Wednesday, 30 November 2016

So, What Is The Plan?

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.


Phil said...

Very good analysis BA.

A lot of folk seem impressed with Robinson after that carefully planned and staged interview. I can't call it a press conference because it wasn't. However, it merits the level of examination you've given it.

Karl talks a good game but as you point out that alone won't be enough. How will he deal with close questioning after a defeat immediately after a game. Slade didn't handle it too well on a couple of occasions.

I'd love to know what this plan is sadly no one was there to push him on it. Indeed, I think we need to know more about his sudden desire to have CO'L on board. He can hardly know the guy can he ?

The inference was that CO'L was going thus raising question as to why he was appointed for @ 3 to 4 weeks ? In addition, how is it that CO'L is now able to change his plans at the drop of a hat and stay on indefinitely ?

I hope that someone is able to ask him about these things as it seems that Katrien has retreated even further from public life and so we can't ask
her !


Hungry Ted said...

Great post, BA. I've caught only snippets of KR's recent interviews, and what came across the most is a genuine belief that he doesn't really know what the current situation is, which I find staggering.

I honestly believe Meire would have sold him the vision that a few wins and we'll all calm down and he's stupid, arrogant or confident enough to believe that's the case and something he can control.

That said, I liked some of the things he came out with and getting Matty Holland in for a chat was a good move.

Time will tell, I guess.

Stevie said...

Don't be fooled by Robinson's vague mentions of the protest. He knows FAR more than he is letting on but he is trying to be diplomatic in front of his new employers. He took Matt Holland to the training ground this week. Matt knows exactly what is going on and why there are people protesting. I find it hard to believe that the two of them have had no discussions about it.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks for the comments guys, all good stuff. I too think he is well aware of what's going on. Phil, was going to get to CO'L but saw the links to the Get To Know The Network and thought either send out what's already penned or have to redo it once I'd heard the fresh material. For what it's worth it's quite entertaining to have someone who sounds like a young Eddie Youds.

Anonymous said...

Please note that not all Fans support these on-going protests, which are quite annoying now.
In fact, I know that many of the stay-away Fans are staying away because of these never-ending Protests, which drag whole the atmosphere down to new depths within the Valley. I am one of these stay-away Fans, who until recently was an ever-present since 1981. I have quit for many reasons, but one big reason is the dreadful negative, poisonous atmosphere within Charlton now, which makes the whole Matchday experience miserable.
I'm not a supporter of RD/KM. However, what's done is done. Why not give these Protests a rest for a while, and let KR do his job! As the negativity from you and CARD is quite depressing. What's done is done. Let's move on now! Give KR a chance, postpone these CARD Protests, & let's see if the Results and the atmosphere improves at the Valley? As many of the stay-away Fans (a decent proportion, at-least) don't come to Charlton anymore because of the whole experience at Charlton is really rubbish now. Maybe if CARD gave it a rest for a while, let KR get on with his job - hopefully, things will improve overall at the Valley. Plus, some of the stay-away Fans might just return again (me included), which will also inevitably improve the nasty atmosphere within the Valley for the better. Then, the Matchday experience will start to improve again. Let's find out, shall we ? Also, what does CARD expect to achieve here ? Who in their right mind would want to buy Charlton in their current state anyway ? As I would be looking at Charlton thinking they now have very few active Fans left. Plus, the Fans that do remain are mostly negative militants, who will never be happy, regardless. As I think that CARD is unrealistic. Think about what you are doing now & why? Charlton's Supporters are seen as a restless bunch of militants now, who will give any new Owner big trouble and grief. We need to be realistic. Charlton is a Championship Club at best - let's be real. Therefore, please give it a rest now, CARD, and just see if KR can get Charlton into the top-six! Ultimately, Football is meant to be fun and for entertainment / enjoyment. The Protests and Chants are just a way of life for many Charlton Fans now. So, I think that the Protesters should just stop and think about their actions, their motives, and their goals here? As the Fan-base is clearly divided. Many Charlton Fans are just fed-up with the Protests now, & just want to watch their Football in an atmosphere less poisonous that it is at the moment, which is keeping many Fans away now. CARD does not speak for everyone, and CARD does not speak for 'all' Charlton Fans either! There is also a silent majority out there who are fed-up with CARD and these endless Protests! However CARD has taken it upon themselves to try and take the moral high-ground, and just 'assume' they are the official, legitimate voice of 'all' Charlton Fans, which they aren't! Again, who would really want to buy Charlton at the moment ? The best we can do is get behind KR and the Team, stop the Protests, and hope that we get back into the Championship again. Then, perhaps Charlton will be more attractive to a new Owner? Because the way CARD is acting now, no-one would want to buy Charlton! What kind of impression is CARD giving to any possible new Owner? That we are a bunch of militants with no Fans left! It feels wrong so it must be wrong! CARD have made their point, so why not let KR get on with Managing his Team now, without endless Matchday Protects, which are now only driving our own 'less-vocal' Fans away more & more. Also, you know where this will all lead, yes (with only a tiny Fan-base left, getting smaller by the day)? It will undoubtedly lead to Non-League Football, & a Liquidated Club, with our Ground Sold to Developers for new Housing (to pay-off our massive Club debts)! Surely, we don't want that to happen, do we!?!...... (Or, perhaps this is one of the aims of CARD!?). John.

