably does feel that a change will be in the long-term interests of his consortium (let’s not call it an empire). The difference is that Powell’s dismissal is really not down to his abilities as a manager but what has to be seen as a refusal to accept being treated as a puppet – or more kindly to buy fully into the Duchatelet vision, which includes accepting that in all things Duchatelet knows best.
I’ve never witnessed a manager get dealt a worse hand than Sir Chris over the past year. Having achieved the goal of returning us to the Championship he made changes to deliver a competitive Championship team, delivering at the end of last season a speech on the pitch that left none of us in any doubt about his ambition and desires. He then had the rug pulled from under his feet by the previous owners, didn’t walk away but tried to make the best of his lot, for the good of our club. He kept his council through the takeover and was ready to try to make the best of the new set-up, again for the good of the club, only to see changes made in January that would have given him every reason to walk away. He is then (presumably as I don’t know the details) presented with a contract extension that clearly made changes on ‘footballing issues’ that he couldn’t accept and keep his dignity intact. My feeling is that no self-respecting manager could. Duchatelet must have felt he couldn’t make a change with a Wembley appearance on the line, but once that was removed he can make a change that has the appearance of being purely for footballing reasons. Surely he can’t be stupid enough to believe that we will buy this.
Sir Chris leaves us (for now) with his dignity and growing reputation as a manager entirely intact. I hope he realises that he still has the backing (and unquestionably the deep affection) of the majority of Charlton fans. All I can say is I hope he quickly gets the opportunity at another club to continue to develop his talents as a manager and that once the wounds heal he will retain affection for our club. I hope so, but today we don’t deserve that.
I haven’t yet seen a club statement even to confirm that Sir Chris has gone, but have no reason to doubt the reports. As things stand, we have to say farewell to Sir Chris on Wednesday night and then next week say a proper farewell to Kermorgant, whose departure is testimony enough to the ineptitude (at best) of our new owner.
What happens then? The boundaries are now set. Either we decide, as some have already expressed, that we support the club and that is more important than the individuals in place at any one time. As someone who did go to Selhurst Park it is without doubt a choice/view to be respected. Others will walk away, not renew season tickets. Those that decide to do so deserve similar respect for their views. Whichever camp people fall into leaves all as Addicks. I’m not prone to hasty decisions (hasty comments are another matter, such is the nature of football blogging). But for the first time in my life I will serious question whether being an Addick and what I believe it stands for is no longer compatible with providing the (very limited) support for the club in its present state.
The king is indeed dead (again, subject to confirmation). Long live the republic.