Friday, January 28, 2011

Dale Win-Ton?

Charlton last met Rochdale in League action during the season of my birth in 1973/74, although an FA Cup tie in 2005 was considerably more recent.

Goals from Hughes (2), Fortune and Murphy sealed a comfortable 4-1 win, although not before Grant Holt would signal his potential with a goal to claw the score back to 2-1.

Located within 20 miles of Man United, Man City and Bolton, 'the Dale' have been one of the Football League's stalwart lower league clubs, winning promotion last season after a 41-year wait.

The steady advancement under quirky manager Keith Hill and assistant David Flitcroft has no doubt been noted by many club Chairmen.

However there is little to suggest yet that League One represents the pinnacle of their ambitions with Rochdale, despite operating with the resources generated by average crowds below 4,000.

They sit just two points behind the Addicks, a tremendous achievement given the massive gulf in resources, and (as always appears to be the case these days) will leapfrog Charlton with a win.

Unbeaten since 10th Dec and enjoying the fruits of three away wins on the spin, they will not lack confidence despite facing an Addicks side buoyed by Chris Powell's lively introduction.

Powell will be relieved to have begun with a scrappy win, whilst the arrival of Bradley Wright-Phillips signals promotion intent, despite arguably creating more questions than answers.

With the strikers at his disposal now totalling seven (if one includes Scott Wagstaff), it is not clear how he will juggle his pack and keep them all happy.

It seems Akpo Sodje's imminent departure will make the problem slightly easier, although the loss of the big striker removes his ability to utilise pure brute force if a physical encounter demands it.

We were in far greater need of a creative ball-playing midfielder and/or a pacy defender than a striker, 41 goals in 24 games suggesting scoring has not been problematic.

Obviously if Powell gets his wish in these areas too, then there will be considerable expectation on his shoulders to deliver at least play-offs this season.

With the addition too of the pacy Nathan Eccleston, the squad would be markedly stronger than the one Parky had available to him, and any comparision of the two managers should acknowledge this.

Away from onfield matters, the club has finally found religion on ticket pricing, announcing that all tickets for the Exeter game will be just a fiver.

Perhaps the disappointing boost in attendance at the Plymouth game made them realise (as I predicted) that Powell's arrival alone would not fill many empty seats.

As I wrote in detail in 2009 (and have subsequently mentioned more recently), the club had lacked imagination in its ticketing policies, pandering too much to season ticket holders, so this is certainly a welcome move in the right direction.

Perhaps the new Board read my blog?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Plymouth Brethren

"He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!" (Life of Brian)

The Messiah has returned, or at least a popular capable left-back turned inexperienced coach.

Unfortunately I won't be present for the Second Coming (or is it the Fourth?).

Instead I will be in Florida, ironically staying at the exact same resort where I learned that Alan Pardew had taken over in Dec 2006.

There was a sense of optimism then (although perhaps not the blind devotion we observe now), so perhaps my cynicism about Powell's appointment is a case of 'once bitten'.

A thought occurred to me earlier this week. At the start of 2009/10, there were four 'big' clubs in League One (us, Leeds, Norwich and Southampton).

Leeds had appointed an up-and-coming manager (with impressive results at 'smaller' clubs) six months earlier, Norwich did so just weeks into the season whilst Southampton waited until this season to do so.

Each is very clearly reaping the benefits of this forward-looking approach, yet according to many Charlton fans it was too big a risk for us.

Instead our new owners have confused running a football club with winning a popularity contest, and appointed someone whose only relevant credentials are being a nice chap and a former Addick.

Charlton fans have an almost mawkish sense that somehow we are a different club operating with different values. The 'Charlton way' is a phrase oft-used.

This concept had value during the wilderness years, but at some point (roughly May 1998), we became a normal football club again.

The need for this nice touchy-feely feeling of togetherness continues to pass me by.

It seems people are extrapolating from a couple of bad eggs (Dowie/Pardew) and a mediocre manager (Parkinson) that the only solution was to find the next Curbs (ie. inexperienced but aware of the 'Charlton way').

Coincidentally our nemesis on the day we became a normal club again, will be in the opposition dugout again on Saturday.

Peter Reid's side have struggled yet will leapfrog us with a win, emphasising how compressed the division is.

He will however be without League One's top scorer Bradley Wright-Philips, injury-prone but linked to us in the window.