Blackheath Addicted said...

John, come on now, I'm not exactly noted for my brevity but why the need to repeat some points so often? In the piece I acknowledged that there are Addicks who don't support the protests; just what the real balance is we can only assess from who expresses support/takes protest materials etc (and I couldn't make the latest effort on Saturday). Claiming a 'silent majority' is groundless. I'd urge all supporters to join the Trust and make their opinions known, to make the Trust as representative as we can.

I can't take up every point, but please keep in mind that to the numbers staying away from games because of the atmosphere have to be added those who stopped going in protest at the regime long before CARD came along. As for no potential buyer being interested, there are plenty of Addicks, myself included, ready to renew season tickets when the regime departs. I don't agree that Charlton fans are now seen as a 'restless bunch of militants', that is evident from media coverage and the actions of supporters of other clubs (Brighton, Burnley, Coventry etc).

There is an arguable case for a pause in the protests and if CARD announced one fair enough (I am not privvy to the group's thinking). But the protests are not about results on the pitch and I'd still support them continuing.

I'm sorry your matchday experience is so bad (let's not forget that improving the experience was an early pledge from the regime). I'm also sorry that I'm currently not able to go along and watch my team. I don't think you can blame CARD for that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that you can equate renewing your Season Ticket to attracting a new Buyer? What makes you think that is going to make all the difference here now? Where's the evidence? Please take a look at the bigger picture here. Our Support has completely plummeted! It's worse than what it was when we were ground-sharing with Crystal Palace, back in the 'bad old days'!
Endless Protests are not the answer here, as 'everyone' loses!
Fans are deserting Charlton like rats leaving a sinking ship, which is really sad to see. The non-stop Protests are definitely driving even more Fans away on a Matchday, not just me! As who wants to pay money to watch Plastic Pigs & Taxis thrown onto the Pitch? And, hear "Roland Out" throughout the 90 minutes! It's not big and it's not clever.
Many of the Protesters, especially the younger ones, who haven't been through the many 'Dark Years' with Charlton in the wilderness, are like Sheep! Just following the Crowd. It's almost like a game for many of our so-called Matchday Protesters now. Blindly following along, but not really understanding what's next!
It's crazy! It's madness! Where will it all end? In tears!
CARD and the Protesters have made their point loud & clear. So, why not give it a rest for a while and see what happens next with KR in charge.
Hiring KR is a positive step - so, let's all try to be positive for a change! Many of the Charlton Fans who post here & elsewhere are like professional moaners!
Also, I can't see 1,000's of Fans automatically returning once RD/KM depart. This is wishful thinking! Please understand that a large proportion of our Fans just want to enjoy a half-decent Matchday experience, win, lose or draw. The ground-hog-day Protests are just ruining the atmosphere more, which is meaning many Fans are seeking to spend their Saturday afternoons doing 'other things', until the nasty atmosphere created by CARD and the 'Sheep', oh I meant to say, 'Protesters', eases off a bit, and allows 'Football' to return to the Valley for change - not a never-ending treadmill of Protests.
