Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Another blank in front of 2000 fans

Another zero -zero. One goal in four games but the bigger concern is we are creating very little. Yesterday's high point going forward would appear to have been "an inswinging cross." Dillon Phillips was man-of-the-match by all accounts keeping us in at as Ipswich hit the woodwork three times. We are playing one up front which relies upon a creative midfield and pace to join the attacker. We appear to lack both. Central defence remains a concern despite clean sheets and we simply have to bring in another keeper as an absolute minimum.

Jason Pearce from Wigan may fit the defensive need but with competition from other clubs, I'd be surprised if he chose us. The irony here is that there is a strong rumour Texeira may be leaving, which will leave an even bigger hole. Katrien Meire told the Fans Forum that no-one else would be leaving unless they didn't fit Russell's plans. Hard to imagine Tex would fit in that category, altjough he would command a fee and hasn't been playing so my assumption is he is being safe-guarded so they can foog him. Oscar Gobern has been linked with midfield and is currently training with us but he's hardly a pulse-racing option.

Russell Slade must be very frustrated. Keen to make an impression when the season kicks off, he has already called out squad size and quality weaknesses. Dillon Phillips' impending transfer to mighty Cheltenham Town has been put on hold because we unexpectedly found ourselves in a situation where we would have no goal-keeper - sounds very much like the clamour to recoup lost revenues is driving the playing agenda. With eight working days to kick-off we still "need five or six." Katrien Meire was asked at the Fans Forum the other evening about the squad size and said it was premature to judge, which suggests others are in the pipeline but questions will still remain about quality and about readiness to start a new season with potentially half the side new to each other, assuming we actually bring that many in. The overall feeling you get is that there is no urgency or ambition about this season. The main aim is cost cutting and 'competitiveness in League One' looks like the ambition, not promotion. On that basis they may well use the first few results as a marker to decide on whether or not to make any costlier transfer decisions. Prepare to continue to be under-whelmed.

Slade would like to have a settled squad by now and be getting first team game time in the pre-seasons. Instead he's having to consider every option - he finished last night's match with seven youngsters playing.

The situation around the team doesn't look great either. The pitch was looking patchy yesterday, final confirmation from the Fans Forum that the Training Ground redevelopment is two years behind schedule (suggests nothing much has really happened). I can see this becoming a managed delay so no significant Roland expenditure will ever be forghcoming unless he can realize similar value from our sale price - sold 'with planning permission.' They have brought in two new medical staff and commentary from La Meire seeemd to suggest that last season's high injury rate wasn't managed well by the medical team we had - something that I believe was denied previously.

Oh, and they are looking for another Communications Manager! This, at least, promises more amusement and hilarity as the season progresses. Katrien will need to to get the balance of this appointment just right. Competent and affordable whilst nowhere near as assertive or ambitious as the last appointment. They simply can't afford yet another PR disaster. Especially as Russell Slade is already shaping up to be a shrewd operator and one who isn't going to be sold short or stick to a Regime script.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Inadequate squad, "miles away" from challenging

Following the drab scoreless draw with League Two Orient yesterday, Russell Slade commented that his squad was "miles away" from being in a position to challenge in League One. Hardly a suprise given we are down to fourteen fit players with first team experience (only have 18 in total) and were forced to give four U21's first team debuts.

I am fairly confident that Russell will be spoken to tomorrow about his 'negative' comments, although I also take them as deliberate in order to force some activity and decision-making from Madame Meire. I also note with interest the wording of the PR letter to season ticket renewers with Russell's name attached that makes the point that he is in regular dialogue with Steve Amory about the performances of youth players. It would be astonishing if he wasn't, so the comment is a big clue about how the Regime envisages getting through this season methinks. Not just on the cheap but also hoping to put more players in the shop window, probably at the expense of results.

Expect some panic acquisitions over the next ten working days. The beauty of having a Network is that one or two can turn-up at the drop of a hat, as Chris Powell found out, much to his bemusement. That could teach Slade an early lesson.