Powell will likely hand Nathan Eccleston a start, adding some pace alongside Joe Anyinsah's strength.

At the back our woeful lack of aforementioned pace will be observable again, whilst it will be interesting to see how long one fan's favourite (Powell) will take to recognise the obvious shortcomings of another (Semedo).

Three points from the Brighton, Colchester and Sheff Weds games was an abysmal return given four penalties and two early opposition red cards.

The post-Sheffield view that "I'd have taken a point before the game", is somewhat irrelevant because six minutes into it, one most certainly wouldn't have.

There's much work to be done, and I wish Sir Chris well.

I just ask fans and the Board not to judge him any differently based on his playing history. The club is bigger than that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sheffield Steel

"Faith means not wanting to know what is true"(Frederick Nietzsche)

I'm not a religious person. Perhaps if I was more inclined to have faith, I'd find it easier to join in with the mass Chris Powell love-in taking place.

Having read several reasoned views over the past couple of days, I'm beginning to understand why the Board has made the appointment, although I don't agree with it.

Some revelations in Powell's first interview were somewhat startling, not least the fact that one can win a 3 1/2 year contract on the basis of an hour and a quarter's interview. They must have gone into a lot of depth.

I think we spent more time interviewing our babysitter, and we only employ her on an hourly basis.

It's pretty clear to me on the basis of their first two weeks that there is neither big money behind the new owners, nor was there ever a grand plan in place.

Two very big key decisions have been made on the hoof, and whilst I agreed with the sacking of Parkinson, they've taken an enormous and unnecessary risk with Powell.

Of course it might work out fabulously well, but one must accept the risk of a very bad outcome is higher than it would be with a more experienced manager.

Given our current situation (6th in League One and falling), we should have been taking steps to 'cut off the left tail' as a statistician might say (render the worst-case scenarios extremely unlikely).

Despite my obvious reservations, naturally I wish him all the best because I loved him like everyone else as a player, and want Charlton to succeed.

Anyhow, he won't be in charge at Hillsborough tomorrow for a game that ironically might have a very serious bearing on our chances of promotion.

A win for either Colchester or Exeter tonight could see us begin the game outside the top six, whilst the Owls would leapfrog us too with a home win.

The best away scoring record comes up against the best home defensive record (spearheaded by ex-Addick Nicky Weaver), so an interesting game is in store.

Young Liverpool starlet Nathan Eccleston is available, although the impressive way Joe Anyinsah led the line at Spurs suggests Keith Peacock might opt again for 4-5-1 with the loanee on the bench.

During a week that has had me questioning sanity in football circles, one wonders what type of club (Liverpool) agrees to loan one of its most promising prospects without a recall clause (Eccleston) to a club without a manager (Charlton). It's lucky we didn't recruit Roy Hodgson.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Asylum Seekers

It seems the lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

Given that both the Daily Mail and Sky reported Eddie Howe was about to be confirmed boss on Tuesday, the latest rumours about Chris Powell may be more of the same.

If not however, it is simply not possible for Chris Powell to be the best available candidate, and remember only judge a decision at the time it's made.

If we couldn't persuade Howe to come, then we should've been begging the likes of O'Driscoll, Tisdale, or Hill to have an interview.

Proven records in the lower leagues with no money, attractive passing football, and strong personalities.

What's not to like? (except their playing careers happened not to include spells in SE7)

Or if those don't appeal, then a proper search of the out-of-work candidates (including Gary Johnson) should have been conducted.

One look at the League table tells me this is not the time to be falling for populism. Indeed I seem to be the only one thinking about a possible relegation battle if results don't quickly pick up.

I don't want sentiment, I want Championship and eventually Premiership football, preferably in my lifetime.

Powell may well have great potential (who am I to know?), but he will only have been appointed due to his Charlton connections.

After all, by comparison imagine the uproar if we appointed another random inexperienced first team Championship coach.

So to what extent should the fact that he is a (rightly lauded) Addicks hero matter?

It will ensure some initial supporter euphoria of course (judging by the message boards), but this is only relevant if it rubs off on the players and lifts their performances.

By comparison, although he wasn't manager of course, was Mark Kinsella any less of a hero than Powell was?

Yet last week he was tossed on the scrapheap and written off as a busted coaching flush, without fans losing a wink of sleep. So much for sentiment.

