Wednesday 12 March 2014

Not Fit For Purpose

This blog is fast becoming less about football and more a sociology forum. So be it, here we go again. I don’t believe Duchatelet is some kind of ogre, I don’t believe we have some divine right to expect any owner to be prepared to pour his/her money into the club for our benefit. I accept that Duchatelet’s European consortium could work to our advantage over time, in terms purely of league position, if factors beyond his control go his way. I also accept that my views and feelings are based on my experiences, not just with regard to football, and that all we have gleaned about his character, from what he has said and done, strikes negative notes with me because of these experiences.

I also believe that the changes made since the takeover, up to and including the sacking of Chris Powell, have left us materially weaker than before when the crying need was for strengthening, if avoiding relegation is the priority (it has been mine). I don’t believe Duchatelet intended to weaken us, but do believe that the errors of judgement that his decisions have revealed are symptomatic and likely to be repeated, because the man doesn’t understand football and what conditions create success. I’m sure he doesn’t really want to pick the team and decide on transfers, he just can’t help himself because he is right. If the manager (or head coach if you want) makes decisions that are in accordance with his views, all is well and there’s no interference. But that’s a façade, a very transparent one.

Duchatelet now has his chosen puppet installed as head coach and his lead piper in situ to handle the board. No need now to interfere further for a while. I don’t believe in personality strengths and weaknesses, as if there’s some kind of Platonic ideal. I do believe that what are strengths in some situations are inevitably weaknesses in others. People may believe that the fact Duchatelet has made a success in business means he cannot be a fool. I don’t. The (very admirable) qualities that were behind his success are, in my opinion, serious weaknesses in the context of owning/running a football club. It is a different game, one where man-management (at every level) counts for a great deal. I don’t believe Duchatelet has the skills required to make a success in this business.

It’s also possible that my negativity towards Duchatelet is the result of being too up myself. I don’t own the club, or have the money to buy it, why should our opinions matter a jot? Or rather why should I pretend that they might? We are left with a choice to either buy into the Duchatelet model, or passively accept it and see how things turn out, or reject it to the limited extent possible. It’s no different from how we reacted to the forced move away from The Valley. Every Addick made their decisions then and whichever option was taken was no reflection of their feelings for Charlton. Such decisions I think end up being determined by what you get from the total experience of being a Charlton fan.

I keep remembering the very kind lady who was organising the teas/coffees and lottery on the coach for a Sheff Wed away game a few years back. We lost 4-1 and afterwards asked politely – but without irony - ‘did you enjoy it?’ When I expressed my incredulity she replied she comes along for the social side. All about your priorities. Perhaps mine are imbalanced, but they are what they are. They include balking at the prospect of investing emotional commitment to a club which might the next day see its prospects undermined by the greater glory of the consortium. They also include taking offence at the suggestion, whether or not intended to be taken seriously, that we are one of Duchatelet’s children. Just think about it for a minute. Parents (usually and ideally) decide to create a child and embrace all that that involves; there are words other than ‘daddy’ for people who buy children created by others and demand to be loved.

My conclusion is that Duchatelet is simply not fit for purpose. In an ideal world he would be intelligent enough to realise this, abandon and dismantle his consortium and find buyers for his clubs, accepting that at least us will not be worth what he paid. But that’s a pipe dream. When all’s said and done, we still don’t really know why he embarked on his football experiment. Perhaps it is all down to his mummy not showing him enough affection.

We wait to see how important players in the drama will respond. The admirable CAFC Trust is in an invidious position in that it’s role is to represent the fans in dealings with the board. No doubt its main figures have differing views on Duchatelet’s experiment, all of which works against it taking a strong pro or anti position. It will be interesting to see how the Voice of The Valley comes out as it is less constrained in this respect. Richard Murray may or may not still have financial interests to consider, I don’t know. His only weapon is to resign from the board, it is a card that can only be played once (and only used as a bluff once, if at all).

