Sunday, 28 February 2016

Charlton Athletic 3 v Reading 4

Four more nails hammered into the Charlton coffin yesterday in front of a surprising good 'football for a fiver' crowd. Katrien Meire should take note because football for a fiver is close to what she will need to offer all next season if she's to avoid the gates collapsing dramatically. 

For the first time since signing them, Sanogo, Motta, Yun, Fanni and Texeira all started. Yun had a fine match at left back and would have been my Charlton man-of-the-match but he was pipped by the running and goals from the Arsenal youngster who reminded me of Adebayor. 

I say Charlton man-of-the-match because the best player on the park was Yann Kermorgant who was out to prove a personal point to Roland Duchatelet. After opening the scoring with a brilliantly directed thumping header, the Frenchman rattled an absolute peach into the top corner to restore Reading's lead after Sanogo had raced onto a through ball from Motta to equalise.

Three minutes before the break we stuck our half-time chin out once again and Ola John duly smacked us. I was ready to leave and catch the end of the Italy v Scotland game but my missus said we should stay "because you never know what might happen."

Shortly after the restart, Sanogo headed powerfully at goal but his header was parried by the keeper and as it came out it was run back into the goal by the covering defender. It barely crossed the line but it was given anyway. Not sure how Sanogo can claim it but he has. Two-three then and we continued to press. Bergdych and Gudmundson both looked bothered and Makienok was winning some aerial ball but it was the galloping Sanogo who was finding space and through balls. With the clock running down, Gudmundson found himself with a second to spare twenty yards out and smashed the ball goalward. It was another fierce shot but straight at their keeper and again he parried it out but only to the waiting Sanogo whose return was enough to cross the line once again by a couple of inches.

The problem for us though, was Reading were all over us at the back when they attacked. Tex stood up well but Relegation Roger had a match he would rather forget. Diarra had offered some protection in the first half but he began to fade in the second. Henderson had already pulled off two full stretch saves and in the 92nd minute Reading broke in numbers and a driven left wing cross beat every red shirt and was picked up at the back post by Rakels who had time to beat Henderson and send 3000 Royals fans home happy. 

We are still only (only) seven points and a hundred goals behind fourth bottom MK Dons but we won't get another seven points this season. Next year we are headed to Accrington Stanley and other footballing outposts. Meire will close the parts of the ground and ticketing will go online. They may dispense with programmes and we will cash in on players during the close season. Next August's starting line-up will bare scant resemblance to yesterday's. Gates will consistently be four figures and I predict we will struggle. Competitive in the Championship with ambitions for the Prmeir League my arse. The cost of running the club will have been reduced so they can concentrate on farming young players. I'm out.

Finally, doffs hat to the 20 Addicks who took the "Time to Go" banner go Duchatlet's back yard yesterday and displayed it during the St. Trinden match. All were ejected and the banner confiscated but the point was made, the press alerted and their ejection from the ground was roundly booed by the home fans. Roland, there will only be one winner in the long run and it's not you.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Season Ticket Boycott

It's the last act of a desperate fan but let's face it, it's the biggest card we have left to play and now's the time to play it.

Maybe Roland still doesn't get the true strength of feeling about his strategy or about the chronic mis-management of the club by Meire? Let's leave him in no doubt that something has gone very, very wrong between the club and it's supporters. Katrien Meire must be made to have to reveal massively reduced season ticket numbers and a gaping hole in their finances.

If he is prepared to ignore hugely reduced season ticket numbers, then we will know for sure that he doesn't care. Logic tells you he must be considering a sale and a collapse in season ticket income might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. 

As supporters we have practically nothing to lose by refusing to renew until we see some signs of faith or acknowledgement that things have to change. Action not words. They aren't going to increase the price if they can't sell any early bird volumes and it's not as if you are likely to lose your seat. Hang on to your money and let them earn our decision to renew. The current nonsense in League One provides zero incentive.

Now is the time to stand up and be counted, literally. See you in the West Stand Tiananmen Square at 5pm.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Preston North End 2 v Charlton Athletic 1

A goal for the 150 travelling Charlton fans to celebrate and an equalizer at that. Preston scored a second not long into the second half to effectively kill us off.

