Friday, 28 February 2014

Don't understimate Charlton warns Pearson

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson is no fool and he is not making the mistake of assuming that the Foxes simply have to turn up at the Kingpower Stadium tomorrow to put on an exhibition match and collect three easy points. The Foxes have not beaten the Addicks in the league since 2000: Pearson

However, the rampant Foxes are looking a much tougher prospect than in previous seasons. They are eight points clear at the top of the league and are on track for a return to the top flight. Their position at the top of the form table is a little less impressive as they have drawn two of their last six matches. Even so, they had no trouble dispatching Ipswich 3-0 last Saturday. Not only did James Vardy score his 12th goal of the season, but the Football League Paper reported that 'his constant energy made it impossible for Ipswich's defence to settle as they were torn about [surely 'apart'] by a man in [at?] the peak of his powers.' (Sub needed at the FLP). Mick McCarthy said after the game, 'Leicester are the best team in the Championship. They are streaks ahead of anyone else.'

In recent years, Yann Kermorgant has been a key factor in victories against Leicester, especially at the one time Crisp Bowl. The Leicester fans used to give him stick, the Breton's blood started to boil and before one could say 'Sacré bleu' the ball was in the back of the net.

Two things may help us this time. First, there is Hamer's fearsome beard which may distract attacking players. Second, there is Marcus Tudgay who as a Forest player will presumably have no affection for Leicester. Apart from that, I think that he is a smart loan acquisition. I know that he is 31, but I think that he will be a big help to us.

Odds (Coral): Leicester 4/9, Draw 100/30, Charlton 6/1

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Financial fair play rules under threat

In his recent video interview Charlton owner Roland Duchâtelet said that he was a strong backer of financial fair play rules. Charlton's future strategy is in part based on having a more level playing field (and I am not just referring to the pitch) in the future. However, these rules are clearly a threat to some clubs and David Conn in The Guradian has revealed that some unnamed clubs are threatening a legal challenge to the rules. Here is his article: Fair play

This does not surprise me as the stakes are high for the clubs concerned. I have always thought that both the Uefa rules and those at a domestic level were susceptible to a legal challenge, in part because I saw a conflict with competition law. Certainly sports lawyers think that some very complex issues are raised. The Football League has, however, said that it will vigorously defend any legal challenge. Ultimately, of course, it is a matter for the courts to decide.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Murray talks about takeover

Richard Murray has been talking to the BBC about the advantages of the Roland Duchâtelet takeover of Charlton. He doesn't say much that is new other than that the real benefits will be seen if the Addicks stay up: Murray

It is interesting that in his recent meeting with the media Roland made it clear that he would not answer any questions about Standard Liège. Nothing more has been heard about the possible takeover.

Travel problems for cup tie

It looks as if train services will not be available for Addicks wanting to go to the Sunday FA Cup tie against Sheffield United. Because of rail engineering works, the first train from London will arrive in the steel city five minutes after kick off. I checked for trains from Leamington which is nearer and was told that 'there are no outbound trains on the date that you selected'.

When I last went to Bramall Lane, I used a car park not far off the motorway which had a tram stop. The tram goes relatively close to Bramall Lane.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sheffield derby called off

That's what I call a celebration

Hamer came back in goal for the Addicks tonight, while Fox started in front of a crowd of 24,607, perhaps 1,500 of them Addickted. The Wednesday fans needed their ticket stubs for the anticipated Sheffield derby. Charlton won an early corner. Wilson set up Astrix, but his shot was over hit. Llera was giving attention to Church. A handball by Llera was ignored by referee Clattenburg. With a better angle a cross from Cousins could have set up Church.

Fox was playing his part in clearances. Wednesday seemed to be hoofing the ball a lot, particularly through Llera. Wilson provided good defending. Wood had to usher the ball back to Hamer, giving the home fans their first moment of excitement. Charlton came very close to scoring. Astrix’s first shot was blocked by Llera and his second was deflected for a corner. Charlton continued to ask the questions.

Wood tackled well to deny Best. Wednesday continued to offer long and high balls. A good ball in evaded Harriott. Michael Morrison dealt well with a ball pumped forward. Church won a corner for Charlton under pressure. The Addicks won another corner, taken this time by Jackson. Cousins put a cross in as the Owls appealed for a foul, a shot from Astrix was blocked and Harriott slammed the ball into the right-hand corner to make it 1-0 to Charlton in the 21st minute.

Church put in a snap shot from the edge of the area with the home side at sixes and sevens. Wilson dealt with an Owls attack well, stopping Maghoma from threatening. The home crowd were getting restive. Wednesday got the ball, but gave it away to Wilson.

A foul on Church was ignored by Clattenburg. Hamer was seeing a lot of the ball as it came over the top. There was a long pause in the game for an injury to an Owl.

Ben Hamer had to make a good save diving to his left. A Wednesday free kick ended in one for Charlton. Best put in a quick fire shot which went straight to Hamer but enlivened the home crowd.

Poyet put in a poor ball back and Hamer had to react quickly. Wednesday won their first corner in the 44th minute. Hamer flapped a little and it was panic stations until the ball was cleared. Three minutes were added on and the Owls continued to apply pressure. Charlton won a free kick to ease the pressure. Wilson went down, but managed to get up, but then had to go off for treatment. Llera clattered in to Church and took him out, but Clattenburg missed it when it should have been a yellow at least. Johnnie Jackson and other Charlton players spoke to the referee as the teams went off.

Half time: Owls 0, Addicks 1

Cousins cleared as the ball pinged around in the penalty area. Poyet was pushed over and Clattenburg waved it away. An effort by Jackson which was hit low and hard was close as Martinez scrambled across.

Wednesday were applying more pressure as they attempted to get back into the game. They equalised through Leon Best on 55 minutes, a long ball into the box and a header down. The atmosphere in the ground became electric with the home fans singing a song for the first time. The Owls made a double substitution.

Jackson had to complete a clearance after Hamer was unable to do so. Charlton applied a little pressure. Clattenburg booked Best for dissent. Llera clattered Church again, got a yellow card and Charlton won a free kick. Church got on the end of the Jackson free kick with his head to make it 2-1 to Charlton.

Morrison had to head the ball out for the second Wednesday corner of the game on 71 minutes and Hamer saved on the touchline and Wood was down injured. He got up, but was struggling.

Wilson defended well by sticking to his man. Harriott went down, but recovered. Church came off. Lawrie Wilson defended superbly to stop a run. Hamer made a superb save and the offside flag went up.

Wood got a yellow card which could have been red. The free kick led to a corner on 89 minutes but Llera put it over the bar. Wood came off and was replaced by Dervitte. Wednesday fans started to leave for the exit. Five minutes were added on. Charlton launched an attack and won a free kick 35 yards out. Hughes came on and Astrix went off to be congratulated by Chris Powell.

Hamer had to make a great save from a ball that took a deflection. There was chaos in the box after the corner. Charlton won a free kick. The whistle blew and the Addicks were one step closer to Wembley, although the Blades will be no pushover.

I see that Radio 5 referred to our result as 'elsewhere'. But a message of congratulation from Standard Liège is appreciated: 'Félicitations a l'équipe de Charlton qui s'rest qualifée ce soir pour le quarts de finale de la FA Cup.' Merci beaucoup. Allez les rouges!

Hopefully we will get a chance to play them in a pre-season friendly. I did think of going over myself, but my French is not good enough, plus my accent (which is a mixture of Bruxellois and Quebecker) might arouse the suspicions of the locals who might think I was Flemish rather than English.

Roland's European vision

I have now watched the video of Roland's press conference which also had contributions from Chris Powell and Richard Murray. Katrien was there, but confined herself to smiling intelligently at appropriate points. I thought that Chris Powell seemed a bit ill at ease, particularly at first. However, one thing that came across was that one thing that Roland liked about Chris was his ability to manage effectively on a small budget, 'keeping Charlton afloat with very low investment in players in the past'.

For the last Voice of the Valley I had to write something in a few hours after a contributor had dropped out. Rick Everitt asked me to write something on the 'European angle', hardly having to add that he knew where I lived and one of his goblins would be calling round if the copy did not appear.

I decided to write something about what I thought might be Roland's European vision. It was speculative, but to use one of Roland's words it had a 'foundation': my knowledge of EU policies on football; the information I had gathered about Roland and in particular his political career and my knowledge of Belgium and Belgian politics (admittedly fragmentary, but I am reading up on it).

However, it seems I was not that far off the mark. Roland specifically referred to 'football being a more European kind of thing.' He drew a specific analogy with the Erasmus programme which allows students to spend a year or a shorter period in a university in another European country. It's very popular because it allows them to become familiar with another culture and, hopefully, improves their language skills, although even French universities are now teaching in English.

He sees himself as running an equivalent programme for footballers with a chance for them to develop in a different culture and environment. Of course, Richard Murray then intervened and made a not very helpful aside about Nigel Farrage taking us out of the EU. It needs to be remembered that even those European countries that are not members of the EU are linked with it by various kinds of association agreements which, for example, even affect Swiss football as we showed in our book on The Transformation of European Football: the Europeanisation of the National Game. If Britain was not in the EU it would need such an agreement to access the internal market. In any event, this is all at least three years away.