Meanwhile if Slater et al thinks this will be a cheap way to boost attendances, he may be disappointed in any more than the very short-term.

Ask yourself really how many extra fans will attend the next home game as a result of Powell's appointment.....1,000 realistically? 2,000 maximum? And how many extra will attend the next one?

Many of the fans who worshipped Powell in the Premiership years have drifted away for good. A fixture against Exeter is hardly going to get them rushing back, regardless of who's in charge.

Of course Sir Chris is a wonderfully charismatic and respected figure, but how many truly great managers would you want to go for a beer with? "Tell us another Sir Alex."

To be fair, the likes of Ian Holloway might actually tell a few good jokes, but I certainly wouldn't want to cross him.

One can point to as many former playing heroes who successfully transitioned to managing the club where they made their name (Dalglish, Allardyce), as those who didn't (Hoddle, Shearer, Souness, Pearce).

In other words there's no evidence whatsoever that being a fans favourite on the pitch made the slightest difference either way. It shouldn't even be a factor.

Indeed I can only rationalise this apparent madness as follows.

Based on the League table, current squad and potential January reinforcements, the probability of promotion is only about 15-20%, regardless of who they recruit.

After all any new manager (including those I fancy above) will need time to find their feet.

I calculate this as an approximately 5-10% chance of automatic promotion, and a further 40% chance of play-offs (and then a 1 in 4 chance therein).

So by bringing in Powell, the bad mood around the club instantly lifts, and there's still a small chance he'll win promotion anyhow (even without adding much value, or even detracting some).

Most likely though we won't win promotion and at that point the Board can in good faith ask Powell to step back down to a coaching role (or move on), in order to bring in one of the types of names I've suggested above.

Assuming Powell's reign hasn't been a total disaster, the fans still feel good about his managerial cameo (whilst now acknowledging his limitations) and are thus more welcoming of the new man than they otherwise would have been if appointed today.

Seen in this context maybe it doesn't seem quite so crazy, and if he wins promotion the new owners will be hailed as geniuses (even though they're nothing of the sort).


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Some Pride Restored

This afternoon's FA Cup tie was an odd one.

It threatened to develop into a fascinating encounter, but a devastating ten minute spell rendered the final third of the game flat and meaningless.

Despite the surprisingly upbeat performance by the Addicks, it is easy to get carried away.

Spurs played an extremely weakened side. Indeed their starting midfield comprised two holding midfielders (Palacios and Sandro), a debutant right winger playing on the 'wrong' side (Townsend), and the lumbering Kranjcar (who gave Simon Francis a relatively straightforward afternoon).

The damage dealt by the brilliant Modric after half-time highlighted the difference in class, whilst Defoe's first goal (Tottenham's second) was in truth rather embarrassing.

Charlton played in fifth gear throughout just to keep in touch, whilst the home side used it only briefly, before reverting back to second gear with the game safely won.

We did play a refereshingly expansive game however, the full-backs encouraged to get forward wherever possible (it was a rare sight indeed to see both Fry and Francis reach the byline within the first fifteen minutes).

Our passing was better too, the midfield and defence willing to take calculated risks to keep quality possession, instead of resorting to the long punt forward.

It certainly helped that the 4-5-1 preferred by Keith Peacock was spearheaded by Joe Anyinsah, a proper target man unlike Paul Benson.

This is not a criticism of the ex-Dagenham man (who is a goal poacher only), but an acknowledgment that Anyinsah's energetic running of the channels provided a genuine outlet when needed.

One wonders whether Peacock and Damian Matthew really did try to change things in the few days they've been in charge, or whether Parky would have produced a similar performance.

It's a difficult comparison because whilst one rightly criticises Parky for lacking imagination and stale tactics, this was a fixture in which even he surely would have relaxed a little and allowed his team to play.

Either way, it was a fun day out and a better performance than most of us dared hope for.

It brought back pleasant memories of the Premiership years, and credit to Spurs for filling the stadium, more than can be said for several of their poxy Northern peers this weekend.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Spurred On

"Hi Gavin, it's Dad." "Hi Dad, it must be late over there?" "Yes son, but listen I need you to do me a favour." "Of course.." "I need you to pray extra hard for Charlton, we need all the help we can get."