Harry Lennon managed to get sent off for an off-the-ball swipe at Garner before the finish, although his absence won't be missed given the queue of defenders. In fact, Riga managed a startling line-up with no fewer than six defenders starting. Solly and Fox in the midfield at the same time? Bizarre, but I suppose he's got to try something because nothing else is working.

The next three matches could see us killed off. We are seven points behind safety (MK Dons), eight on goal difference . That could worsen if we fail to beat Reading and then we go to Brentford, another London derby where we don't have a good record. After that it's MK Dons at the Valley which could end it bar the shouting with 9 games left to play.

Truly depressing but we have been sliding into this for several months, altnough it's no less depressing to see it happening. I get the distinct feeling that the Regime are going to feel an over-whelming need to say something in the next week or so and that they will manage to get it all wrong yet again given their refusal thus far to acknowledge what the rest of us already know. Season ticket pricing and renewals are due out and they could use the £5 Reading match on Saturday to do it.  What excuses do you think they will use? "Unfortunate with injuries?" "With hindsight, we held onto Karel Fraye too long?" Perhaps the new Comms Manager will insist they continue to hope for a freak set of footballing results to save their renewal hopes and persuades them to bluff it out, however ridiculous. Do you think Katrien could actually blame the Customers?

As a club we are about to step back to the low point of my supporting life - the relegation season of 1979-80. Poor home gates and crap away followings. The most unfashionable club in London. The only difference this time is that our club is now so so wrong throughout that there is little prospect of our bouncing back like we did in 1980-81. Sad, sad times.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Fulham 3 v Charlton Athletic Nil

Our 16th failure to score in the league this season and, more embarrassingly, it was the tenth game in which we have conceded three or more goals (and remember we went out of both cup competitions to four goals). The defeat returns us to the bottom of the Championship courtesy of our humiliating goal difference and now it is only a matter of time before we are relegated officially.

Preston away on Tuesday should be another night to forget and Reading will come looking for the points on Saturday. If I can think of anything better to do I won't be suffering at the Valley next weekend. That might be a good idea because my temper is being sorely tested and I fear I might do something I later regret.

I am pleased I spent the afternoon walking my dog and getting ready for a good night out. I felt sorry for a couple of black and white scarfed figures who shuffled past us as we made our way up town. I was able to enjoy a few pints in Soho and my meal without the gloom of the defeat weighing too heavily.

I did manage to follow the game via the radio but it was all over after thirty minutes once Fulham scored. A mate who went told me we played well enough in the first half but we were missing Tony Watt. Harriott and Makienok are just not good enough for this league.  Once more we were undone at set pieces and Jose Riga will have some explaining to do for having started with no midfielders on the bench and then subbing three of those who did start. We gave up after half-time and our fans were let down once again in a London derby by a side who looked like they couldn't care less. I envy Millwall fans of very little but there is one thing their sides have been relied upon to do over the generations, and that's turn-up and battle in London derbies however big the gulf in class between them and their opponents. The last time we won away in London was at Palace in 2007. Absolutely pathetic.

The quotes of the Regime have been ringing in my ears this week. The "Roland doesn't do failure" cliche. Katrien Meire's pre-season boast to "judge us on this team" and Richard Murray's recent statement that we would pick-up from January. What a joke they are. Lawrence Bloom, the Club's Sports Scientist bailed out this week to stay in the Championship at Forest. We still don't have a scouting replacement for Phil Chapple and the recent surge in loan signings is a tad head-scratching because not only are most not playing but often they aren't even named in the squad. Who is actually picking these mercenaries and why? You have to wonder what the idea was? It won't matter in the coming weeks who plays because the heart and fight has gone. Those with no contractual commitment past May will know they are leaving. The few who are accomplished Championship players will be considering their options because we are unlikely to bounce back anytime soon. Chris Solly, Patrick Bauer, Jordan Cousins and Ademola Lookman may well get opportunities they can't refuse. I would have added Johan Berg Gudmunsson to that short list but his stock has fallen given his poor performances and failure to fight for the cause. What an absolute mess and the Chief Clown thinks it will all turn around with a few results!

