Thursday, 25 August 2016

Valley Round-Up

Disappointing and strange decision by the club to let Tareiq Holmes-Dennis leave for another undisclosed (small) fee to Championship Huddersfield Town. THD was a long term Youth development player who had shown plenty of promise to be offered a professional contract and make a dozen appearances. At 21, clearly not the finished article but someone who had given us a glimpse of what was to come.

His departure was even more of a surprise given the interest of others in Morgan Fox, our only other orthodox left-back. I guess THD moving puts the block on Fox but you never know. THD's move needs some justification. I don't believe anyone will say he wasn't good enough, so we are left with the choice that it was an offer he couldn't refuse or that it was driven by finances. Fair to say he might have been frustrated at not establishing himself in the first team last season following his break-through but it's far from clear that he will walk into the Terriers side. I am guessing he's not been offered a King's Ransom in wages either, so we are left with the shabby view once again that this is about balancing the books for our Billionaire owner. As for watching Premiership stars of the future, a dozen matches isn't going to cut the mustard and neither is Huddersfield Town although THD may well have the last laugh.

What it does is leave us with one recognised left-back as we head into the last week of the transfer window. Perhaps we will sign a replacement but our need for a central midfielder is even greater, so don't hold your breath. It may be that we rely on Fox and will play someone out-of-position or risk a loanee if need-be. Not quite what Russell Slade was lead to expect, I am sure.

Elsewhere this week, Charlton Athletic Supporter's Trust has managed to get some form explanation to the process behind the appointment of Meire to the FA Council. As understood, they only had two candidates for four places, so they were automatic choices. It would appear the EFL can nominate candidates, or they can be proposed by other clubs. The answer they gave isn't clear but there is an inference she may have been proposed. I can imagine some other League One clubs putting her name forward as a wind-up to the EFL/FA.

The Trust have scored a brace this week with a decision to run Away Coach travel for the remainder of the season. This comes from significant supporter dissatisfaction from the Club's running of coaches to away games which has featured some really disconnected thinking. Pick-ups have taken increasingly longer routes and times as they have chosen profit over practicality. The pick-up and drop-off process has almost been longer than the journey time on occasions. Anyway, CAST are employing the experiences of people like Wendy Perfect who previously ran the service when it worked properly and they will be doing it at break-even - Roland will be impressed.

Finally, I learn today that it's 'Community Day' on Saturday at the Valley. Not only this, but they are theming every home game this season according to the official site. I am taking 'each home match day' with a pinch of salt but I think I know what's driving this. Community Day is hugely ironic given the welter of supporter opposition to the Regime, but it does follow the handing out of thousands of freebies to local residents for the Northampton match which the club claims swelled the gate by 1000. To be fair, the Club need to be handing out thousands of free tickets every week to stimulate some interest and avoid official attendances plummetting towards the sub-6000 season ticket figure. So, themed match days are a possible answer. The Official Site tells us we will be having Football versus Homophobia Day, Armed Forces Day, Upbeats Day, Valley Gold Day etc. Suggestions for any other 'Days' will be welcome so Katrien can throw a few thousand tickets in their direction.

CARD will also be organising a few days, with Black and White Day already planned for the Wimbledon game, when the idea is to get the 1,000 Protest Shirts out in force. A photo-opportunity for the 2% will feature. Speaking of which, my Royal Mail Tracking number was activated yesterday and my shirts should arrive this morning.....

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Walsall 1 v Charlton Athletic 2

A good away win where Nicky Ajose notched his first two goals of the season and Josh Magennis provided assists for both. Walsall were no slouches and had chances to have changed the result but a fine double save from Rudd kept us on level terms in the first half and he pulled off a stunner to win us the match in the dying seconds when he managed to push a Saddlers effort onto his post.

It sounded like a decent match with both sides created opportunities. Jose skimmed the bar in the first half and walloped the woodwork in the second, so the result could have been anything really. Slade went with unchanged side for the third match and used his subs to protect Jackson and Holmes, with of whom left the field gingerly. Holmes was the stand-out again although Rudd drove him close and Ajose and Magennis both featured strongly.