Meanwhile, then, odds on relegation remain very attractive ranging from 14-1 to 25-1 (Betfair). Possibly still a reflection of Bookies looking to make a market and assuming we are still, somehow, a big club with a billionaire owner who will be flashing the cash to get us up at the first attempt, instead of a shrunken club with a billionaire owner whose first priority is break-even and who simply couldn't care less what the other consequences of that policy might be. Get on it before the weight of money and early season form drags prices down.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Charlton Season Ticket sales down 45%

The Official Site has now confirmed that season tickets sold for League One are a massive 45% down on last year. No surprise to those of us who could see the top of the waterfall approaching or those who were counting available seats on the Club website.

The gap could be shortened to 40% by kick-off, but it's still appalling and when you consider that they have had to cannibalise these revenues here by offering a £175 season ticket to persuade a majority of those you realise just how bad things are.

Katrien Meire will have her excuses ready for Uncle Roly and you can bet they will start and finish with 'relegation.' Duchebag won't know any better because he's still completely clueless having failed to spend any real time here and only listening to his puppet and her small  coterie of brown-nosers. She will tell him the model of profiting from player sales is continuing to allow them the keep their heads above water when the actual position is that the club continues to shrink at an alarming rate. With the prospect of another difficult season in prospect and the likelihood th7at we won't have another Gomez or Lookman on our hands, things could get decidedly hard come May.

The ongoing fire-sale of anyone who will command a fee plus the loaning out of bigger wage earners who don't, means our squad in shrinking in numbers and quality. Russell Slade may well have an over-whelming feeling of deja vu once the season gets underway.

I am sitting innthe evening Cypriot sunshine as I type this without a care in the world. I haven't renewed and have decided I won't be renewing either. I will, most likely, buy a cheap seat online for The Cobblers game, so I can judge for myself how we might fare this season. It's nice to know I won't be bothering with the Football League trophy nonsense that is an insult to our intelligence and that I don't have to bother with any games that don't appeal, like the first evening league fixture for instance.

This is what I am reduced to by that arrogant and clueless buffoon in Belgian and the lightweight, incompetent he has installed as his Chief Executive. A decision that ran out of any possible merit a long time ago and which is now simply an insulting imposition on the club and it's supporters.

I will confidently predict a further shrinkage of the club this season and, frankly, unless Russell Slade can work a miracle he hasn't managed in 20 years, I think we can possibly emulate Blackpool, a club ownership as far apart from it's fanbase as ours, and end any remaining doubts about just how catastrophic Roland Duchatelet has been for Charlton Athletic Football Club.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Farewell Honourable Henderson

Sorry to see Stephen Henderson preparing to leave the Valley and start afresh at Nottingham Forest. Henderson is approaching his goal-keeping prime at 28. He is probably too expensive for League One and there could be a fee involved which will make it a no-brainer for Meire and Duchebag.

Hendo has also been openly critical of The Regime but will not have missed his Christmas card from Katrien Meire. The honest Dubliner earned huge respect from me last season when he was left to face the press after Karel Fraye fled the scene again at Huddersfield after a five-nil walloping. Henderson was patently hurting and he bared all in a five minute session where he didn't need to say much to convey how he was feeeling. The tone of his voice told all you needed to hear.

So, good luck Hendo, you were a class act in Charlton colours and we wish you well at Forest. You deserve Championship football and I hope you can remain  injury-free and join the growing band of better players we have exited on the cheap, only to watch them progress at other ckubs.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Duchatelet rakes in £5m with more to come

Roland Duchatelet may have presided over relegation last season as the billionaire owner. Katrien Meire has managed to shrink the club during that time and lose something like £6m in operating costs which will run into this coming season.

However, the sale of Jordan Cousins to QPR and Johan Berg Gudmundson and Nicky Pope to Burnley (expected tomorrow) will effectively cover this year's losses. With Stephen Henderson and Tony Watt also due to be outed at the first possible mention of money and Ademola Lookman yet to be ransomed to the highest bidder, it's not impossible for Duchatelet to recoup £10m which atop the previous transfer fees for Stephens, Kermorgant and Poyet, would mean he has recovered the lion-share of his operating costs since he rode in to continue the misery since we dropped out of the Premier League ten years ago. Looking on the bright side, that might encourage him to look more closely at selling the club on and ending our pain and his ignominy. We can but hope and continue to fight him and Pinnochio Meire at every turn.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

New Ticket Farce

I knew it wouldn't be long before Katrien Meire made another characterisric faux pas. Her inability to understand football supporters is quite staggering. As bad as, well Margaret Thatcher, as I wrack my brains. She just doesn't get it and keeps applying a unique business logic which doesn't work. In fact, it may be the work of that other cretin, Tony Keohane, but she will have lapped it up nonetheless.