Me? I will turn up tonight (not least to buy the programme as the manager/head coach notes should be interesting), wearing a Chris Powell T-shirt. If the fans register their opinions by singing long and loud in support of Powell (whether as an expression of anger or a well-earned tribute) I shall sing along with them, for as long as it lasts. If not, or as and when the singing ends, I may well exit then. So no match report from me tonight (I’m incapable of objectivity at the best of times and no doubt anything I might write would be coloured by the above). My season ticket renewal arrived in the post yesterday. There is time to decide on that, but the chances of an early offer renewal from me are not good. I’ll miss Millwall and Bournemouth in any event due to a Lyon trip and see how the world looks after a break there and a Lyon Duchere game. To the best of my knowledge they are still a football club.


Colin said...

There is a clear conflict of interest here. There needs to be a one owner/one club policy across borders. Belgium owned, Belgium managed, Belgium squad! We are not SL's reserves. We are bigger and better than that. My personal low point in 50 years of support.

Anonymous said...

It just isn't Charlton Athletic any more. That is why I am finished with the club. I honestly don't care whether we stay up or not.

Derek said...

Concur totally with previous comment, it feels like the club and the ground is now just a convenient utility for outside influences to come and do their worst. In a few years, it will be hard to believe that this was once the club of Derek Hales, Sam Bartram, Clive Mendonca et al. We will become a short term stopping off point for a load of international (small I) players/officials who we have never heard of, and will probably never hear of again after they have gone.

Anonymous said...

Riga Mortis

Anonymous said...

Thanks Blackheath - its a really hard one isn't it. Knee-jerk reaction when we left for Selhurst was not to go, but I did. And knee-jerk reaction this time was to tear up the season ticket renewal form last night. Its not just about the treatment of CP for me but it has made me sit up and really look at what is going on at my club - so thanks to the internet I can get some insight and make my own decisions. So me? Not going tonight as can't pretend I care about the result - I still feel too sick. I wish no-one would go but can understand part of the grieving will be paying a tribute to him - but my mark of respect will be my empty seat. After that - who knows? But that man is not getting my money up front, and certainly not for 3rd division football. I've no doubt I'll still go, but I worry that my passion will have gone - I hate the loan system as it is - players I don't know and have no feeling for coming and going. And how does that feel for a player - do they start viewing all the clubs as one with different tiers? I guess we just have to sit back and see. I just hope it all explodes in his face really.

Anonymous said...

I am another 50 year veteran. I hope the Trust or the Voice or someone steps forward to lead another rebellion. No more Valley for me, I will "follow them" away.

Unknown said...

For me Charlton no longer exist. Duchbag has now destroyed any feelings as it has all become meaningless. Will not be attending any further matches until we have a proper new owner.

Anonymous said...

Quote from an article by Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel:

"It is incredible that this despoliation is even allowed. Sheik Mansour gives millions to Manchester City, as direct investment, not loans, and Michel Platini as good as tries to hound him from the game. Duchatelet sucks up a great English club to turn it to no more than a cheap dumping ground or production line, and UEFA observe benignly. It stinks. They stink.

Powell was the first victim of this grand plan, but it is the next generation of Charlton fans who will be left with a shell of a football club to support..."

This sums it up perfectly for me.

Anonymous said...

Remove the bass, drums and beat from music and you get muzac. Who goes to muzac concerts?

Burgundy Addick said...

Thanks for all the comments guys. I'm well aware that many others will take a different, more positive view, for good reasons.

One thought on the last one, about the muzac. If I remember correctly one of Duchatelet's stated objectives is to improve the matchday experience. I wonder if he feels he's made progress on that front?

Unknown said...

Totally agree with you. I went to Selhurst and battled against the move every step during the exile to get back home. Thosr who stayed away were entitled to their opinion and their protest made a difference. As did the protests of those that went to Selhurst and voiced their displeasure at every opportunity. Yesterday I felt I never wanted to go to another game but wondering if I was being hasty. Maybe we can protest from within as in the Selhurst days. After all Roland is getting on a bit and without wishing ill on the man, hopefully the club will still ne around long after he's gone. Difference is in the days of exile we had leadership. Will the trust or any other group step up this time?