Roland also emphasised the way in which football is a huge social event, marked by the diversity of fans in terms of age, gender, religion and political views. Belgium is a lapsed Catholic country and Roland suggested that football served as a substitute for the act of communion in church. Above all, a football club needed foundations based in the community and these foundations need to be strengthened at Charlton.

However, it is clearly a long-term plan. As Roland said, there is no point in going up to the Premier League and then getting relegated. One wants the club to be in a condition where it can stay up. Roland is a stronger supporter of financial fair play and thinks that clubs can break even. I think that is actually quite difficult for a number of reasons that are specific to football, e.g., high capital costs relative to the frequency of use of the assets. There is also the question of player wages, although Roland's model may help there. He is also very committed to the Academy model which is one of the things that attracted him to Charlton.

Roland was never going to splash the cash, although I understand that a larger sum has been spent on players than under the previous regime. I think that Roland is conducting an interesting experiment which is rational enough given trends towards the Europeanisation of football. These trends could be halted or reversed, but I think that the underlying dynamic is a strong one.

Will this experiment benefit Charlton? That is harder to say. Richard Murray spoke of the potential offered by the Thames Gateway development, but many of those moving there will already have established allegiances. The London football market is very competitive and a less glamorous club like Charlton has to compete against Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and, increasingly in the future, West Ham.

For now the target is to avoid relegation. That is down to Chris Powell and the players, and Roland made it clear that Chris has the choice whether or not to play those brought over from Europe. Nevertheless, he must feel some pressure and they are a mixed bunch in terms of ability and achievement. Time will tell, but it is clear that we live in interesting times.

Morale booster or distraction?

Charlton face Sheffield Wednesday in the postponed FA Cup tie at Hillsborough tonight. Many Charlton fans have become excited at the possibility of winning there and at Sheffield United, leading to a FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. I would doubt whether we would beat both Sheffield teams and there is a chance of a draw tonight which would lead to more congestion in our fixture schedule and probably another postponement of the crucial home game against Barnsley.

I always think that 'either or' choices between relegation and Cup progress are overstated. Of course, there is the risk of tiredness and injuries to a squad that lacks real depth, but wins of any sort can boost confidence and help to create momentum. As Rhoys Wiggins puts it in The Times this morning, 'If we can get another result [after QPR] against Sheffield Wednesday, that will add to the belief, give us all a big lift and we have a lot of games coming up. It would be good to get on a run. If the FA Cup is a distraction, it is a good distraction.'

I couldn't get to the QPR game as I was on my first holiday break with the whole family since 2005, but I gather that controversy about Yohann Thuram-Ulien continues. Having seen the television excerpts, I saw that he made one good save and nearly got caught out with a bad error. The Football League Paper gave him the lowest score of any player, a 4, although the Sunday Times gave him a respectable 6.

Let's deal with the conspiracy theories first. It is being said that Powell is being told to play Thuram-Ulien and one reason is that he could be No.3 in the French world cup squad. If that is the case, France must be short of goalkeepers. I think that a more convincing reason is that Hamer was judged not to be fully match fit on Saturday but could well be in goal tonight. If it is Thuram-Ulien I wish that Charlton supporters would back him up rather than barracking him. For better or worse, he is in goal.

Incidentally, I would like to be a fly on the wall when Katrien issues footballing instructions to Chris Powell! I just can't see it happening. What is becoming evident to me is that Katrien is much more than her master's voice and this smart lawyer is very much in charge at The Valley. She is, however, showing a proper lawyer's caution when responding to any direct questions from fans.

What of the Owls? Well, they also having some momentum, having defeated Huddersfield 2-0 away on Saturday. They are up to 15th in the table, but significantly are 7th in the form table. Their record at home in the league is, however, a bit patchy: won five, drawn three, lost seven. However, the chance of going on to defeat their steel city rivals and reach a semi-final at Wembley will be a big incentive.

After the Huddersfield victory manager Stuart Gray hailed his side's defensive qualities, but also highlighted their prowess in counter attack with the ability to be up the other end of the pitch in six or seven seconds. He felt that his side kept their shape after a disappointing first half during which they were frustrated by Huddersfield's diamond formation.

I won't attempt to forecast the outcome of this match, although a win for the Owls must be the most likely result, but Charlton have a good chance. Odds do not look good for us but are probably realistic: Sheffield Wed 10/11, Draw 12/5, Charlton 3/1.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Assessing Roland's plans

As I am in 'catch up' mode today, having taken a holiday break for the first time in several years, I have not had time to look at the website version of Roland's meeting with the media, although I understand it may not be a full record. However, from what I have read in the Football League Paper today, the rather speculative article I wrote at short notice for Voice of the Valley may not have been totally off the mark. Roland specifically refers to the 'Erasmus model' of exchanges of students between European universities as a blueprint for the way in which he wishes to exchange players.

In the meantime, here is an interesting reflective piece on the takeover: Takeover

Saturday, 22 February 2014

In my absence

I've spent three enjoyable days in the Isle of Wight with the grandchildren and their mums and I was crossing on the ferry to Southampton when Charlton met QPR at The Valley this afternoon. Just before we drove on I heard that QPR had had a penalty appeal turned down, so it was heartening to find that we had won 1-0 with a last gasp winner from Johnnie Jackson, an important step in our fight back. Perhaps I should stay away from more home games!

The match is the lead one on the Football League Show which means more in depth coverage than usual. Usually on Sundays this is shown on a loop on Channel 301 on Freeview, but it has been displaced by the Winter Olympics. Presumably it will appear on I-player.

Having been in a remote part of the island without WiFi, it was interesting to learn that Chris Powell is engaged in new contract talks: Powell

Crystal Palace midfielder Jonny Williams is a target for Chris Powell, as is Shaun Wright-Phillips, but nothing is likely to happen on the latter front for some time: Targets

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Would you buy a house or flat near The Valley?

This is the question that our sister site The Political Economy of Football is posing today: Football and housing

Anything in Boateng reports?

Richard Cawley has tweeted that Charlton are maintaining their interest in Fulham defensive midfielder Derek Boateng and will provide a full story in the South London Press later today.

Boateng was linked with French club Evian last month, but Ghana sources think that he may get a new leaf of life now that the management team at Fulham has changed: Boateng

Full sp, well sort of, on the 30-year old here: Career . Could he be the new Keith Jones?

Monday, 17 February 2014

Curbs out after all

Alan Curbishley's return to football after a six year absence has been a brief one. Earlier reports that he had retained his role as technical director at Fulham were premature and it appears that he is to be sacked after all: Curbs

There has been some discussion on the boards of whether we would want Curbs back at Charlton. I think that he stands alongside Jimmy Seed and Lennie Lawrence as managers who have made a real positive difference to the club. However, that doesn't mean I want him back, even as director of football or in the rather nebulous technical director role he had at Fulham. Supposedly he was responsible for the defence, which doesn't bode well.

According to The Times this morning Curbs was miffed because he thought that his role was independent of the coaching staff which again raises the question of what he was actually doing. Was he responsible for the floodlights?

The difficulty is that Chris Powell's faults are very much those of Curbs such as leaving substitutions too late. Not surprising, really.

Are QPR invincible?

In his recent pessimistic blog on Charlton's relegation prospects, Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt commented, 'The next Championship match is a difficult one against promotion-chasing QPR, a team we struggled to compete with at Loftus Road in November.' Like most Charlton supporters, Rick Everitt has been through some hard times, although he is one of the few to miss a University exam to attend an Addicks game, an event which had his head of department, pioneer gay Tory Peter Campbell, spluttering to me in indignation. I did point out that Addicktion could be a serious business, but Campbell evidently thought I was behind it all, adding 'and he's a good student.'

The Rickster's recent pessimism may be tinged by the problems he has had with errant wheelie bans as his Ramsgate ward is hit by high winds or perhaps the prospect of Nigel Farrage as MP for Thanet South after the next election. In any event, I do not think that the Super Hoops are invincible.

QPR are in my 'dislike' category. It's partly because a good friend who has lived in Acton all his life is a Brentford fan. But I also think that QPR fans have an exalted idea of their own status, thinking that they are a natural Premiership team. When the first foreign takeover occurred, one QPR fan told Radio 5: 'The only question people will be asking in five years' time is are QPR or Real Madrid the biggest team in Europe?' And don't get me started on Rodney Marsh and his attitude towards Charlton.

Sometimes Charlton play at their best against better teams. Moreover, despite 'Arry's artistry with the car window and the cost of their squad, the 1-3 defeat at home to an admittedly resurgent Reading suggests that they are not invincible. On the downside, Ravel Morrison is expected to join on loan from West Ham on Friday. There have been rumours of two loans coming in at Charlton, but one of the supposed targets went to Sheffield Wednesday.

QPR winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has turned down a loan move to Charlton, but I'm not sure he is the sort of player we would want anyway: Wright-Phillips

As far as the cup game is concerned, Addicks are getting excited about scenarios that could see us in a Wembley semi-final. However, the Owls now have the extra incentive of a Sheffield derby which no doubt they think they can win. A match on a Monday means that London-based fans will not be able to attend as the last train for the smoke leaves around 9 p.m. An overnight stay in Sheffield hardly appeals during the working week. Although Monday is better for me tyhan a Tuesday, even I cannot get up the M1 in time. The relative absence of our support won't help.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Does Roland represent the wave of the future?