No, we have to worry now what next season looks like. Realistically, there is simply too much to fix for us to bounce back. It needs a change of personnel at the top, a proven manager, a commitment to build a squad of players with the quality and the experience necessary for the next two or three seasons, not just to see how we go until the next transfer window.

The good news is that, finally, most of our fans actually get it now. At least the ones who really care about this club and can think for themselves. Amazingly, there are still plenty of sheep out there who are content to watch anything irrespective of the fact that there is no genuine strategy or commitment from the owner to the club. Frankly, they are welcome to it next season.

In the meantime, the rest of us need to commit to keeping our money in our pockets in a final bid to get the message across to RD that his investment is shrinking at an alarming pace and that he needs to cut his losses and run. Even if he has a change of heart and were to commit to investment and a real long term plan, he needs to make another trip to SE7, say he's really sorry this time and take some action. Personally, I can't wait until the season ticket forms arrive so I can return mine with a personal message for Katrien Meire to stick it up her arse. I also think I am beginning to repeat myself too often in my posts and am questioning whether or not I should continue as it's becoming unhealthy.....

Monday, 15 February 2016

Varney makes it crystal clear

Peter Varney has responded firmly to Roland Duchatelet's unconvincing attempts to distance himself from the highly embarrassing email trail between him, Katrien Meire and Varney.

The former Charlton CEO scoffs at Duchatelet's suggestion that the investment mentioned in the original email might have been for an advertising hoarding. In that email, Peter Varney offered to meet Duchatelet in Brussels, which might have suggested he had more on his mind than placing an advert at the Valley. He also referenced the financial wealth of his existing employers and his personal credibility as a previous CEO which would have made the approach interesting to anyone other than the Belgian electronics businessman or his London-based assistant, who, to be fair, could be forgiven for misreading Varney's email based on her general level of competence.

There was another twist this weekend when Meire approached Rick Everitt before the match and, in response to Rick's question about why she had failed to meet Varney, she said that there was no point as the club wasn't for sale. The first time we have heard this view from Meire, whom Duchatelet also said he had delegated the matter to on receipt of the first email (possibly because he did somehow think it was for a trivial investment in an advertising hoarding and, therefore, more in line with Meire's pay grade and abilities). The obvious question at this point is why waste Varney's time, stringing him along for several appointments you had no intention of meeting? We could just put it down to her general level of incompetence but I suspect there might have been a little bit of perverse enjoyment taken by Meire in messing about her predecessor who she knows presided over years of success with a highly motivated and dedicated workforce (in direct contrast to her own management). You know, a bit like sneering and photographing protesting customers or believing them to be weird because they have an emotional attachment to a football club - something you just can't comprehend because for you it's just a job. Not something you could ever accuse lifelong Charlton fan Peter Varney of, eh Katrien?

Hardly surprising giving the original email trail but depressing nonetheless that they can't even be bothered to get their stories straight after all this time. Yet again the sheer arrogance of the Belgians is breath-taking.

PS - I have a theory on Saturday's 'surprise' encounter between Meire and Everitt. I don't believe it was a surprise at all. Meire made the unusual approach from Ranson Road as I understand it, coming through the railway tunnel and accosting Rick where he was selling the Voice. This way she avoided the walk down Floyd Road which she usually takes from the station. I believe that's because she is likely to face abuse from angry customers who know she used to do this every home game. Instead, she may have been dropped off on the Lower Road and had the short walk up Ransom Road to where she knows Rick is usually positioned. I say this because I noticed an unusually large number of the heavy squad Stewards in Harvey Gardens outside the club shop before she appeared. One or two were using headsets and they were clearly waiting for something or someone. Perhaps the goon show gave her the confidence to ask Rick if he was scared of her? 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

What if nothing changes this year?

We are effectively seven points from safety with 15 games left to play. We have picked up just 9 points from the last 14 games, so it will need a minor miracle to stay up on current form. We have failed to score in practically half of our games (15/31) and we are regularly watching home performances where we are creating less than five chances. Whilst I am praying for a flash of form, I am realistic enough to know that we are most likely going down. Assuming that to be the case, my biggest fear is what happens next?

