There is no bitterness or a desire for them to fail, but each image of Sheffield Wednesday supporters walking down Wembley Way on their way to the Championship Play-Off Final is providing a rather large dose of jealously and a touch of injustice.
Not born out of a sense that Charlton Athletic have a right to feature at these big occasions, or that they belong in the Premier League. The second tier the level that fits best, and Wednesday fans would be quick to inform you, with enough evidence to support their claims, that they are a much bigger club.
But it is caused by the frustrating nature in which changes of ownership at both clubs, competitive rivals for an extended period of time, have had a very different impact. Frequently inseparable since 2011, the managerless and shambolic Addicks are preparing for a self-inflicted return to the third tier, while the rejuvenated Owls are a game away from a return to the top flight that appeared relatively unlikely at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign.
In fact, in the brief history of this competitive rivalry, probably born out of the way Chris Powell was able to get the upperhand over Wednesday both in terms of league position and results in a way supporters of the Owls weren’t necessarily fond of, Charlton have held the advantage. Johnnie Jackson’s free-kick, the League One title, and the FA Cup victory providing the Addicks with great moments at the expense of the Hillsborough club, and enhancing this competitive rivalry of sorts.
Since the reigns of Roland Duchatelet and Dejphon Chansiri began, however, the advantage has emphatically switched into the hands of the Owls.
Chansiri, the Thai owner of Wednesday, has overseen changes in personnel at Hillsborough that weren’t always universally popular when they were originally made. Stuart Gray, despite injecting a solid backbone into his side and leading the Owls to a 13th place finish in 2014/15, dismissed in favour of the relatively unknown Carlos Carvalhal.
But Chansiri’s decisions have not been experimental or for personal gain. The decision to appoint experienced Portuguese boss Carvalhal, who has been a huge hit at Hillsborough and not just because of the wonderful parker coat he wears, purely based on making the football club more competitive. Carvalhal not plucked from a network, or given the role on the basis that he’ll fulfil the needs of a controlling regime.
And when Wednesday’s owner suggests he has invested money, he can support that with actual results. Players of quality with experience of the Championship, such as Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper, vital to Wednesday’s sixth place finish and subsequent play-off final appearance.
That in some contrast to Duchatelet’s reign of terror in SE7. Horrendous failure, resulting in a drop to League One, and a disconnection with supporters coming as a consequence of a flawed strategy. A strategy that puts personal gain and the attempt to justify a clearly unworkable experiment ahead of the club’s success.
The failure “doesn’t mean that everything else is shit,” according to CEO Katrien Meire, who would have been dismissed by a competent ownership with the club’s best interests in mind, but it’s certainly shit that a club that we’ve locked horns with for so long are now streaks ahead of us. Are getting to enjoy an incredible day at Wembley, while we wonder which out of work English manager will be stupid enough to work under Duchatelet in League One.
I’m certainly not suggesting it should be us that should be at Wembley today, but Wednesday have proven it shouldn’t have been unrealistic to demand something of a challenge. Irrespective of whether they fall at the final hurdle or not, the Owls have proven that sensible ownership and intelligent investment can transform a relatively stale club into genuine promotion contenders.
What Chansiri has achieved, in propelling Wednesday forward from the relatively level state they were with Charlton, only reaffirms the extent of the failure of Duchatelet’s regime.
He and Meire will undoubtedly continue to attempt to justify those failings, or at least provide promise things will change, but seeing supporters of the Owls walk down Wembley Way makes it all rather meaningless.
We should not have fallen so far behind a club we once, at the very least, level with. And the reason we have lies at the feet of Duchatelet’s flawed strategy.
Not for the first time under the stewardship of Roland Duchatelet’s regime, Charlton Athletic have managed to successfully work themselves into a completely avoidable lose-lose situation.
For while there is no doubt that the reshaping of a squad that will unquestionably lose most of its more trusted faces must begin early if the Addicks are to have any chance of making an immediate return to the Championship, and to convince disillusioned supporters to reconsider their decision not to purchase a season ticket, attempting to recruit players without any sort of structure or key staff in place would appear counterproductive.
The suggestion that Charlton will make a second bid for talented Colchester United midfielder George Moncur should, under normal circumstances, create a sense of optimism.
Moncur an excellent attacking playmaker, who would fill a void that hasn’t been attended to since the departure of Dale Stephens. Colchester’s relegation from League One not tainting the current ability nor the potential of the 22-year-old.
And, somewhat oddly, despite the unrest and justifiable toxic atmosphere, there remains an argument that The Valley is a positive place for young footballers to ply their trade. There might not be a head coach in place to sell a vision, but he need only look at the number of players who have used SE7 as a stepping stone in recent years. Attempting to attract players to SE7 isn’t necessarily a lost cause.
But instead of optimism, the £150,000 bid and a rumoured £200,000 second offer for the former West Ham midfielder has brought about justified confusion, scepticism and concern.
With no head coach, head of recruitment or senior scout, who in SE7 is behind this approach when the few currently employed by the club currently lack either the power or knowledge to make it?
Well-respected first-team coach Simon Clark, with Colchester connections, has the knowledge, but it would be unusual for such a member of the backroom staff to be given recruitment responsibilities, while Katrien Meire’s lust for power has seen her name mentioned, but allowing someone so unqualified to make footballing decisions is insulting and embarrassing.
The issue, however, isn’t necessarily who’s making the decisions, but who isn’t. That there has been an approach for a player, irrespective of the impact signing Moncur may or may not have, without any of the major staffing appointments made does little to quell fears that power will again lie away from The Valley, and decisions will be made not exclusively for the benefit of Charlton Athletic.
For the suggestion from Meire since Jose Riga departed, criticising the club’s structure quite ruthlessly as he did, is that the next managerial appointment will have control over player recruitment. A more important promise than the one regarding the nationality of our next boss.
But number one target Chris Wilder, prior to Sheffield United approaching him, is rumoured to have turned down the Addicks as he wasn’t provided with the reassurances he requested in writing. Easier to believe that than it is to trust Meire given her past history of empty promises and lies.
The continued delay in appointing a head of recruitment or director of football, with someone needed to take on one of those job roles to make Duchatelet’s flawed experiment even slightly viable since the beginning, and chief scout, with Phil Chapple bizarrely not replaced despite departing at the beginning of October 2015, also increases this uncertainty that the promised change will either be a token gesture or won’t actually occur. The South London Press reporting that discussions with Lennie Lawrence to become the head of recruitment at The Valley never progressed.
For while I would much rather, particularly on the evidence of the cohesion and collective strength of Chris Powell’s hand-picked title-winning squad of 2011/12, the new boss receives full control, it isn’t a total disaster if he doesn’t, whether under this regime or another.
It not uncommon for clubs, and successful ones and that, to have their transfer strategy directed by individuals qualified to do so away from the dugout, but also away from the boardroom.
The concern at the moment, with the Addicks approaching a player without anyone in the dugout nor in the stands, is that the experimental, computer-based scouting strategy that has previously dictated Duchatelet’s signings will continue to have a role to play.
Not necessarily a worry when it offers up players like Moncur, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson before him, but a huge one when the duds that have been forced into the hands of head coaches under Duchatelet’s regime are considered. For every one Gudmundsson, there’s three Naby Sarrs.
Additionally, there’s something uncomfortable about the squad building process beginning without the new boss’s consent. Even if he were not to have full control under a more modern recruitment structure, he would at least be able to oversee and have a very important say in the shaping of his side. No one thrown upon him unexpectedly.
Ultimately, therefore, the question is whether the Addicks approaching players, regardless of their quality, without the sort of staff qualified to do so, nor a head coach to dictate the overall process, is a genuine concern.
Given that it suggests the flawed and hidden former recruitment strategy has not vanished completely, the head coach’s powers will remain tainted, and the damage it does to the already minimal trust in the club, the answer is yes.
Moncur, if signed, might well be a decent addition, but the manner of this approach doesn’t prevent a scepticism of the way the Addicks operate continuing.
Concern and scepticism, however, that could have so easily been avoided if appointments of the required staff had been made when it became clear they were needed. Or some strategy and structure was applied to the club instead of empty promises continuously being made.
Or, rather simply, these concerns could be addressed by Duchatelet moving the club into more trustworthy hands. But that, like being able to develop a sense of trust in the club and it operating in a sensible manner, appears too much to ask for.
Parting with a four-figure-sum to shed some crocodile tears in front of a critical panel of sport business experts, as an equally suspicious swarm of journalists watch on, is a rather weird thing to do. Or at least it would be a rather weird thing to do were this not the same woman who sanctioned the spending of more than a million to secure the services of Naby Sarr.
Instead, Katrien Meire has merely provided further evidence to suggest her decision making makes Callum Harriott’s look unquestionable, her arrogant insistence on not shouldering the blame for the failure of her actions makes Alan Pardew appear modest, and her loathing of Charlton Athletic supporters makes her more suited to a seat in the Holmesdale End rather than one in The Valley’s Directors’ Box or at the Telegraph Business of Sport Conference.
Before Meire even decided to open her mouth, it is infuriating that she would opt to attend such an event the day after yet another huge failing in her position as the club’s CEO. Much like choosing to attend the networking event in Ireland not long after dismissing Guy Luzon, or heading off to Dubai as the Addicks tiptoed towards relegation.