Is Roland a brilliant innovator who is ahead of the curve in his thinking about football or is he as barking as my Belgian Shepherd dog? Pressure is growing for a nursery club system in English football and our sister site, The Political Economy of Football, looks at the arguments: Nursery clubs

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Curbs stays at Fulham

Ray Wilkins has been shown the door at Fulham, but Alan Curbishley is staying. Indeed, he is now referred to as 'Director of Football' rather than just 'Technical Director', a role that seemed to involve being the lone 'Man in the Stands': Curbishley

On another matter, Ivy the Terrible has pointed out that the Husky who invaded the pitch at the start of the Crewe Alexandria v. Brentford game today was not an accredited member of the Association of Canine Match Analysts and indeed such conduct would be a clear breach of the Association's code of conduct as can be seen here: Totally Barking .

You can see the dog invasion here: Dogged

Charlton in cup draw tomorrow

Tomorrow's big match on the Isles of Scilly also looks as it will fall victim to the weather

Charlton will be in the draw for the 6th round of the FA Cup tomorrow, with one time Addick Robert Lee and his son Olly doing the honours, after today's game with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough was postponed. Referee Mark Clattenburg has explained his decision in a video, although it really needs subtitles as it is delivered in a quiet voice with a strong northern accent. He said that the decision was an easy one as the pitch was severely waterlogged and rain was continuing to fall. He was mindful of the fact that Charlton supporters were travelling up from London and thought that required an early decision. Postponing kick off by two hours was not really an option. He was as disappointed as anyone as he had been training for the game as much as any of the players.

This will mean the match will have to be played midweek when many fans will be unable to get there. I am unsure how this affect the rearranged Barnsley game, unless they try and go ahead at Hillsborough this coming Tuesday. Where is Michael Fish when you need him? The most likely outcome is that the Barnsley match will be rearranged again. If there is a replay, goodness knows what will happen.

Charlton legend Morts was on Radio 5 this morning saying he thought we would win, but they had some unknown former Owls defender saying that his club 'would show their steel'. We shall see.

I know that one Addick today got a cab from Hammersmith to St.Pancras to catch the train north so the poor guy is out of pocket and hurtling northwards, possibly on a restricted ticket. Congratulations to East Midlands train for letting Charlton fans on such tickets travel back early. Some unfortunates have even booked a weekend in Sheffield.

About one hundred Charlton fans have gone to Chesterfield v. Torquay and are supporting Torquay.

I have no alternative as today's clash between the motor industry giants, Brakes and Vauxhall Motors, was called off after the pitch at the New Windmill Ground became waterlogged despite efforts by the prize winning groundsman and volunteers. A late shock has been the postponement of a second alternative, the needle derby between Southam United and Racing Club Warwick.

Tomorrow's weekly match between the Woolpack Wanderers and the Garrison Gunners at the Garrison Stadium, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, is in doubt as high winds continue to scour the exposed pitch. Meanwhile, chaos reigns among the sports team in the Radio Scilly studio with station manager Keri Jones having wisely decided to spend this month 'down under'.

Tom Finney, a true legend

When I was at primary school, I used to collect cigarette cards of footballers. In retrospect it seems a reprehensible practice as it encouraged my father to smoke. However, we didn't know then what we know now. I wish I had kept them as they would be of considerable interest to me today, but they were lost in my parents' moves.

The most treasured item was Sam Bartram, my favourite player. But I also admired two of the giants of the day, Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews. I had always thought that I had seen Tom Finney play at The Valley, but on checking the records this can't be the case. Two of the home matches against Preston were 'early closing day' games on Thursday afternoons when I would have been in school. There was one on a Saturday, but for some reason, Finney did not play.

Finney was playing in the days of the maximum wage and supplemented his income by building up a plumbing business. However, he always lived relatively modestly in his home town and played all his career for North End. He was offered a lucrative deal abroad, but the club refused to release his contract. Later in his life he cared for his wife who was suffering from dementia which, as I know, can be very challenging.

Everything we know about Finney suggests that he was a true legend, a real gentleman who loved his football and his club and regarded playing for his country as a real honour. We shall not see his like again.

There was a great tribute at Deepdale today with each Preston player wearing a shirt bearing Finney's name. It was also good to see an impeccably observed minute's silence rather than what has become the more customary round of applause.

Pitch inspection at 10.30

It doesn't look that much better than The Valley and that's saying something.

Following heavy overnight rain and more expected there will be a pitch inspection at Hillsborough at 10.30. The inspection will be carried out by match referee Mark Clattenburg. More rain is expected. Unfortunately, many Addickted seem to be catching the 10.26 from St.Pancras.

Updates will be posted. Apart from the inconvenience to travelling fans, the last thing we need is more of a fixture pile up.

Unfortunately, it is too late to dispatch our experienced pitch forkers from The Valley.

Storm conditions hit journey north for Addickted

The storm hits Porthcressa beach on the Isles of Scilly. Photo courtesy of DJ Dave Pender of 'Are you rocking tonight, St.Agnes?' fame

Two thousand Addickted were expected to make the journey north today for the FA Cup clash between Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton. However, last night's storm has disrupted train travel in the south-east with South-Eastern Trains running no services until 11 a.m. while lines are checked for obstructions. This will particularly hit Addicks travelling up from Kent to St.Pancras, although HS1 from Ashford will be running. East Midlands trains from St. Pancras to Sheffield appear to be running more or less normally.

The weather was severe here in Warwickshire last night. We had been to a private view at our local art gallery yesterday evening but the 'A' road back was blocked by a fallen tree so we had to make a long detour. Consequently, I missed my appointment to talk to a French radio station, but that was probably a case of an ill wind blowing some good.

Conditions have been particularly bad in the Isles of Scilly and the sports show had to be pre-recorded on Thursday so that the lads would be available to deal with floods, so no slot for me as mainland football correspondent.

Friday, 14 February 2014

It's a results business

That's what Charlton director Richard Murray told CAS Trust members at a meeting last night when asked Chris Powell. He also said that under Roland Charlton had the greatest financial stability it had enjoyed for years. Whilst he regretted the departure of Yann Kermorgant Bournemouth [bankrolled by a rich Russian] had made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Somewhat surprisingly, the one time Addicks supremo said that he did not know the identity of all the backers of the Jimimez/Slater regime, something that would worry me if he was a director of a company. However, in their defence, he pointed out that they had continued to write the cheques.

Read a full account of the meeting here: Murray

In other news, Fulham's manager has been replaced but not by Alan Curbishley. The fate of Curbs as technical director is not known.

On a big news night, sorry to hear of the death of football legend Tom Finney, aged 91. I will write about him and his appearances at The Valley at greater length tomorrow.

Roland plans to add more clubs to stable

Roland Duchâtelet believes that money can be made out of football and the way to do is to have lots of clubs rather than lots of players. He is now reported to be seeking clubs in Portugal and Italy which would give him eight clubs for his own cup competition. An interesting in depth look at Charlton's new owner here: Roland

He will be talking to the British media next week.

Congratulations to Lizzy Yarnold

Take a close look at the badge on her dad's hat as Lizzy Yarnold celebrates Olympic gold with her family

Congratulations to Lizzy Yarnold who received her Olympic accolade in Sochi today wearing a red and white bobble hat. When her father was interviewed on television he was wearing a hat with a Charlton badge. She comes from West Kingsdown and went to school in Maidstone, an area where many Addicks who have moved out from London live.

She is now resident in Sevenoaks (served by the Rickshaw) but trains at Bath University. A small 'Yarny Army' follows her exploits, but I do not know if any of them are Addicks. It is rumoured that she is Addickted, having confessed online, but I don't have confirmation of that.

If Roland is thinking of pre-match entertainment, he could do worse than have her on the pitch with a gold medal before the game, but not in area where she might disappear down a sinkhole! After all, just like the Addicks this season, she knows how to go downhill fast.

Can we get a song for Polish Pete?

The Evening Standard reports: 'Piotr Parzyszek does not exactly roll off the tongue but Charlton’s new signing hopes his name will be on everyone’s lips when he gets up and running in England. Parzyszek moved to The Valley on deadline day after rejecting Portuguese giants Benfica and the Polish striker is determined to get people talking about him, even if supporters cannot pronounce his name.

“The fans can call me Peter,” said the 20-year-old, who joined from Dutch Second Division side De Graafschap. “That will make things easier for everyone! In Holland they had the same problem because, in Polish, my name is very difficult to say. I understand the supporters may have a few problems with it but I am used to that.”

Parzyszek (pronounced Par-je-shek), a highly-rated Poland Under-21 international, was linked with West Ham and Aston Villa during last month’s transfer window after impressing a host of European clubs with his goalscoring. Sixteen goals in 20 games this season convinced Benfica to agree a fee with De Graafschap for his signature. “That was almost a done deal,” said 6ft 3in Parzyszek, who is a confident individual. “Benfica called and wanted to talk about me moving there at the end of the season. But I told them I wanted to move in January because, if I scored 15 or 20 more goals, I could sign for one of the top clubs in Holland in the summer.

