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A Response to Roland’s Words

The connotations attached to accusing someone of being ignorant suggest a genuine, if totally avoidable, mistake. Confidence in a misguided conviction, which is the result of a lack of understanding of the subject. Endeavouring to develop an understanding, with a period of exposure to those with greater knowledge, addressing the mistaken judgement.

It does not, therefore, feel right to suggest Roland Duchatelet is merely ignorant. He is not making genuine and unconscious mistakes, derived from an excusable lack of exposure and understanding to Charlton Athletic Football Club.

This is, at the very least, wilful ignorance. Choosing to remain distant and pretend to lack knowledge, despite it being presented to him in all manner of forms, so as not to have to derail from the track he’s placed this football club on. Duchatelet has chosen to maintain this experiment, and continue to transform the club into his own hobby, ignoring two years of quite clear failure.

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So too, following his interviews with the South London Press and the club, is there a feeling that this wilful ignorance is complemented by a pride taken in his arrogant and somewhat sinister belittling of the supporters he has already alienated. Duchatelet neither cares about the club or its fans, merely his own ideology.

It’s no wonder protesters cry for their Charlton back. Their Charlton has been hijacked, existing in a soulless form as one man exploits its foundations for his own pleasure. He may care about running a successful football club, but he cares far more about his own ego as his stubbornly stands by whatever it is he is attempting to ultimately turn this club into.

And yet, he has the cheek to suggest he fully understands our feelings, understands why we are unhappy, and has “empathy” for what we feel.

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In fact, it is us who doesn’t understand. We’re “not in a position to understand everything and to do something about it”. We’re doing much more about it then he is.

Even if he does have the smallest amount of understanding, he certainly does not have empathy. The feelings we have exist because of the wilful actions of his regime. He may not want the Addicks to be bottom of the Championship, but he wanted this disconnection. This connection vital for him to turn the club into his play thing.

But it is quite apparent he has no understanding. “The main reason [they are unhappy] is that we are bottom of the league,” he believes. It is undoubtedly a contributing factor, but the extent of the desire to have this poisonous regime removed from the club is not born out of results.

It stems from the disconnection Duchatelet has created. From the feeling that we are constantly being mocked and insulted by his philosophy, and by Katrien Meire. From the countless mistakes, that appear to have been wilfully made.

He’s not even willing to accept the horrendous job that Meire is doing, and the impact her words have had on supporters. Instead of apologising for her infamous “weird” speech, he’s bizarrely said that he feels “sorry some people may have misunderstood what she said”.

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There is nothing to misunderstand. It’s there on camera. Every word, in the context in which it was said. Both she and Duchatelet have no understanding of football supporters, and therefore how to run a football club.

In fact, it is his misunderstanding of the job Meire is doing that is greater. His view that “she has done extremely good work so far in all sort of things” and that he’s “very happy” with her is sickening. He’s happy that his poisonous ideology is being spread by the incompetent CEO.

Even his assessment of the on-the-pitch situation is infuriating. Injuries blamed, when the amount the Addicks suffered should not have made such a dramatic difference. The squad size not big enough to cope, which is obvious, but then defending his desire to expose unprepared young players to first-team football. We’ll learn from it next season, as if it’s acceptable not to have learnt from it over his two years in control.

So too is it a concern that no plan is in place for relegation. He might well think that’s what supporters want to hear, that he and the club are confident of avoiding a return to League One, but it is not realistic. Jose Riga’s side effectively five points from safety, and look in no position to stay up.

Not having a contingency plan in place is extremely dangerous – arguably more dangerous than anything else Duchatelet has tried or done. The fear of the effects of relegation only grow.

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Especially as it appears almost certain that, regardless of whether we’re playing Championship or League One football next season, this regime will remain in control. Instead of selling, Duchatelet wants to build trust between himself and supporters. Something that his previous failings makes impossible.

There is no desire to form a relationship because it is he and his regime that has placed this club in crisis. That has left supporters disconnected from a club they love. He simply does not get it.

Nor does he get the importance of Peter Varney in Charlton’s recent history. To dismiss his approach so ignorantly, suggesting that he might have wanted “to invest in a new billboard” is complete parody. If such approaches are turned down in such a manner, then what hope has anyone else got?

Apparently, stability is more important for our chances of success. Continuing with a failing and damaging regime the better option than accepting this simply isn’t working, and putting the club into the hands of someone more understanding of it and its supporters.

As such, instability will continue. Regardless of whatever Duchatelet suggests about learning from mistakes, the continuation of this system means there will be a high turnover of both players and head coaches.

Head coaches that will have to rely more on an academy that, though is successful, cannot be used as an excuse to strengthen the squad to a competitive standard. The list of players thrown into the first team too soon is getting longer and longer, damaging for both us and them.

But that doesn’t seem to be an issue for Duchatelet, with his praise of Karel Fraeye for brining “in player that other coaches would never have done…and successfully” incredibly disturbing. Not a single thing about Fraeye’s appointment or his interim tenure can be deemed a success by an owner with a genuine desire to run this football club properly, and not just an experiment.

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His suggestion, too, that the profile of coaches is based on their willingness to play younger players, and not simply their previous connection to Duchatelet and his network, is laughable. That obviously all just one big coincidence.

The defending of such policies are a reflection that, regardless of wanting to learn from mistakes or whatever he might say, the same system remains. The one that each former coach – and one well-respected and trusted manager – has criticised. Again, in his interview with the club, Duchatelet suggests he has no influence in team selection. We all know he does.

The system that has placed us bottom of the championship, and enhanced the ill-feeling towards this regime. That has created such strong detachment, and enhanced the feeling that supporters are being treated with contempt. That the club is being treated with contempt, and has now just become the platform for Duchatelet to carry out his experiment.

It’s all just a bit depressing, isn’t it? At least, in the shape of CARD, there is something to place some faith in.

For without CARD, and without protests, he would have continued to hide away. The need to protest further only increasing with these words.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike Stanton says:

    I have read with carm objective thought this article and must agree, a CEO who has little understanding of the club, english football or the division cannot be effective. Looking at other foreign owners Aston Villa, Liverpool, Blackburn all have had or are having their problems and all stem from a lack of understanding of the english game.

    You cannot buy and run a circus of football clubs with loyalty and full time support to at least one and Roland is trying to do just that, not because he is a football fan but because it is a monopoly game in real life. I did not like his lack of attention to the Varney contact stating he only found out six months later that this was a genuine offer of investment of purchase. Roland should take note of the club that last fought and won against him for what appears to be the same failing.

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