What am I on about? Well they have clearly been scratching their heads about two worrying, but connected problems, the dramatic season ticket sales slump and the increased ticket office costs next season as many of those who refuse to handover lump sums in advance, pick and choose their matches and buy game to game. The business genius answer is to disincentivise game to game purchasing by charging a £2.50 handling fee if you want to buy tickets involving human interaction - collecting or buying in person at the Valley. For Meire it also has the delicious added bonus of financially penalising all those protesting bastards who won't renew their season tickets. It is also likely to inconvenience less tech-savvy fans like the 50% of ours who are over 50, you know, the old ones she would rather weren't here. Untypically the website information is incomplete and ambiguous so it's unclear whether this will be £2.50 per transaction or per ticket. I think I know the answer to this question because she will be looking at how Ticket Touts like Ticketmaster, Viagogo, See Tickets, Get Me In and the others now routinely rip us all off at events.

Oh, and they have added an extra penalty. Faced with busier matchday traffic in the ticket office, they have thought of a similar ruse for that too. If you can't be bothered turning up early enough to purchase your match ticket two clear hours in advance of kick-off you will asked for an additional £3!

In short, if you are a casual fan or decide to go at relatively short notice and get down to the ground at 1.05pm, you will be mugged for a £5.50 handling fee on top of what I expect will be pricey League One ticket cost. Call me a miserable old git, but that is not a progressive, foward-looking, welcoming, inclusive or friendly way to approach prospective customers, let alone your own supporters. It's a small-minded, short-sighted, road-to-nowhere policy that will drive already disgruntled supporters to tell them where to stick it. Casual fans and neutrals will suffer it once only.

What's more, there's a load of added complications they haven't worked out yet. Will this also apply to away fans? Will they do it for Cup matches (if we get a home draw this season)? Will it apply to away games? What about Valley Express ticket purchases?

Yet another half-baked policy that could only ever be dreamt up by naive non-football fans and authorised with an air of spiteful satisfaction. It is in perfect keeping with the Roland Duchatelet-Katrien Meire vicious-circle that continues inexorably to shrink our club further and further. If you were beginning to get a flutter of excitement that this season may be different on the ownership and club mismanagement front, stand easy, nothing's changed.

My bet here is that this one is guaranteed to be one of their enforced U-turns because of widespread insult it will generate and the corresponding decline in attendance and associated revenues. If only they would talk to their fans or actually listen to what they say. They even have a Target Somecompletelyunrealistic number focus group they could have consulted, but no, they know best.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Farewell Jordan Cousins

As predicted, Charlton youth product and established midfield engine, Jordan Cousins, has moved to QPR in a deal that nets Roland Duchatelet £1.2m. The money will help close the operating losses of last season and allows Cousins a better opportunity to develop his career in the Championship.

Cousins has been 'one of ours' and it's been great to watch him establish himself in our side and in the Championship over 125 appearances. Pace was a key strength although I felt this had become less of a used weapon as Jordan increasingly played it safe with limited runs and more, shorter passing. He may have been playing to order but it made him less effective and perhaps he will get a new lease of life under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Jordan also became more defensive during his time with us when I would like to have seen him used to run at defenders. He certainly should have scored more than seven goals but did have a tendency to over-run when going for goal. The more recent decision to use him on the wing also didn't suit his game but successive Coaches persevered without him ever looking fully comfortable or competent.

Good luck Jordan - great to know you consider "it a pleasure to be joining a masssive club like QPR." I know you have played there more than once before, but take the opportunity to look at the stadium you will now call home and remind yourself just how massive a move you have made. #noimnotbitter.