“Benfica then agreed to buy me in January and loan me back to De Graafschap and, after three weeks without hearing anything, I eventually flew out there to agree personal terms. But I only got a piece of paper that said how long my contract would be and how much I would earn. There was nothing about a house, a car or talk of flights for my family. So I told them: ‘If that is how much you want me, I will pass’. “I have to have a good feeling about a place and people have to have faith in me. I did not feel that at all at Benfica so it was not a difficult decision.”

Parzyszek, who signed a four-and-a-half year contract with Charlton, had been in Holland since leaving Poland aged six with his mother, Hanna. After coming through the ranks at De Graafschap, he made his senior debut last season following their relegation from the Dutch top flight and quickly turned heads in the second tier. He established himself as a regular in a side pushing for promotion this season and has been compared to Holland star Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. “De Graafschap was a great club but the time was right to leave, make that next step, play with better players and test myself at a higher level,” said Parzyszek, who had no reservations about joining a team in the Championship relegation zone. “I am young and I want to develop myself as a player.”

Parzyszek made his Charlton debut as a late substitute against Birmingham last weekend and is still adjusting to the rigours of the Championship after just two weeks in England. “Already I can tell the football is so much quicker, so much better,” he said. “But I enjoy the physical side of things.” Parzyszek could be a crucial player for Chris Powell, who lost star striker Yann Kermorgant to Bournemouth on deadline day, as his struggling side battle against relegation. Charlton, without a League win since Boxing Day, sit third from bottom and are the lowest scorers in the Championship.

“What can I bring to the side? Goals,” said Parzyszek. “That is the main thing. I can shoot with both feet and I am good with my head. I do not think we will get relegated because I have seen the players we have here. Hopefully I can force my way into the starting line-up.” Parzyszek is hoping for a chance to impress against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup tomorrow but accepts it may be a while before Charlton fans have a song for him. He added: “They had a few for me in Holland but it may be more of a challenge in English!”

My name is too big for my shirt

Long and positive feature on Reza, or 'Dave' as many Charlton fans call him: Reza

Can't remember this sort of coverage for Karim Bagheri!

Nous parlons Franglais!

Belgian Shepherd and canine match analyst Ivy the Terrible enters into the spirit of the times by previewing the city of Sheffield ahead of Saturday’s game in Franglais (acknowledgments to Private Eye). Read more about Franglais here: Franglais Ivy apologises for barking in a Bruxellois rather than a Walloon accent:

Bonjour, mes amis! C’est Ivy qui parle. Samedi nous jouons dans le FA Cup en Sheffield, une cité ‘oop North comme vous dites en Anglais. Nous jouons Sheffield Mercredi, le club de early closing, nickname ‘Les Hibous’. Sacré bleu, il est un massive club and nous sommes un petit club. Aussi en Sheffield, le club ‘Blades’ pour la cuisine, knives and forks, comprendez-vous?

Le FA Cup n’est pas le cup du chocolat, nous jouons d’été (peut être no summer en Angleterre) avec tous les equipé de M. Roland: deux Belgique, un Espanol, un Allemande, un Hongrois et un Anglais – oui, c’est nous, Les Rouges!

Sheffield, est il un orifice du *****? Non, c’est magnifque! C’est un cité du steel, comme Liége, la ville du M.Roland. Le shopping mall Merryhell est ici! Aussi un tram életrique. Surtout Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympian extraordinaire. Aussi ….je ne sais pas. Mon Dieu! Vous avez le quick exit pour le M1, un grand advantage!

M. Clegg, top man du parti Liberal est dans le Chambre de Deputies pour Sheffield Hallam, mais n’est pas comme parti liberal du M. Roland avec les free hand outs pour tout la monde whether vous travaillez or not. Il est very, very sorry sur YouTube avec la musique. M. Clegg, son femme est Espanol, très charmant. Aussi Suzanne avec Blackheath Addick est charmant mais ils sont en Islande avec Olfafur Johansson No. 1 Addick dans pays of the geyser.

L’arbitre pour le match est Mark Clattenburg, Mecredi showboating big match Arsenal v. Manchester United. Il a besoin de le voucher pour Specsavers. Il aime beaucoup le Nord.

Comme dit M. ‘Reg’ Varney: enjoy le jeu!

Viva les rosbifs! Viva Roland! Viva Katrien!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Mother ship may be sold

Roland may be about to sell Standard Liege, thus giving reassurance to fans who were worried about the financial security of the club: Mother Ship (Sorry about the overload of ads on this site). En Francais ici: Takeover

The offer is believed to be €50 million with the funds already available in the Rothschild Bank. However, Roland is holding out for €60m. The club should qualify for the Champions League next season as they are ten points clear at the top of the Pro League and unbeaten in fifteen games.

The money from any sale would then be available to invest in Charlton, hopefully!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Charlton going down says Rickster

Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt has expressed his fear that Charlton are going down in a long post on the fanzine's blog: Relegation

The Ramsgate resident points out the substantial financial losses that would follow relegation, starting with about £3m in television and related revenues. He also follows up on arguments put forward in the most recent VOTV noting a decline in attendances this season. It is likely that many season ticket holders would not renew if there was a relegation.

As I understand it, the Rickster is not seeking to blame our new owner. But he does think that we are running out of time to recover and it is difficult to argue with that.

Mark Clattenburg shock

Mark Clattenburg is to referee Saturday's FA Cup game between Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton. He has been somewhat controversial as a referee: Clattenburg

Clattenburg was born 'oop North and lives there so we can be assured that he will not be taken in by any complaints from southern softies and will not hesitate to award cards for dissent and simulation if there are any complaints about northern cloggers.

Red wine duel agreed with Blackheath Addick

The stand at Charlton was too small to maximise revenue, even though it isn't full in this photo. Pitch doesn't look too bad though as it seems to be winter.

The Blackheath Addick and I have agreed to settle our differences over the takeover with a bet in good red wine. If Charlton are in a higher position in the Championship this time next year, he will treat me to a good bottle of French red wine. If we go down this year but come straight back again we will call it a draw. If by the end of next season we are still in League 1, I will buy him a good bottle of red wine from Chile and we will both drink another bottle together to drown our sorrows.

I think that really we have different visions of the club. When I started watching Charlton in 1953, there was still the potential for the Addicks to be a really top club, although even by then the best years were behind us. Arguably our very best years were just before World War Two when we came very close to winning the top division title. However, our momentum was then disrupted by Mr A Hitler. After the war, we won the FA Cup which was a bigger deal then than it is now. Unfortunately, the owners at the time, the Glikstens, failed to invest in the ground when we were attracting big crowds (the one stand always sold out and the price ratio there to the cheapest standing was 7.5:1). We were also something of a selling club, although the South African imports helped a lot, as did the genius of Jimmy Seed.

Those days can never come back and I think that the Championship is our natural level, much as I enjoyed the Premiership years. However, I would still like to see us challenging for promotion for the top flight rather than fighting relegation. If it came to a choice, Blackheath would prefer an 'authentic' Charlton among the cloggers and hoofers of League 2 rather than one at a higher level which the fans could not identify with.

I am going to go to the CASC Trust meeting in London tomorrow to see what I can learn about the takeover, although there may be limits on what I can report back. How forthcoming Richard Murray will be remains to be seen. I did attend one meeting he held some years ago with bloggers, although the main purpose of that appeared to be to defend the board's handling of Dowie's infamous 'move north'.

While the Slater/Jiminez regime was still in place, I met up over the summer with an old Charlton hand who knows and understands more about the club than I do. I asked, 'Where does Murray fit into all this?' His answer was 'Good question' and it probably still is. Murray was originally a Wolves fan, but he has been associated with the club for 20 years and provided a lot of funding. He has, however, made some quite serious mistakes, particularly over personnel, although we all do.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the old regime ran out of Cash last summer, hence the lack of a needed strengthening of the squad. The rumour mill suggested that by the beginning of this year we were encountering serious cash flow challenges. The club had to be sold otherwise we might have been in a very serious situation. But, as Michael Slater has said, there weren't that many serious buyers in a queue to buy Charlton, rather a lot of time wasters. In fact, many of the stories going around were a load of old Koc. We weren't really in a position to say 'Thanks, but no thanks' to Roland, even though the Chicago Addick has raised new concerns in his latest posting.

One time Voice of the Valley contributor Olafur Johansson is ready to welcome blogger Blackheath Addick and his partner to Iceland

In the meantime the Blackheath Addick is setting off for a holiday in Iceland with his charming French partner Suzanne. I have told self-proclaimed No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson to look out for them and he promises as warm a welcome as is possible in Iceland in February.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Farewell to the Royal Artillery Band

They have marched out of their Woolwich barracks for the last time after 250 years of occupancy. The Charlton connection is that in the 1950s they used to play before matches, not at every match as I recall and not, I think, at half time, but I am ready to stand corrected by someone with a better memory.

Roland wants to improve the pre-match and half time experience for fans, but I am not quite sure what this means, although being ahead at half time might cheer people up. We have, of course, had other musical entertainments in recent years such as opera singers and Abba tribute bands.

Obika: my debt to Kermorgant

Up-and-coming striker Jonathan Obika gets to pick his dream team in the Football League Paper this week and one of choices for striker is Yann Kermorgant (unfortunately, the other is 'Judas' Defoe).