A seemingly genuinely interested Chris Wilder ultimately turning down the vacant head coach position as he was not provided with written assurances about the control he would have over team selection and signings. No desire or willingness to alter a failing strategy, and give reign to a boss who, with the reasonable power he desires, might well have been capable of reinvigorating Charlton on-the-pitch.
Wilder’s rejection weakens Roland Duchatelet’s regime to a point even lower than where it was as a number of supporters stood protesting in front of the West Stand following the conclusion of the Burnley defeat on Saturday. As CEO, the regime’s most powerful representative on the ground and arguably the most important position in the day-to-day running of this football club, her attentions today should have been exclusively on addressing yet another embarrassment. At least attempting to heal the damage she and the regime she works for continues to cause to Charlton.
Alas, instead of working to correct the mistakes made at The Valley, crippling the reputation of a once respected club, she found herself at a high-profile business of sport event, working to build her own reputation. Or at least protect Katrien Meire.
For she was not there to represent the Addicks, but herself. That obvious as the expensive crocodile tears were produced.
Instead of immediately speaking in a manner that suggest the football club she works for was her priority as it was criticised on stage, as you might expect the CEO of one to do while it is being described as poorly run, she pretended that the real victim in all this is not the club or its supporters, but herself.
Governing bodies, apparently, haven’t done enough to protect her. To stand up for her and Duchatelet’s failing regime. To legitimate the damage, destruction and disillusion that their ignorance, mistakes and insults have caused.
It is apparently she that needs protection, and not the club that she is helping to wilfully damage or the supporters who are having their bonds with Charlton destroyed because of her selfish and stupid actions.
For fans, who she actually opted to call as such on this occasion, “sometimes…cross the line” in their protests against the regime.
“For the last couple of months, I’ve had extreme abuse, I’ve had criminal offences committed against myself, and I’m disappointed about governance in sport, that none of the governing bodies contacted me and stood up for the fact that things are not allowed, that’s one step too far,” said Meire, behind her expensive produced crocodile tears.
“I also ask the governing bodies in this country, that sometimes some of the fans have crossed the line, very far, and this is just acceptable. It’s been reported by the media as it’s normal and it’s actually not, and the governing bodies have a responsibility to make people aware that that is not what sport is about.”
The evidence for this the fraudulent resignation document produced for Company’s House, and the leafletting of her hometown and parents’ house about how “shitty” she is. Maybe you should be looking at yourself if your Company’s House profile is so easy to manipulate, and supporters feel the need to take their perfectly legitimate and legal protests to Belgium.
Besides, if there are legal issues, than maybe the CEO should be asking for assistance from the police, not governing bodies. Karl Oyston, whose ownership I imagine Meire admires deeply, is a big advocate of that.
But so too does there appear to be an unhappiness in the way that the media have covered both the failing of Duchatelet’s regime and Charlton’s protests.
For the media, quite rightfully, have seen the protest movement as a well-organised, passionate and non-violent one. Intelligent in its methods as it fights against a regime that is insistent on damaging the club that they love. Addicks have been praised, or at the very least had their voices heard and been given sympathy.
By contrast, Duchatelet, Meire and Richard Murray have been rightfully mocked. A flawed recruitment strategy, the appointment of head coaches on the basis of their willingness to abide by a manipulative system, and their continued insulting of supporters three of the many things they’ve been guilty of, and many reasons why supporters are disillusioned. That, Meire, is not what sport is about.
Apparently, however, we’re all wrong. Supporters, press, club staff. Everyone.
“We’ve got the most affordable season tickets, we invest in our community, we invest in our academy.
“We spend £30m in less than two years of ownership. And yes, we got it wrong with the managers and the players, but that happens, that’s why clubs get relegated, that doesn’t mean that everything else is shit.”
So, relegation is all fine and dandy because we’re got a weird season ticket structure that makes some affordable, we’ve got an excellent Community Trust that Meire has no involvement in, and we’ve got a potent academy that produces players for this regime to sell on and fill their pockets.
Then there’s this idea that spending money is actually something that should be viewed positively. What have they spent (loaned) that £30m on? Failure.
And we protesting supporters are, obviously, driving fellow supporters away, rather than the disconnection that this regime has created with its failure, insults and destruction.
“Me and the owner. It’s fine, I even understand that it’s part of the role that I play, but I feel frustrated by the fact that media reports, all these kind of things – there is so much abusive language now at The Valley – and that’s not part of football. It’s in their interests to try not to have this time of behaviour because now mums with kids won’t come to the games. The chants that are going around, it’s not promoting the sport, and the governing bodies have an interest in trying to stop that.”
Again, there is a need to look at why those chants are being sung. Why Charlton supporters feel the need to protest against their club’s ownership, and not simply embrace their club. Why there is so much unrest.
And it might also be worth looking at how many mums and kids are involved in the protests, who feel as disillusioned as any other supporters, and are fighting for the future of their club.
A pathetic attempt to deflect criticism of her control of the club, and place pressure on governing bodies to protect and supporters to be scrutinised. Ignorant, arrogant and cowardly.
Her hatred of Charlton supporters has created an incredibly strong us V them mentality. Any criticism she receives and any protests aimed at her are a direct consequence of her failings, and her hand in damaging the bond between a football club and 20,000 supporters.
She receives criticism purely because her actions are pathetic. Not because of her nationality nor gender.
“Just like when I started supporting football 15 years ago. Whenever there was a black player they would make noises. That has evolved, why can we not also educate fans towards respect of everybody in the game?”
First of all, Meire as an individual has not earnt respect. How can someone that has insulted supporters again and again, and insulted their club for that matter, command respect? She simply does not deserve it.
And to link the legitimate criticism she receives for her failure as a CEO to racism is another incredible insult. Another attempt to belittle Charlton supporters, and to show no desire to shoulder the blame for the unrest in SE7. It’s our fault.
The fault of a group of supporters who been marvellous in fighting for equality in football, within the game itself and in the stands. Red, White and Black Day always a huge statement day in my time as an Addick, our support, and those that make up the protests for that matter, diverse, and never have I heard a racist comment in SE7.
The anger against Duchatelet is not because he’s Belgian. The anger against Meire is not because she’s female. The anger against the pair of them, and Murray, is because their wilful destruction of a once great football club is breaking the hearts of committed football supporters.
Depressing that they fail to see that, that they would rather protect their own reputation, and play victim while making supporters appear like the guilty party.
Supporters who have raised £27,998.59 through a protest fund in order to fight against the destruction of their club. Supporters who have continued to support their side, irrespective of the bleak football that has been offered at times. Supporters who, in the past, have fought successfully to protect the future of this club.
Supporters who, incredibly, have ended another day further away from the club that they should be attached to. And all because Meire, advised not to speak to the press by her own admission, decided to use this high profile platform to effectively have a tantrum.
Unfortunately for Meire, such is the widely publicised mistakes that she has made and damage caused, few appear to be buying what she said. No one interested in those four-figure crocodile tears. Many continuing to question why she maintains a position she is clearly not suitable for.
In fact, her position, as it has been for many months, is completely untenable.
Charlton Athletic cannot develop in any way, shape or form while someone whose decision making is incredibly misguided, who is so unwilling to admit to the damage that everyone else can see she has caused, and who continues to insult the supporters that she needs to win back.
There will never be a change of strategy, or an attempt to learn from mistakes, while she remains.
The Astrit Ajdarevic Social Media Award
Throughout this bleak season, the humour and quality of content on Charlton sections of social media platforms have provided some solace.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson
The Iceland international’s to-the-point post-victory Tweets are always a delight, with the one that followed the win over Hull a particular highlight.
Before we decided that booing the big Dane who can’t win headers was the way to go, Simon Makienok made us all get a bit emotional with his message following the victory over Hull.
Not a patch on his wife’s efforts, though, who didn’t tend to sit on the fence.
Tony Watt forming a boyband
When he wasn’t posting photos (some of them mine!!!) of himself looking like me each time I remember Roland Duchatelet owns Charlton Athletic, Watt’s Instagram contained some high quality content.
Not least when he managed to pull together ‘The Addicks’ – an indie boyband with Johnnie Jackson on vocals and, for one night only, guest starring Lawrie Wilson.
Patrick Bauer – “Shit happens”
Given that this was, unsurprisingly, deleted after about five minutes, I’m afraid I don’t even have a screengrab of Bauer’s rather blunt response to being dismissed during the the defeat to Reading in October.
A montage of images from the moment he was sent off at the Madejski accompanying the caption “shit happens”. Quite funny, but probably a little bit unprofessional.
Nonetheless, a shame he didn’t do similar once relegation was confirmed. Images from our worst defeats or photos of Duchatelet, Meire, Murray and Fraeye would have been acceptable.
“im never wrong!” – Astrit Ajdarevic
It’s only fair that Ajdarevic competes for the award named in his honour. After suggesting that Charlton would pull away from the bottom three, I questioned his judgement. He was having none of it.
Despite ultimately being wrong, what a bloody good egg.
Jason Euell taking shelter in the shower
As journalist Louis Mendez searched desperately for someone willing to speak following the pathetic defeat to Huddersfield, and anger increased among all Addicks that Karel Fraeye was being such a gutless coward, there was something rather lovely about the imagine of Jason Euell taking shelter from it all in the shower.
