Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Free Parking

"As there can be no further changes to the playing squad until the transfer window opens on January is our view to give Phil a run up until the end of the year when there will be a strategic review of the position." (Richard Murray, 12 Dec 2008)

"With 20 matches remaining this season, we were aware that time was an issue, particularly with the January transfer window opening on Thursday." (Richard Murray, 31 Dec 2008)

The befuddlement that now masquerades as calm decision-making by the club's Board, is most aptly summed up by the ridiculous inconsistencies in the above two quotes just three weeks apart.

The reason why there is now a time issue (as this blog and others have made clear), is because the club seemingly inexplicably declared that the last three weeks were somehow a vacuum in which nothing positive could be achieved.

Infact they were nothing of the sort, and now four more games have passed without a victory, and valuable time that a new manager from outside could have used has been wasted.

Of course as is now patently clear, none of this is actually relevant and the fans have been led on, effectively lied to in my view.

Reading between the lines, Parkinson was always going to get the role full-time because financial considerations demanded it, or so they claim.

However in order to placate fans, one imagines the Board desperately hoped to be making today's announcement, on the back of marked improvements in results (perhaps presuming they couldn't get any worse, which they have).

Thus the official website absurdly claims that, "...(Parkinson) has presided over a marked improvement in performances, although this has not been reflected by results."

The neat symmetry of our 16-game winless run (8 under Pards, 8 under Parky) challenges this dogmatic assumption, since each has presided over precisely 3 draws and 5 defeats.

The last-minute heartbreak at home to Derby, was exactly comparable with similar bad fortune at Plymouth under Pards. The supposedly excellent first-half performance at Sheffield United, was matched by all accounts by the one at Birmingham.

And to be fair to Pards (in a relative sense only of course), two of his three draws came on the road. In short, we've been utterly dire since the win over Ipswich on 4 Oct, and there's been no improvement whatsoever under Parky.

I do not particularly blame Parky for failing to achieve any improvement, but would prefer that the club did not patronise fans in this manner.

Those that would tend to defend today's announcement would surely point to the financial reality of our situation. However that undoubted reality is not merely coincidental with the poor decisions that preceded it, but infact is a direct consequence thereof.

As a result, Derek Chappell's assertion that, "...we firmly believe the cash that is available needs to be used on the pitch...", is a mere continuation of this same poor decision-making, a trend which began the day Alan Curbishley left the club.

Since relegation in 2007, a total of 30 players** have walked through the doors of the club, and still they claim they need more, as if all of these transfer fees, agents fees and salaries have no financial impact either!

In a matter of just days, Parky himself managed to snap up three more loans. Who is accountable for all of this and why is it being allowed to persist, when a clear alternative exists?

Anyhow, we have no choice but to go along with today's decision as much as it confuses and frustrates me.

But equally, let's not let the Board escape from the fact that we now have a manager whose Championship record with Hull and Charlton reads as follows: P29 W4 D8 L17 Pts 20.

Scant evidence therefore to back up the, "...overwhelming feeling...that Phil was the best man to lead us and rescue us from our current plight."

If however he presides over a startling reversal of form then all credit to the Board for spotting his potential, but why was he not installed permanently the moment Pardew was jettisoned?

In the event that such a reversal does not very clearly manifest (which remains frankly the most likely outcome), then I fear that things could get very ugly from here.

If relegation were to be effectively assured by say Easter, then season ticket renewal forms will be landing on doormats, coincidental with a severe recession. Hardly an ideal time for the relationship between fans and Board to hit a 20-year low. The club entering administration must be considered a clear possibility too.

The Board are making an enormous and wholly unnecessary bet therefore, on Parkinson's ability to turn this season around. Moreover had the bet been made much more clearly eight games ago, then most fans would have better understood the rationale, and thus been more supportive of him today.

If this belated bet is ultimately lost therefore, then where will it leave the club in the summer? In League One either with a manager the fans are not supportive of, or in need of yet another managerial replacement which should be taking place now.

A more thoughtful approach would have identified a bright manager with long-term ideas, whilst accepting the reality of likely relegation (but not assuming it).

Most fans would rather see a manager begin to add value to the squad that we already have, rather than tinker yet again in the transfer market. Given our current situation, that manager is more likely to have come from outside.

I have tended on this blog to steer away from the view that our fabulous 1997-2006 success was owed mainly (or exclusively) to the managerial skills of Alan Curbishley.