Obika says, 'I enjoyed playing with Yann at Charlton. He liked being the target man and the lay-offs were always crisp and perfect. He's very good in the air and so we linked up well. I definitely picked up a lot of very good attributes from him'.

I think Rick Everitt summed up the way that many Charlton fans feel about Kermorgant when he wrote in The Voice of the Valley 'Kermorgant was not the best striker ever to play for Charlton ... but he came to us when we were in a dark place and sparkled like a diamond lit by a torch.'

In the same issue, Steve Dixon makes it clear that Yann wanted to stay at Charlton. According to the one time Valley Party candidate, Katrien asked to see Kermit on his last day at Sparrows Lane and said that she had not realised how popular he was with fans. She rang Roland to try to retrieve the situation, but it was too late.

What Roland might do

The message boards have been full of arguments for and against retaining Chris Powell as manager over the weekend. I want to leave these rather repetitive discussions to one side and speculate about what Roland Duchâtelet might do. I would emphasise that this is pure speculation as I have no particular inside knowledge about the new regime. However, more information about Roland is coming out and I probably have some understanding of Belgium having spent short stints working there. Despite its scruffiness and impossible politics, I have a real affection for the country. Brussels is a more liveable city than Paris.

Roland is a man who likes change, as is true of many successful businessman. They achieve success in part by challenging the existing paradigms. This was true of Roland when he was a student rebel; when he was building up his businesses; when he made his failed venture into politics when he tried to think outside the box (particularly difficult in Belgium); and now on his mission to change football. In many ways that looks like a mission impossible, but one can be sure that every attempt will be made from the mother ship in Liège.

Roland strikes me as a nice and sensible person and I think that his local representative, Katrien Meire, is smart, sophisticated and cosmopolitan. However, as a businessman, he is not sentimental and able to take tough decisions. He is, in some respects, a man in a hurry. I do not think he would be blasé about Charlton being relegated, but he is not a fan, and he has sensibly covered himself to the tune of £4m if the worst happens.

My hunch is that he is still assessing Chris Powell, but will probably let his contract run out in the summer. Roland likes to base decisions on statistics and he knows that replacing a manager often only brings short run gains. Replacements should not be made in a panic taking whoever turns up with a DVD, but after thinking through the strategic needs of the club and researching those who are available, rather than taking anyone willing to move a few miles north. With a foreign owner there would be a symmetry in having a foreign manager, preferably one whose first language is French, as that will increasingly be the language of many of the players. However, a French speaker operating at managerial level normally has a decent command of English: Roland's English is ten times better than my French, albeit that I have a Belgian accent.

Such a manager would probably introduce a different style of play, a patient game of possession football based on counter attack rather like that of Gus Poyet when he was at Brighton. English fans tend to prefer a style of all out attack and have difficulty in understanding why the smart move is often to play the ball sideways or backwards, which helps to explain England's problems at international level.

Whether Charlton will be successful under Roland's stewardship, remains to be seen but I don't think it will be boring.

For anyone who hasn't heard, tomorrow night's FA Cup match against Arsenal has been postponed. Apart from the state of the pitch, Arsene Wenger couldn't face another big defeat.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Valley of Fear?

At the end of today's 0-2 defeat by Birmingham City, the Bloke Beside Me turned to me and said, 'I am now very fearful.' Earlier this week someone with great experience in football e-mailed me and said, 'I think the rest of the year will be a big uphill battle for a squad that's not of sufficient quality and/or has several new players, plus a manager who is still learning the job and hasn't impressed with tactical dexterity.'

The problem all year, however, has been that the players have not been quite good enough and on today's showing that balance has probably become a little more negative. I thought that in many ways we played fluently and with a good tempo, but we didn't create many chances and those we did we were not able to take advantage of. Possession was 67 per cent to 33 per cent in favour of Charlton and we had eight shots on target to Birmingham's four. Two mistakes gave the visitors their chance to score.

The pitch was probably in a worst condition than at the time of the Barnsley game. All week Charlton supporters had been confident that it would be called off, but my sense was that the club didn't want a repetition of Barnsley and would get it on come what may.

Just before the beginning of the game there was a mixture of sunshine and rain, indeed at one point it was raining at one end of the ground and not at the other. There must have been a rainbow somewhere but what was at its foot: a crock of gold or a crock of something less pleasant? Actually, the worst outfield player on the pitch was Marvin Sordell, not one of our new acquisitions. What summed up the day for me was when he managed to collide with Raz, destroying potentially promising attack. When he was eventually substituted, there was a cheer of relief from the Covered End. I wouldn't have started him and, as it was, Polish Pete only got a cameo giving us no chance to assess his merits or otherwise.

Katrine was at her first home game. Although in the 1950s I was sometimes able to pick out a Gliksten from a similar location on the old East Terrace, I wasn't sure where she was sitting. I don't think she was the lady with the big designer bag which I can't imagine as her style. In any event, she can't have been too pleased by what she saw and may have been tempted to send a message to the 'mother ship' in Liege saying 'beam me up'.

In any event what is very clear is that Roland is no lover of sentiment and tradition and relies heavily on statistics in his decision-making. It is also clear that there is a hierarchy in his clubs. Admittedly, as Voice of the Valley reported today, apparently he will have to pay £4m less if Charlton get relegated. It could still function in League 1 as a development club for Standard Liege, but the route to the Premier League would become much harder.

For one of the small band of Midland Addicks, today was his last home game before he leaves for a life of leisure and luxury in Oman where his wife has been recruited to fill a significant role. He has been asking in his blog what he will miss. Well, one thing I would not miss is making the trek back to the Midlands on a cold and wet day after yet another Charlton home defeat, particularly when the train service from Charlton is below par.

I was sorry to hear from the official site that a Charlton fan had been ejected for directing a racial slur at one of our own players. This is not what we want at Charlton.

The nominal attendance was 15,878, but was certainly much smaller with many fans doubtless being put off by the fear that the match would be postponed at the last minute. However, VOTV revealed that attendances are down 10 per cent year on year over the first 12 home matches, despite the club issuing more complimentary tickets. If you take out away fans, the number of home fans is down 13 per cent or 2,168 per match,a worrying trend.

Ivy the Terrible will be providing her match analysis tomorrow, but in the meantime has asked me to remind people that she is a Belgian Shepherd.

Match analysis

Diego Poyet received warm applause when he was substituted and afterwards was able to take home his first ever Silver Bone to mark his league debut at The Valley. Not only did he show great determination, there was also real skill. It was a very mature performance for someone who has inherited football skill, as well as developing it. Roland intends not to sell home talent as quickly as in the past, so hopefully we will see him for some time to come. I have noted quite a division among fans about the performance of Morrison. The young lad two seats down was angry when he was given a yellow card, but I thought that it was quite justified for a blatant foul when he had failed to check the opposition player. I thought it was a poor performance in terms of decision-making, tactics and speed. I know that he is not an attacking player, but he often acts like one (as no doubt he is told to do) and I thought that his distribution in the box was poor. In contrast I thought that Wood was composed and professional, but he did give away the foul that led to the first goal. Evina really had a mare. Twice his poor defending put the goalkeeper under real pressure. Wilson put himself about and showed some real skill at times, although often he had few options because he was boxed in by two or three opposition players. Jackson is, I am afraid, a bit of a problem. He lacks pace and didn't contribute much. Even his free kick did not come off. Cousins was energetic as ever. There is just a doubt about whether he and Poyet offer something rather similar, although Cousins was playing out on the right. He also missed a chance to score when Ajdarevic released him, but his low drive was saved. I had heard Ajdarevic dismissed as useless before the game, but I formed the opposite opinion. He is a big lad and he was all over the pitch getting involved. In fact, he clearly got to some of the Blues players because he was the target of off the ball incidents and a really nasty foul. He also has some real skill and it is not his fault that Sordell could not take advantage of his balls. An acrobatic volley was one of the few Charlton attempts that really tested Randolph. At the end of the match he sunk to the pitch in front of the East Stand in real despair. Reza is another player who in my view could be a real asset. He does actually act as if he was a centre forward and also put in some good crosses, one of which the hapless Sordell was unable to take advantage of. He is full of running, but he needs someone better to play with him. Sordell is, I am afraid, not up to the task. On three occasions he was in a key attacking position with someone in a better place to go on and score yet in all three situations he went for glory and the attack died out. He is not a team player and does not give one hundred per cent. I have left Thuram-Ulien to last. One fan commented that he was the worst keeper he had seen in 59 years following Charlton. Well, maybe. He did actually distribute the ball quite well by throwing it out and I think that the kicking off the pitch in the second half was due to the wind. When he did punch out from a corner it was very effective. However, he clearly has a problem with gathering the ball which is a basic flaw for a keeper. For the first goal the free kick was excellent and was deflected by the wind. He knew that he should have done better with the second goal, indeed one could almost see him mouthing 'M****'. In contrast the performance of Randolph was very composed. I was always thought he was a better goalkeeper than Elliott who was cut a lot of slack because he was a local lad. Green was a disaster when he came on. First, he drifted way over to the left, then he tried to be clever with the ball in a way that he is not capable of, gave away possession and set up the decisive second goal. Up to then we might still have a got a draw. Church didn't make much difference when he came on. Peter the Pole was given no chance to make an impression.

