Sunday, October 17, 2010

Parkinson's Disease

The knives are out for Phil Parkinson in a big way, and the sudden change in sentiment is really quite remarkable.

Unfortunately his team's timing could not have been worse.

Firstly he infuriates the most loyal of all (the fans that travel away), by sending out a team to be humiliated at Brentford, in front of a sizeable travelling support.

Then just two weeks later, his side are thumped 4-0 in front of the largest home crowd of the season, boosted by 3,000+ gloating Seagulls.

Before these two performances, about half the Addicks support were fond of Parky's honest approach, and were willing to acknowledge he had been forced to work in challenging circumstances for almost all of his two years at the helm.

The other half (which included me) also acknowledged the honesty, but could not see the value he added in terms of tactics, coaching and ideas.

Barring an extraordinary run of form on the pitch (which frankly has never looked likely), he was unlikely to ever be fully accepted by the faithful because of the unusual context in which he came into the role.

Brought in as the no.2 to the disastrous Pardew regime, he then embarked on an eight-match winless streak as caretaker boss, yet was still handed the role nonetheless.

Seen in this way, perhaps the speed with which sentiment has turned is not that remarkable after all?

I feel quite strongly that any talk of sacking him (or expecting him to resign) is rather pointless.

One has to ask too whether the clamour for his removal would have quite so strong had we 'only' lost 2-0 to Brighton. If not, then it seems rather daft to go through a managerial overhaul for the sake of two sloppy meaningless goals.

More worryingly by all accounts we were comprehensively outplayed by a side inspired to pursue a pure form of the passing game by Gus Poyet.

They're top of the table for a reason, although it's entirely reasonable to suggest that their resources are probably less than our own.

It's very possible that Gus Poyet is an outstanding manager in the making (as are numerous others dotted around the leagues), but the time to have appointed his ilk was two years ago. It's too late to be regretful now.

I guess that is really the saddest thing about our plight, a plight which could look very much worse after the next four difficult looking games (bottom three anyone?).

There were a number of potentially very interesting managers who would have come from outside and shaken the club up, but instead we opted for the lowest-risk option.

My biggest frustration with Parky frankly is the apparent lack of any overriding footballing philosophy.

Admittedly I've probably only seen a dozen or so games under this stewardship, but I honestly have no idea what style we play.

I thought it was 'high tempo', but I'm really not too sure because the likes of Reid, Martin, Racon and Wagstaff would be far better-suited to a slower game.

If we are a passing side then we utilise the long ball too often, whilst the midfield blend is all wrong.

In all seriousness, it may be an opportune time via the website for Parky to take the time to explain exactly how he is trying to build a promotion side this season.

That must be the nice thing about being a Brighton fan right now. Even when the team loses (which it will soon no doubt), at least they can walk away from the stadium saying "Well, you could see what we were trying to do."

If one believes that Parky is ultimately not adding much value over and above what would reasonably be expected from his playing squad, then the question becomes, "Are the players good enough to earn promotion?"

I have tended to err on the side of 'yes', maybe because I wear rose-tinted glasses, but also because I genuinely believe it when I look at the players at his disposal.

If I'm right, then the case against Parky is really quite damning and becoming ever more so since the squad is now virtually entirely of his own making.

So why am I not yet calling for his head? Because I'm far from convinced that there is any realistic alternative that is both financially viable, and where the likelihood of success (ie. promotion within two seasons say) is virtually guaranteed to be higher.

Once again, I reiterate that the likes of Sean O'Driscoll, Gary Johnson, Nigel Adkins, Billy Davies and Steve Cotterill are no longer in our candidate universe, although each would have been firmly there two years ago.

We would be left with out-of-work managers demanding high wages (Sanchez, Ince, Hoddle etc.), or promising managers at smaller clubs where frankly their recruitment, assuming we could afford it, would be as much of a gamble as staying loyal to Parkinson is (eg. Tisdale, Howe etc.).

And can we please put to bed any talk of appointing the likes of Chris Powell or Paolo Di Canio? It'd be like emerging from the pain of a divorce, and trying to track down your sixth form sweetheart.

There's no denying that the past four seasons have been an unmitigated disaster, and the evidence is increasingly building that the entire success of the 1998-2007 period was down to just one man (who incidentally remains jobless!).

But before anyone else clamours on board the 'Parkinson Out' bandwagon, I ask you to consider just two quick questions.

Firstly, would the club currently be higher than 14th in League One if we'd stayed loyal to Iain Dowie throughout?

And secondly, would the club currently be higher than 14th in League One if we'd stayed loyal to Alan Pardew throughout?

I'm confident the answer to both would be 'yes' (particularly in the Dowie case), yet both sackings were entirely justified based upon the knowledge that fans are privy to. The easy decision is the sacking; the hard one is the new appointment.

Given the squad is now Parkinson's, any new manager would have to be materially better to justify such a decision.

After all we are already a quarter of the way through a season, where we may soon conclude that merely avoiding relegation is a short-term goal.