Instead I have preferred to point to a more holistic approach that emphasised the long-term planning and patience especially of the likes of Murray and Peter Varney.

Unfortunately this view must now surely be challenged. From the structure created around Dowie to the money wasted on transfers, and from the Les Reed 'permanent head coach' fiasco to the fuzzy managerial thinking today, an enormous amount of hard work and development is being unravelled.

I think that any fan would be hard pressed to understand who exactly was pulling the strings at Charlton these days, with each of Murray, Chappell and Steve Waggott quoted following today's announcement.

With Chappell the new monied boy on the block, Murray the proud elder statesman, and Waggott likely still smarting from his spectacular internal promotion, it is not difficult to imagine why we are receiving such mixed messages about the future of the club, when previously there was clarity.

Fans' love for the club is non-negotiable, but our optimism for its future is inherently wrapped up in the decisions the Board makes on our behalf.

For so many years those decisions have typically been the 'right' ones, and thus our expectations have been ratcheted up accordingly. We unfairly began to take those decisions for granted, and that's probably the saddest part of it all.

Good luck Phil, you'll definitely need some.

**(in no particular order) Varney, Iwelumo, McCarthy, Semedo, Moutaouakil, Sinclair D, Weaver, Todorov, McLeod, Fleetwood, Sodje, Mills, Sinclair S, Cook, Halford, Lita, Racon, Hudson, Zheng, Powell, McEveley, Gillespie, Burton, Gray, Cranie, Waghorn, Dickson, Bailey, Bouazza, Christensen.


At 12:53 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

NYA, having met you and read your blog for many months I would suggest that you judge the Board assuming they have your intelligence and education. I suspect they, on the whole, have neither.

I sudpect that their grasp of economics and financial matters outside of their own areas or expertise are so limited that I doubt they even understand some of your posts, let alone take head of them.

Happy New Year NYA. I wish the year end found us in better circumstances, but at least we cannot get any lower until May.

Up the Addicks!

At 2:02 AM, Anonymous sillav nitram said...

quite cleary, as you say, the board have shown a total lack of understanding in this business and towards the fans. they have very openly patronised us as children or imbeciles. and i'm much more of the opinion, after the installing of parky fiasco, that the success achieved under the curbishley, murray and varney regime had nothing to do with tactical awareness or acumen but was simply down to the alignment of the planets.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

Brilliant synopsis NYA. I make you right, the board may think about it.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Dave Peeps said...

NYA - agree fully. Whilst none of this soul-searching helps, I think we are entitled to challenge here. Not only do I also find myself re-adjusting my Curbishley view on a weekly basis, but the Chappell change looks increasingly sinister to me. That sickly palour and history of running old folks homes makes me uncomfortable. It's as if the Grim Reaper has moved in.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we want to spend money 'on the pitch' then surely an obvious saving is to sack Waggott, who clearly is no Peter Varney? As for a payoff, the last four weeks is evidence of incompetence that makes it unnecessary.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous RDH said...

happy new year! To save even more money it would have been better not to have sacked Pards - having spoken to Parky on many occasions this season and last it is blindingly obvious that he shares very similar views to his predecessor.
This decision is obvious monetary, but why do we waste so much on loan signings??
I appreciate what certain members of the board have done for the club in the past but that doesnt give them the right to go about making decisions unquestioned.
I disagree with the continual belief from management and board that we need yet more players - the ones we have are more than capable of getting us out of this mess if given a chance
What signal does it send to our own (owned) players when regardless how hard they try and how well they play the club will bring in a bog standard loan player in their position the minute they make a mistake (think Yassin, Basey, Dickson)
I feels strange saying this as I am usually quick to blame players when things go wrong but our predicament has come about due to mismanagement more than anything else

At 12:14 PM, Blogger mikewoodhouse said...

Up to a couple of years ago the Board had appointed one manager and, by and large, he was a good appointment. It's looking increasingly like they just got lucky and are now learning that identifying and obtaining a good 'un is rather trickier than they may have been telling themselves for 16 or 17 years...

I really don't see that money is going to fix anything. Offload the loan players, who aren't adding anything and pick a team and a system (preferably complementary ones). Try hard to ensure the players understand what's required of them and stick to it till the end of the season with fingers crossed. Accept that we may go down as a consequence not of what happens in the next 6 months, but of the failures of the past 30.


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