I've only so far had the chance to listen to the YouTube video posted by the club, some sixteen-and-a-half minutes for our new manager Karl Robinson to make what he would of a series of bland questions patted his way, with his interviewer going out of his way not to mention the elephant in the room (in truth it's not just an elephant, it's Dumbo along with all of his mates, plus an orchestra playing the theme tune). I've no idea if the questions were prepared, or if the answers were in any meaningful way edited. All I can say is that the recording left me completely confused, on a number of fronts.
For sure, we can't expect at this stage clear answers to the big questions. Is Robinson naive or arrogant to evidently believe that he might succeed where others have failed, or is he just so desperate for a job or cynical enough to take this one in anticipation of a decent pay-off? Should we place more weight in his remarks about our club and its potential, or the previously reported comments (if accurate) to the tune of Charlton being a basket case? Only time will tell - and for now quite rightly he deserves the benefit of the doubt and our support, just as Duchatelet and Meire did when they arrived. Nor is it reasonable to expect Robinson to say anything critical about the regime having just taken its shilling, or anything meaningful about the protests.
However, there are some things he has said which I think merit closer inspection - and not just the bit that any decent video editor keen to present a positive profile would have edited out or had him reword. Early in the interview Robinson talked animatedly of 'hating' any description of a player's performance as 'hard-working', which he said should be taken as a given. When asked later what had gone wrong for him at MK Dons Robinson struggled for an explanation and reverted to saying that he had 'worked as hard as he could'. Perhaps the requirements for players and managers are somehow different in that respect, or perhaps Robinson is still at a loss when it comes to why his often successful and promising time at his first managerial position ended with him being sacked.
Robinson outlined that he was sold the job by Duchatelet and Meire, commenting that they had approached him with "a plan, a clear plan" which he obviously found attractive. He also commented that Charlton is a club "going in the right direction". Some obvious questions arise. Just what was the plan as sold to Robinson? If it is a clear plan/vision for our club, could we, the supporters and stakeholders, please hear what it is? Is the plan a variation, or refinement, or restatement of Meire's conference talk of Charlton being a fish farm for young players? If not, why not share it with us? Something that apparently sold Robinson on our club might help to persuade some supporters to reassess their attitude towards the regime. In a subsequent BBC piece Robinson is quoted as saying "it wasn't a financial decision (to join us), as the owner sold me something I wanted to do". OK, just what was that?
Of course, this assumes that the regime does actually care a little about the opinions and actions of supporters rather than just paying lip service and at the same time being willing to try to spread disgraceful lies about the nature of the protests. It also assumes that Robinson is not just putting a positive gloss on having been sold a pup. If the plan is 'our priority is to get back to the Championship as soon as possible' it is meaningless, just empty words, especially when set against Duchatelet's track record: invest some but not enough and hope to get lucky and outperform as a result of the regime's great insight into choosing managers and players. Let's not forget Richard Murray's previous description of Duchatelet's goals when we were in the Championship: to get promoted and to break even, which at the time were obviously incompatible. Robinson may have the benefit of the doubt, but the regime lost it a long time ago, for good reason, so in the absence of any elaboration we may well be inclined to assume the worst.
Robinson's reported comments on the protests are just disingenuous, arguably for good reason, but he skates on thin ice. "There is a support element that feel that is what they want to do" (ie to protest). Wrong, on two counts. First, the protesters and tacit backers can fairly claim to be the majority of Addicks, not an element. That there are Addicks against the protests is also evident. Second, I don't think there is one protesting Addick, myself included, who wants to be protesting; rather we want our club to thrive and believe, rightly or wrongly, that this requires a change of ownership. "Something has happened before me ... As fans, we will always have our problems and arguments. Some say they are right and some say they are wrong". Sorry Karl, but if you've nothing sensible to say best keep it buttoned. The protests did indeed happen before you and they will continue with you - unless CARD opts for a break - as you are not a sufficient reason for them to stop; and please don't go along with this notion that the protests are no more than well-organised grumbling over results and relegation; you must know it runs far deeper.
And if as he says Robinson needs to learn more about the protests, just check out CARD posts and the recent Getting To Know The Network podcasts. I haven't yet had the chance to listen to the latter in full but just looking at the emails (which say all that needs to be said about Duchatelet's knowledge of football) should be sufficient to conclude that disgruntled ex-employees of the club tend to tell the truth and the regime does not.