Don't get me wrong, I find Parkinson to be a most uninspiring manager but the club is 14th in League One for many reasons, most of which do not lie at his door.

Indeed at the time of his permanent appointment, I wrote: "Good luck Phil, you'll definitely need some", so horrified was I at the "..befuddlement that masquerades as calm decision-making by the club's Board."

Depressingly I think it's time to take some deep breaths and be realistic.


At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parkinson's permanent appointment after a disastrous spell as caretaker sums up the sheer ineptness of Murray's regime.

It was obviously a done deal from the start despite being presented as a trial and as such Murray ended up looking a prize chump without even the expected dead cat bounce to spare his blushes.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post and I'd agree with almost all of it.

The Brighton result was not a good one. A 2-0 loss would have been fair and a "bad day at the office" turned it into 4-0. We're not as good a team as some fans think we are and so unrealistic expectations kick in. Likewise unrealistic expectations about getting rid of Parky and a) getting someone better and b) getting someone who will somehow make us better.

But I don't think most teams have a "style of play" that you allude to. Sure, it's easy to see what Brighton's style is, but they're the exception. We are a passing team as opposed to a hoof it forward team but that's about all you can say - but that's more than you can say about many other teams in many other divisions.

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should think the most obvious ( though not necessarily successful)thing to do will be to appoint Christian Dailly as 'player manager'
watch this space

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday was dire beyond words. We were lucky it was 4-0. A couple more and I would not have complained.
One swallow does not make a summer and one bad result shouldn't prompt a sacking. However I believe this time is an exception. To begin with the football has been dire for some time. We have however kept a top half position because we have scrapped draws or narrow wins. We have done so in spite of being outplayed for long periods by 'lesser' teams. Yesterday was significant because Brighton demolished every illusion we might have had about getting out of League 1 (unless its another relegation). The Parkinson regime could be allowed to fester on but what would be the point, it will be more of the same tired, one paced and unimaginative football produced largely by Parky's journeymen. If we're going to hell in a handcart lets do so with a smile on our faces.

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't help that we have in our squad the most inept bunch of strikers I have ever seen. How many chances did we miss before Brighton went ahead? I am going to give Benson the benefit of the doubt as we have been told that he like balls into the box but we keep hoofing it in the air. Too many times he has to go looking for the ball out wide. What also worries me is the damage being done off the pitch as well because the crowds are haemorhagging. I am a season ticket holder and travel 85 miles to see a home game but I am getting to the point when I will be striking the evening kick offs off the list. The journey has always been a nightmare at night and it is too much to bear to watch what we are churning out at the moment. Never mind Target 40000it won't be long before we need to resurrect Target 10000. You imply we cannot afford to get rid of Parkinson, but in the long term can we afford not to? Look on the bright side though, we're doing OK in the Paint Pot. Relegation and a trophy anyone?

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Excellent post. If you bring in a new manager, he will have to make what he can of Parkinson's players because he will have very little money. If there has to be a change it should be someone with no Charlton connections of any sort.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

I think the 'clamour' for Parkinson’s head has been increased due to the score, but I actually think it has been under the surface for a while. In the four games against the bottom four we have managed five points out of a possible twelve. Ignoring the Bournemouth game, which was their first in this division etc. Oldham are the highest placed team we have managed to score any points against, and we drew at home to them. We haven’t beaten any of the top ten.

With this in mind Saturday was a test of our progress as much as it was of out aspirations. Indeed, there were two sloppy goals, but I went to the game believing that we would lose 3-1 but I harboured hopes that I would be proved wrong and we would give that performance that we have been promised in successive press conferences this season by Parkinson.

At no point did I see anything that made me believe that my hope would be justified. In my view Brighton are a limited team, they just had confidence and enthusiasm and that was more than enough to cope with us. In the end the game was easy for them. They didn’t ever look like losing their lead once they went 1-0 in front, and at 2-0 it was a walk in the park for them. I can understand out boys giving up, and the forth goal, for sure, was because of that. However, we have won at least two games at home this season when we had no right to. I don’t remember seeing us lose (or draw) a game and believe that we deserved better, despite the fact that I keep hearing it from games I’ve not been at.

So the 4-0 result is the result. It’s not like we deserved anything more, and we probably got exactly what we deserved on the day. Sure that affects emotions, and it becomes a fact of history that I (like many others) have now been witness to seeing Charlton lose by four goals at home in the third division.

The damning evidence of the day, however, was that after eleven league games (before this one) we have failed to mould these players into a team. We still look like we need ten games to gel. As you say NYA, Parkinson just seems to be unable to shape those players into a decent team. We need to remember that he has had more resources at his disposal than moat of the other managers in this division. None of the teams at this level (save for the odd incident) have money to spend on transfers; we have actually spent over £300k. The big difference is in the wages that we can pay. The wage bill is £4m, £m without the three big earners. Give three quarters of this division a £3m wage bill budget and their manager would be doing cart wheels in car park.


At 11:03 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...


