Charlton: Duchatalet Sold Our Best Players & Sold Powell Down The River
A sad day.
Firstly, without doubt Charlton have been awful this season. Displaying a brand of dire, disjointed football that looks set to land us, justifiably, in League One. Some of the tactical decisions have been suspect, but the decision today has deeper rooted issues than the need for survival.
A quick trip down memory lane will allow us to see that greater pitfalls likely await.
I've been going to The Valley since the season of 1993/94. Charlton have always been a club based on identity, mainly the great struggle to recover it. 'The Wilderness Years' of the 1980's had come to an end and luckily for me, I began my courtship of The Addicks after Charlton had returned home to The Valley.
There has always been that sense of perspective in the air ever since, a sense of tradition and routine and above all - a lack of pretense. Their entrenched in the local community, twice winners of the Community Club of the Year in the past five years, have a solid youth development system with limited resources that has produced three England internationals in the last ten years and numerous youth internationals - a fete not matched by a majority of Premier League clubs. It's all in all a fantastic club - but a club where the phrase 'be careful what you wish for' has been all too prevalent.
Charlton aren’t the most glamorous of clubs, their supporters are a level-headed bunch. You turn up to the game safe in the knowledge your at a ground that being assaulted or insulted is a rarity, hope for some good football and a win and go about the rest of the week like a normal human-being. This may not appeal to many a modern football fan, but ask any Coventry fan and they would take it right now. Watching your team at home is one thing, but also watching the players your club has produced. The new owners of this club seem de-sensitised to that.
A lot has changed since since the 80's, in football and at Charlton in general. Alan Curbishley was in charge for 15 years. The first few years of this, Charlton weren't pulling up any trees. A solid, mid-table Division One side with an astute spender at the helm, bringing in players from a similar and lower level (Clive Mendonca, Mark Kinsella, Danny Mills, John Robinson, Chris Powell) until that great day at Wembley. The level headedness continued into the Premier League through relegation and then a Division One title without breaking the bank.
Charlton then spent seven years in the top flight and perhaps if they would have held on to Scott Parker in 2003/04 may have made it into Europe. Nay bother, life goes on. Except, it didn't. Curbishley left in 2006. Numerous managerial changes and woeful transfer market dealings too bountiful and hurtful to mention saw Charlton five years later in the lower reaches of League One and stripped of an identity. It was time to trust a clubman who understood the club. We had all learnt our lesson. The reason for Curbishley's departure was that the Club had gone stale. In the top half of the Premier League.
Powell's first season was average at best - despite a run of 11 games without a win - the fans gave him time, a luxury so seldom afforded. In his second season, he managed to gel 19 signings from League One or below and win the title with 101 points, he then followed this up by finishing three points outside the Playoffs all the while maintaining a relaxed mentality. The club, we were told were never far away from a poor run or a difficult season which as Charlton fans we knew, but appreciated.
Enter Roland Duchatalet, a man who deals in football clubs like they are properties and endeared himself to the clubs fans early on by informing them that they are in no uncertain terms, a feeder club for Standard Liege. An influx of loan signings entered the fray who will not be here next season and unlikely to put the latter into 'dog fight', the team looks unrecognisable from the one that performed so well at the back end of last season.
Duchatalet also decided that not just Standard Liege should benefit from our gems but Brighton and Bournemouth, in offloading two of our best players in Yann Kermorgant and Dale Stephens and with a team now full of toothless mercenaries seem destined for League One. The old fella that sits next to me has been going to The Valley and wherever else for 50 years. He loves watching the progress of ‘Jordan’, ‘Chris at half back’ or ‘The Big Frenchie up top.’ He asked me recently where the ‘Big Frenchie’ was. ‘Sold to Bournemouth’ I replied – ‘scored a hat-trick last week.’ His face was as if he were swallowing an old Dunkerque memory.
I fear they’ll be nothing to follow from season to season. We won’t have the time to finally pronounce Adjarevic, Parszysek, Ghoochanejhad (at least gives us the time to call him ‘The Prince of Persia’) and Anil Koc (leave that one). That’s all we really want, just let us be a club and have a team for a season to support.
Our youth development system seems in danger, after recently producing exciting talent such as Shelvey, Solly, Cousins and Harriott, it's unlikely the talent of the future will be afforded the time to bed into the first team with constant loan signings and Duchatalet's apparent wish to cash in on our produce to fund his other operations.
The years that Charlton were struggling, it felt like watching three teams a season at home with loan signings shipped in and out, essentially we were. I can't see this changing anytime in the next few years. Hopefully we'll be loaned the next Lukaku, Fellaini or Benteke. But we won't because the Belgian League is completely s***, worse than the Championship and they'll be in the first team at 16.
They’ll roll out the clichés for Chris Powell. ‘One of the game's good guys’, ‘A victim of his own success’ but he’d come within a season of getting Charlton back to exactly where they should be. A solid club, with great community ties, envied youth development and an enjoyable place to watch your football. That identity is in deep trouble now.
It seems there just isn't space for a club like Charlton in the modern, fickle world of professional football.
But on the other hand, I've just seen that the new manager was technical Director at AC MILAN!
Huddersfield at home tomorrow. The club are running a curry night before. A good Jalfrezi could just appease us.
Follow Mike on Twitter, @MikeBackZackler