What’s Taking So Long?

Charlton’s inability to recruit a manager enters its second month.

Charlton have now entered their 2nd calendar month without a manager or ‘head coach’ as the regime prefers to call it. 25 days after Jose Riga’s resignation (and even more since everyone knew he was going) and there’s still no sign of an appointment. First there was the bungled attempt to lure Chris Wilder from Northampton; depending on who you believe this either failed as a result of insufficient assurances regarding management control or because Wilder was a Blade at heart and couldn’t therefore resist the overtures of Sheffield United.  The first of these reasons is supported by the publicly acknowledged lack of trustworthiness that the regime has.  The second, by the fact that Wilder was born in Sheffield and did play over 100 matches for Utd.

Since then there have been a host of rumoured suitors including Nigel Adkins, Steve Cotterill, Keith Hill and Johnnie Jackson, but to date no appointment. A mixture of bad publicity regarding the regime and its self-induced malaise, low appointment-expectancy, low manager salary, low playing budget and the big one: unwillingness of the owner to put control-assurances in writing have between them frightened off anyone considering a stint at The Happy Valley.

Does it really matter?  Yes it does.  If Charlton are to have any chance of promotion and if they want to minimise the risk of falling through another trap door, preparations need to be made early.  Any manager will need time to recruit and shape the team to suit their style of play. Having such a senior vacancy reduces the time in which to do this and increases the risk that the playing budget will be squandered on players that are ill-fitted to the manager’s plans.  Other clubs are moving on at a pace to ensure that they are ready for the season ahead.  Meanwhile Charlton are stuck in a quagmire of their own making: Duchatelet, unwilling to relinquish control; Meire incapable of dealing with any footballing related issues in a competent manner.

There are currently nine Football League clubs looking for a manager, only Blackburn is on a par with Charlton for its inability to do so:

Screenshot 2016-06-01 10.20.05

A further seven clubs have already appointed managers since the end of the season. These spent, on average, just one week each in sorting out their most important appointments. Meanwhile Charlton are left floundering.

Screenshot 2016-06-01 10.20.21



Yaya’s Hat-Trick

Congratulations to Yaya Sanogo whose hat-trick against Reading was Charlton’s fist hat-trick in 21 months.  These three goals put Sanogo joint 4th in Charlton’s top scorers list for the season.

It is actually Charlton’s third hat-trick under the Duchâtelet regime.  All three have been with José Riga in charge of the team struggling at the bottom of the table:

  • 21st April 2014 Sheffield Wednesday 2 Charlton 3 Marvin Sordell 10, 43, 63
  • 3rd May 2014  Blackpool 0 Charlton 3 Callum Harriott 61, 82, 90
  • 27th February 2016 Charlton 3 Reading 4 Yaya Sanogo 7, 49, 84

Despite Charlton’s poor scoring record since Duchâtelet took over, it is perhaps surprising that the club is joint top in terms of hat-tricks per club in the Championship within that timescale.  Here is the list:

Birmingham City 3
Blackburn Rovers 3
Bournemouth 3
Charlton Athletic 3
Reading 3
Derby County 2
Fulham 2
Watford 2
Bolton Wanderers 1
Brentford 1
Burnley 1
Huddersfield Town 1
Hull City 1
Ipswich Town 1
Leeds United 1
Middlesbrough 1
Millwall 1
Norwich City 1
Nottingham Forest 1

Former Reading player Adam le Fondre is the only player to have scored two Championship hat-tricks in that time.  Current Reading Striker Yann Kermorgant is the only former Charlton Player to have scored a Championship hat-trick in that timescale; and he very nearly added a second one against Charlton on Saturday.

Charlton’s Longest And Shortest Tenures As Temporary Manager (or Interim Coach if you prefer their terminology)

Karel Fraeye:

Appointed: 25th October 2015

Removed: 13th January 2016

Time in Charge, 80 days.

P14* W2 D4 L8 F11 A28

*13 League, 1 FA Cup

Wim de Cort:

Appointed; 13th January 2016

Removed: 14th January 2016

Time in Charge: 1 day.