The time has come, I believe, for us to accept that this manager with this team (that he has built) is not going to make the top two this season. If that is the case we need to make a decision about the future. You talk of a new manager potentially not being able to win promotion next season. If we fail to go up this season we will see carnage to the squad in the summer. I’m not sure we have any players of any value on more than a one year deal, so we would have nothing to sell. This ultimately means that someone has got to come in and bankroll the club for another season, or longer. I’m not sure there is any more money out there available to be ‘spent’ on bankrolling a dying third division club.

Thus a decision needs to be made now as to what we (Murray) consider(s) to be an acceptable future.

Sadly, if I believed the club could be financially self-sufficient in this division I’d be more than happy to commit to watching them in it, but relegation from the Premier League took away all those big name teams and players from strutting their stuff at The Valley. Relegation from the Championship took away most (if not all) aspirations of ever getting back to the Premier League (and surviving there). Relegation (or failing to get promoted) from the third division could mean the end of the club. It will certainly make administration more likely if not inevitable.

It may well be that Parkinson will secure promotion for us this season, or be given another year and do so then, but if we really do have no way of financing the club next season without promotion then it might be worth trying someone else. I believe this is why the clamour for him to be sacked has started up again.

Wyn, your comment about a new man having to work with Parkinson’s players is interesting. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard that Parkinson built that Hull team that won promotion to the Premier League, the same team that he couldn’t get out of the bottom three. Maybe he is really good at signing players, and not so good at managing them.

For the record, I’m not demanding that Parkinson is sacked, nor am I demanding that he stays. I’m not even demanding that we are promoted this season. I’m just demanding that we still have a club to support when my Son grows up. How Murray and/or Parkinson go about that is their business, but anything less is totally unacceptable.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Floyd said...

NYA - plenty of good erstwhile comments already BUT none try to answer the question you pose - that is, how are CAFC trying to play under Parky. I think the answer is the worst possible. The team are playing a low risk game, how do we negate any playing potential of the opposition.

The problem with this is that at best it results in draws, of which we have too many. When it goes wrong it means we lose (heavily, as evidenced on Saturday). When it goes right we have a fairly mundane win which will be either 2-1 or 1-0.

All of this adds up to pretty boring stuff. Alright - we might have some exciting passages of play ( 3 goals in 7 minutes at Shrewsbury) but these passages of play are purely short lived and often eclisped (4 goals at Shrewsbury).

And that I think is pretty poor stuff to have to admit to. I advocate a game that plays to our strengths and ambitions (if we have them, surely Parky knows) - this would dictate formation, strategy and plan B alternatives. All seemigly missing.

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

A few more thoughts following the comments above:

- Dailly would be an obvious short-term cheap choice, but does he even have management aspirations, and moreover on what basis could one conclude he'd be any better than PP?

- As I suggested in my match preview, our fixtures had been relatively easy until now so I agree with the comment about Saturday's result 'demolishing the illusion' that we were promotion material.

- In terms of struggling to detect a consistent 'style of play', I accept that with the exception of teams at the extreme ends of the spectrum (eg. Doncaster/Arsenal/Brighton at the passing end, and Stoke/Colchester/Coventry at the long-ball end), then yes it is sometimes difficult to discern. However regular watchers of teams should at least be able to see what has been worked on in training, and detect gradual individual and team improvement. Curbishley's teams for example were consistently solid in defence, narrow in midfield (but with full-backs encouraged to overlap on the outside), and with one central midfielder expected to break from deep. The ball was frequently played forward early, but with a greater degree of quality than exhibited by Parky's sides, and with players like Mendonca and Hunt who could use it productively when played into feet. Obviously it didn't work every week, but over time it became a winning formula because we stuck at it, and more importantly the players were coached and generally improved too.

- An alternative way of expressing the above frustration is to ask why virtually every team we have played this season look more comfortable on the ball than we do. Again this all comes down to confidence and coaching (with the latter leading to the former).

At 11:10 PM, Blogger southdownscounselling said...

I was there on Saturday, as I am most home games. I was sceptical about Parky's appointment at the time, but willing to see the financial sense of it. What I thought was ridiculous was giving him a year's extension half way through last season. Murray should have said, 'get us up, and you'll be rewarded then.' We now find ourselves with a lame duck manager, we can't afford to get rid of, and a team that few others would be happy working with.
For the record, our style of play is to play it long and high. There is no expectation that the front two will win it, but the midfield are 'instructed' to pick up on the second ball as it is nodded back by the opposition centre halves. It is at that point that the wide men are supposed to be bought into play, and get the crosses in. That is the plan, but here's the does not work, and we have no plan B.
I am in a state of grief. I am mourning the slow death of my football club, and the powerlessness that I feel generally, overcame me like an avalanche as I watched us crumble against a decent Brighton side. (Exaggerated by their fantastic supporters) Sometimes in life there are no answers, and I think this is one of those times. Parky needs to go, without doubt, but there is no viable alternative. Like I answer. The grieving process begins with shock, then anger, followed by depression. The end of the process is acceptance. As I write I am stuck in depression.
Does anyone fancy a beer?


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