Anonymous said...

If one can put aside emotions for a moment there is one chink of light, which right now may not appear important but will be key to everything in the near future.

Duchatelet does not have the financial resources to cope with looses for any lenght of time. My well informed understanding is that his fortune is around 25 to 38 million.

The talk that the figure is in excess of 100 million is simply not true. He has committments to other ventures and investments that require capital support outside of football.

Given how thin he has spread himself and committments to other investments outside football, he has not got much "bleeding time".

His business record suggests he has a short attention span and is dictatorial in approach but when things turn sour, he immediately moves on.

Charlton is nothing more then a commercial exercise that allow's him to give life to an experiment that he thinks will work. It is daft and wrong and will fail.

It is not comforting thinking about what position and state our Club will be in when he has gone. But at least I for one am confident he will be in our club for a much shorter time then we think.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear he might not have the money to keep going for long.

It is obvious to any football fan that this approach will not work in the long term. It makes no football sense, whatever about business sense.

Add to the backlash he will get from Charlton supporters and fans at his other clubs Duchy is in for a rough time.

Burgundy Addick said...

Ha! Something positive at last. Of course, the downside if that is the case is that the drive to achieve breakeven asap will be even stronger, and as you say just what condition we will be in when he goes isn't a comforting thought.

Anonymous said...

I know that my Charlton junkie status means I will go come what may. I cannot think of anything (short of Nick Griffin joining the board) that would change that. Making the new regime suffer financially is high risk and I suppose that I hope that there is still a sustainable club worth someone else investing in. I want us to stay up now as much as before Chris left and will be delighted if the new manager spurs a revival. I think the biggest issue in the very short-term is potentially who starts in goal tonight as a signal of whther decisions will be footballing ones. Looking forawrd to RD being challenged as to what parts of the philosophy for the club SCP didn't agree. Tonight I will join in whole-heartedly with a show of appreciation in the 3rd minute

Pistol Pete said...

Personally, I think the supporters give the club it's identity and make the club who they are, I will support Charlton, no matter who is on the pitch or in the dugout.

Duch bag gives the club financial stability which in essence has been what the club has needed for a good few years.

I love Chris as a man, but he took the club as far as he could, the teams look very flat and defensive - a stark contrast to how things were going in league one last term, we had creativity from set pieces, overlapping runs from full backs etc. - I have not seen any of this in the 2013/2014 season which is not down to losing stephens and Kermo, they didn't play every game in league one.

I understand we are playing against tougher opposition but we are not even trying to be creative.

Burgundy Addick said...

Fair points PP. I think until last summer we thought we had regained the financial stability we needed, but obviously the change of heart/circumstances of the previous owners ended that.

I don't agree with your reading of Powell's ability to take us forward. We had to play pre-season with only one forward, brought in two at the last minute, then had injuries to Solly, Cort, Kermorgant, Jackson, Hamer etc to cope with. Worked against any consistency and fluency, or partnerships in key areas. Instead of strengthening where needed in January we threw out much that was good and asked Powell to integrate a new group.

I'm not suggesting all was perfect (I tear my hair out over simple things, like our players' failure after making a pass to move to make themselves available for a simple option). But I doubt that another manager could have done more in the circumstances.

aitchyaddick said...

I agree with PP's comments. If you read CL on sunday night 90% of the comments said they loved CP, BUT. They were unhappy not with losing, but with the way we had lost. I think CP had taken us as far as possible tactics wise. I will still be going. I can"t give up on 60 years supporting!

Burgundy Addick said...

Only thing is Powell wasn't sacked because of Sunday's performance (or our league position). He was sacked because he could not accept the conditions in his offer (which may of course have been designed to try to force him to walk).

I'm not contemplating giving up anything (except writing this blog if I stop going to games, which I'm going to take my time over). I'll always consider myself an Addick.