P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

Two Years Into The Duchatelet Experiment

It is now two years since Roland Duchâtelet took control of Charlton Athletic.  Whatever it is that he thinks he’s up to, the results don’t make pretty reading.  Of the 93 league matches played since then, Charlton have won just 26, 29 have been drawn and an incredible (unless, that is, you’ve been unfortunate enough to witness the displays) 38 have been lost.  For every goal that Charlton have scored, the opposition have averaged 1.39.

When looked at on a season by season basis, it’s fair to say that the Duchâtelet régime got off to a bad start.  Forgivable, maybe, given that the playing squad that they inherited had been badly run-down, but not good.  The following season, 2014/15, got off to a good start and then deteriorated into a seemingly endless run of draws.  Whilst the current season has been an unmitigated disaster, with just four wins to date from 25 matches.

Screenshot 2016-01-06 23.01.52

A short while ago when questioned about the high number of managerial turnarounds Charlton have made in the last two years, CEO Katrien Meire  claimed that every decision was correct because the club improved every time.  This is an out and out lie.   We can safely discount Chris Powell in this who was never going to fit with the régime, also Damien Matthew and Ben Roberts who had the misfortune of leading the team for one match during the farcically hasty appointment of Guy Luzon.

Screenshot 2016-01-06 23.02.12

If we look at the other appointments and how they have fared, quite a pattern emerges.  First of all José Riga came in and he made quite a reasonable go of things.  Under his leadership the team averaged 1.5 points per game. For whatever reasons though, Riga was allowed to slip away to Blackpool, probably the only club in the league with  a worse set-up than Charlton.  Bob Peeters was brought in to replace him.  His team averaged 1.24 points per game.  Next came Guy Luzon with 1.18.  Finally we have Karel Fraeye, bringing in a relegation threatening 0.83 points per game.

So, far from Meire’s claim that every decision was right.  Every managerial appointment made by Charlton in the last two years has been worse than the preceding one.

It was the original intention that this blog would be impartial and would simply report the facts.  However, the last two years have been so bad that things need to be said: Karel Fraeye is just about as incompetent as a manager can get. Katriene Meire is out of her depth, and is certainly not suitable to be an executive. Roland Duchâtelet, the absentee landlord, has shown all the leadership skills of a dying worm.  It is time for them all to go, because the statistics couldn’t get much worse than this.

The Foundation of England’s Football League Clubs

With Charlton Athletic celebrating it’s 110th birthday this week.  We thought it would be worthwhile looking at how Charlton’s origins compare to the other 91 clubs in English league football.

The first thing to say is that the foundation of our club is quite unique.  It is the only league club to be founded by local youths with no previous organisation to help them.  There are seven other clubs whose foundation was based around schools, though the setting up of these clubs was based around old boys, school masters or organised games.  The boys of Charlton are different in that they took the initiative to get themselves organised.  We can’t claim self-sufficiency to be solely located in South London though; Hull City were set up by a group of local men, whilst several other clubs were formed as a result of locally held public meetings.  Though often these were led by single pioneers or entrepreneurs.  Of these, Port Vale is notable because rather unusually it took its name not from the town that it represented, but form the venue name of its inaugural meeting “Port Vale House”.

Screenshot 2015-06-13 14.22.15

A surprisingly large number of clubs were formed from earlier football teams.  Few can boast a number of teams in their lineage like Dagenham & Redbridge (Ilford, Leytonstone, Walthamstow Avenue, Redbridge Forest, Dagenham), though several (Luton, QPR, Walsall) were the result of mergers and amalgamations of earlier clubs.  Gillingam and Hartlepool seem to have been inspired by other neighbourhood clubs, whilst Brighton and AFC Wimbledon were directly set up by the supporters of other clubs.  Several clubs seem to have taken advantage of other teams in their district failing, including Leeds who benefitted from the FA’s winding up of Leeds City in 1919.  Perhaps the die was cast here for the Leeds-Charlton court cases of the 1980s.