Rescue Cat Reg has given the Hiss of the Match to South-Eastern Railways for operating a reduced service from Charlton (no special) and hence delaying his evening meal.

Big Dave Lockwood

The announcer has been awarded a commemorative Silver Biscuit for the way in which he pronounced all the names. I was a bit disappointed that he didn't say, 'Mesdames et messieurs, c'est la Vallée.

Sacré bleu!

Today's Voice of the Valley looks likely to obtain some interesting information about the takeover. Even in the unlikely event of the game being called off, the Rickster himself will be selling copies from his pitch opposite the club shop.

Charlton fans are at it again, searching for a gloomy narrative. They've been posting pictures of overnight rain in Bexleyheath, asserting that today's game between Les Rouges and Birmingham City can't go ahead. A few observations:

  • This is SE7, not the Somerset levels.
  • I sense a real determination in the club to get this game on.
  • The cover system blows warm air across the pitch.
  • The covers won't be removed until the last possible moment, and they certainly are well anchored and won't blow away.
  • The only risk is a last minute deluge.

I shall be travelling down from the Midlands and if the match isn't called off, I won't know until I get there. However, I am looking forward to seeing our two new strikers in action, as they are the future of the club now, as well as the chance to assess AA in person. The keeper is clearly a bit of a concern. However, getting rid of the much travelled Alnwick, who seems the latest example of the claim that all keepers are flakey, looks like a stroke of genius rather than a mistake. Hopefully, the defenders will start to get used to the shouts of 'M****' and 'Sacré bleu' coming from the goalmouth.

Today's opponents Birmingham City have won only once in 2014 and that was against Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, although they managed a spirited 3-3 draw at home to Derby last weekend. Our record against the Blues is reasonably good. Charlton won 1-0 at St Andrew's when the teams met in November. Charlton are unbeaten in the last four meetings, though they have won only one. Birmingham's last win was 3-2 at St Andrew's in November 2008. Charlton are unbeaten in the last five meetings at The Valley, winning two. Birmingham's last win there was 2-0 in the Premier League in April 2003. In terms of a form table based on the last eight games, the Blues are 18th and the Addicks 20th.

Rhoys Wiggins is unlikely to feature given his hamstring problem, but Lawrie Wilson is back from suspension and will presumably replace Nego. My main worry is about the mood of the febrile mood of the fans given a reluctance to wake up and smell the coffee over the takeover. One suspects that the first misplaced pass or error by the keeper will be pounced upon when what they really need to do is to get behind the team. However, an early Charlton goal would settle the nerves. I think that we should be able to get a point out of this game and my guess would be 2-2. Slightly optimistic odds are: Charlton 11/8, Draw 11/5, Birmingham 2/1.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Kermorgant gives his side of the story

Yann Kermorgant gives his side of the story of his departure from Charlton, expressing his affection for the club and its fans, but also claiming that no effort was made to keep him and he feels that he was pushed out of the exit door: Kermorgant

He was also influenced by the failure to offer a new contract to Chris Powell. If I was in Roland's position, I had taken over a club in a relegation position, and I did not have a sentimental attachment to the manager as a Charlton legend, I would at least wait until the summer when Chris Powell's contract expires before making a decision about the future.

Alnwick leaves Orient

Ben Alnwick's short stay at Leyton Orient has been brought to an end with his contract cancelled for unspecified medical reasons. He has been unable to train or play for the last few days for personal reasons: Alnwick

The Leyton Orient site presents the situation in somewhat different but still opaque terms: 'Alnwick only joined Orient from Charlton last week but a personal situation has arisen in the last few days which is currently preventing him from training or playing matches. We will be making no further comment on the situation at this time.'

I was concerned about his departure, but it looks as if he would have been unavailable even if he stayed.

The rain it raineth every day

The old Penzance Borough Council commissioned a painting of their promenade many years ago in the hope of boosting their tourist trade and what they got was one entitled 'The rain it raineth every day'. It seemed to me a fair representation of the weather in Penzance, but it was hidden from public view for many years.

Picture from Scilly Now and Then

My friends at Radio Scilly and Scilly Now and Then have been keeping me updated on conditions on the islands. The main settlement of Hugh Town is on an isthmus between two bays and some streets now look like beaches as they are covered with sand. There are real fears about high tides and strong winds forecast for the weekend, winds of 92 mph having been recorded earlier in the week. The Radio Scilly studio is across the road from the beach at Porthmellon, but is on an upper floor, so hopefully the Saturday sports show will go ahead on schedule and I will be able to deliver my slot as mainland football correspondent. Meanwhile, station manager Keri Jones has been sunning himself in New Zealand, leaving the lovely Suze to hold the fort.

Which brings me to Charlton. The dome has been on the pitch and there is to be a pitch inspection later today. However, heavy rain and strong winds are forecast for tomorrow, so heavy rain after the covers are removed could mean a late postponement (again). This is not a good situation for those of us who come some distance as we are unavoidably en route when these decisions are taken. My Plan B had been to at least get my Voice of the Valley but Rick Everitt has tweeted that adverse weather may drive his elves from the streets as the colour could run in their uniforms. However, he has now stated that should there be a late postponement there will be a seller across the road from the club shop from 1.30 until kick off time. /p>

The latest news is more positive. It now appears that the only major chance of the game being off is if it seriously pours down after the Dome [on thepitch, not levitation of the 02] is lifted tomorrow -and whether the pitch could take a serious downpour. The Met Office is predicting "squally heavy showers with perhaps hail or thunder" from 0600-1200 tomorrow and starting again from 1300-1400- so with luck, it should be the downpour between 1-2pm that we need to watch out for.

So, if the worst comes to the worst, it looks like going down the pub to see if I can find Blackheath Addickted to learn why this Europhile is so worried about Roland.

Needless to say the prospect of the game being called off has given the more miserable Charlton fans something else to wallow in. I been having negotiations with Beijing this week about a prospective visit and I must say they are easier to deal with than the average Charlton fan.

If we do keep postponing games, not only do we look foolish (although this time I suspect that there may be some other waterlogged pitches tomorow), but we will be facing match congestion when we are trying to fight our way out of the relegation zone.

Some might think that a postponement would be a blessing in disguise as it might mean that Hamer would recover to replace suspect keeper Thuram-Ulien. Chris Powell made it clear yesterday that Ben Alnwick departed because he wanted assurances about the end of season that could not be given, so his agent had a look round and found that he could pop through the Blackwall Tunnel to add another club to add to those he has played at. The manager made it clear that he is not using the French keeper because he has been told to, but out of necessity.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Rufus ordered to pay back £6.9m

Richard Rufus has been ordered by the Charity Commission to pay back £6.9m to the Kingsway International Christian Centre. The money was lost after he invested in high risk foreign exchange trades. Rufus has already paid back £1.7m, but was declared bankrupt last year and the Charity Commission stated that it was 'clear the funds would not be fully refunded.'

The Times headlines its report 'Footballer's investment own goals' and claims that Rufus was 'renowned for scoring own goals.' Scoring own goals is a professional hazard for central defenders and I don't think he scored that many. This comment strikes me as gratuitously unpleasant and if I wasn't so busy I would complain to The Times. The goal I remember is the first goal he scored for us, that vital one in the greatest game.

My wife was his shirt sponsor for many years and I have one of his signed shirts framed and hanging in my basement. Another was given to the Rose of Denmark. It was evident from my wife's conversations with Rufus that his faith meant a great deal to him and I am sure that he is upset to have let his church down. It was actually quite an awkward topic for my wife as she is not religious, but he came across as a very nice guy.

The full statement by the Charity Commission can be found here: Rufus

Turbulence at Blues

Charlton supporters who are concerned about the takeover might like to reflect on the situation at Birmingham City. Majority shareholder Carson Yeung has had to stand down from the board to enable the company to resume trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Yeung faces a verdict on charges of money laundering from criminal 'proceedings' later this month. He emphatically denies the charges. Meanwhile, attendances at St. Andrews have fallen given the uncertainty surrounding the club: Blues

In contrast, Roland is a person of undoubted probity and seems to have a clear strategy. In installing Katrine as his representative at The Valley, he provides an interesting contrast with the management style of Karen Brassy (as Private Eye calls her) at West Ham.

The one doubt is the replacement of a competent goalkeeper by one from his stable of players who seems to be less competent, but time will tell.

Happy Birthday to Jason Euell who is 37 today. He had the courtesy to acknowledge my greetings message which shows what a decent person he is.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

It's being so miserable what makes me happy

It is sometimes said that the worst thing about supporting Charlton are the other Charlton fans and one does sometimes wonder whether Charlton fans are more pessimistic and miserable than most football fans. We have had all the doom and gloom about relegation being inevitable and complaints about a new owner who is not the kind of bombastic egoist who acquires some clubs. Just think about what has been happening at Leeds - or Coventry City for that matter where a hedge fund is in charge. Incidentally, I hear that Rick from Ramsgate has been working on an issue of Voice of the Valley which will provide views and interpretations of the takeover, so look out for his elves selling it around the ground before the game.

Then this morning I encountered a comment from a supporter that the game on Saturday, our first home game for what seems like a very long time, might be off because there has been heavy rain and more is forecast before the weekend. Now I haven't seen the pitch, but I understand that some work has been done on it even though more radical work will be necessary over the summer. In any case, I believe that the protective dome is up, so it will not be waterlogged, just bald.