Johnnie Jackson’s rallying cry
The skipper’s use of Twitter is excellent. Not just for his occasional moments of humour and because he’s very willing to speak to supporters, but, impressively, he even manages to be an excellent leader via 140 characters.
Or, when 140 characters isn’t enough, a screengrab from the notes section of his iPhone.
A rallying cry after the pathetic defeats to Huddersfield and Hull might have been patronising or a token gesture from anyone else, but it felt meaningful from Jackson.
Scott Wagstaff supporting the cause
I think the rather awkward smile from Wagstaff gives away that he’s probably been ambushed a little, but let’s ignore that. Waggy hates Roland.
It turns out Katrien Meire has no shame whatsoever. Who knew?
David Nugent, CARD member
Opposition players, who had just suffered defeat, with no connection to Charlton getting behind the movement to oust Duchatelet is something I massively appreciate. Up the Nugent.
As a handful of hardy protesters descended on Sparrows Lane, intercepting those attending a club sponsors’ day, they were joined by members of CARD (Canines Against Roland Duchatelet).
Woofless in their fight against Charlton’s owner, or something like that.
Former Charlton players and staff speaking out against the club was not an uncommon sight throughout the season, but Fish committing himself to the supporters’ cause was rather lovely.
Karel Fraeye’s use of Twitter
The few hours that followed Charlton supporters discovering Fraeye’s Twitter account were rather enjoyable. Unfortunately, he ultimately decided to start blocking everyone, before deleting his account, but not before Twitter Addicks had had their fun.
His best offering one that saw him give himself a bit of credit for giving Ademola Lookman his debut. Hilarious.
The final visit
Twitter was awash with sadness following the completion of the final game of the season, with long-standing supporters emotionally stating that the defeat to Burnley would be their final visit to The Valley until Roland Duchatelet sells up.
Arguably the most powerful posts were those of supporters saying a goodbye to the seat they have sat in for many years, and been driven away from by this regime.
Charlton 0-1 Homophobia
As the Addicks prepared to take on homophobia, supporters were not confident.
Winner: The final visit
Neither funny nor quirky, but a fitting winner, given the role Twitter had to play in bringing supporters together against Duchatelet, and beginning the fight to win our club back. Committed supporters saying goodbye a real reminder of the damage this regime has done.
The Karel Fraeye Trophy for Managerial Naivety
Managerial naivety has marred this season almost as much as the naivety of those at the top of the club.
Guy Luzon playing the reserves at Palace
The consequence of filling the club with people who have no understanding of what matters to Charlton Athletic is that there’s no understanding of what matters to Charlton Athletic shown by people at the club.
Luzon evidently not quite understanding the importance of the trip to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace in the League Cup this season, and often to play a weakened side. Ahmed Kashi, Patrick Bauer, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Tony Watt among those rested, while Naby Sarr, Mikhail Kennedy, Conor McAleny and Karlan Ahearne-Grant started.
The Addicks consequently offering little resistance as their rivals recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory. More fight shown by the supporter that attempted to punch Palace’s eagle.
Guy Luzon’s inability to stop the rot
There’s no doubting that, when it worked, Luzon’s Plan A wasn’t too shabby. The Tony Watt-led counter-attacking football that saw the Addicks enjoy a run of seven wins out of nine during the previous campaign and start this one with two impressive home victories was excellent.
It’s just that, when Watt was having an off day or the opposition prevented Luzon’s side from expressing themselves on the break, Luzon had no response.
It meant there was no way for the Israeli to end a run of ten games, that would ultimately become 12, without victory that cost him his job. The opposition easily dominating a predictable Charlton unit.
Karel Fraeye’s insistence on playing four in attack
“Let’s not make Charlton now into a team who are going everywhere and must win and must be better than the home side.”
And with that in mind, Fraeye decided that playing four forwards and removing any sort of structure and shape from his side was the way to go.
Man’s a genius.
Karel Fraeye’s decision to use Callum Harriott as a scout
Having realised that his copy of Football Manager 2016 wasn’t quite up to date with the latest changes to Colchester United’s squad, Fraeye needed another way to scout Charlton’s FA Cup opposition.
Instead of finding someone available to do the job in the club’s depleted scouting department, the more sensible option was obviously to ask former Colchester loanee Callum Harriott to spill the beans on his former teammates.
That’s Callum Harriott. A footballer whose biggest fault is his questionable decision making and game intelligence. Genius.
Karel Fraeye refusing to speak to the media after the defeat to Huddersfield
Cowardly is the only way to describe Fraeye hiding from the media following the defeat to Huddersfield. A cowardly act, that left Stephen Henderson to make the apologies that weren’t demanded from him. Any sympathy left for the Interim One immediately lost.
Karel Fraeye, just in general
Who would have thought a head coach appointed from Belgium’s third tier would be tactically inept, fail to command respect from his players, and oversee pathetic performance after performance. No one saw it coming.
Jose Riga’s inability to build on the Rotherham win
For me, the defeat to Bristol City following the victory over Rotherham was when relegation became unavoidable. Such a weak effort after an emphatic win showing the fragile and unfixable character of this Charlton side.
A platform, with the Millers beaten by a style of potent counter-attacking football, was there to be built upon, but the stale effort against the Robins was followed by four further games without victory.
Highly frustrating that Riga was unable to replicate that Rotherham performance in the games that came after it, and only able to record three further wins before relegation was confirmed.
Jose Riga’s lack of intent against MK Dons
Especially given that the Addicks went into the six-pointer against MK Dons on the back of an important victory over Brentford, Riga’s decision to play in a timid fashion was rather bizarre.
A draw against Karl Robinson’s side was never going to be enough, and setting up to stop the opposition playing horrendously backfired. The game stale, and Charlton not possessing any attacking intent until it was too late.
Yaya Sanogo, before losing his head, only given 32 minutes with the lively Harriott sacrificed for him to come on, and only introducing Lookman with seven minutes to play a huge error.
At least Riga was good enough to admit his mistakes in his post-match interview. A Charlton member of staff immediately accepting that they were wrong? How very odd.
Jose Riga’s initial reluctance to use Ademola Lookman
The impact Lookman had in the short space of time he was on the pitch against MK Dons meant he became a regular fixture in Riga’s side thereafter, but the talented youngster started just two of the first ten games of the Belgian’s second spell in charge.
Injury kept him out of two of those squads, but he was an unused substitute in the goalless draw with Cardiff, was introduced when the Addicks were already two down at Fulham, and was, of course, only given seven minutes to make an impact against the Milton Keynes club.
Unlikely to have made a difference overall, but a few more points might have been gained had Riga let Lookman loose more often.
Jose Riga, for deciding to come back
Riga wanting to work for Duchatelet once again defies all logic. That he ended the season criticising the club’s structure, before handing in his resignation, suggests Riga’s removed the strings once and for all.
The collective failure to address the set-piece problem
A league high 27 goals conceded from set-pieces, and a league high 20 goals conceded from corners. You can add an extra one to each tally you if you include the goal the Addicks conceded from their own corner during the defeat at Preston.
The failure to deal with set-pieces throughout the season, with it being an issue under each head coach, was quite impressive. Whether be the hopeless partnership of Naby Sarr and Roger Johnson, or the slightly more reliable duo of Alou Diarra and Jorge Teixeira, a lack of coordination prevented deliveries form being dealt with.
Winner: Karel Fraeye, just in general
No explanation needed.
The Roland Duchatelet (Correct) Decision Making Award
As we know, every decision that this regime has been correct and improved the club’s position. Let’s look back at some of those excellent decisions.
Roland Duchatelet, for continuing with a flawed recruitment structure
Turns out almost exclusively signing players without experience of the Championship for money than they’re worth, and giving them long-term deals, while placing unnecessary strain on the club’s young players by understaffing the squad isn’t a successful strategy. Who knew?
Roland Duchatelet, for staying away
The owner’s reluctance to show his face in SE7, and his particular unwillingness to appear on matchdays, did little to convince supporters that he was willing to take responsibility for the crisis he has put the club in.
Roland Duchatelet, for opting to appoint Karel Fraeye, and lying about the nature of his appointment
The underqualified head coach was never good enough, nor was he ever interim. An insult to the club and its supporters for Fraeye to be given the job, and one of the key reason why we’ll be in League One next season.
Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, for refusing to budge
Even Duchatelet and Meire, overwhelmed by their ignorance and naivety as they are, cannot pretend that there isn’t serious opposition to their running of this club. And with offers on the table, their unwillingness to even speak to those interested parties is simply stupid.
Roland Duchatelet, for standing by Katrien Meire
“She didn’t say what some people claim she said. She explained that running a football club is totally different to running another business. And in fact she used the word ‘weird’ in describing the difference between running a regular business and running a football club, because your customers are not really customers.
Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, for continuing to insult supporters
In their words and actions, whether it be the “weird”/”customers” jibes or continuing to treat the club like little more than a toy, this regime has insulted supporters to a point where the relationship between the club and its fans is at an all time low. Trust can’t be rebuilt until they depart.
Richard Murray, for standing by this regime
Murray’s decision to stand by and attempt to protect this failing and insulting regime means all of his credibility has been lost. He as guilty as Duchatelet and Meire.
Katrien Meire, for going on holiday as relegation loomed
With relegation a matter of days away from being confirmed, and the club crisis, the person in charge of its day-to-day running decided to take a holiday to Dubai. Meire’s ignorance never fails to amaze.
