The last burning effigy of Tony Jimenez has turned to ash, the need to learn the words to the American National Anthem has long been forgotten and the nervous uncertainty that filled the mind of every Charlton fan for the past few weeks is, in some respects, over.
In their places come images of Roland the Rat, Twitter feeds clogged up with images of food and drink produced in Belgium and genuine hope (for once not misguided) that the future in SE7 is bright.
Roland Duchatelet’s purchase of the club, with Richard Murray becoming non-executive chairman, has left the vast majority of Charlton fans licking their lips with excitement.
The Belgium entrepreneur, who also owns Standard Liege, will no doubt have long term plans to oversee the club’s progression, possibly into the top flight. But, in the meantime, there are a number of short term tasks that Duchatelet must take care of.
1) Stop Oxford United Fans Getting Angry – Address the Pitch Problems
A browse through the Oxford United hashtag on Twitter will show that the club’s fans aren’t best pleased with the postponement of the FA Cup tie between themselves and the Addicks at The Valley.
And, in fact, most Charlton fans are at least a little embarrassed by the state of their home playing surface.
Although the tie has been rearranged for Wednesday, it’s unlikely that will go ahead with the weather problems continuing and the pitch unable to cope or heal. It’s clear that The Valley pitch is going to be a huge problem for the remainder of the season.
But, thankfully, Duchatelet has already dipped into his pockets so a dome can be placed over the pitch in order to protect it from further damage and for it dry out.
Whilst the Oxford game may not take place, the next Championship home fixture against Barnsley shouldn’t be an issue.
That the ground staff were also allowed to reveal that the pitch problems are due to a broken drainage system also suggestions that new regime at Charlton will be a little more open; something the fans have made clear that they desire.
2) Extend Cameron Stewart’s Loan – or Find a Replacement
With Cameron Stewart’s loan deal expired, one of Duchatelet’s first jobs in his new role should be to agree a deal with Hull City to extend the winger’s loan.
He may not have impressed everyone, and he certainly isn’t consistent, but Stewart has proved to be the sort of player who can change a game when at he’s best.
For the moments when he’s running into a dead end, delivering a cross that doesn’t beat the first man or trying a trick that sees him dispossessed, there’s an equal amount of moments that see him break successfully down the wing, deliver an enticing delivery or beat his man.
For example, take the 2-2 draw with Yeovil. He did very little in that game, but in the little he did he scored an incredible solo goal and produced a fine cross for Johnnie Jackson to head home.
That ability to score the odd goal is also very welcome for such a goal dry side, whether they’re screamers he’s scored previously.
Charlton are certainly better with, despite his frustrating inconsistency, than without him, and it’s vital that Stewart’s stay in SE7 is prolonged.
However, it would appear he’s set for a move to Leeds United, with Brian McDermott suggesting the deal is very close to completion. If that is the case, a replacement will have to be secured quickly with options on the flanks relatively thin.
Astrit Ajdarevic, an attacking midfielder who has joined on loan from Standard Liege, may well be Stewart’s replacement.
But that’s not to say the former Manchester United trainee shouldn’t continue to be sought by the club and Duchatelet.
3) Support Chris Powell – Give the Boss a New Deal and Funds to Spend
In a time of foreign owners alienating fans with bizarre and knee-jerk sackings, Duchatelet will go a long way to winning over The Valley faithful by backing Powell and rewarding him with a new contract.
Hopefully Duchatelet will not be planning to bring in his own man, and hopefully he’ll be advised by Murray that Charlton fans are largely behind the current boss and that he’s the man for the job.
In addition, Powell should also be backed in the transfer market. That’s not to say he should be given millions to spend in January, but a signing or two will be crucial to the club’s chances of moving away from the relegation zone.
The obvious position to invest in would be up top, especially when it appears Marvin Sordell is heading back to Bolton and Simon Church seems intent on passing up glorious chances.
A proven goal scorer and an impact player, in the Haynes/Fuller mould, would be ideal. Whilst a little ambitious, it would appear Adam Le Fondre wants to leave Reading. Should the money be available, and should the forward want to sign, that would certainly be a player worth chasing. In terms of the impact player, I’m sure most Charlton fans wouldn’t complain with Jonathan Obika re-joining the club on loan.
But, of course, strengthening is needed almost all over the pitch, both in terms of starting options and strength in depth.
4) Sign Him Up, Sign Him Up, Sign Him Up. And Him, and Him, and Him.
- Ben Hamer
- Ben Alnwick
- Michael Morrison
- Dorian Dervite
- Leon Cort
- Richard Wood
- Rhoys Wiggins
- Cedric Evina
- Danny Green
- Mark Gower
- Johnnie Jackson
- Bradley Pritchard
- Andy Hughes
- Dale Stephens
- Jordan Cook
- Yann Kermorgant
- Michael Smith
A list of the first team players that are out contract come June 30th 2014. Worrying.
Agreeing new contracts, and thereby providing some stability, with the host of players whose deals are due to end in the summer is the thing almost every Charlton fan craves the most.
The players in this current squad, whilst not being the most impressive Championship footballers you’ll ever find, are all heroes. They’ve played their part in making watching Charlton enjoyable again and almost all of them deserve a new deal.
First team regulars like Ben Hamer, Rhoys Wiggins, Michael Morrison, Johnnie Jackson, Dale Stephens and Yann Kermorgant are obviously the priorities; players who would get into most sides in this division, and players who have been linked with other clubs in this division and above.
Of the others, I would like to see Bradley Pritchard and Richard Wood maintained. Pritchard may be a little out of form currently, but his performances last season and at the start of this campaign show he’s more than just the workhorse he’s made out to be, whilst Wood has impressed in the handful of games he’s started for the club.
The rest are disposable, and will be looking to prove that they deserve a new deal in the remainder of the season. A clear out in the summer would be no bad thing, but the bulk of the squad has to remain.
5) Don’t Offload the Key Players
The factor that worried Charlton fans the most from the first reports of Duchatelet’s takeover was that he sold Standard Liege’s best players. That’s something that the Addicks, no matter how much money would come in from their sale, couldn’t afford.
Would we a replacement for Chris Solly be easily found? His return to the side coinciding with an upturn in form is no coincidence.
Would replacements also be easy to come by for the likes of Dale Stephens, Rhoys Wiggins and Yann Kermorgant? It’s unlikely.
Hopefully Duchatelet isn’t drawn in by the pounds that would be raised from selling Charlton’s stars and keeps a hold of those quality players who could well play a crucial part in taking this club forward.
6) Keep Ticket Prices At a Reasonable Rate
With it still a few months away from next season’s season ticket prices being revealed, there is a danger that Duchatelet may wish to increase the cost of supporting Charlton.
Even with the increased prices for this season, a season ticket at The Valley is still reasonably priced and, compared to most clubs in the division, so are match tickets.
With Belgium football experts suggesting that Duchatelet doesn’t always do things that the fans are in favour off, hopefully he’ll avoid extracting more cash from the pockets of Addicks fans.