Just as I was relaxing on the golf course trying to take my mind off all matters Charlton, a Spurs-supporting 'buddy' confirmed via text message not one but two pieces of good news: Reed Out, Pardew In.
The 'Reed Out' aspect should have been irrelevant because it should never have been 'Reed In' on anything other than a caretaker basis. The damage done to our Premiership survival hopes and our Carling Cup campaign are sadly both severe and irreversible. The three-year contract he was awarded, and the Board's constant public support of a 'head coach' whose position became untenable after the Liverpool game if not before, remain mysteries that they should not be allowed to wriggle out of explaining to us.
The very poor results, the disspirited displays and the rapid deterioration in individual performances (Bent, Faye, El Karkouri etc..) were not down to Iain Dowie, regardless of how the Board sought to spin it and 99% of the fans knew it too. Perhaps sensing a potential riot at the Valley on Wednesday night, they finally saw sense.
I did not gain any pleasure out of constantly berating and belittling Les Reed during recent weeks but as a blogger who cares dearly about the club, I felt duty bound to press home the stupidity of his appointment. Indeed Reed is now left as a clear victim of the shambles that the club has become in the 43 days since Dowie left.
Reed did not create the club's 'structure', nor if Peter Varney is to be believed did he help to push Dowie aside, but for six weeks he became the club's figurehead and at least we need cringe no longer. He remains a 'nice bloke' and a Charlton fan, albeit one who not only should never have been appointed, but maybe should have turned down the offer. Had he done so, he may still have had a future at the club under Pardew, but alas I hope he finds a new role in football and I wish him well.
The future is now in Alan Pardew's hands just thirteen days after his dismissal as West Ham manager, and reassuringly a three-and-a-half year contract suggests this is more than a short-term last throw of the Premiership dice. When he was dismissed on Dec 11th, I was not alone in pleading with the club to at least explore the possibility of his appointment, suggesting not to do so would be an abdication of responsibility. Thankfully it seems Murray et al have less in common with Edward VIII than I had been fearing.
I am delighted that Pardew is onboard of course, though the speed of the announcement came as an enormous surprise. Indeed the announcement came so fast that conspiracy theorists might wonder whether the pro-Reed sentiments from the club this week were all a smokescreen, whilst they frantically negotiated behind the scenes. If so, their pronouncements would have been both unnecessary as well as unfair to Reed, which is why I infact suspect that another dire display at 'Boro was the final straw that forced the Board to move extra quickly to secure Pardew.
Pardew's reputation largely remained intact despite his West Ham dismissal and he would not have been short of other tempting offers had he waited. Hence it is likely he has been offered not only an enticing financial package by Charlton, but surely also various assurances over the January transfer kitty and the future of out-of-form Darren Bent. It will be interesting too to learn of the fates of Mark Robson, Mark Kinsella and Andrew Mills who one suspects might not be part of Pardew's plans for the club.
We should not expect miracles, and our January wheeling and dealing should still be undertaken with the expectation of Championship football next season. We could well need 30 points from the second half of the season, a tall order for any middling Premiership club let alone one that lacks confidence and an away win since Oct 2005. Any 'big name' signings should be free and on short-term contracts (Teddy Sheringham anyone?), whilst the focus should be on young British players upon whom a promotion campaign could be built. This may sound defeatist but how much worse can it realistically get?
After seven tumultuous months since Alan Curbishley left, it was inevitable perhaps that our longstanding former manager would retain a bit-part in the footballing soap opera that now sees his namesake Pardew at the Valley. The strange events at West Ham that began with the mysterious signings of the two Argentinians, and ended in Pardew's dismissal may ironically have handed Charlton an outstanding opportunity to properly begin the post-Curbs reconstruction, albeit from a weaker position than desirable thanks to the succession of Board-level mistakes.
Pardew's managerial record is short but very impressive, initially taking Reading to promotion from the old Division Two and straight to the play-offs the following season. He joined West Ham in Sep 2003 and although many will recall the perceived difficulties he initially had there, in reality he took them to the play-off final in both 2004 and 2005, and having won promotion, secured them 9th place last season and an FA Cup final berth. He was only an average player but he totted up 202 appearances for the Addicks, and ought to be raucously welcomed back as 'one of our own' on Wednesday night.
We are lucky to have Pardew and I suppose having spent the past six weeks berating the Board, we ought to congratulate them on securing him because let's face it, it probably wasn't an 'easy sell'. Although we'll probably still go down, right now it feels like the only way is up.