Thursday 15 December 2016

The Sound Of Silence

Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself 'is it just me'? We can all agree that our new manager is engagingly enthusiastic, hopefully with that optimism spreading through the club to good effect. And just going on accounts of performances to date it would seem that the players have reacted well enough to what Karl Robinson is looking to get across, with no good reason to view the FA Cup exit as anything to be concerned about. Just that when people suggest that he talks well, that they like what they are hearing, I am, so far, rather more sceptical. In general I find much of what he says to be muddled, confused, and potentially misguided. Given that the waters he is wading into have been decidedly muddied by the regime, I hope - for his and our sakes - that he considers carefully what he says and does on some matters.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't much care if a manager borders on the inarticulate, loses it, jumps up and down on the touchline and screams, or sits in the stands showing no emotion. Just as we really don't care about the nationality or gender of those who temporarily run our club. There's no ideal formation in football (this may sound like sacrilege to some who have studied the computer models, or who consider themselves to be visionaries), nor is there a correct code of behaviour for a manager. If it works in terms of results and getting the best out of the available resources, that's all that matters; and on that front it is of course far too soon to be drawing any conclusions about Robinson. For the time being he quite rightly has the benefit of the doubt and our support, just as Duchatelet did when he came in.

So what concerns me? First, there was the notion when Robinson arrived that he would miraculously repair relations between the regime and the fans. I found that slightly offensive, as if the protest movement was the result of some tantrum, that our owner might just have been a bit misunderstood, and that all that was required was a likeable guy to mediate. Sorry Karl, you haven't been sent from on high to solve a problem that ultimately has only one solution. Decisions regarding protests were not taken lightly and the protests themselves are not going to stop because of your arrival, just as your arrival is unlikely to prompt the sort of actions that would mend fences, such as the dismissal of Meire and an apology from Duchatelet for the insults and lies he is still trying to spread, as well as his unbelievably inept stewardship of our club.

Second, leading on from this was Robinson's stated desire to meet the fans and to learn more about the protests. Fine, nothing wrong with that. But the Trust sent him an invitation to talks and so far in response there's been that weird ramble on the radio about wanting to meet the oldest season ticket holder, the youngest etc. The Trust has posted a comment today to the effect that it has received no formal reply from Robinson but has the expectation of meeting up when he gets the time.

You see, Karl, it's on issues like this that the waters have been muddied. After the buffoonery of January 2014, when supporters started to voice their concerns, Meire released a statement on the club site to the effect that she wanted to meet the fans to discuss a 'shared vision' but of course that wasn't the right time. The end-result? After we'd stayed up, in spite of the actions of the regime, a Q&A at the open day in the summer coupled with the pretence that the Fans Forum, worthy as it is, might along with occasional staged events amount to genuine engagement. When Meire gets upset about being called a liar it's because of issues such as this (and many others, especially when disgruntled ex-employees have their say) where her slant on events just doesn't stack up. It is being polite to say she is used to being economical with the truth.

So, Karl, if your desire to meet the fans ends up being a few encounters in a pub, an event or two organised by the club, even the occasional exchange at a petrol station, you will end up being bracketed with Meire. We are well aware that you meeting the Trust would be difficult for the regime to accept. After all, the Trust has nothing to say to Meire, would speak to Duchatelet but he doesn't want to, and now does want to talk to you. There's no mystery here, the Trust is doing what it is supposed to do: represent the expressed views of its members (and to those Addicks who don't support the protests I would ask if they are Trust members - and if not, why not?). The Trust cannot hope to represent all supporters but it is the most representative group around. So why no reply to the invitation if you genuinely want to learn more and engage with fans?

Silence, as they say, can, according to the circumstances, speak. Your silence on this matter will lead supporters to conclude that either you are not genuine in your desire to learn more about the protests, or that you are but have been told by the regime that your meeting the Trust is out of the question. If you are lucky most will assume the latter and will be sympathetic towards someone who has only recently accepted the regime's shilling. Of course an actual meeting with the Trust will mean you'd have to face questions like 'what exactly is the plan around which Duchatelet sold you the job?' But real dialogue involves answering real questions, rather than trying to brush them aside with silly, off-the-cuff platitudes (ie the Meire approach, which inevitably results in her being labelled a liar).

You see Karl the events of the past few years have heightened most Addicks' bullshit detectors. We have been fed far too much, by a regime which is priming itself to deliver a better quality of BS by employing yet more BS-spreaders to try to pretend that black is white. "In his new role Tom will devise the club's integrated communications strategy and manage the communications department's implementation of that strategy". Welcome to the mucky and distasteful world of PR, where large sums are wasted by people trying to come up with solutions rather than being open and honest.

And Karl, you can't say that some of the things you tend to say don't come under the heading of BS:

"What I am finding difficult is the rudeness of some people that think we’re going to spend millions when we are a League One club – they inflate prices when Charlton come calling. This is not from the top of our football club, it is what I have found hard. There is one price and then because it is Charlton it becomes another – that’s not right. Agents see our name mentioned and the figures suddenly go up. We’re not even interested in some of them. But we are used as a benchmark, the same as Sheffield United. I don’t think that’s fair. A player should be worth what a player is worth." Oh come on, you can't be serious. A player is worth what someone is prepared to pay for him, just like any asset, and if the seller thinks he can get more from one particular buyer so be it. Are we going to sell Lookman for what he is worth or the best price that we can get?