To be fair, most football fans seem at their happiest when they are complaining about their own club. There has certainly been a lot of whingeing in Dorking and Guildford as the Theatre of Dreams has become the Theatre of Disappointment. The other week I was at my non-league team who are in a solid mid-table position having been promoted to a higher level. As we lost a match at home we might have hoped to win, the couple behind me stormed out shouting 'We're in a relegation fight now!

For me being a Charlton fan involves having realistic expectations. The chance to make the club a really top one was missed in the years after the Second World War as a result of lack of investment in the ground. I was talking to someone the other day about Charlton: we were watching the installation of a Henry Moore sculpture of all things but at least we were in the dry and had a good buffet. I explained that I had really inherited my support of Charlton and he said that, given where I lived, my father could also have been an Arsenal fan. But then they are always whingeing about Wenger and their empty trophy cabinet, whereas I would be delighted if the Addicks had a regular place in the Champions League.

It also strikes me that there is quite a contrast between the atmosphere at the art gallery I am involved in and that in football. There are plenty of challenges, not least raising money and getting visitors through the gate. But the general mood is always very positive. It is striking that, apart from the director and the financial controller, every member of staff is a woman, often a relatively young one. Perhaps Katrine will bee able to induce a more positive mood at The Valley, but somehow I doubt it.

And, of course, it is not only a game. It's an importance source of identity for most supporters.

Given increasing concerns about Saturday's game being on, I am given to understand that the Football League have already visited the ground and discussed the situation with club staff. They are satisfied that in the circumstances, the club are doing all they can to keep the pitch playable so any sanctions are unlikely. With regard to Saturday, people need to relax. The pitch is covered and will be umtil 1.30pm. If there is a total deluge after that, it might be a problem but otherwise it should be playable.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Laudrup Out, Curbs In?

Michael Laudrup is the latest victim of the fashion for sacking managers with Swansea City 12th in the Premier League, although only two points off the relegation places in this season's hotly contested relegation league. Apparently, Glenn Hoddle is to be interviewed, someone who has been suggested by some Charlton fans as a replacement for Chris Powell.

Not so long ago, the Evening Standard ran a profile of Alan Curbishley as 'The Man In The Stands' from where he watched Fulham games, leaving the reader unclear exactly what the technical director did. Now, with Fulham bottom of the table, rumours have been floating around that Curbs is poised to become manager at Craven Cottage.

Head coach René Meulensteen is unfazed, however: 'I brought Alan into this club as part of my squad. He is utterly 100 per cent supportive.' However, with Foolham knocked out of the FA Cup by the No.2 team in Sheffield (at least that is what Owls supporters would have us believe), these may be famous last words.

Keeper problem?

Experienced sports journalist Kevin Nolan provides a withering assessment of new Charlton keeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien here: Thuram-Ulien

I haven't seen him play yet, but listening to the commentary from Wigan, I was concerned by his reported tendency to punch out the ball rather than catch it. Sometimes punching out is the only or best option, but he did it rather too often. Someone who was at the match whose judgment I would trust also expressed concerns.

I thought that Ben Alnwick was doing well and his departure bothered me. I have had mixed feelings about Ben Hamer: he is often too hesitant and doesn't command his area enough. However, he may be better than the new recruit. How serious his injury is, I don't know.

There is often a rush to judgment in creating scapegoat players, but there are good grounds for at least some concern.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Charlton get a Tony

Tony Cascarino, writing in The Times, has given Charlton one of his infamous Tony awards. Under the heading 'Liege of their own' [well done the sub] he writes, 'Chris Powell has an impossible job. He has seen Charlton's new owner, Roland Duchatelet, revamp his squad with a host of players from his other club, Standard Liege. Did Powell want them? We have yet another owner running a team for his own ends.' Just like Rupert Murdoch has never used The Times for his own ends or no chance is missed to big up Sky.

Meanwhile, Chris Powell has once again denied having a falling out with Roland and says he intends to stay at The Valley: Powell

Elsewhere, The Non-League Paper has revealed that there was sell on clause attached to Michael Smith. Darlington 1883, his former club are 'set to hit the jackpot.' Well, not that big a jackpot.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Powell out brigade gain traction

At least in terms of vociferousness, the 'Powell out' brigade is gaining momentum, although it is always difficult to judge what the balance of opinion among fans is. I didn't expect to get anything out of the Wigan game and a 2-1 defeat away to a side that was in the Premier League last season and is now hitting form after the end of their Europa League exploits is no disgrace. The Football League Paper says this morning that it was a 'gutsy' performance and gives good marks to a number of Charlton players: Thurman-Ulien, 7; Morrison, 8; Poyet, 7; Jackson, 7; Nego, 7; 'Gucci' 7; Sordell 7. Hopefully, Peter the Pole will be available for next Saturday.

I also found this comment from a fan interesting, 'On Friday CP lost his most creative player and main goalscorer, neither of which he wanted to lose. He then also loses his only fit goalkeeper. The team today included 3 players making their first starts and two more playing their second games. Plus the centre midfield was comprised of an 18 and1 9 year old. We were up against a team who were in the Premiership last year and we all said before the start we would get nothing from this game. Yet we are all focused on the last few minutes when we were under the cosh the whole match. We were lucky to be ahead in the first place and even luckier to still be ahead with 2 minutes to go. We could equally argue Powell was lucky for 85 minutes as to argue he got it wrong for 5. Probably the goals were coming anyway.'

I think that the outcome of the season depends a great deal on how good the new players are and how they settle in. I remain concerned about the midfield. However, we could keep the manager and stay up, or change the manager and go down. I think that in modern football, the difference the manager makes has been exaggerated, and there is too little focus on the players. For example, yesterday we were defending too deep in the second half: the bench urged the players to stop doing this and got no response.

As a result, we see the tenure of managers getting shorter and shorter, despite the evidence (see below) that more often than not, a change of manager makes no difference. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but one has to be careful about how one interprets them. I think that Sir Alex Ferguson could see the writing on the wall at Manchester United, realised that there was a big rebuilding job, and got out while he was ahead.

I do not think that Chris Powell is perfect, no manager is. He makes mistakes, as they all do. I think that Bradley Pritchard is a technically limited player (and I am not alone in that view) and I would not have brought him on as a substitute yesterday. I hear that Leroy Resonior defended Chris Powell on the Football League Show, saying that given the patchwork nature of the side Charlton fans should be proud of the performance they turned in.

I think that Chris Powell will go, but probably not until his contract expires in the summer. As Neil Warnock observes in the Football League Paper today (in relation to Leeds), foreign owners want to hire their own bosses. Rumours persist about Avram Grant being brought in as director of football, but I still don't see this happening - and I don't think it would be the answer. I think that we will move to a director of football/coach model and this would be no bad thing. I also hope that any replacement would be a foreign manager who would develop a more sophisticated style of patient possession football.

Technical appendix

My former colleague Sue Bridgewater, now heading up sports research at Liverpool University Management School, has taught Chris Powell and has a high opinion of him as a person and as a manager. She is also a critic of the rate of managerial turnover. So what is the evidence?

First, one has to avoid the individualistic fallacy, that is generalising from an individual case to a general proposition. To put it another way, anecdotal evidence is not good enough.

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Anderson, co-author of the best selling The Numbers Game in London for lunch. From the States, Chris is currently living in London and occasionally visiting The Valley. There is a lot of detailed data analysis in his book. His message is clear: 'Sackings do not improve club performances. Clubs simply regress to the mean ... The idea that sacking managers is a panacea for a team's ills is a placebo. It is an expensive illusion.'

Sue Bridgewater analysed sackings in the Premier League from 1992 to 2008 and found that there is a boost for a short honeymoon period (perhaps because players want to impress the new manager). The average club earns 1.3 points a match. It typically sacks its manager when it averages only 1 point a match, that is at a low point in the cycle. When you are at a very low point, you are always going to improve. In other words, there is a cause and effect issue: does the manager cause the positive swing or is he the beneficiary of it? Bridgewater found that three months after a sacking the typical club was averaging the standard 1.3 points a game.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Early lead turns into defeat

Charlton suffered a cruel blow as they were defeated by two late goals at the DW Stadium this afternoon, but Wigan had dominated the second half.

The new look Charlton with a diamond formation faced Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium this afternoon. Sordell scored a goal for Charlton after three minutes after he sprang the offside trap, leaving him to beat the keeper which he did with great coolness.

Wiggins went down and required treatment, his right leg giving him discomfort. The Lactics put in a shot on target from Watson but Thuram-Ulien punched it away. Lennon came on to replace Wiggins. It started to rain heavily, having been a drizzle at the start of the match and the wind increased. It was grim ‘oop north. Chris Powell was wearing a wooly hat and tracksuit. Lennon blocked a shot at the expense of a corner.

Lennon put the challenge in the ball out of play, but the Wigan player trod on the upper part of his ankle and the youngster went down. Wigan put in a shot across the six yard box, but none of the home players could make contact. Lennon was back on his feet, Johnnie Jackson meanwhile helping the defence. Wood put in a good challenge at the expense of a corner which was unproductive.