Again, please think about who is likely to buy Charlton at the moment? No-one! Massive debt, massive overheads, an empty Stadium and rapidly dwindling Fan-base. To anyone with half a brain, we look ridiculous as an Investment.
The only way we will get a new Buyer, is if the 'Product' looks better! We, the Fans, are part of that 'Product'. Therefore, perhaps we should try to behave like Fans for a change, support KR, support the Team, and postpone all Protests for a while! It's the only way we'll get Promoted and attract a new Owner!
Also, my final point, I know that I will be lambasted to speaking-out for once, but believe me, there are lots of Charlton Fans who are fed-up with the endless Protests and moaning & negativity now. However, when a Fan not in favour of CARD dares to speak out, like me, they are shot-down for daring to not-toe-the-party-line! However, CARD is full of people with an 'Axe to Grind' with CAFC, for a variety of different reasons. Plus, I can't help but think that CARD would now love to see Charlton fail, as it's become really personal, which is sad! But, they've lost sight of what really matters - Charlton's survival, first-and-foremost.
Cheers, John.
(P.S. We've been through worse before, but this is whole new level of massive negativity from some of our Fans).

Jane said...

Thank you Anonymous for expressing so clearly what I, and I know many others, feel about the continuing protests at the Valley. Last time I raised my head above the parapet to protest against the protests I was met with a barrage of "naive and ignorant" comments. I only wish there were something that we anti-protest Charlton fans could do without sinking to the same level. Listening to the chanting around me of: "We want Roland Out" makes me very angry.
Who on earth would buy Charlton? A property developer perhaps, a foreign buyer with dubious financial resources? It could be worse than it is though at the moment the whole matchday experience is utterly disheartening. I will not renew my season ticket if the protests have not stopped as these people are driving so many away. Football these days is big business and has changed beyond all recognition from the pre-Sky days.
Thank you for permitting comment and I hope others will express their support for the anti-protest movement.
All the best

Blackheath Addicted said...

Indeed John, take a look at the bigger picture. The regime has overseen a plunge in support, season ticket sales etc. CARD didn't create that, it is a response to the actions of Duchatelet and Meire. Don't suggest that protesters, young or old, are 'sheep'; all those I've talked to while handing out CARD material care passionately about our club and have no problems thinking for themselves. There is no 'party line' and no excuse for Addicks to turn on each other.

There is probably a path to the protests being suspended: Meire is replaced and Duchatelet apologises for spreading lies about the fans and previous insults, perhaps even commits to looking for a buyer if we were promoted. Of course he doesn't have to do such things and there's no prospect of him doing so. And is there good reason to believe that he would sell if we get back to the Championship?

Blackheath Addicted said...

Jane, why would there be an 'anti-protest movement'? The Trust exists to represent the views of supporters and to date has done so; if a majority of its members were against the protests, it would be too. Are you and John members? If not, why not? And how can you suggest that no-one would be interested in buying our club when we know there have been approaches which have been arrogantly dismissed by the regime?

a2c said...
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Luke said...