"There is a lot of transparency within this football club on the recruitment side. People asked would you be told who to sign? I think that me and my staff driving in convoy up north that it proves it will be a club decision to make the club go in the right direction.” Karl, I don't know what you think that a trip to watch some players proves but I'll tell you what it proves to me: bugger all.

“I’ve only been here for two weeks but the fans can see I love being at this football club.” OK, just about, but don't push it. If love is turned on that quickly it can easily be turned off. Maybe I've never been a 'love at first sight' type of guy, but don't forget Karl we had Ms Meire saying she was ready to swing from the crossbar at Bramall Lane alongside Sir Chris if we beat Sheffield Utd in the cup. We lost, he was sacked.

So in conclusion (finally) I guess the message Karl is: meet the Trust as soon as possible, or if you can't explain honestly why not; don't even try to bridge the divide between the fans and the regime, it's an impossible task (and not because we want the club to fail etc); just focus on matters on the pitch, what is possible with the players we have now and after January. Do the last well and you will enjoy our continued support, even though the protests will continue; we'll even forgive the occasional bit of BS.


Anonymous said...

Great blog. You are definitely not alone. I am married to a scouser and am therefore used to the enthusiasm that usually eminates from the locals of that party of the world but his comments to date are at best embarrassing and at worst an insight into how much he has bought into Miere and Duche-bag's lies.

I truly hope he gets the best out of the under-resourced squad he has and will be allowed to spend some of the bounty from the sale of Lookman but even then, as you say, he will not change my mind about the regime and it's potentially irreversible affect on my relationship with the club I have supported all my life.

SuicidalAddick said...


Hungry Ted said...

Great post BA. Personally, I've found myself cringing quite a lot whilst listening to KR, and sometimes openly laughing. He reminds me of an over-confident David Brent at times. Whilst it is more than understandable he wants to make an early impression, it strikes me KR is trying way too hard, with an over-exaggerated emphases on big smiles and positive spin, when at times it really isn't there...for now at least.

Take Tuesday night. His post match interview made direct reference to how proud he was of the youth and their South London roots. All well and good if we hadn't learnt the same evening his boss looks set to cash in on two of our brightest young stars this Jan. What's the point in Charlton fans getting excited about the bright young players?

He also claimed we "Looked, for 90mins, like a very aggressive, expansive, solid team" which was a view clearly not shared by those Addicks who were there if the comments on twitter were anything to go by.

My guess is he's bought into Miere's theory that a few good wins back-to-back and we'll all be back on side and happy again. That all this unrest comes down to form and/or results. Results, of course, have never been the driving force to any of this discontent.

I'll back the man 100%, but like you, I think he really needs to understand fast the real reasons why so many Addicks have become disillusioned with the club. It's painfully obvious that's not something Duchatelet or Meire would have been open with him about, even if we could believe for a single moment they actually get it themselves.

That way he can avoid coming across as some sort of self-appointed saviour in a situation he cannot resolve, and in doing so, will gain my respect much quicker.

*puts on tin helmet and waits the first Addick to tell me 'I'm being negative, and why can't I just support the team'...

Anonymous said...

Well, if you use twitter as evidence for how the team played, you probably should wear a tin hat!

a2c said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Burgundy Addick said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Take the point about 'stalemate', certainly appears that way at the moment, but we really can't know as we can't tell what might make Duchatelet decide to sell, or when. He kept Standard Liege for around four years, perhaps there will be a parallel. The impasse isn't fun for us but time is on our side, we're not going anywhere, he will sooner or later.

Phil said...

Spot on BA. I was far from a fan of Robinson before he arrived but am prepared to be won over. I have to say nothing's changed to date. Living in MK I'm well used to the things he's says and trust me they are little different to what he said about the MK Dons. Actions speak louder than words so he ought to keep his powder dry and when he's achieved some wins via attractive football then you can do the talking. And don't make promises you can't or won't meet !

Anonymous said...

Most of what he says is complete jibberish, but he wouldn't be alone in that, Luzon, Riga and Freye all spoke in similar riddles.
Football really isn't that complicated, we can either play 4-3-3 , 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. After that it's just about picking the best 11 players.
Also he is already issuing veiled excuses for not buying any decent players, just like his predecessors.Peeters, Riga, Luzon all claimed that we just needed to get a couple more in during the windows and none of them ever arrive.
What out for all the familiar excuses over the next transfer window and for added fun probably a couple of useless Cristophe Lepoints to boot

Burgundy Addick said...

Phil, I hope it does just prove to be a bit of over-enthusiasm on Robinson's part and that he does deliver the results we want; nothing wrong with a bit of arrogance but I hope he learns quickly from the Addicks he talks to that he's better off not trying to influence other matters.

Football not complicated AA? Wash your mouth out. Our owner and the Boy Scout have studied and mastered the art, how could you not be bowled over by the contents of the email to Sir Chris?