Monday, May 09, 2011

Private Eye

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

It's not like me to go over five weeks without blogging, but as I suggested in my last post, there really wasn't much to add to the depressing chain of events.

Indeed I managed to go for a two-week holiday in early-April without even missing a Charlton goal.

I did use my time away productively however, sipping a Pina Colada whilst patiently poring over some historic League tables.

During the previous ten seasons, the number of points needed to reach the League One play-offs were as follows: 80, 76, 76, 75, 71, 71, 73, 81, 78, 75 (Average: 75.6).

Lo and behold this season, Bournemouth's post-Howe collapse ensured that once again 71 points was just enough, as it had been only twice in the past ten seasons.

In other words, given that seasons are not created equal (in terms of the points required to gain promotion, reach play-offs or avoid relegation), missing out on the play-offs when only 71 points were required is a massive opportunity lost.

Michael Slater may genuinely have been willing to write off this season when he appointed Powell, but that view is not consistent with his comments at the time.

Anyhow with some money reportedly now behind the club however, he sure as hell would have been willing to take a '1 in 4' punt via the play-offs.

After all unlike last season, the argument that we weren't 'ready' for the Championship no longer applied.

Despite adding the likes of Wright-Phillips, Eccleston, Nouble, Bessone, Parrett, Stewart and Sullivan to his squad, Powell's side instead managed just 24 points from 23 games.

Over the course of a full season, that obviously translates into 48 points, which would have seen the Addicks finish 20th, saved from relegation only by Plymouth's points deduction and possibly Walsall's goal difference.

However with the benefit of hindsight, let's take an even more critical look at what was required for the Addicks to have reached the play-offs.

Phil Parkinson (plus Keith Peacock for one game) had handed Powell a foundation of 35 points from the first 23 games.

In other words, an improvement of just two points during the second half of the season would have meant Charlton's squad would be at the training ground today instead of Luton Airport.

Sometimes it's easier to put that type of points target into the context of an example set of results, so 37 points from 23 games would only have required the following: P23 W10 D7 L6.

Looked at even more critically, after the Peterborough game (when we had 47 points from 27 games), Powell's men needed to generate just 25 points from the remaining 19 games to extend the season eg. P19 W7 D4 L8.

An even more undemanding total of course, yet we missed out not by just a couple of points but fully 12!

And we're supposed to believe that everything will right itself next season because Powell will be able to build his own squad? (let's hope for his sake that he's not benchmarked against Messrs Lambert and Adkins, thrust into new roles after the season had started, yet comfortably achieving automatic promotion from this division nonetheless).

However let's give Powell some credit, Charlton weren't the worst team over the course of the second half of the season.

They were merely joint 18th worst with Sheff Weds and Hartlepool, and better than Oldham, Plymouth, Notts County, Bristol Rovers and Swindon. No wonder the lads had a lap of honour.

Changing tack, I'm fortunate to have knowledge now of the full facts behind the club's takeover, thanks to some fishing around by some of my best investigators (ie. me).

Confidentiality prevents me from revealing them of course, although the receipt of £100 cheques made payable to the 'NYA Beer Foundation' may be looked upon favourably.

Rather than provide some clarity however (even 'closure' as my blogging therapist might put it) on Powell's appointment, I find myself even more baffled than I was to begin with.

I would say based on what I know now that there is no reason for blind optimism, but that instead the range of possible outcomes for the club is wider today, in both directions.

With a better manager in charge, the distribution of outcomes would surely skew in favour of more positive ones, but I can't be sure of that (I can only lay out a few stats above and ask readers to impartially draw conclusions).

Putting aside the fact that Richard Murray still retains a minority interest, this is the first time in perhaps 20 years that the club is owned and controlled by those who cannot be relied upon to do the best for Charlton Athletic, if it's not also best for themselves.

The key word in the above paragraphy is 'relied' because we may of course be pleasantly surprised, but until motives are better understood we are all in the dark. It might help if they at least revealed themselves publicly.

This is a small but highly relevant point, and whilst there may have been no realistic alternative, it explains why I'm concerned that some fans are no longer considering negative outcomes for the club as they dream of 'doing a Norwich'.

***STOP PRESS: Jeff Vetere is a 'genius'.....allegedly.