Katrien Meire, for refusing to sign Lee Tomlin and Yann Kermorgant
The Addicks could have signed Tomlin, who helped Bristol City avoid relegation with ease, and Kermorgant, who is Kermorgant, in January. The deals needing little more than to be finalised. But Meire decided against bringing in either of the pair.
Sometimes you think it’s not ignorance, but an intent to damage the club.
Winner: Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, for continuing to insult supporters/Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, for refusing to budge
Impossible to rebuild the bridges that they have emphatically destroyed, and yet they refuse to listen to offers from those who will treat the club and its supporters with the respect it deserves.
The Fraser Forster Award for Best Performance by an Opposition Player at The Valley
Named after the England goalkeeper’s lone effort to prevent the Addicks from scoring past Norwich in a key League One contest in 2010, the Fraser Forster Award goes to the opposition player who took advantage of Charlton’s naffness most emphatically.
Daniel Johnson – Charlton Athletic 0-3 Preston North End
Though Paul Gallagher’s two first-half strikes crushed the Addicks in October, it was the exciting and creative Johnson who was most impressive for Preston.
The young playmaker, providing the flair in an otherwise structured and efficient side, moved into the space with the ball at his feet with a certain amount of class and style. The ball collected in composed fashion, before an effortless run forward was made, and the next pass picked out. Allowed the freedom of the midfield, and certainly taking advantage.
A quality performance rounded off with a stunning strike, to give Preston a three goal advantage, midway through the second half.
Alan Judge – Charlton Athletic 0-3 Brentford
A real shame that Judge suffered an injury towards the end of the season that will prevent him from heading to France with the Republic of Ireland national side, for his performances this season meant he deserved a chance to perform at a major competition.
The playmaker carried an under-performing Brentford side for much of the campaign, even managing to impress during their defeat against the Addicks at Griffin Park.
But his efforts at The Valley in October were sublime. An outrageous delivery for Jon Swift to head the Bees in front, a stunning strike curled into the far corner, and another marvellous ball through for Lasse Vibe meaning Judge played a rather delightful hand in all three Brentford goals.
Daryl Murphy – Charlton Athletic 0-3 Ipswich Town
Traditional and robust centre forwards have enjoyed themselves in SE7 this year. Even Ishmael Miller and Emile Heskey were able to bully Charlton’s backline.
So it no surprise that Murphy took full advantage of a weak defence. Heading Town in front in the first half after the Addicks failed to clear, before giving the Tractor Boys a third with a cool finish after the break.
His hold up play and flick-ons were superb, too, dominating Naby Sarr throughout. In some contrast to Simon Makienok, who struggled at the other end.
Jordan Graham and Benik Afobe – Charlton Athletic 0-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
An attacking midfielder who’s comfortable on the ball, can create and is decent in front of goal, and a big ol’ lump of a centre forward with all-round qualities. There’s a theme developing here.
The pair complemented each other incredibly well during Wolves’ win over the Addicks in December, with Afobe holding the ball up and making space for Graham, operating out wide but frequently coming inside, to exploit.
Graham’s goal, his first in senior football and assisted by Afobe out-muscling Harry Lennon before delivering across the face, deserved. Afobe, having performed for much of the season and able to bully Charlton’s defence for the entirety of the afternoon, deserving his move to Premier League Bournemouth.
Aden Flint and Nathan Baker – Charlton Athletic 0-1 Bristol City
Aim a ball hopelessly in the general direction of Makienok, watch as Flint or Baker towered above and won the header emphatically, and repeat.
Charlton’s attacking efforts may have been incredibly tame in the defeat to Bristol City in February, but Flint and Baker were impassable. Excellent in the air, strong in the tackle, and both reading the game very well throughout, it’s no surprise that the Robins were able to stay up with such a solid pairing at the back.
Yann Kermorgant – Charlton Athletic 3-4 Reading
I’m still undecided as to whether it was a joy to see Kermorgant perform so wonderfully at The Valley again, or painful to see him do so in another club’s colours.
Either way, applauding the Frenchman’s two goals for Reading was, though not universally liked, a special moment. Appreciation for a player who had been so poorly treated by this club, but still has the admiration of every Charlton supporter. Another kick in the teeth for Duchatelet’s regime.
An emphatic header, followed by a sweet curling strike into the far corner, rounded off with a defence splitting ball to feed Ola John. His performance sublime. That of the talismanic forward we stupidly threw away.
Love and miss you.
Dale Stephens/Beram Kayal – Charlton Athletic 1-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
Kermorgant not the only returning Addick to impress in SE7 this season. Stephens, in partnership with Kayal, were in complete control for the duration of their Brighton side’s victory at The Valley in April.
Kayal operating slightly deeper, but both effectively performing a box-to-box role. Defensively dominant, composed in possession, and Stephens, whose name was sung by home supporters, in particular playing quality passes with some regularity.
The foundations for much of the Seagulls’ success this season. The suspended Stephens will be a big loss in the play-offs.
Tom Heaton – Charlton Athletic 0-3 Burnley
A goalkeeper had to feature in the award name after an England international stopper at some point, but a glove-wearing candidate didn’t put himself forward until the final day.
Heaton, who will probably head to France with the England national team this summer, pulled off a number of superb stops during a period of Charlton pressure when Burnley’s advantage was only a single goal.
His finger tip save to deny Gudmundsson and his block from Harriott’s close range effort particularly impressive. A figure as important as anyone else to Sean Dyche’s side’s promotion
Winner: Alan Judge
I know. I haven’t given an award that he was up for to Kermorgant. But, though the Frenchman was excellent on his return to SE7, it would be wrong for me to ignore just how unplayable Judge was in October.
The Johnnie Jackson Award for Johnnie Jacksonness
In a season where the club’s heart has suffered substantial damage, the actions of the respected skipper have often been crucial to its continued beating. Recognition for the way in which he represents the club, and performs for it, deserved.
The Fulham comeback
The free-kicks against the Sheffield clubs in consecutive weeks. The goals that sparked the Cardiff comeback. The QPR and Norwich winners. There are some things that only Jackson seems capable of.
And igniting the comeback against Fulham in October is something that fits into that category. The Addicks two goals down, and lacking any sort of fight, as he was thrown on with ten minutes to play. With Luzon reluctant to use him, the skipper also had a personal point to prove.
Less than a minute later, and he was inspiring the Covered End to believe. An emphatic header halving the deficit, and laying the foundations for Cousins’ stoppage-time equaliser.
His presence transforming the game.
Bowing to supporters, as Meire mocked
Prior to the victory over Sheffield Wednesday, Meire was seen laughing at protesting Charlton supporters. Her contempt for fans, expressing legitimate concerns, insulting.
Following the victory over Sheffield Wednesday, acknowledging how important they had been in inspiring his side to victory, Jackson bowed in front of the Covered End.
A CEO who doesn’t understand the importance of supporters, and has little respect for them. A captain who couldn’t have a stronger bond with supporters, and is effectively one of them.
His 50th Charlton goal
Jackson’s 50th Charlton goal was never going to be a scrambled consolation in a 5-1 defeat. It was always going to be emphatic, and mean something.
A signature thumping header to give the Addicks a decisive lead against Birmingham City, and ultimately give his side their first away win of the season.
Just a shame he made a meal of the knee slide that followed. Disgusting by his high standards.
Repaying supporters after the Huddersfield mess
I wouldn’t ever be one to demand a refund after a poor performance. Poor performances are an unavoidable part of following an average club around the country.
But Jackson organising for the squad to refund those that travelled to Huddersfield for the 5-0 defeat in January was well timed and, as it came through him, gave a feeling that some fight and spirit remained within the club.
One of the few times this season where supporters have been treated with some respect.
His general leadership in a time of crisis
Motivational messages, travelling to away games despite being injured, and providing some sort of hope to cling onto as relegation became more likely.
All that in addition to being calm and composed when playing, and always giving an unquestionable amount of effort. His leadership, as you would expect, superb.
Brentford away was a strange day for me. The first time an enjoyable football game hadn’t masked my depression and anxiety. I found it very difficult to come to terms with.
But Jackson, without prompting, being the first person to send good wishes was certainly helpful. It’s always difficult not to punish myself for having the feelings that I have, and someone who I respect so much showing they care was really important.
He was also one of the first to wish me well after having a seizure during the Middlesbrough game. Silly, but it’s a huge help.
His leadership post-relegation
Winner: His leadership post-relegation
While people with Jackson’s mentality remain at the club, standing up for supporters and fighting for them, there can at least be the smallest crumb of hope.
The Sebby Lewis Trophy for Supporter of the Season
In truth, every supporter that has watched even a minute of the Addicks this season deserves some sort of reward, but some fans have done that little bit extra this season. Whether that be in regards to supporting the side, or in the fight against Duchatelet.
(I’ve unquestionably missed 4,209 supporters who have done excellent jobs this season, and for that I’m very sorry.)
Seb Lewis – 850+ consecutive games, and still tr eated poorly
When I grow up, I want to be Seb Lewis. The Colchester FA Cup tie his 850th consecutive competitive Charlton game, and that run extending to 871* by the end of the season. A ridiculous effort.
And even that isn’t enough to stop him being insulted by the club. His flag, which has hung from the side of the Lower North for as long as I can remember, confiscated in front of me before the game against Bristol City. Ultimately returned, but that it was taken in the first place absolutely ridiculous.