An imaginary conversation of course, but even divine inspiration may not be enough as a dishevelled Addicks side take on rampant Spurs in a year that ends in one.

Thankfully 'Arry has promised to rest some key players, whilst Simon Francis will be spared an utter humiliation because Gareth Bale is injured.

It is the FA Cup however, and whilst Spurs are typically one of the few big Premiership clubs still taking the competition seriously, their Champions League campaign is a bigger priority for now. Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope.

Unfortunately that glimmer soon dies away when one looks at the likely visiting teamsheet, and acknowledges the utter mediocrity that lies within.

As the esteemed blogger Wyn Grant poetically puts it: "We have a defence that can't defend, particularly at set pieces; a midfield that seems incapable of linking up with either the defence or the attack; one so-called striker is suspended and another is injured."

I think he flatters us to be honest.

The temporary installation of Keith Peacock as manager at least injects some additional nostalgic jollity into the occasion. There can't be many nicer men in football.

However whilst we will attend with the intention of having a good time regardless of the result, the recent takeover remains full of uncertainty.

Admittedly fans of other clubs have had it far worse than us on the ownership front, the likes of Portsmouth and now Blackburn springing to mind.

There is a school of thought that says you follow the club and not the owners, but the two surely cannot be entirely separated from one another. We all have a 'tipping point'.

Like an estranged father whose ex-wife remarries someone you can't bear, your love for the kids is unshakeable but it doesn't mean you relish the way they're now being brought up.

We would all feel better if we could glean more information about the motives and resources of the club's new owners, but other than the limited amount of information that they are legally required to divulge, we are otherwise in the dark.

Some fans are happy to rely on the fact that Richard Murray and Peter Varney remain involved, but for me this merely confuses the matter even more.

I would certainly not advise spending much time on Google seeking information on Messrs Slater and Jimenez.

Just as I managed to convince myself recently that I was gravely ill (when infact I was merely run down), the power of Google can help you reach conclusions that are likely false, but nonetheless extremely worrying.

However their decision about our new manager will provide considerable new information, both explicit and implicit.

In particular, if Dennis Wise is indeed installed as manager (as opposed to in a Director or Football type role), then many fans will become alienated virtually from the get-go.

This is not because Wise doesn't potentially have some added value, but because Slater categorically said he wasn't involved, and in light of Parky's sacking it would appear to have been premeditated if he subsequently is involved. That wouldn't be a good way to start your relationship with the fans.

Furthermore if Wise has indeed been lined up, then why bother with this interim Peacock strut?

Alternatively, if the Board are undertaking a proper unbiased search for a new manager, then quite clearly Wise would not be the most suitable candidate.

In other words, if Wise is confirmed as the next manager the Board have an awful lot of explaining to do (even if it wouldn't be the absolute worst appointment). I might even have reached my own personal 'tipping point.'

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Joking aside, I didn’t expect Parkinson’s executioners to be quite so ruthless, but they’ve absolutely made the correct decision this morning.

There will quite reasonably be some fans who will question whether Michael Slater was knowingly telling fibs when he publicly backed Parky in his first interview, but ultimately it’s an irrelevant issue.

In the club’s brief website statement today, it was made clear that the decision was made ‘as a board’ suggesting even Richard Murray has dropped his absurd view that Parky was the best manager he’d worked with.

I’m reassured that the new owners have rightly looked through our misleading League position, and instead focused on the woeful lack of imagination and quality in the playing side, something I’ve been wittering on about here for months.

Indeed I would not even have ruled out a relegation battle had the board maintained the status quo, so abysmal have recent performances been, and so fortunate were several early season wins.

With higher attendances being one of Slater’s stated goals for the club, it must have been abundantly clear from both the Walsall and Swindon games that the football on display would drive fans away, not attract them back.

Speaking as an occasional fan who would like to begin attending more often again, for the very first time in my Charlton-supporting life, I had chosen to miss matches because I simply could not bare to watch the garbage on show.

It was actually making me feel physically ill, and quite often we were winning.

Thus I'm impressed with the speed with which the new Board has been willing to make tough decisions, but of course they've only completed one half of the process. The next decision is equally important.

The idea that Parky has been working under difficult circumstances has always been bunk, at least in a relative sense.

He may have inherited a messed up situation from Pardew, but 4 wins from 28 subsequent Championship matches was diabolical.