After the reversal at Bury on the opening day we have responded strongly and are only a point behind last year's good start. Let's hope the wheels don't come off quite as soon as last season. The next two matches should bring a more qualified start to our season as early table-toppers Bolton are next up in SE7, followed by a tough looking trip to second-place Scunny who whipped Gillingham five-nought yesterday. I hope Parky gets a good reception next week when he leads his unbeaten Bolton side out at the Valley.

The mantra of some who are boycotting home matches but travelling away, looks to be holding with just shy of 750 there yesterday. I may be tempted to get my away head on the way things are going...

Friday, 19 August 2016

Katrien Meire should be removed from the FA Council

It feels like an unhealthy obsession. I keep writing about our clueless Chief Executive. However, like all of the managerial appointments she makes, I am always right when I review what I have written and, let's face it, she just keeps on giving us more and more ammunition.

Being appointed to the FA Council was a huge error of judgement by the EFL and the FA. That's saying something given the monster mistakes those organisation have presided over. Even if representing the EFL is a task no-one else wants, it's an insult to all Charlton supporters bar the Club Secretary's deluded Wife whose gratitude to the Chief Exec is as big as the rapidly promoted Lunghi Macedo who has risen quickly through the hierarchy to be trusted Lieutenant, Confidant and Head of HR.

So, if you feel as strongly about this about me, join the 4500 others who have signed the attached Change-org petition seeking her removal from the FA Council.

If you are still undecided, news that La Merde ("shitty, shit") has been picked to judge at the Football Business Awards at the Emirates on 3rd November is salt in the wounds. Another know-nothing organisation who couldn't have picked a less qualified person to judge others.

Go on, sign the petition to have Meire removed from the FA Council. If we can get this over 5000 we will make a huge point that these esteemed organisations are obviously oblivious to her crippling ineptitude. It might also inform others to know better in future. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Charlton Athletic 3 v Shrewsbury Town 0

An evening of surprises. The first for me was I didn't go this evening. I was busy all day and didn't quite get around to sorting myself a £10 ticket and couldn't be bothered late on. I suppose that's what happens when you don't have a season ticket and feel obliged to go.

I followed the game on Charlton Life so won't pretend to give you a personal opinion, suffice to say that the early discussion was all about how small the actual attendance was. The consensus apperaed to be nearer 3,000 than the 5,500 season tickets but the official gate was a highly questionable 9,174 (419 visting fans). Slade went with an unchanged side which upset a lot of people but he was quickly rewarded as we raced into a 3-0 lead in half-an-hour. Holmes cracked a 25 yarder to open the scoring, Captain Jack netted again two minutes later and after 30 minutes Holmes curled home direct from a corner.

In between Shrewsbury weren't too bad at all by all accounts. They matched our efforts on goal for the large part and saw plenty of possession in spite of the scoreline. The evening's entertainment for Addicks was also spiced by regular scoreline updates from London Road where Champions-elect Millwall were shipping goals with metronomic regularity. They managed a late consolation but went down 5-1.With the Gills scraping a home draw and the Blades losing at home, the evening really was a coupon buster.

The second-half appears to have been relatively unexciting with fewer chances. Another match of two halves?

Looking at the table this evening, we are now up to 8th and are above Millwall on goal difference. Who'dathunkit?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Charlton Athletic 1 v Northampton Town 1

Booed-off at half-time, they left the field to a ripple of applause at the end. An acceptable result given the start we have made and the dire first-half but we might look back on this as a poor result - Northampton were all-over-the-shop when we eventually had a go at them in the second-half.

The only real talking point in the team selection was the absence of Roger Fucking Johnson. The youngster Konsa was risked in his place as Russell Slade decided to swerve the hostile reception his selection would have provoked had he strutted arrogantly onto the pitch after his tirade at his own supporters at Bury last week. There was a highly hypocritical piece in the programme from 'the senior management team' yesterday about having learned lessons again and how well prepared we are for our promotion campaign. One lesson they obviously haven't learnt yet is how to acknowledge when you make a mistake and to apologise.  