Dear John and Jane,
It is the actions of the owner that is taking the club in the direction of non-league football, not the protesting fans. We were all willing to give him a chance when he took over. Our club was nearly bankrupt and he is a very rich man who could provide us with a team of Premier League players if he so wished. But he would rather run the club down, cutting costs everywhere (apart from a new pitch) and forcing third rate players on us, with a fast turnover of various managers, most of whom didn't have a clue. You say what's done is done but I don't think they've finished yet and keeping a CEO in charge who is obviously not up to the job just shows that Duchatelet is also not fit to own a football club. If you want to continue to support an owner who has had such a disastrous effect on our club then that's up to you, but I for one will never be happy until Duchatelet is gone and the only way to try to speed that up is to continue to protest.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Luke, I'd pretty much agree with that. I'd only add that we have no divine right to expect anyone to spend money on us - but you'd question why someone would buy a club in the Championship and not expect to invest. What is not acceptable is for our club to become a rich man's experiment to feed his ego and stupidity.

a2c said...
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sm said...

John and Jane

Last season at times I expressed concerns about some of the techniques being used by the protestors on this very blog - and I think there needs to be a little more thought rather than slogans about supporting the team not the regime. But I'm afraid there has to be a realisation that ultimately the best way to support the team is to get rid of the shower in charge - since as far as I can see there is next to no recognition on their behalf that they have to change their ways. Despite the protestations that they have learnt their lessons - why do we keep having new managers? Why even if those managers are not from the network - do we appoint those with a record of working for Chairmen who have a record of showing disregard for the fans? Why is there little attempt to communicate with the fans and explain the clubs's strategy? Why do we have a Chairman who cannot ven bother to watch the games and leis about doing so on a live feed? Why is KM still in a job she is clearly not capable of doing? Why do we have an unbalanced and slow midfield? why don't we have proper cover for certain positions?

sm said...

Also there is no silent majority. If you tall to those who are silent you will find that nearly all of them are fed up with the regime, the way we are playing football and that we have become a laughing stock.

Anonymous said...

CARD suspended their protests to give Russell Slade a chance to work unhindered, if you like. I suspect there may be a moratorium on protests at the start of Karl Robinson's reign - we will have to wait and see. Perhaps John's "silent majority" have been calculated in a similar vein to Katrien Meire's 2% of the fans protesting. Both are wide of the mark, I fear.

Behind Enemy Lines

Blackheath Addicted said...

I think it is a tough call for CARD, given that we all want to get back to the Championship (although please no suggestions that the protests were a factor in relegation). They've got most decisions right and I'd back whichever way they fall on this one. We just mustn't lose sight of the goal: a change of ownership. It's clear that Duchatelet has no ability to laugh at himself and that when protests get close to him in Belgium it has a real impact, just by pricking his pomposity. Good to see that the excellent Getting To Know The Network had some coverage there, hopefully the Belgian media keep asking him about it. I'd love to ask him if his next book might be the definitive guide to the perfect football formation (and how to achieve perfection through training).

Anonymous said...

Methinks Jane and John are Regime Plants from their PR company BA.

Pembury Addick

a2c said...
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Anonymous said...

Back to the original point of this thread.... the position of Mrs Robinson...!
As far as I'm concerned the jury is out on him for the time being.

As far as he's concerned he must be in a win-win situation.
IF he has a good run, gets the club into the FA Cup 3rd round and by new year has the team in the play-off positions and does reasonably well for the rest of the season - meaning he keeps us in the top half of the table then he'll be set for next season.

IF he cocks up big time or suddenly find (surprise, surprise...) that everything that Meire told him about the club and the position that it's in isn't exactly true and that the signings he wants to make in the January transfer window are subject to Roland's veto he'll probably get sacked. In which case there's no doubt a clause in his contract that will see his remaining contract paid for.

So, he's taking a punt and either ends up a hero or goes with a back-pocket full of Roland's dosh ... oops, sorry, the club's dosh as part of the extended loan from Roland's company.

I can't bring myself to watch the dross on show at the Valley any more and I now rely on blogs etc to keep me informed of developments. The protests have to continue - how else do you keep the pressure up on the Regime?? To do nothing gives them some form of legitimacy.
Even the most die-hard anti-protester must see that the club is doomed under this regime and they are sucking the life-blood out of the club.
The way things are going I can see Charlton dropping out of the League within 3 years under Duchatelet.