With the exception of just a handful of clubs outside the Premiership, all managers must work within tight financial constraints and his were no tighter than any others.

The transfer market (at least in a spending money sense) is virtually irrelevant in League One, and instead all managers must improve squads using the same pool of free transfers, loans and youngsters.

Other than payroll (where again he can have few complaints), the key to success within this context is thus the ability to implement a consistent and workable system that maximises the squad's potential, and ideally (but not necessarily) does so in style.

Some blame must also rest on the shoulders of Tim Breacker and Mark Kinsella; the players look like they’ve never been coached. Quite rightly they’ve been shown the door too.

Parky is a decent man who tried his best, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. At professional level, hard work and enthusiasm should be a given though, and on the evidence of the sides he put out, that was pretty much where his abilities ended.

The focus once again turns to who is in line to replace them. Unsurprisingly Dennis Wise has been installed as a hot favourite but I suspect it may be more complicated than that.

We may have to begin to warm to the pint-sized ex-Millwall man, and at least be humble enough to acknowledge that his managerial record really isn’t half bad.

The dream pairing would be a reunion of Wise and Gus Poyet, if the South American can be prised away from the seaside (he reportedly lives in Kent so it might not be so hard, plus his son is at the club).

The combination of Wise’s contacts and Poyet’s style might just have us moving back in the right direction again. I guess it will all ultimately come down to money and the strength of their relationship with Jimenez.

Other managers who would have us learning to pass the football again would include Paul Tisdale and Sean O’Driscoll, the Irishman particularly impressive in turning lowly Doncaster into the ‘Arsenal of the Championship’.

Billy Davies might be tempted back too, although his temperamental relationship with the Forest board is probably enough to rule him out despite a terrific record.

Chris Hughton is a local lad, abysmally treated by Newcastle. His 2009/10 season has rightly won praise, but they were a Premiership squad temporarily ensconced in the Championship. Moreover who knows what type of relationship he had with Jimenez when their paths crossed?

Darren Ferguson surprisingly failed at Preston having worked miracles at the Posh. Good management is in his genes, but something tells me he’s not right for us.

I hope we do not get tempted by the likes of Chris Coleman or Gareth Southgate. Both were fortunate to be offered high-level jobs at an early stage, and I do not find either to be impressive based upon their media personas.

Either way, I’m convinced it’s Wise/Poyet perhaps installed in time for an emotional return to White Hart Lane.

More likely we will be led out by old favourite Keith Peacock, a nice touch but mildly daft too in a way.

Maybe Paddy Powell will play on the wing, and Derek Hales will lead the line. They couldn't do much worse.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Email exchange

The CAFC email server has been close to breaking point in the past couple of hours.

Luckily despite new owners, the password remains 'IHATESIMONJORDAN' for now so I was able to sneak a look at this evening's traffic:

Subject: RE: Record score

I believe it was Arbroath 36, Bon Accord 0.

Why are you asking?

ps - any chance of a sneak preview of your team selection? LOL!


Subject: Terrific win!


I just wanted to be the first to congratulate you on a terrific win. We looked sharp and hungry - I could not have asked for any more.

See you as planned tomorrow at 9am.


ps - nice of you to let Swindon wear their home kit. Was there a clash?


Subject: RE: Terrific win!

I think we need to chat. Call me on my mobile. Leaving soon.


Subject: FA Cup


I'm giving you all the weekend off.

But nightclubs, no birds, no booze and no driving above the speed limit.



Subject: FA Cup

Please report to White Hart Lane players entrance at 11.30am, Sunday. Bring your boots.



Subject: RE: RE: WTF?




To: gus.poyet@brighton&
Subject: Lunch?

I've got a meeting first thing.

Maybe a bite to eat after training? I'll book that tapas place you like.


Subject: RE: Benson clause

Yes, we have to pay another £50k if he scores 20 goals.

Probably not worth worrying about for the timebeing. Select the team as you see fit.


Subject: RE: RE: Youga

Sorry Phil, it was a little insensitive.

I was merely wondering how good this Youga fella was.


Subject: Semedo

Je suis malade comme un parrot.

Semedo ne peut pas pass.
Semedo ne peut pas run.
Semedo ne peut pas faire anything.


Subject: RE: RE: RE: WTF?

