Saturday, April 29, 2006

Thanks for the Memories

Well it was a day we knew would eventually come, and although it still came as a bit of a shock, my first emotions were gratitude for what has been achieved, then a sense of excitement that a new chapter is about to be opened in our proud history.

To have turned a struggling club without a stadium into a stable Premiership outfit is an incredible achievement that may never be matched. Charlton fans are not used to turnover at the managerial level, and Steve Gritt aside, the bulk of my supporting years have seen just two men at the helm. Hence it is not surprising that it feels a little numb.

Curbs performed his miracles with the consistent support of a fantastic Board who now have a hugely important decision to make, and I trust them to make the right one. Back in 1991, the decision to appoint Curbishley and Gritt was borne mainly out of necessity, and whilst clearly a risk then too, to be honest the club had little to lose because it had very little to begin with. Today's Charlton, thanks of course to Curbishley, are in pretty good shape and hence the risks are commensurately higher. Having said that, I have stated before that I am ready to embrace uncertainty, and to quote a former US President, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

It would be interesting to know the full story behind his decision. I simply don't believe he suddenly sprung it upon Richard Murray on Friday, and his recent implicit comments in interviews were clearly a ruse to prepare the fans for today's announcement.

I had always been wary of the idea that Curbs would effectively get an open-ended contract until only he decided it was time to move on. In my view, our performances this season have not been acceptable and it would be reassuring to think that Murray at least hinted as much to him, without threatening the unthinkable. By leaving now, albeit at the end of an anti-climatic season, Curbs can hold his head up high, the fans had their chance to say thanks and the new manager has something to work with. It's 'win-win' all round. Leaving mid-season to join another club would have led to resentment and he didn't deserve that.

Watching another somnolent performance, it is near-impossible to escape the conclusion that Curbs has indeed taken us as far as he can, and credit to him for realising it also. It is vital that a new manager be appointed as quickly as possible because there is a vital restructuring job to be done in the summer. Several players have been in the comfort zone for too long under Curbs, and it's about time some of them were told the future of the club does not lay at their feet any longer.

I have it on fairly good authority that Curbs will be the next Newcastle boss, and he deserves the chance to take on a club with greater resources and a more passionate fanbase. The England job would have been a step too far at this stage but if he succeeds elsewhere, he will find the media more supportive of his claims.

In my view there is no shortage of interesting potential candidates, particularly young ambitious managers threatening to perform their own miracles at clubs that Charlton used to consider its peers. Examples would include Mike Newell, Gary Johnson, Phil Parkinson, Martin Allen, Adrian Boothroyd, Kevin Blackwell, Steve Tilson and Billy Davies.

Personally I think the club should try to do whatever it takes to get Steve Coppell or Paul Jewell to the Valley, but both are backed by wealthy Chairmen that can probably out-negotiate us. Some interesting out-of-work options would include Mick McCarthy and Alex McLeish. I would not be supportive of the appointment of the likes of George Burley, Peter Taylor or Glenn Hoddle whose records are flawed, and whose hunger for the challenge would be questionable at best. The least appropriate type of appointment would be someone like George Graham unless appointed as mentor of one of the young coaches listed above.

However the most realistic and appropriate candidate may be plying his trade just a few miles down the road at Crystal Palace - should he fail to win the play-offs, I would be very comfortable with the appointment of Iain Dowie. He combines passion and intelligence, as well as a good record of performing with limited resources. Nigel Worthington falls into the same category, and his teams play great football.

In short, there is a rich pool of interesting candidates and I am excited about the future. I'm surprised that an intelligent man like Richard Murray would have publicly suggested so early that they are not considering a foreign manager given the success that most have achieved in this country. There are risks of course, but as Spurs fans will tell you, for every Christian Gross, there is a Martin Jol.

But before we think about the future, it's only appropriate to say 'thank you Curbs' for a wonderful fifteen years that made me so proud to say I'm a Charlton fan. That perhaps is the single greatest achievement of an honest, decent and successful man.


At 8:39 PM, Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

Gone before he was pushed? This has not been a great season...

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Good post. Curbs did hint to me in December that he might not be staying. Whoever we have as manager, I would exclude anyone from League 1 as the gap is too great in all sorts of ways - which is why the Parkinson rumours worry me.

At 5:59 AM, Blogger BC Addick said...

A Charlton legend has just left today. He deserves all the luck he can get and every success. My first game was against Sheffield Utd at Upton Park back in the early nineties in the 3rd round of the cup. Since thenhe has produced a team that have given me memories I will take to my grave. Thanks Curbs.

At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Stanley Anthony Onio said...

The problem with taking on one of the young managers you have named is that they will have little or no loyalty to Charlton.

If they fail the club will decline and if they are successful they will be recruited by a so-called bigger club who will wave a bigger pay cheque and a larger budget.

Do any other clubs run buses from maidstone to their home games? Manchester United perhaps?

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous David E Jacobs said...

Mick McCarthy has been present and seated with his son in the directors box, at the past two if not three home games. It might be that the both like watching football matches and that they live in Orpington too. As for options Phil Parkinson does not appeal to me but I have always thought that Iain Dowie could be a good one. Evidently Joe Royle has been given an ultimatum at Ipswich, 'get promoted next season or you are out', so perhaps he might just be up for jumping ship before he gets no choice too. Finally, will they promote from within? Curbs went out of his way yesterday to mention Steve Gritt's contribution to the success and survival story, and he made a point of lavishing great praise on Les Reed who is now back within the Valley fold, could Les Reed be the next manager?

At 3:19 PM, Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

If we're looking for loyalty, look no further than Keith Peacock. Of course, we may wish to have an injection of new blood completely.


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