Our club is a mess from top-to-bottom. Duchatelet's plans for exploiting FFP are in ruins and he is now left trying to break even and "be competitive." The break even means we are keen to cash in on assets when opportune to do so and it has seen the Club staff shrunk in numbers as well as experience with all that goes with it. We have closed the ticket office on Wednesdays as well as Thursdays and a move to on-line only ticketing is rumoured. Season Ticket numbers will plummet during the close season for a raft of reasons but not least because of the confrontational nature of the incompetent Belgian CEO. League One football will see much smaller visiting numbers and 'official' home gates will drop below 10,000.

The biggest issue as I see it, it that there is no sign that Roland Duchatelet will do anything to change the status quo. He acknowledged mistakes this week on a rare visit to SE7 but he believes the only problem is our league position and he appears to have no intention of changing anything. For me, that will almost quarantee our relegation. Things aren't right behind the scenes and the players know it. They have a ready made excuse and based on yesterday, they aren't bothered enough to change it. That and the fact that it's a small squad short on quality because of Duchatelet's break even strategy.

So, assume we go down, what happens next if Katrien Meire remains on the deck and break even remains the strategy? Well we can expect another merry-go-round of players as the ones with Championship ability move on and we gear down for League One. TV money will be almost non-existent and matchday running costs will need to be trimmed to fit smaller gates. There will be a bigger reliance on youth players which fits Duchatlet's strategy of bringing youngsters on for sale but hardly helps make you competitive, especially in the physically meaning League One. RD will be ready to try more players from his network and will more justified given the poorer quality of League One.

There will be a real and present danger that we will continue to struggle and could well find ourselves somewhere we haven't been before. Staring into the abyss of Division 4.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Charlton Athletic Nil v Cardiff City 0 (Pinocchio Day)

I think today's match was something of a watershed for this season. It was the day we effectively fell 7 (seven) points from safety. To put that into perspective, it will take us another 10 games based on recent form to close the gap and that will move us to 41 played and assumes those above us fail to pick up anything. It just isn't going to happen and , frankly, we deserve to be relegated.

There was an air of resignation about the place and we were hopeless for 80 minutes. One shot on target late in the first-half was pathetic enough to earn an ironic chorus of "we've had a shot." In the second-half Reza shanked ours and his second chance to jeers of "What the fucking hell was that?" Sanogo is hardly graceful but he brought some urgency to our attacking play when he came on  and managed to wake half the ground - it wasn't difficult what had gone on before. Cardiff should still have won at a canter. They struck the post and the bar and Stephen Henderson was our man-of-the-match making four very good saves to keep us in it.

Riga has limited options but Reza, Cousins, Jackson and Bergdich aren't going to applied sustained pressure against anyone. After Jackson hobbled off and Cousins too was replaced, we did at least look more combatitive with Ba and Poyet in central midfield. Makienok was toothless and Gudmundsson was lost alongside him.

Given Fulham's win at QPR today, defeat there next Saturday will drive another nail in the coffin and I really think we are looking at how soon we are relegated rather than for how long we can sustain the fight. It's been a horrible season so far and it's going to end badly. Duchatelet's intransigence this week has taken some of the wind out of the sails and even the protest this evening was less well supported than last time. It was cold and damp today and crowd was poor but apathy is having an affect. I am afraid the next step will be the final straw for many. Relegation will literally be a point of no return and significant permanent damage will have been done.

Duchatelet, Meire and Murray have this on their watch and all three have to go. There can be no excuses and no forgiveness.

To cap it all today, the bumbling ineptitude if the club managed to put a picture of Alan Campbell on the screen in memory of the late Graham Moore. How pathetic and sadly fitting.

Friday, 12 February 2016

No change from Duchatelet - time to turn up the heat

As expected, Roland Duchatelet trotted out the pseudo-justification and soft-soap to the SLP yesterday before scuttling back to Belgium. In short, he's sorry, they have made mistakes but nothing that can't be rectified by the excellent Meire and the loyal Murray.The rest of it was just words. No action, no change, no nothing.