Seb, more than most, deserves better than this regime.
Rick Everitt – CARD organiser
Arguably CARD’s figurehead, the protests would not be half as successful without Everitt playing such an important role in the organisation of them.
The protest ideas he’s helped to create have been excellent, while having someone so knowledgeable effectively in charge of the protesting efforts is extremely useful. We’re always one step ahead.
Admirable persistence, too. There’s no chance of Rick giving up.
Louis Mendez – Represents supporters as a member of the press
Mendez gets it. Mendez is one of us. And it’s so bloody important that someone who gets it, who is one of us, is there asking the people that matter the important questions.
Useful, too, that he’s very good at what he does. The coverage and content he’s provided throughout the season has been superb.
Joe Read – The Ademola Lookman of the protest movement
He’s a few years younger than me, much taller than me, and better looking than me. Out of bitterness and jealously, I should probably hate Joe.
So it’s a good job the excellent work he’s done as part of Spell it Out and CARD means I have nothing but complete respect for him.
Not only has he made black and white scarves fashionable again, but he’s been right at the heart of the organisational efforts behind a number of protests, including being involved in the group that travelled to Belgium.
All this while not being out of his teens. CARD’s Ademola Lookman.
Pete Finch – Forced to walk away from club commentary
Those of you fortunate enough to not be regulars at The Valley in recent seasons will have probably had Pete Finch describe the game to you at one point or another.
And if you haven’t, you probably remember his
loss of professionalism emphatic celebrations as Jackson scored a stoppage-time winner against QPR in 2014. Proper Charlton, and proper good behind the mic.
A real shame, therefore, that Pete felt he couldn’t continue to commentate under this regime.
“I commentated on the last 20 minutes of the home game against Preston and I was fighting the urge to unleash a tirade against the owner and his staff,” said Finch to VOTV.
“I could no longer commentate on the club I loved and not say something about how it was being destroyed. Rather than say something on air and get sacked, I quit.
“Our current owner does not care that we the fans fought to save this club when nobody else cared, that we have a special relationship with the club. He does not care about or understand our remarkable history.”
You hope that someone who cares about Charlton so much will return once this ownership departs.
John Hayes – CAFC sponsor to CARD sponsor
The logo of Axis, a company led by Charlton supporter John Hayes, has been dotted around The Valley for as long as I’ve been watching the Addicks.
But last Saturday, Axis’ logo was to be found in CARD’s alternative programme. Hayes deciding that his company should sponsor the protest movement, rather than this “joke” of a club.
The media team/club staff with Charlton at heart – Valiantly fighting a losing battle
I do not envy those Addicks who currently work for the club, particularly in the media department. With many of them supporters, they’re probably in their dream job, but it’s heavily tainted by the current state of the club. Having to publish Duchatelet and Meire’s statements can’t be much fun.
Nor can it be fun to receive the abuse they do. Understandable, given that they’re the visible target to take supporter frustration, but not justifiable. They don’t deserve any of the criticism they have received this season.
They’ve done a sterling job in testing circumstances.
a2c – Doesn’t like exenophobes darn are gaff
I can’t tell you how much I looked to seeing what ‘a2c’ had commented on each of my blog pieces throughout this season. An exciting mixture of insults and praise for Queen Katrien (name often spelt incorrectly), hidden within barely legible comments.
You’ve got to admire his persistence, though. Despite not allowing one of his comments to appear on my blog since the beginning of time, he continues to inform me that I’m this and I’m that. Hopefully Millwall’s play-off campaign will see him otherwise occupied in the weeks ahead.
Winner: The bloody lot of ’em (apart from a2c)
All of them, and everyone else that has given their all supporting and protesting this season, are proper heroes.
Chris Powell’s Flat Cap Bloggers, Writers and Pieces of the Season
If one positive can be taken from this season, it’s that the crisis at the club has made for some incredible pieces of writing from supporters and journalists.
One of the most important pieces is @Darryl1974’s overview of the damage Duchatelet has done to Charlton Athletic. A wonderful overview of a horrible situation.
Voice of The Valley has been a regular platform for important pieces to be published, although the publication itself has been tainted by myself continuing to contribute.
Hungry Ted’s impassioned rants are regularly marvellous, Chicago Addick’s takes on things from afar are incredibly insightful, and Brain Haines’ often more subtle and quirky take on games and events are always a delight to read.
Alex Stedman’s efforts for London24 have also been excellent. Passionate and angry, but not lacking in structure and quality.
The support of neutral/local journalists, too, has also been important. Richard Cawley of the South London Press in fine form throughout the season, while the News Shopper chaps, particularly Jake Bacon and Louis Sealey, have done some superb digging. The aforementioned Louis Mendez marvellous, too.
And there are, of course, many more writers and bloggers that have done excellent jobs this season. The community of Charlton bloggers and writers more potent than the Charlton side itself this season.
Even in this torrid campaign, there’s some candidates for moment of the season. A toss up between Jorge Teixeira’s winner against Birmingham, and the pre-match Brighton protests. That liar banner being dropped above Meire closely behind.
There’s far too many moments to choose from for worst moment of the season. Each time Meire opened her mouth was pretty bad, but the back-to-back defeats to Huddersfield and Hull were bleaker than anything even she is capable of.
Alou Diarra got my vote for Player of the Season. More consistent than Jordan Cousins, who had a poor first half of the season, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who sometimes underwhelmed.
And finally, slightly repeating myself from the end of my Burnley report, thank you to everyone who has read my blog and offered support to myself this season. It’s massively appreciated, and blogging has kept me ticking over in a tough year for me both with regards to football and life itself.
I hope you all have a good summer, and Duchatelet doesn’t attempt to ruin it.
Up the Addicks. Down with the regime.
The Chris Powell Award for Coach of the Season
Such is the number of coaches Charlton have employed this season, 1,908 at last count, an award can be handed out for the best performing one. It only right that it takes the name of the coach that they have all attempted to emulate.
Briefly won us over, an impressive feat given the nature of his appointment and Standard Liege past, before his tactics became stale and predictable. No alternative plan beyond a structured 4-4-2 that exploited the ability of Watt and Gudmundsson on the break, which meant no way of responding as the Addicks entered a long losing run following the win over Hull, and ultimately cost him his job.
Not entirely his fault – you can’t blame him for taking the job he was offered (although not really offered because he was interim but not actually interim) – but never has a Charlton head coach been so out of his depth.
Hilariously disorganised tactics, not least when placing four in attack, an obvious and understandable lack of respect from the players, and bizarrely deciding to use Callum Harriott to scout Colchester United instead of actually sending someone to watch them among his worst crimes.
Comments such as “let’s not make Charlton now into a team who are going everywhere and must win and must be better than the home side” after a horrendous defeat to Burnley, as if suggesting losing in pathetic fashion is acceptable, didn’t help his cause.
The second coming of the most competent coach we can hope for under Duchatelet wasn’t quite as successful as the first. An obvious improvement on Fraeye, with some more competitive and coordinated performances, but not nearly enough to mount a meaningful fight to avoid relegation.
The emotional Charlton Athletic supporter that I am hopes that chanting “Jason Euell’s Red Army” as he assisted Fraeye was a glimpse into the future.
For having someone like Euell, with such a strong connection to the club, lead the Addicks would just feel right. Some sort of connection existing between boss and supporters.
And if he continues to make the sort of impression he has done with the U21s, who have enjoyed another successful campaign under his and Simon Clark’s stewardship, then maybe this rose-tinted vision won’t be too far away from being a reality.
Either way, being able to support Euell while Fraeye led the side offered some solace.
Jeunechamp had the right idea – get out of this club as quickly as possible. Just 36 days after arriving in SE7, Riga’s assistant departed to take charge or R.F.C. Seraing. Said to have not spoken English during his time at Charlton, his addition to the coaching staff was a grand waste of time.
The free ones
A token gesture, but the free coaches laid on for some of the more unattractive away games towards the end of the season at least meant more than me and Sebby Lewis were able to see our struggles.
I think I’ll pass on giving anyone coach of the year.
Flaggy’s Award for Statement of the Season
Flaggy, the artistic image of the corner flag used for official club statements, has been working overtime this season. And in addition to the bizarre club statements sanctioned by Duchatelet, Meire and Murray, there’s been even more startling words spoken through other mediums. A healthy list of misguided comments to choose from.
Katrien Meire’s insistence on pretending that the problems the regime she is part of have caused don’t exist, and that supporters aren’t actually protesting, reached its peak when she suggested that only 2% of supporters are unhappy at a fans’ meeting in November.
Her decision to pretend everything was okay and only a small section of supporters wanted her regime out, however, seriously backfired. The ammunition for further pressure and protests.
“Fans don’t see themselves as customers. And so whenever I now get very ‘friendly’ emails from fans, they say: “Get out of OUR club.” So it’s not the shareholders club? I think it’s quite funny because they say they pay – obviously the ticketing system is one third of our revenue stream, but they go to the restaurants with their family every week and they go to the cinema, but if they’re not satisfied with the product, do they go and scream at the people in charge of it? No they don’t, but they do it with a football club. And that’s very weird because they feel a sense of ownership.”
As if heading to a web summit in Ireland a handful of days after dismissing a head coach isn’t misguided enough, Meire’s comments at the summit were horrendous. Supporters heavily insulted, with the pathetic apologies and attempts to change the meaning that followed not enough to appease angered fans.