Many clubs have uncertain origins, but of those where their formation is known, cricket is the next biggest source.  These range from Sheffield United and Derby County that were official spin-offs of their respective County Cricket Clubs to Aston Villa and Birmingham who were set up by cricket playing members of local church congregations.  This brings us on to another largish category; church related teams.  Not including the willow loving Brummies above, the foundations of six teams were church related.  Bolton and Everton though sunday schools, Fulham, Barnsley, Southampton and Mansfield through church parishioners.  Two clubs Accrington and Oldham really can claim to be pub sides.

Many clubs have their origins in industry.  Arsenal of course had their origins in the Woolwich Arsenal, taking on that name after a brief period as Dial Square (a place near the Royal Artillery Museum) and a further 5 years as Royal Arsenal.   West Ham were famously known as Thames Ironworks.  Coventry represented the Singer factory and were known for fifteen years as Singers F.C.  Wycombe Wanderers were founded by furniture manufactures whilst Stoke City and Man Utd. had their origins in the railways.  Millwall started life as a team representing a jam factory, which if it doesn’t explain how jammy they have been over the years, it at least tempers all that dockers nonsense they like to spout [Edit: the jam factory origins are disputed by Millwall, please see post from Lewis Moody below].

Five clubs were set up with the specific aim of forming professional teams.  Three of them, Liverpool, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, were set up by entrepreneurs looking to make money from sports grounds that they already owned.  Two of them Portsmouth and Southend didn’t have the grounds (though both were quick to acquire them) but still wanted to make money.  Looking at how much they’ve lost over the years it makes you wonder how those starting them would rate their ventures if they could look back now.

The final word on clubs foundations needs to go to Doncaster Rovers who were formed in 1879 to play a one-off match against the Yorkshire Institution for the Deaf.  136 years on and this temporary club are still going.

Screenshot 2015-06-13 14.33.14

Charlton are still a relatively new club.  They were the 72nd of the current league teams to be formed so there are only 20 that are younger.  The first clubs, Notts County, Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke were formed in the 1860s.  The heyday for club formation was the 1880s with 26 clubs founded. In one year alone, 1881, five of the current league teams were formed: Leyton Orient, Newcastle, Preston, Swindon and Watford. The 1900s was the last decade to see the formation of a lot of league clubs.  Charlton, three months younger than Chelsea and a similar time older than Palace, were formed right in the middle of that decade.  The following decade saw very few new clubs as war swept the continent.  Even in the peace time that followed there weren’t many new emergers.  For whatever clubs have been formed since then, breaking into the league has been a very difficult thing to do.  So, hats off to those lads from East Street that through their own spirit and determination, and not inconsiderable footballing skills, got our club off the ground.  If they hadn’t done it when they did, there might never have been league football in Charlton.

Seeing Double

Saturday’s victory over Reading gave Charlton their second league double of the season; the first coming against Wigan. The only other chance of a double this season is against Bolton. Whether that is achieved or not, it is still a big improvement on last season when there were no league doubles. So far, our best since gaining promotion to The Championship is three in 2012/13 (Leicester, Blackpool, Bristol City). The promotion season itself saw the club equal its all time record of nine league doubles, notching up eighteen wins against Bournemouth, Brentford, Carlisle, Chesterfield, Exeter, Hartlepool, Sheffield Utd, Wycombe and Yeovil.

Congratulations to Yoni Buyens who scored his first Brace for Charlton on Saturday. The second of which was also his first from open play – the rest all having come from the penalty spot. Buyens has now scored against: Colchester in the Cup, Derby, Watford, Blackpool, Cardiff, Blackburn and two against Reading. The Cardiff goal was the only one scored away from home.

Will done to Simon Church who for the first time in his Charlton career has scored in two consecutive matches: Scoring with a 61st minute strike against Blackpool on Tuesday and putting away what turned out to be the winning goal against Reading on Saturday. Simon has once scored twice in a match for the Addicks in a 4-0 victory against Oxford in the League Cup.