Don't blame me TJ - you're the football fixer remember. I thought you'd watched the DVDs?

ps - is the curly-haired lad at the back related to the guy who used to play for West Ham, Rangers and Scotland?


Subject: RE: Score update

Don't worry, everything's cushty. These things happen in football.

ps - in the spreadsheet I sent yesterday titled 'Budget 2011.xls', please change the figure in cell C35 (Projected Deficit) to -£9m from -£5m. Cheers.


Subject: RE: RE: January window

When I asked you for a shopping list, I was rather hoping I might be able to queue at the ten items or less counter.


Subject: RE: RE: RE: Semedo

Qu'est-ce que c'est 'give and go'?


Subject: RE: Lee Martin

You're welcome to keep him, to be sure to be sure.

ps - does he still do that funny shuffle with the ball at his feet? Straight out of Riverdance that is.


Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: WTF?

They only sent me Peterborough away.

Recording problems apparently.


Subject: FW: Mailer Daemon Failure Notice

I've not been able to send an email since 7pm. Can you check the server?


Subject: RE: Matthew Fry

Shalom Phil!

Sorry but you've done enough damage already. Such chutzpah!

Give him directions to Millwall thanks. Tell him to report to Mr Jackett.


Subject: RE: Bale/Lennon

When you say 'really quick', can you give a bit more detail?

You know how nervous I get.


Subject: RE: Ideas

Paul Peschisolido....erm, that's about it to be honest.

Are funds that tight that we can't even afford a new manager's jacket?


Subject: Update

"What is good to see is that a young player we have invested money in is proving to be worth his money and is proving to be the future prospect we think he is."

Not my words, but those of Mr Roy Hodgson, first team manager (Liverpool FC).

ps - don't tell me your result, I've got it taped on Sky+


Subject: RE: RE: RE: Bale/Lennon




Subject: RE: Emotional reunion

To be honest Phil, I think we were more Morecambe & Wise than Clough & Taylor.

Will give it some thought. It's cold up here you know?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Robins Reliant

Firstly, very happy and prosperous New Year greetings to all of my esteemed readers.

When you have young kids, New Year's Eve loses some of its old joys. Regardless of how late you stay up until or how much you drink, they're still going to wake you up at the same time.

Indeed, I couldn't even muster the strength to stay up until midnight in order to run the traditional 100 metres at the stroke of twelve, thus recording the "..fastest time in the world this year."

Charlton began 2011 in the same way that it ended 2010, failing to capitalise on a man advantage to take all three points on the road.

The idea that two away points against fellow promotion contenders represents a satisfactory return, rather loses its merit when there are firmly 12 or 14 in the mix. It's very much an absolute not a relative game at this point.

The Addicks have not lost much ground yet despite a winless three game run, but they may well find themselves outside the play-off places by the time the Sky cameras begin recording at The Valley on Monday.

Somewhat predictably, the Robins of Swindon have failed to maintain the momentum that took them to an unlikely play-off final last season.

However the raw fact of their single win on the road (at Walsall) may be misleading, given they are actually the joint third highest scorers away from home, with 16 goals scored (five more than Charlton have managed at The Valley incidentally).

Charlie Austin has continued his good form from last season, scoring almost a third of Swindon's goals, but he is of course without former strike partner Billy Paynter (currently having an injury-hit first season at Leeds).

Barring a last-minute reprieve, the Addicks will be without Paul Benson who somewhat frustratingly has just eight well-taken goals to his name, rather than the ten which might have meant six points rather than just two over the New Year period.

Having been the focus of Phil Parkinson's entire summer transfer budget (and particularly so as a 31-year old with no resale value), there remains considerable pressure on Benson to deliver the goods. An ill-timed suspension doesn't help his chances.

Parky will have a pre-match meeting with the club's new Chairman, although fans remain none the wiser about the incentives and plans of the new ownership pair.

Indeed based upon the limited information disclosed so far, there's actually no evidence that the club is any more stable today than it was before New Year's Eve.

It may even be less stable because the operational deficit remains, the debts may well still be in place and we know nothing about the financial resources of the owners.

I hope for Parky's sake that they do not favour style as well as substance, else it may be a fairly short-lived relationship. At least his biggest fan (Richard Murray) remains on the Board to offer much-needed support.

In the meantime, if there is 'real money' behind the new owners then surely the January transfer window is the time to prove it, else another season in League One beckons in my view.