What he has succeeded in doing is stiffening the turnout for tomorrow's 5pm Protest and compliance with CARD'S Midday announcement. It is also time for us to up the ante. A match boycott must be on the cards so we can give them a taste of what the ground looks like when it's virtually empty. More than that, however, we need to orchestrate a mass refusal to renew season tickets early to crank up the pressure on Meire's efforts to break even and I would seriously consider turning that into a complete boycott if there's no progress towards selling the club. Let's face it, we are going down, so it shouldn't be hard to get hefty support for both of these.

I could go on ad finitum dissecting Duchebag's every sentence but it's all so predictable we would only be going over old ground and there's a great thread already on Charlton Life that is already over 300 posts, all of them decrying the Belgian's waffle. I am absolutely convinced that relegation will be a minor disappointment for Roland but lined with the silver of a lower cost base for next season which will cut his losses and should make us more competitive.  I'm not buying it and literally won't be.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Duchebag in town

Roland Duchatelet is in London and we will be hearing from him. Rich Cawley has interviewed him for the SLP and he has also done a piece to camera for the sycophantic Official Site. It would be encouraging to hear some genuine remorse and actual commitment to action but the previewing on social media suggests we will be getting another round of pseudo-justification and soft-soap.

A poster on Charlton Life is sure they snapped him getting off a train at Charlton Station and perhaps he came by public transport instead of driving his black Porsche Panamera as he did previously. He may have been warned his car might be targeted? However unlikely, they are clearly feeling paranoid as evidenced by the gate closure this week attended by Security men. Irrespective, someone went out of their way today to leave a couple of home-made notices to Roland in his native tongue on lamp-posts in Floyd Road on the off-chance he would be returning on public transport again today.

This really is a fight they can't win. Any business with shareholders or a significantly valuable fanbase would have to have acted to remove the incompetent and culpable Katrien Meire long ago. She may just be Roland's mouthpiece but she is making a consistent and unnecessary horlicks of doing even that. The fact that Roland doesn't have shareholders to appease means he can ignore the obvious and the damage to our fanbase is relative and is ultimately all out of his pocket. Even so, it's staggering at how loyal he has been in the circumstances and you do have to wonder why and where it's all headed.

I have been saying for a long time now that we are relegation fodder and given the growing strength of antipathy towards the regime, they are sleep-walking into a disastrous commercial position which will become blindingly obvious when thousands fail to renew their season tickets early.

It might be an eye-opener for Roland to hang around, watch Cardiff romp to victory and see the size of Saturday's protest and to hear the venom they have generated. However, why bother when's not really interested in the football and wants to be home with Madame Duchatelet for le weekend?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Meire - the weakest link (Part 2) - [Reissued]

[This post is being reissued as Katrien Meire has paid to have negative articles about her largely cleansed from search engines - no-one should be able to control free information]

It's been a vintage Meire-baiting week so far and she has played her part hugely predictably and has probably burnt her new Head of Communications intern in the process. I wrote back in November about her impressive list of gaffes but already that is hideously out-of-date, so I thought I would do her the honour of updating it, just in case Roland wants a handy crib list. Given she is apparently a Lawyer, he may be grateful for some evidence.

- sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One
- sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season
- failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January
- failing to tell the truth about the recruitment of Guy Luzon after being undermined by her boss and believing she could lie her way out of it
- refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints
- setting a V I P supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer certain direct questions
- deciding not to renew the V I P scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when V I P members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets)
- that Northstand lounge pass fiasco
- false economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service
- cocking up the offer of compensatory food vouchers for West Stand season ticket holders turfed out of their season to accommodate gloating Bournemouth fans in our end-of season humiliation game
- condoning the cheap shot sex-on-the-pitch advertising stunt which probably brought in bugger all additional revenue (she would have said otherwise after the furore)
- closing the ticket office on Thursdays and refusing to sell tickets to fans who arrived unknowingly
- cocking up the mailing out of season tickets and trying to blame Royal Mail
- deciding to stop disabled supporters from using the main lifts in the West Stand to reach their seats on Health & Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for them to use the service lifts)
- sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service
- that ridiculous sofa which makes our club look cheap and for what?
- being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling a complainant
- failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad
- publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchebag first on his intentions)
- sacking Damian Matthew along with Luzon, after all Matthew has done for our club, without any adequate explanation
- sacking David Martane only months after appointing him without any adequate explanation
- appointing yet another Belgian nonentity
- extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays
- now looking at options to develop the club shop for flats
- presiding over a new low point in Club-Supporter relations, which takes some doing given our history and at a time when we have the wealthiest owner ever
- attempting to organise a last minute Family Day with bouncy castles in the West Stand car park to put parents and children in the firing line for our first pre-match Protest
- smirking at fans and taking a condescending photo of hundreds protesting
- belittling protesting fans by saying we were the "Negative 2%" when we were clearly far more, even then
- telling us our Protest was "unacceptable," as if we needed her permission!
- caught out at a web conference in Dublin saying that Charlton fans were "weird" for having an emotional attachment to the club which is owned by The Shareholder and that she would expect us to treat Charlton the same way you would as a customer at a restaurant or a cinema!
- putting on a live House DJ in Crossbars on the second Protest day as if that might provide a more attractive alternative
- the embarrassing email trail with Peter Varney which showed her and Roland's complete unprofessionalism in dealing with a legitimate business approach. It was insulting to see how a hero of the Charlton past was so badly disrespected
- the loan/sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff City when we were crying out for goals
- the hectoring of the put upon Fans Forum in their January non event
- Bannergate - the instruction for stewards to remove a "We want our club back" banner from a fan  which resulted in them also being removed from the stand in front of thousands of other irate protesters
- responding to ongoing protests by erecting steel barriers, bringing in dozens extra Stewards and Police. Installing floodlights in the car park to illuminate filming of protesting supporters and installing blinds at function room windows in an attempt to hide herself away
- the fabled exit at Colchester of her and hapless Fraye in the kit man's van after we were knocked out of the F A Cup by League One's whipping boys
- the removal of "Seb and Ben's" flag at the following home match, something that has been a part of the North Lower for many years
- the spontaneous and childish Official Site response to a fan prank that saw Katrien Directorship resigned with Companies House ("on Companies House!")

As I said when I finished November's post, what next?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Scotland 9 v England 15

Yet another Scottish disappointment and another double losing weekend with Charlton somehow contriving to lose to fellow League One hopefuls, Bristol City.

Flybe nearly ruined my wife and I's weekend by announcing five minutes before our flight to Edinburgh was due to leave (12.20 Saturday) that there would be a change of routing and it would not be flying from London City airport. No, it would be taking off from Southend! Cue four hours of nail-biting, discomfort and stress. We had the chance of saying forget it and heading back across the river for the Charlton match although I am really pleased we didn't or things might have turned really nasty. Instead we waited for a coach to appear and then struggled down the A13 to Southend before checking in again and going through security, then waiting for 30 minutes looking at the plane before we finally boarded and took off. We landed twenty minutes short of kick-off and with everyone else heading for the tram, we dashed for a taxi and mercifully the road through Corstorphine was as clear as a bell. As we scrambled out at the Murrayfield Hotel to meet my Uncle and get our match tickets we could hear God Save the Queen. Got to our seats with two minutes on the clock.

Shame then that it was another huff and puff Scotland showing where we threatened to take the lead in the first half but didn't and then ran out of steam in the second. England deserved the victory and always looked like they had another gear if they really needed it. Scotland's forwards won enough ball but the backs were once again unable to break a high England line and lacked the invention or aggression to break through. I thought Owen Farrell was the Man of the Match but it went to Billy Vunipola. I had to put up with a rugby knob (yes, he was English) behind me and listen to him getting unnecessarily excited every time Vunipola got the ball, made his yard and then hit the turf. Maybe it's just me but that's all I ever see him do. Admittedly it's usually accompanied by a roar of expectation and a large 'ooh' as if the man is a born-again Jonah Lomu. He isn't. He adds ballast in the scrum but he is no ball carrying genius. 

Over my breakfast this morning I got time to catch-up on the latest non event at the Valley. Really disappointed to hear Igor is injured again and didn't make the starting line-up. I don't know how bad it is but he is looking like a crock and in light of him saying he contemplated giving up football last time he was injured, you have to wonder. The rest of it, from what I read, sounded dreadful. Over-run again in midfield and no teeth. 