Johnson was a sub and he got a feel for the reception he will get when Slade does eventually reintroduce him as he warmed up on the line in the second half. Bauer was also a sub and my guess is he will be the first choice when fully fit. As it was, Konsa started cautiously but he settled and looked very comfortable in the second-half once we found our feet going forward. 

I spoke the other day about that horribly predictable feeling about going one-down at home and it took 15 minutes yesterday. Potter got space on our left and his deep cross was headed back across goal by Revell and it beat Rudd at the far post. Harry Beautyman had another header before the break which might have moved the result beyond us but his effort flashed wide. Charlton were poor and struggled to find any momentum. It's been pointed out that our midfield lacks pace and that was really the problem although Holmes saw plenty of the ball and plenty of close attention from his former colleagues who were keen to bundle him over at every opportunity.

Just like most of last season, it turned out to be a game of two halves for us and, mercifully, we were significantly better after the break. We had most of the possession and played a third further up the field. Northampton may have decided to try and contain us after the restart but it didn't work. They gave us space which we took and suddenly we were creating opportunities and they were back-pedalling. Jose and Magennis were pulling their back line about and Homes was firing balls into the box which made the Cobblers very nervous. Crofts and Jackson had more time and space to pick up on clearances and maintain the pressure. 

Just short of the hour, another Charlton attack fed a ball through the middle up to Ajose who ran on and squared it as Northampton fell back. I'm unsure who made the next pass but it went through the heart of the Cobblers defence and picked out an accelerating Jackson who saw the goal and duly finished it. He may lack mobility in midfield but Johnnie seems to get an extra yard when he sees a goal.

After that we should really have won the game. Botaka came on for the relatively quiet Foley and Lookman for the tiring and bruised Holmes. Botaka struggled to beat a man but Lookman was hurtling past them at every opportunity. He won a free-kick 20 years out which he and Ajose appeared to argue over. Lookman won that debate and it took a sprawling stretch from Smith in the Town goal to turn his effort around the post, I know we are in League One and will get poorer referees but I had to laugh out loud when the ref produced his spray to mark the ten yard line for the free-kick. He marched two yards past the wall and began his line. As he sprayed it out the retreating wall approached his line, so he simply curved it back a few feet towards Lookman - hilarious.

There was a Card-lead picket of the club shop before the match where placards urged us to buy the Protest shirt and not the Regime one. The home fans were supportive of the side and there were no protest songs although I think we would have heard them had things not changed quickly in the second-half. The Club's food and drink outlets were relatively quiet which is a reliable factor for the anti-Regime mood. It was good to see the team sheet on the big screen again although the actual crowd looked ok, it was nowhere near the 11,500 posted. My guess is there were no more than 8,000 maximum given absent season ticket holders and comps who didn't bother. Tuesday encounter with Shrewsbury should be a more realistic view of what we can expect this season. 

I also noticed that the minimum prize for the Valley Draw tickets was £1000 which must have cost the club £500 given the prizes had dwindled to several hundred pounds last season. Vally Gold was also offering a bumper £5000 which was won, I am pleased to say, by one of the ever-faithful Tondeur family.

A few pints in the Swan pre and post match and it wasn't a bad day, although it could and should have been much better.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Agreed Behavourial Contracts!

I said only last night in my latest post that however poor things are as Charlton fans right now, things are rarely dull given the antics of The Regime. As if to back me to the hilt, the club has now created a media storm following a letter sent a prospective season ticket holder telling him or her that they need to meet the Club's Safety Officer for a ticking off and that they have to sign an "agreed behavioural contract" promising not to criticise the Club on social media.

It would appear that they have only written to one Customer a thing stand, but perhaps the first of many? What's so startling about this letter is that the wording suggests the person hasn't committed any sort of offence or said anything sufficiently strong enough to simply warrant denying him or her a season ticket. Instead, someone at the Club, presumably part of The Regime, obviously feels so bitter about what this individual has to say on social media that they want to prevent them from saying what they think and believe.

You have to wonder what's next? Why don't they apply the 'what if this gets into the public domain' or 'how will the mass of our Customers react to this' tests before doing these silly things? I can't believe successive managers within the Club have gone along with all these very obviously basic PR disasters. At least the last Communications Manager had the integrity to resign after Roland's [Rant] that she counselled against.

