Thanks for the Memories
This is not a piece that I am enjoying writing, nor expected to write. I know that for every reader who agrees with my sentiments, another will accuse me of being rash. Perhaps others will happen across my blog and wonder what an 'Addick' is. Either way, the fact of the matter is that our slump is not just seven or eight games in length, but began in January. We have conceded 51 goals in our last 30 League games; we have conceded three or more goals in eight of those games. This is not the well-organised, motivated Charlton that we have come to expect and it is happening whilst we 'celebrate' the strongest squad in the club's history.
Steve Brown may not be the most eloquent radio commentator, but he cares about Charlton and he knows something is not right. The defensive problems are the result of a deeper malaise in my view, not the cause of it. There are too many players in the squad who don't care as much as the fans do. How many of them are feeling as lousy about another shambolic performance as we are? Luke Young maybe? Chris Powell probably? But Danny Murphy? Or Jerome Thomas? More importantly, can Curbs persuade them any longer that they should be feeling as lousy?
We lost our way after the sale of Scott Parker, and most worryingly those proceeds have been spent and then some. Our end-of-season slumps are so regular, it is almost tragi-comedy, but this one has started early. Where are the next points coming from? Arsenal? Newcastle? We are fortunate that this season at least, there are at least three teams that are even worse than us. All this talk about 'just reaching 40 points' doesn't impress me anymore; this is our sixth consecutive season in the top flight. The way I feel right now, I'd rather see the club take a few risks even if they don't pay off. If this is what 'competing' in the Premier League now means for Charlton and football in general, then I will find alternative ways to spend my Saturday afternoons (or evenings, or Sundays, or Monday nights).
The club is planning to extend the stadium in the near-term. This is a serious mistake, and an issue on which I have written a lengthy letter to Richard Murray (I didn't receive a reply). If we finish this season in say 15th or 16th place, season ticket sales will plummet (the Blackburn attendance should have been a warning sign). I should be looking forward to going to the Valley next Monday, instead I'm almost dreading it.
I've often wondered how I'd feel if I switched on the Internet, and learned that Curbs had resigned. Until the past year, I would have been shocked, even angry. Not any longer, right now it would be a relief like the passing of a sick relative. His conservativeness, obstinacy and lack of flexibility was exactly what Charlton needed a decade ago, but not anymore.
I shouldn't get so emotive, but like Brownie I also care. I will be one of perhaps a hundred or so Charlton fans at Newcastle in ten days. I was mascot for the club twice in the 1970s; I'm not a Johnny-come-lately (not that they're unwelcome by the way).
The fans need a lift right now, something new to grasp onto, a surprise win for example (or just an original free-kick routine would do). I don't believe Curbs can deliver this any longer as he has done so manfully for fifteen years. The person who builds an institution from the bottom is not necessarily the person to take it forward once it's grown. He is a victim of his own success, and 'success' is absolutely the right word because we have been perhaps the most successful club (relatively) of the past decade. Whatever happens he would deserve a place in our annals alongside Bartram and Seed. We should even name a stand after him. He helped to give me the most memorable day of my life at Wembley in 1998, (until my wedding day of course, at least that's what I tell the wife).
I don't have any brilliant ideas for replacements. I don't have any great confidence that a new manager (whoever he is) will be successful. I just know it's time for a change. The club owes it to Curbs not to sack him, but I believe he should resign.