A free kick for Wigan by Watson was awful and more suited to egg chasing. Charlton won their first corner of the afternoon which was taken by ‘Astrid’. Somehow Wood headed the ball clear. ‘Gucci’ rushed forward and put in a shot which was pushed away by the keeper. He then put in another which beat the keeper and hit the crossbar.

A Wigan corner was headed over. Poyet put in a great diagonal ball to Sordell but he wasn’t able to make use of it. Wigan attacked, but Lennon made a good challenge in the penalty area on McManaman. The resultant corner for Wigan was unproductive.

Charlton counter attacked and Sordell gave the ball to the lively Gucci, but Wigan held their line. A hard shot from Sordell deflected off a Wigan player, leading to a Charlton corner which was unproductive. The referee had a word with Lennon about a challenge. Wigan had two bites at the free kick, the second one leading to a corner. Morrison got his head to it and Charlton won a free kick.

Cousins turned provider for Sordell, but the keeper got there first as the striker tried to get round him. A few boos could be heard from the home support. McManaman hit the crossbar for Wigan in their best chance. Sordell went down holding on to his right shin, but signalled to the bench that he was ok. McManaman put in another shot which was wide and went into the Charlton fans.

Chris Powell told the constantly involved Sordell to calm down. Powell and Rosler had a little hug. Two minutes were added on. Beausejour fouled Cousins as he got away, the Wigan player being booked. There was poor movement by the forwards for the free kick. Thuram-Ulien punched the ball away, but Wigan won a free kick to the right-hand side of the D, but the wall did its job. Wigan attacked again and Thuram blocked an attempted shot with his leg.

HT: Lactics 0, Addicks 1

Wigan won an early free kick, a Wigan player turned the ball into the net, but the linesman raised his flag, the referee had a chat with him and decided that the goal would not stand. It was a tight decision.

Wigan were applying pressure and Charlton needed to weather the storm. Cousins shot over. Wigan made a double substitution, bringing on Fortune and their Chelsea loan player. McCann and Maynard went off.

Wigan had plenty of possession in the first quarter of an hour of the second half, but were not able to make use of it. Thuram-Ulien went down to his right to save from Watson. The Chelsea substitute was booked.

The Lactics won a corner off Nego. After subsequent play, Thuram-Ulien had to block the ball at his near post for another corner. Thuram-Ulien punched the ball away and Cousins cleared it further. Lennon was booked for a foul. The Fortune header from the free kick was wide.

’Astrid’ put in excellent ball to Sordell, but the move ended in a Wigan goal kick. Thuram-Ulien punched the ball out again when perhaps he should have collected it and gave away a corner. The keeper collected the ball and cleared. A shot from Watson was blocked by Wood. A shot from McClean was deflected for a corner. The ball was put over.

Pritchard came on for Sordell and went out to the right. McArthur went off for Wigan and Gomez came on. Wigan won a free kick close to the corner flag. The ball was cleared off the line by Wood and taken away by Poyet.

Fortune advanced, but Morrison stood his ground. Charlton were starting to defend a little too deep. Jackson got the last touch on a header, giving Wigan a corner, but the ball was cleared back to the home keeper.

Pritchard won a corner for Charlton. ‘Astrid’ was taken off. He had been helping ‘Gucci’ out in attack and Dervite came on for the last ten minutes. The ball was eventually collected by the Wigan keeper.

Nego put too much power on the ball as he tried to set up ‘Gucci’. Lennon conceded a corner. Charlton cleared, but were forced to defend again. Wigan won yet another corner which led to a second. Thuram-Ulien punched the ball away for a third corner. Fortune just headed a ball over.

Pritchard conceded a free kick. Wigan got the equaliser through Fortune with two minutes of normal time left. Morrison brought down Gomez on the edge of the ‘D’. The home fans had really come alive. The ball from Gomez went in to make it 2-1 with two goals in two minutes.

Can I recommend the match report by Chris Powell's Flat Cap who was there and writes to a very high standard: Flat Cap. He took plenty of positives out of the performance, especially that of Poyet.

He does, however, criticise the keeper for his unwillingness to catch the ball, and the sale of Alnwick may turn out to be a mistake. However, the Fooball League Paper this morning gives him a 7 and says that 'he produced some agile stops.'

We have a game today

After all the transfer window excitement, Charlton have a tough game at Wigan today. They are 11th in the table, but the earlier part of their season was affected by their Europa League commitments and they are currently fifth in the (last eight) form table.

Wigan have won both meetings at the DW Stadium, scoring three goals in each. Wigan have lost only one of their last 11 games in all competitions, winning six. Their only defeat since mid-December was 3-0 at Doncaster in the Championship on 18 January. Wigan have kept five clean sheets in their last six games in the Championship. They are unbeaten in their last six home games in all competitions, winning three. Their last home defeat was 3-1 against Derby in the Championship at the start of December.

Wigan top scorer Nick Powell is likely to be out with a hamstring problem. Wigan have signed striker Martyn Waghorn from Leicester on a loan deal until the end of the season.

The Charlton line up is a little difficult to predict, but I am assuming that Peter the Pole will join Church up front. With Hamer injured, Thurman-Ulien will be on goal. Wiggins will return to left back with Morrison and probably Dervite in the centre, although Wood might be a better choice. With Wilson suspended, Nego will presumably slot in at right back. Midfield is the area of weakness, but I am assuming that Jackson and Cousins will feature and that 'Astrid' will start. Callum Harriot could be the fourth midfield player.

Someone was stuck behind the Charlton bus on the M1 yesterday and tweeted 'Charlton are going nowhere.' This is the match I expected to lose before the recent upheavals, but it is a chance for the new players to make their mark. Odds are: Wigan 4/6, Draw 14/5, Charlton 4/1. Essex man Michael Bull is referee.

Apparently, Watford have expressed an interest in taking Marvin Sordell on loan. Not sure whether this can be organised, or why Watford want him, but I would not see it as a loss.

Salvete et valete

Whatever else one thinks it has been an interesting transfer window and we are in for a lively ride. One thing that is clear, whether Chris Powell stays or not (and I think he will be here until the summer) is that we are moving towards a continental director of football model in which the manager runs the team but does not pick them.


Yohann Thuram-Ulien – goalkeeper - French. On loan from Standard Liège. Squad number: 21 DOB: 31 October 1988 Height 6’ 2”.

Astrit Ajdarević – midfielder – Swedish. On loan from Standard Liège. Squad number: 42. DOB: 17 April 1990 Height 6’ 3”.

Reza Ghoochannejhad – striker – Iranian. Signed from Standard Liège on a two-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee. Squad number: 8. DOB: 20 September 1987 Height 5’ 11”. The snappily named Ghoochannejhad (aka 'Guci') grew up in Holland and represented the Netherlands at under-age level but has been a revelation since making his debut for Iran last year scoring eight goals in 10 games and being seen as the main danger man for his country. His senior domestic league record is very decent - 48 goals in 115 games- the downside will be losing him for tournaments and games (Iran have two friendlies in March). Forget any comparisons with Karim Bhagheri: that was a commercial and political decision, rather than a footballing one.

Anıl Koç – midfielder – Turkish. On loan from Standard Liège. Squad number: 22. DOB 29 January 1995 Height 5’ 8”.

Loïc Nego – defender – French. Transfer in from Hungarian sister club Újpest. Squad number: 25. DOB: 15 January 1991 Height 5’ 11”.

Pitor Parzyszek – striker – Polish. Transfer in from De Graafschap on a four-and-a-half year deal. Fee said to be £800,000. Squad number: --DOB: 8 September 1993 Height 6’ 3”. The most exciting of the signings. West Ham were after him as well. He has an excellent goal scoring record in the 'Eerste Divisie' (closest to the Championship over here) scoring 29 goals in 52 games for De Graafschapwith him bagging 16 goals in just 20 games this season so far (including two hat tricks and one brace) making him that division's top scorer.


Yann Kermorgant. His departure is deeply regretted by most fans. He didn't seem too happy in his first interview with Bournemouth, despite the opportunity, as a Breton, to live by the sea and Eddie Howe's style of play which sees the ball played to feet more. Hopefully, we will rely less on the long ball aimed at Kermorgant's head in future.

Dale Stephens. A friend who is a Seagull asked what I thought and I said: 'Inconsistent. Will deliver a ball of real quality one minute and the next will give away possession easily and dangerously the next. Will provide the occasional sensational goal from distance.' Nevertheless, our most creative midfield player and we don't have a replacement for him.

Ben Alnwick. The real surprise of the transfer window. However, we cannot really justify having three senior goalkeepers (Hamer's injury is a short-term one as far as I know). Apparently, Roland was not too happy that he was played at Doncaster.

Michael Smith. Some fans are still sore about this, but as Chris Powell pointed out we would not have been able to give him the game time to develop. Scoring goals in League 2 does not mean that you can score them in the Championship and even if he does well in League 1, that does not mean that he would have cut it at this level.

Whether the new players will keep us up remains to be seen, but I will not pass judgment on them until I have seen them play a few times. Some, however, think that the turnover of players of itself poses problems. At least we have spent some money which the old regime would not have been able to do and they would probably had to offload players for cash flow reasons.

For all the jokes about 'Roland Rat' and 'Sub-Standard', we can only make a balanced assessment of the new set up in the summer.