In this time of chaos and crisis, when looking at the league table results in fear and the insulting ways of those who run this club continue to increase anger, to sign a player who provides such a degree of reassurance when in possession of the ball is most welcome.
On the torn up Valley surface, against opposition with more experienced midfield, the calm with which Diego Poyet broke up attacks, strode forward and picked out the next pass was crucial to Charlton’s Championship survival two seasons ago. The sense of panic overwhelming, particularly during the string of vital Tuesday night clashes, but the academy graduate unflustered.
As such, there can be little doubt that the return of Poyet, recruited on loan from West Ham until the conclusion of this season after a successful spell at MK Dons, provides a genuine lift. The bitterness that existed over his departure replaced by an excitement to have a player of his quality return, particularly given El-Hadji Ba’s struggles and Jordan Cousins’ lack of form.
But, away from the impact Poyet stands to have on-the-pitch, there is an element of concern given the circumstances in which he has re-joined the club. An element of concern over how the Addicks intend to operate during this transfer window.
You could probably suggest that jumping to conclusions about a transfer window three days into it is a little misguided. Like writing off a player are a poor performance or two, or suggesting the appointment of head coach or manager was a mistake after he suffers defeat in his first game.
But any cynicism or concern in response to the three signings that have been made in the first three days of this window has not come into existence since the turn of the year.
It has existed for two years, and is the consequence of four previous transfer windows. The consequence of the actions of a regime that is beyond the point of appeasing the opposition it has created for itself, let alone addressing it. The consequence of knowing the real goals that Katrien Meire and Roland Duchatelet hold.
For the additions of Rhys Williams, Roger Johnson and Poyet seem cheap and lazy. The sort you can make without a head scout, a director of football, and a head coach with any sort of power.
Williams’ 28-day loan benefits his parent club and the individual more than it does Charlton. A chance for a player who has made two appearances since January 2014 prior to his Addicks debut to regain fitness, before returning to Middlesbrough.
In such a scenario, it’s likely that the Australian was offered out to Championship clubs, and Charlton said yes. A stress-free signing for Meire, I assume, to organise.
Of course, if he has a positive impact, then the politics of his signing will quickly be overlooked, and that loan may well be extended, but the return of Johnson only increases the cynicism over these transfer dealings.
The Addicks unquestionably need experience at the back, something that RoJo possesses, and he made a positive impact initially after signing last season.
But that positive impact was quickly undone by a number of very poor performances. Johnson makes the same individual mistakes as Naby Sarr does, and does not improve the quality within the squad.
Then there’s the absolutely bizarre decision to award an 18-month contract to a player who was deemed not good enough in May. It’s not a case of admitting mistakes, because awarding such a contract, and arguably signing Johnson in general, is yet another mistake.
And the signing is another cheap and easy one. Snap up a player who doesn’t need to be scouted, can be approached without much effort, and whose availability is more important than his quality.
The addition of Poyet, though overridden by the fact he’s genuinely a very decent player, also has a similar feel to it. I certainly wouldn’t complain over the signing as an individual entity, but when considered alongside the other two, it is a concern.
Are these the sort of signings that are required, not only in terms of keeping us up, but in the long run? Is this what we’re going to continue to do, have squads too small at the start of the season, beef them up as cheaply as possibly in January and hope for the best? If Duchatelet has no intentions of selling the club, why are such signings being made?
At the very least, it’s incredibly frustrating. A few weeks ago, we were informed that the squad is good enough, and now rushed and easy signings are being made. Would it not have been better to have admitted the weakness in the squad, if not during the summer, a few weeks ago and plan in a proper manner for January?
Although, even if that did occur, the infrastructure of the club is such that it probably wouldn’t be possible. Particularly with an ‘interim’ head coach, intent on toeing the party line.
It leads to two further worries. The first being that more strength in depth is required, and the desired quality won’t be brought in. It not only a case of strengthening, but strengthening in line with Bristol City, MK Dons and Rotherham in order to avoid relegation.
The second being that given the cheap and temporary manner of the signings so far, there is no intention to invest as is required despite Duchatelet staying put, and a sale of players will follow.
Supplementing the squad with RoJo and similar will become even more frustrating if the players within it who possess genuine talent – such as Ademola Lookman, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and the out-on-loan Tony Watt – are sold.
Ultimately, I may have jumped to conclusions are too soon. Ultimately, I may be proved wrong. Ultimately, we might well avoid the drop.
But you can see why myself, and other supporters, hold these worries given previous evidence. This regime absolutely impossible to trust.
After two years of failure, and our current league position, I’m no longer prepared to settle for the absolute minimum.