As for the protest, a brilliant poster by CARD that would have any rational owner or CEO having second thoughts and a novel idea for 100 posters following the nonsense at the last home match. What could go wrong? Ah yes, Seb Lewis, 850 consecutive matches home and away is singled out and has his 'Seb and Ben' flag confiscated as the Home Guard are instructed to search fans and remove flags as they haven't had the requisite permission from the Guppenfuhrer. Absolutely pathetic and insulting to every one of us.

I hear too that there were lots of extra police on duty and horses for a demo that wasn't planned. They also have a new floodlight behind the West Stand, presumably to intimidate us and so that they can get a better picture of all the Refuseniks and Negative Two Percenters. The Cardiff game could get tasty because there will be another big protest and the authorities appear to be upping the ante. I sincerely hope not but it doesn't bode well. I will be there again because Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire have to be made to leave Charlton Athletic, however long it takes. Here before you and long after you've gone. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Egg chasing openers

I will miss the important Brizzle City clash at the Valley tomorrow and will have to make do with internet updates as I will be drinking at Murrayfield ahead of the Calcutta Cup. Winning doubles are rare for me, so I will gladly settle for a Charlton victory and another day of missed opportunity for Scotland if it furthers the Addicks chances of retaining their Championship status. 

There should be a good atmosphere at the Valley with a larger than normal contingent of Wurzels making their way up the M4. That, the ongoing protests and a couple of new squad faces will hopefully enliven proceedings. We should have too much for City, especially if we go for it and that should be the case under Jose Riga.

The opening day of the 6 Nations is my favourite Saturday in the sporting calendar, even pipping the first day of the football season. The organisers do it brilliantly well across the venues and the staggering of matches and live TV showings mean everyone gets to watch every game if they have the inclination. It's France v Italy first up in what should be a routine French victory. The Scotland v England game should be too close to call. England's ongoing transition under Eddie Jones and Scotland's steady progression under Vern Cotter should make the affair much closer than in recent years. 

I have a number of friends from a number of countries at the match tomorrow and am hoping to bring them all together for a post-match pint where we will also swap footballing updates, especially Charlton, West Ham, Celtic and Aberdeen.

My hearing has yet to return to normal this morning following a rock show at Wembley Arena last night - Hailstorm, Black Stone Cherry and my favourite, Shinedown. They are the reason I went, although to return the compliment I will have to endure Slipknot next week. Time for work...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Two Deadline Day moves to warm the cockles

No, not the loan signings of Yaya Sonogo and Rod Fanni, but the binning of Vaz Te and Rhys Williams (you add Franck Moussa if you want).

Sonogo is an Arsenal player and whilst he has been ridiculed there in part ("Sonogoals"), he has youth on his side and I'd be prepared to give him a go. Rod Fanni has undoubtedly been a performer who would have graced our side, but at 34 he looks very much like a short-term defensive cover signing, particularly for Chris Solly who struggles to play more than once a week.

No, my cheers were reserved for Vaz Te being told to do one for thinking he could swan around and get away with half-trying, and Rhys Williams for his disastrous defensive showing. What I would be even more pleased to see is someone else at the club carrying the can for recruiting these wasters - it can't all have been Karel Fraye's fault. At least Phil Chapple is in the clear.

Jose Riga emerges with credit here and for putting his foot down and for refusing to take that West Ham 'starlet' who had the audacity to pull a face at the prospect of even coming here for first team football. Riga's certainly getting away with being his own man, although I do wonder if he has licence for this from Baron Bomburst.

Good news, too, that Ademola Lookman has signed on for another two years and we have avoided the temptation to cash in on him for now. That has to represent a bit of a u-turn in Madame Meire's plans of handing Roly a break-even. I am putting that down to our parlous league position and perhaps a final realisation by The Shareholder of what relegation will do to our fan-base (his finances) on the back of his hopeless CEO's diabolical mismanagement of our club. Unfortunately, I am confident we will pay the price for the overspend next season with a cashing in of assets and culling of the squad once more. Let's just hope we have a Championship season to prepare for and not the ignomy of Division Three.