Friday, May 05, 2006

And Now, The End is Near

The decision to give Charlton fans the chance to say 'thanks' more formally to Curbs was a nice touch in keeping with the way the club likes to do things.

Perhaps the ovation awarded him at the Valley was a little muted given the surprise factor. Now that we've all had a week to let the news set in, I'm sure the hardy travelling fans at Old Trafford will let him know how grateful we are for fifteen years of loyal service.

There has been some consternation on the message boards about the number of fans who left early last Saturday and thus failed to stay behind to give Curbs a fitting tribute. I think they should save their ire for the Premier League who decided that 5.15pm kick-offs on a Saturday were appropriate. It's only by leaving banks of empty seats (as fans no doubt rush back to fulfil social engagements) that they might begin to stop pandering to their satellite deity. However in light of today's announcement of the new TV deal, there is little hope for optimism.

Setanta is probably known best for its coverage of obscure Irish sport, but now it has to be taken seriously as a big-time player. However the company is certainly well-known on this side of the Atlantic, and probably not too fondly by pub landlords. Anyone who has tried to watch a Saturday 3pm game or a Sunday game in a US pub has probably had some choice words to say to the doorman collecting $20 per person for the priviledge. However the pub keeps little if any of the entry fee - the remainder goes straight into the hands of Setanta who claim they need the extra income in light of the lack of advertising interest in English soccer. It sounds like a racket and to some extents it is - one landlord used the word 'mafia' to describe the company.

Enough about Setanta, Curbs will lead his team out for the final time on Sunday against a team he has failed to register a win against. Given we have beaten each of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea on more than one occasion, it's an unfortunate statistic and there can be no better time to put it to rest.

This week has seen an outpouring of gratitude and affection towards Curbs, whose relationship with the fans has been more one of cold admiration rather than passionate love. I suppose in many ways we've taken him for granted and only time will tell if we'll regret his departure.

The search for a new manager has begun in earnest, and although my own application is making its way across the Atlantic, I'm realistic enough to know the club will probably look elsewhere. Some of the names we have been linked with have been realistic (Coppell, Parkinson, Burley), others have been terrifying (Hoddle) and some have been plain preposterous, much to my chagrin (O'Neill).

The decision is mainly art not science, and hence laying down some simple rules would aid the process. In my view, the new manager must be an intelligent thoughtful man and not simply a former player trading on his reputation. He should view a move to Charlton as a dream move not a stepping stone to a better role. And most importantly he should have the ability to shake up the club with new ideas from the bottom up, beginning at youth level.

There are risks of course in appointing a manager unproven at Premier League level, but how can they prove themselves if smaller clubs like us don't take a chance on them? All four of the managers contesting the Championship play-offs have plenty of attractive qualities and the three losers will surely have one eye on the Charlton post.

It is worth remembering that most of those managers touted for the England job served their apprenticeships at lower-league clubs, most notably Martin O'Neill at Grantham Town and Sam Allardyce at Limerick. The key surely is to ensure candidates are interviewed intensely and referenced properly.

The search begins on Monday - in the meantime let's give Curbs a memorable send-off and put our most disappointing season for years behind us.


At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey NYA,

Slightly off topic but with the Luke Young rumours about his possible departure to West Ham getting more frequent do you think that this has perhaps knocked the wind out of Curbs and dented his enthusiam for the job ?

I mean in 2003 we had a good team and after seeing Parker leave then Jensen it sounds to me that he wanted to give it another go at rebuilding the team etc.

With the current team falling apart during the season with Murphy and Smertin's departure the cynical part of me thinks that perhaps this Luke Young rumour mill perhaps does have some substance - ie If Curbs knows that Youngy is to leave he must be thinking to himself what has he got to do to make players stay.

How many times can a man be asked to rebuild his castle ?

Like I said its just the cynical part of me thinking hmmm ?

I wish Curbs the best whatever he ends up doing.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

It was interesting that Curbs actually mentioned keeping Young at the club in an interview this week.

I have it on good authority that he will move to West Ham in the summer.


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