The phrase “candidly” appears to have lost its meaning. Openness and honesty replaced by an awkward question and answer statement, that is little more than a token gesture to attempt to appease supporters.
Nothing of real note said, apart from attempting to suggest that Rhys Williams, Roger Johnson and Diego Poyet would save our season.
That this statement had no name attached and wasn’t publicised on social media probably suggests that everyone at the club apart from the writer of it thought it might be a little bit misguided to publish it.
Duchatelet’s drunken rant, choosing to insult and further anger supporters instead of attempting to address their concerns. “Some individuals seem to want the club to fail,” says the man who has instigated failure.
And then all topped off nicely be repeating Meire’s comments at the web summit, pushing them to the forefront of Charlton supporters’ minds. Misrepresented, apparently, despite the fact they’re available on video.
Insulting and idiotic.
You know, what I really needed after watching Charlton’s relegation to League One confirmed was a statement from Meire saying she’s had enough, and one from Duchatelet promising to sell the club. Not some more empty promises.
They’re not going to rebuild this club, they’re not even going to get it back into the Championship, regardless of what they think. They need to go.
There is, apparently, no end to Meire’s wilful ignorance. A refusal to record the end of season Fans’ Forum despite promising that all future ones would be, the suggestion that people leaving their jobs and a drop in season ticket sales (clasified information dontchaknow) was solely related to relegation, and a classic Meire lie about attempting to force Chris Solly out of the club. Lovely stuff.
The Inflatable Trophy for Protest of the Season
Especially in the latter half of the season, the protesting efforts of Charlton supporters deserved greater praise than the efforts of those representing the Addicks. And with inflatables playing such an important part in the demonstrations, it’s only right the best protest receives the Inflatable Trophy.
Spell it Out in Black and White
A very simple protest, merely involving the wearing of a black and white scarf, with a very simple demand, for the regime to explain their strategy, but one that laid the foundations for the more emphatic protests to follow.
Making Meire Laugh
The first major matchday protest saw a large number of Charlton fans form outside the West Stand prior to kick-off against Sheffield Wednesday and demand change. Katrien Meire decided it was all quite funny, and took a photo of the supporters she had already angered and insulted.
Again, a simple and effective form of protest. Meire’s suggestion that only 2% of supporters are against the regime immediately crushed, with a high percentage of those inside The Valley on their feet with a “2%” card in the air during the second minute of November’s defeat to Ipswich. Katrien wrong? Well I never.
Paying for advertising banners probably shows you’re quite serious. CARD’s handful that have assisted their protesting efforts have been superb.
Travelling to Belgium
Equally, heading over to Belgium on at least two occasions to protest on Duchatelet’s doorstep is a pretty decent and serious effort. Supporters of Sint Truiden joining the cause.
The Middlesbrough Beach Balls and Walk Out
A TV audience witnessing the game being delayed by a deluge of beachballs, before the majority of the crowd took part in the 74th minute walk out. Anger against Duchatelet greater than the joy of victory.
The Birmingham Balls
Another game immediately interrupted by spherical objects invading the pitch. Another victory that meant relatively little, with the greater concern removing Duchatelet from the club.
The Brighton Barrage
With the assistance of Brighton supporters, this was simply spectacular. An estimated 5,000, and one giant Duchatelet balloon, involved in a pre-game march, with the start of both halves delayed by balls and balloons. The pressure building.
Final day protests
Though their side did not, Charlton supporters were always likely to go out with something that left a lasting impression. A sit-in, superb banners and a post-match pitch invasion as Burnley helped themselves to a 3-0 win, and the title. Oh, and that bloody sofa was destroyed. Symbolic, you hope.
Winner: The Persistence of Charlton Supporters
Each individual protest was excellent, but its the combination of them all that is so impressive. Despite the ownership continuing to be ignorant and arrogant, it has placed an amount of pressure and scrutiny on them that simply cannot be dealt with. We’re on top, and we should feel a sense of pride.
The Bitterest Bitter Ex-Employee Award
In Katrien Meire’s expert view, any criticism of herself and the regime she works for by those who were previously at the club are simply bitter ex-employees. And there’s been plenty of bitter ex-employees speak up throughout the season, whether they worked under Duchatelet’s reign or not.
“Much like receiving an expected diagnosis, regardless of the fact you’ve long accepted what you’re about to be told, is equally as painful as the symptoms themselves, hearing Chris Powell confirm many of our worst fears about Roland Duchatelet’s treatment of him and running of Charlton Athletic, regardless of the fact only Katrien Meire remains in denial, leaves you as angry as the actions themselves do.
It reaffirms the severity of the cancer that Duchatelet’s regime has inflicted upon this football club, spreading through its ethos, its people and its supporters from the moment he took over in January 2014.
Such is the level of opposition, it’s hard to imagine that any sort of reaffirmation is needed, but to hear Powell’s words, always spoken with class and dignity, on TalkSport was like hearing of the death of another from the same illness you suffer from. An emphatic addressing of this ownership’s mistreatment of Charlton Athletic.“
Not so much voicing their displeasure, but the resignation of certain members of staff has further highlighted the ineptitude of this regime. Head of communications Mel Baroni walking out after Duchatelet’s rant appeared on the website, and the head of commercial resigning after being offered their own job by an agency, particular highlights.
Winner: Chris Powell
Powell’s reveal all interview on TalkSport, in addition to supporting Charlton supporters throughout their battle against this regime, has been vital. We all trust him more than the poison running our club.
The Bramall Lane Trophy for Worst Away Performance of the season
Named in recognition of Charlton’s suffering in the red and white half of Sheffield in 2014, there’s no shortage of contenders this season.
Crystal Palace 4-1 Charlton Athletic
“The second half capitulation that followed was both predictable and self-inflicted. The Addicks unable to successfully fight as the difference in class became more and more apparent, with Luzon suitably punished for underestimating the importance of this derby fixture.”
MK Dons 1-0 Charlton Athletic
“At a stadium where those who occupy the home ends are often considered to have something of a fabricated relationship with their club, incapable of understanding the true feelings of such a bond given that theirs was born out of the demise of another, the connection between Charlton Athletic and its fans continued to grow increasingly distant.”
Burnley 4-0 Charlton Athletic
“Fraeye’s failings and his players’ poor efforts unlikely to be enough to force Meire into wholesale changes of the club. Nor is Burnley’s 78th minute fourth, despite the ease with which Sam Vokes flicked in Matt Lawton’s low cross.”
Colchester United 2-1 Charlton Athletic
Huddersfield Town 5-0 Charlton Athletic
“A five-nil defeat, that made the same result at Vicarage Road last season seem pleasant. That contained such a lack of structure there would not be a former Charlton manager who isn’t currently embarrassed. That featured such a lack of effort that more is taken by this poisonous regime in searching and appointing a head coach.”
Hull City 6-0 Charlton Athletic
“For some in the KC Stadium’s away end, this was the 11th goal they had seen Charlton concede in five days. Eleven goals conceded without reply, and wholehearted efforts made to stop them a rarer sight than spotting an Englishman in the Addicks dugout.
Instead, the visiting supporters were overcome by a sense of resignation. Few believed that the defeat to Huddersfield was the tip of the iceberg, and even fewer thought the appointment of Jose Riga would immediately, if it all, transform a group of broken players. This expected.”
Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Charlton Athletic
“In familiar surroundings, this group of players wearing red appeared lost. At a ground where the Addicks have previously shown resilience, character and fight in memorable victories, it was impossible to identify any of those attributes. On what will almost certainly be their final visit to Hillsborough before returning to League One, Charlton put in a performance that shamed their past efforts in the blue half of Sheffield.”
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Charlton Athletic
“There was an acceptance that this would be the night that Charlton Athletic’s relegation to League One was confirmed. An acceptance that this club would be playing its football in the third tier next season existing long before the trip to already relegated Bolton Wanderers was made. An acceptance that should have made the inevitable outcome relatively simple to deal with.
And yet, as the full-time whistle blew at a Macron Stadium overwhelmed by empty seats and apathy, it was impossible not to let the confirmation of Charlton’s drop, the consequence of a goalless draw with the basement cub, hurt you. This, particularly for those 253 supporters in the away end, the final insult in a campaign that has barely featured a week without the relationship between club and fans being damaged.”
Winner: The back-to-back trips to Huddersfield and Hull
The combination of the Huddersfield and Hull trips, with the 11 goals conceded and the pitiful performances that suggested relegation had already been accepted, impossibly hard to take.
The Hillsborough Trophy for Best Away Performance of the season
In a shock twist, following the Addicks all over the country this season did actually produce some moments worth remembering.
Derby County 1-1 Charlton Athletic
At others, heroic, if not desperate, interventions were needed to prevent the Rams from concluding an attacking move with a goal. A stunning block from Alou Diarra, a goal line clearance from Patrick Bauer, and Nick Pope saving well on several occasions.
But maybe the biggest indication of the pressure Charlton were placed under in the second half is that, despite taking the lead shortly after half-time, their efforts to hold on for a point were celebrated at full-time almost as if a victory had been achieved.”
Birmingham City 0-1 Charlton Athletic
“It almost feels insulting to judge Johnnie Jackson on the basis of statistics. Like judging Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground on the number of seats it contains, not its character and wonderful ‘proper’ football ground feel.