Cliff Eager, my son, not long ago you were a respectable senior police officer serving your community. Now you are writing letters to Customers whom your employers are unhappy with and are threatening to prevent them following their football club. What would you have done as serving policeman had the Club complained to you about this Customer? Yes, nothing at all because they haven't committed any offence. Look what's happened to you?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Magennis and Botaka in to bolster squad size ahead of Valley debut

Defeat at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday appears to have spurred Meire on to two more signings. Russell will be pleased. The linked Josh Magennis transfer from a faux-reluctant Kilmarnock has gone through with Killie apparently getting two and half times the £100k initial fee and Josh clocking three Large a week. Undisclosed, of course. The second is a season long loan of hitherto Leeds-flop, Jordan Botaka.

I have seen Magennis play once before for Aberdeen and safe to say none of the Dandies I know believe this is a good move for us, although they don't appreciate just how desperate we have become. I will reserve judgement until I have seen him a few times more but we do need more attacking options - he is, at least, a ringer for the Brazilian Ronaldo! Botaka is a wide man and given our creative midfield problems, also appears a positional need if he's any good. He is a DR Congan international so will miss January at the African Cup of Nations but if he does a job before and after that helps us avoid a relegation battle, it won't have been a bad move in my view.

I reckon there might be one more incoming before the end of the month but I suspect that's Slade's lot. He was quoted today saying there would be no further 'major' player losses which might suggest Lookman will be retained and, hopefully, Texeira. I could see RD deciding to hang on to Lookman for another season if the offers for him thus far haven't met his valuations. Similarly for Tex, although given Relegation Roger's recent hystrionics, there may be concern about his longer term viability which could be an added reason for not selling the Portugese.

By my reckoning we now have 19 fit players with any tangible first team league experience and a further four who are longer term injuries. Other than that, we will need to play youngsters. Of the 19, nothing much has been seen or heard of Ba and nine of the others are new this season (Rudd, Foley, Pearce, Crofts, Holmes, Botaka, Ajose, Novak and Magennis) and have had limited or no game time together given our appalling planned pre-season.

There is some justfication , therefore, for Slade to claim we are a work in progress and that it will take time, like building a Rolls-Royce as opposed to a Nissan (his analogy). I honestly hope he's right and that there is enough quality in the squad to make us competitive. Bauer, Diarra and Kashi would certainly make a real difference if and when we get them back and Texeira will be an improvement over Johnson if he stays and is committed to the team. However, without them, we look vulnerable in midfield and already look susceptible to set pieces once again. If the relegation mood hasn't been lifted significantly, a few more poor results could well give us a bigger morale issue to overcome. Slade has been obviously irritable over squad depth and you wonder what affect that has on those who have played in two poor loses so far? I also wonder where the leadership and the team spirit is when the most vocal player to date has been the foul-mouthed and disrespectful Roger Johnson. You would hope for more from Jackson but he's probably been saving his breath to get up and down in the middle.

I fancy an opening goal from Nicky Ajose on Saturday but Northampton may feel they owe us one over the approach for Chris Wilder and their players might relish playing at the Valley. I still haven't shaken off the gloom of last season (in case you were in any doubt) and I can taste that feeling when we go a goal down at home and can't muster any cohesive or sustained response. If we don't play well and do fall behind, the mood in the Lower North, where most of our supporters will be, could quickly become hostile.

I have taken full advantage of my SE7 resident status to bag four free tickets ("do you want all four" was the naive question asked) so my quest to spend less than this year's season ticket costs have started splendidly. All those able to take advantage have the Boycotters to thank for forcing Meire to offer feeebies to avoid an embarrassingly small first home gate of the season. Tuesday's Shrewsbury (Shreve Tuesday?) encounter will be much smaller and if I am encouraged to go to that one, I will be looking to use the £10 deal via an existing season ticket holder.

Amazing to think that the next two home matches are already potential pressure-pot games. It may be a massive trial under Duchatelet and Meire but it's rarely dull given the antics and the continual change. I do think that alone is wearing people down and costing us fans, in addition to the obviously poor results, relegation and feeling of helplessness.

We want Roland out, say we want Roland out!