ProZone cannot measure the importance of his leadership, particularly in adverse times. Opta cannot tell you his influential qualities, for no number can show the way he can inspire those around him. WhoScored cannot apply a rating to the legendary status he has created for himself in SE7, which is impossible to describe with a simple figure.
For though his second-half goal, perfectly timing a run to connect with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis’ cross and thunder a header into the bottom corner, was his 50th for the Addicks, the story of it, and not the statistic, was more important.”
Rotherham United 1-4 Charlton Athletic
“A first league win in 12 games. Only a third league away win in the space of a year. The Addicks still occupying a place in the Championship’s bottom three, and still firmly in a state of crisis, reaffirmed by one final chant of “Roland out” before the away end emptied.
Brentford 1-2 Charlton Athletic
“It was a Callum Harriott brace that sealed Charlton’s Championship status the last time they endured a relegation battle, and a Callum Harriott brace has kept Charlton’s faint hopes of avoiding the drop to League One alive on this occasion.
For without the academy graduate’s goals at Griffin Park, celebrated with similar vigour to how supporters responded to his crucial strikes in the win over Watford in 2014, the Addicks would surely be dead.”
Leeds United 1-2 Charlton Athletic
“The chants of “we want Roland out” that followed the full-time whistle showed exactly where this victory stood in the grand scheme of things. Unified defiance from those in the Elland Road away end, portraying an idea that Charlton Athletic supporters can never feel truly victorious while Roland Duchatelet’s regime remains in control of their club.
For not only was this hard fought win over Leeds United not enough to undo the damage that has already been done this season, but a reminder the real battle exists away from events that take place on the pitch. Faith and hope not suddenly restored by a first victory in six.
That, however, is not an attempt to take anything away from the character those representing the Addicks showed in Yorkshire to claim three points in their final away game of the season. Supporters have been able to feel a sense of pride in their defiance throughout this campaign, but this a rare occasion where Charlton performed in an unquestionably proud manner.”
Winner: Rotherham United 1-4 Charlton Athletic
Though Jackson’s winner over Birmingham was special, the genuine hope that the victory over Rotherham produced made it just that little bit more enjoyable.
He Used to be Alright but Now He’s Shite Award
Such is the nature of this season, a player or coach going from alright to shite has been more common. It only seems fair to award the biggest decline.
After joining in the celebrations that followed Gudmundsson’s stoppage-time winner against Hull, it appeared as if Luzon, having been appointed in untidy circumstances, had just about won over The Valley crowd.
Alas, he would not win another league game before being dismissed in October. His tactics becoming stale and predictable, players seemingly unwilling to work to their maximum for him, and his decision to play a weakened side at Selhurst Park losing him a great deal of respect among supporters.
RoJo always was a bit shite, but Charlton were intent on pretending the error-prone centre-back rejoining the club was equivalent to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The upturn in form after he arrived last season was, of course, all a consequence of his efforts.
By the same logic, Charlton’s pathetic overall efforts in the five games he played in after his return in January must all be his fault.
P5 W0 D0 L5 F5 A19. A defeat to Colchester United in the FA Cup, 11 goals conceded without reply in the space of five days in games against Huddersfield and Hull, a tame effort at Preston, and Johnson’s mistake allowing Reading to snatch a dramatic stoppage-time winner.
After Charlton’s impressive start to the season, he was being linked with Manchester United. After a horrendous performance against Bristol City in February, on the back of a number of other poor displays across several months, he was booed off when substituted.
A victim of Duchatelet’s regime, playing more games than any other Addick despite his struggles with no one to replace him, the club could have certainly supported him better. But silly defensive mistakes become a regular occurrence, and forward threat became non-existent. His confidence declining with each game up until that effort against the Robbins.
He needed time out of the team, for his own protection. Well done, Duchatelet.
Beginning the season in the first team’s starting XI, ending it in the U18s and unable to get a game for the development side. Ahearne-Grant a victim of Duchatelet’s disease as much as any supporter.
At just 18, the youngster still has time to develop, but Duchatelet’s insistence on understaffing the squad and exposing players before they are ready has damaged Ahearne-Grant. Proof, if it were needed, that his philosophy cannot work.
Of all the head coaches that Duchatelet has appointed, Riga is the only one I have any sort of respect for. To keep going back to Duchatelet is a bit silly, but he’s a decent chap and not a horrendous head coach.
However, the reputation he built for himself after his first spell in SE7 has been significantly undone during his second. An improvement in performances, yes, but many points lost by frustrating decisions from the Belgian boss.
Certainly not the flawless coach that the regime hoped would return, and therefore be able to win supporters back onside.
Never really impressing on a consistent enough basis to be deemed alright, it was from pre-season optimism that the giant Dane dropped to shite.
The 6’7 forward was supposed to be the replacement for Kermorgant, and came with a decent reputation. Makienok the cause for much of the optimism that existed prior to the campaign getting underway.
Instead, he has been little more than frustrating. The occasional promising performance quickly followed by utter guff. Too weak in the air, especially for someone of his height, tame when it comes to holding up the ball, and wasteful in front of goal.
By the end of the season, the marquee signing couldn’t enter The Valley’s turf without being booed.
Winner: Roger Johnson
He wasn’t the saviour. Who knew? Well, everyone apart from the club, apparently, who were insistent on pretending he was half decent.
He Used to be Shite but Now He’s Alright Award
In these torrid circumstances, players have actually managed to emulate Lawrie Wilson and move from shite to alright this season.
It hasn’t necessarily been given the attention it deserves, but Fox’s recovery after that nightmare performance against Bristol City has been commendable. By no means perfect, with the occasional defensive mistake still there and his crossing mixed at best, but he’s shown great character to move on from a time where The Valley crowd booed him off the pitch.
His insistence on flapping at everything at the start of the season, punished most notably against Hull and Fulham, tainted the positive aspects of his goalkeeping ability he was displaying, but Pope has been sublime since returning to the side in March.
From spectacular saves, such as his double save against Derby and his succession of one-on-one stops at Leeds, to doing the simple things well, Pope has added a bit of resolve to a leaky Charlton defence.
Though tainted heavily by his needless red card in the goalless draw with MK Dons, that Sanogo managed to perform to a particularly high standard in a handful of games defied the expectations that were in place as he arrived on loan from Arsenal.
A flop everywhere else he’s been, the Frenchman’s performance and hat-trick against Reading was impressive, while his battling display at Brentford led my old man to describe him as “a young Carl Leaburn”. High praise indeed.
I have made no attempt to hide the frustration that watching Harriott has caused me in the past. Unquestionably some sort of talent there, but the winger constantly let down by horrendous decision making and an inconsistent end product.
However, since returning from Colchester, Harriott appears to have matured somewhat, and has arguably been one of Charlton’s better performers in the second half of the season. The 22-year-old much more of a consistent threat, and no longer simply running into dead ends.
Winner: Nick Pope
I should probably give it to Harriott, for proving me wrong, but Pope’s exploits in the final months of the season have been excellent, and earned plaudits even from those who were most critical in the opening weeks of the campaign.
The Yoni Buyens Capitulation of the Season
Charlton have made capitulating a habit this season, and quite often in a style that Yoni Buyens would be proud of. The Standard Liege loanee collapsing from composed midfielder to complete disaster last season. Control to disaster something the Addicks have managed on many occasions.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Charlton Athletic
Having begun the Championship season with two home victories and two away draws against tough opposition, a rather dramatic decline began with the failure to hold onto the lead that Gudmundsson gave the Addicks at Molineux in August.
In fact, after Dave Edwards had equalised for Wolves ten minutes later, Charlton would only hold the advantage in a game once again before August. Adam Le Fondre’s late winner beginning a run of 12 games without victory, that would see Luzon depart 10 games into it and result in Fraeye being inflicted upon us.
And to make matters worse for myself, the day itself became an even more emphatic capitulation with the county cricket side I follow, Northamptonshire Steelbacks, losing in the final of the T20 Blast having surprisingly won in the semi-final prior to the Wolves game. My journey back and forth across the west Midlands, from Birmingham to Birmingham via Wolverhampton, not a particularly enjoyable one.
Cardiff City 2-1 Charlton Athletic
Given that Luzon had opted to play a weakened side against rivals Crystal Palace the Wednesday prior to the trip to Wales, there was a certain amount of pressure on the Addicks to record victory against Cardiff in September.
That seemed a possibly outcome after Karlan Ahearne-Grant, somewhat undeservedly so, put Charlton ahead just after the break.
But the lead was conceded four minutes later, with Joe Mason equalising for the Bluebirds, and little fight offered as Sean Morrison headed the hosts in front.
A weak effort after gaining an advantage, and a defeat that saw Luzon’s reputation among Charlton supporters decline massively.
Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Charlton Athletic
In truth, there is no shame in losing to Brighton. Especially not a Brighton side that were unbeaten at the time, and one that would ultimately fall just shy of automatic promotion.
But the manner of the defeat, regardless of the Seagulls’ quality, at the Amex in December was pathetic.
Fraeye’s decision to effectively play four in attack rewarded initially, as Lookman and Ghoochannejhad gave the Addicks a two goal advantage after five minutes, but his tactical naivety and the defensive weakness of his side would soon be punished in rather pathetic fashion.
Brighton back into the game just after half-time as James Wilson ran through Charlton’s backline, and their task was made simpler with Bauer recklessly hauling down Bobby Zamora as he broke through on goal. The German’s moment of ill-discipline leaving the Addicks horribly open, and their equaliser should have come long before Zamora’s 83rd minute strike.
Two minutes later, however, and a Charlton side that had long stopped fighting to the required standard gifted Brighton their winner. Henderson unable to keep out Tomer Hemed’s header, as the forward nodded towards goal unchallenged.
A weak attempt to take anything from the game, and a deserved outcome.
Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Charlton Athletic
Justified hope of avoiding the drop to League One existing as Ademola Lookman’s two goals gave the Addicks an early, and crucial, advantage against relegation rivals Bolton. Fraeye’s side in control.
But before half-time, that advantage had been thrown away in a barely believable fashion. Impressively gutless and weak, even for this group of Addicks.
Emile Heskey allowed to convert from close range, before no one in red bothered to close down Josh Vela, and the youngster drilled home an equaliser before the break.
Charlton not only gutless and tactically naive in that period, but lacking fight and quality thereafter. At no point in the second half did they look like regaining the advantage they’d thrown away. Pathetic.
Burnley 4-0 Charlton Athletic
To compete for 44 minutes and then lose by four is an acceptable outcome, in the view of Fraeye.
To compete for 44 minutes, and then capitulate in emphatic fashion, offering little resistance as Burnley stuck four past the weak Addicks, is not to be too heavily analysed.
For there is no need to “make Charlton now into a team who are going everywhere and must win and must be better than the home side,” according to the wise interim head coach.
The most acceptable capitulation of the season, apparently.
Post the win over Rotherham
There was genuine excitement in the away end following the conclusion of Charlton’s 4-1 victory over Rotherham at the end of January. Riga’s first win since returning, and belief growing that the Addicks were capable of pulling away from the bottom three.
Alas, the win at the Millers was immediately undone by a tame defeat to Bristol City. A draw and three further defeats followed before Riga’s side would win again. The gap between Charlton and safety too big for it to really matter by the next time they achieved three points.
The chance to build momentum after the Rotherham win completely wasted. Relegation effectively confirmed with it.
Kyle Andrews V Middlesbrough
Having protested passionately throughout the day, celebrated Teixeira’s opening goal with great enjoyment, and been fully prepared to walk out the ground after 74 minutes, I sensed nothing wrong.
In fact, this was probably one of the more enjoyable days in SE7 this season. The sense of togetherness strong, and the performance commendable against such strong opposition.
Alas, the next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital-type bed deep in the bowels of The Valley in a state of deep confusion. Without warning, I’d had a seizure as I attempted to exit the Covered End.
A capitulation that those in red would have been proud of.
One of the many things that makes me incredibly sad about the position Charlton currently find themselves in is that excellent work of Chris Powell and his side has been completely undone.
The efforts of that special side, that not only won League One with 101 points but were then able to overachieve in their first season in the Championship, rendered completely meaningless.
Let’s not forget, too, that this club was once one of the most respected in the country in general.
Outstanding work, Duchatelet.
Winner: The Club
A spectacular destroying of a once admired club.
The news of a head coach departing Charlton Athletic has become as much of a footnote as a squad player being released or a loanee’s temporary stay coming to an end. Quite extraordinary given that this is a club who once employed the same boss for 15 years, and whose supporters hold special bonds with several previous managers.
In part, it’s due to the seemingly never ending turnover of head coaches in SE7 under the leadership of Roland Duchatelet. Predictable that Jose Riga’s second spell as Charlton boss, not helped by this one being considerably less inspiring than his first, would end well before the natural completion of his 18-month contract. A sixth head coach to leave The Valley since March 2014.
Apathy playing a role, too, in the lack of emotion felt over another boss departing. Disconnection from all aspects of the club an unavoidable consequence of the contempt with which this regime has treated supporters in recent months.
Then there’s the consideration that football itself has been rendered insignificant by the need to remove a club structure that is damaging, and littered with individuals who are ignorant and insulting. The news of Riga’s resignation swept under a sea of protests and anger.
But ignoring Riga’s departure completely would be a mistake. For that someone so loyal to Duchatelet and his mob, who has additionally spoken of an admiration for Charlton as a club, has opted to walk away is another huge blow for the already non-existent foundations from which this regime will attempt to rebuild some sort of reputation. This list of those opposed has a new important ally.
In fact, there was even a parting shot from Riga. “It’s about the club structure,” he said. His reluctance to remain in charge a direct result of the regime’s running of this football club. The Belgian evidently provided with no reassurances that, as promised, Duchatelet will be learning from his mistakes.
For there are unquestionably differences between learning from mistakes, and simply making alterations to a highly flawed philosophy.
And the issue for this regime is that so many of their mistakes, such is the damage that they have done over the previous two and a half years, are simply not fixable. You can make alterations to the recruitment strategy and give more freedom to the man in the dugout, but never will the relationship between this ownership and Charlton supporters be healed – the biggest mistake made.
Particularly not with support still being given to Katrien Meire. The supporter-loathing CEO whose appointment and subsequent granting of power were mistakes, who continues to make mistakes, and whose continued employment is the grandest of grand mistakes.
Dismissing Meire would certainly provide a powerful statement that there is genuine desire to make meaningful change at the club, and that Duchatelet’s intentions have alerted from personal gain to bringing success to the club, but it seems incredibly unlikely to happen.
And even if the CEO was to be dismissed, and the suggestion that Duchatelet now cared for the success of the club was to be brought forward, then his continued reluctance to meet with interested parties would make such a notion wide of the mark.
The only way that the mistakes that have been made over the previous two and a half years can be corrected is by a complete change in the structure of the club. The playing side of things can be improved by this regime should it choose to make changes, but it will not prosper while such a poisonous ownership remains in control, who have no chance of regaining the trust of supporters.
Trust that won’t simply be regained by the appointment of Chris Wilder, which appears surprisingly possible.
Particularly on the back of Riga’s parting words, and the criticism the club has faced from those on the inside in recent weeks, it seems hard to make sense of Wilder’s thinking. Why would a manager whose stock is so high, whose current club has momentum, and who holds a strong relationship with the staff and supporters of Northampton Town want to come to a club in such a state of crisis? This will surely conclude with a new contract being agreed with his current employers.
That, of course, is not to say the appointment of Wilder would in any way be a disappointment, or is one I wouldn’t want. His leadership of the Cobblers, particularly through the period in which their future appeared uncertain, has been absolutely fantastic, and the League Two title a deserved reward. A promising English coach to lead the rebuilding of the Addicks would, under normal circumstances, be an exciting prospect.
Alas, in the circumstances that Duchatelet has created at this club, it feels destined for failure.
Quite rightfully, after two year and a half years of insults and failure, there is not trust in this regime. No trust that whatever Wilder has been sold in order to be convinced to take the job on will actually be delivered. No trust that a regime who decided to turn down signing Lee Tomlin and Yann Kermorgant in January will grant more power to those more qualified when it comes to recruitment.
The 48-year-old not simply going to sit down and accept heavy interference, should the regime retreat on promises. A scenario where Wilder walks just before or after the start of the season, should he be appointed, seems more realistic than one where he is allowed to bring success to the club.
And still, regardless of the appointment of a respectable head coach, there will remain the animosity towards the regime. Not the fault of supporters for having such anger, but the fault of this regime, through their failings and treatment of both club and fans, for creating it.
They may have some indication of the damage they have done to the football club itself, which is why they have been forced into making attempts to improve the situation, but it’s fairly obviously they simply don’t understand the nature of the damage they have done to the relationship between club and supporters. That events on Saturday only heightened the animosity merely increases the weight behind that suggestion.
For now, the heart of the issue is not to be found in who sits in the dugout at The Valley. It a footnote to who sits in the Directors’ Box, or watches from afar, while Duchatelet, Meire and Richard Murray remain.
To hand out awards at the conclusion of this torrid campaign doesn’t quite feel right. The 2015/16 season more deserving of a dunces hat, and some time spent sat in a non-sofa occupied corner.
In fact, if this year of failure and crisis belonged to a restaurant, it would have been shut down. Customers walking out in disgust after being constantly insulted by staff, and that before they’ve even had a chance to sample the delights of food prepared in 1* rated hygiene conditions.
The only people truly deserving of awards this season are the supporters of Charlton Athletic, who have withstood such punishment and continued to fight with persistence for the required change at their club.
But if the POTY dinner can escape cancellation, then Chris Powell’s Flat Cap’s annual End of Season Awards can certainly go ahead.
25 categories feature, with many of the regular awards handed out and a few new ones claimed for the first time, over the course of three separate blog pieces. A big thank you to Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire for providing most of the content.
The Danny Haynes Goal of the Season
The criteria for this award appears to be changing with each season. This year’s Danny Haynes Goal of the Season is awarded to the player responsible for the most visually pleasing strike.
Ahmed Kashi V Peterborough United (Peterborough United 4-1 Charlton Athletic)
Ademola Lookman V Brighton and Hove Albion (Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Charlton Athletic)
Simon Makienok V Rotherham United (Rotherham United 1-4 Charlton Athletic)
Johann Berg Gudmundsson V Preston North End (Preston North End 2-1 Charlton Athletic)
Yaya Sanogo’s first V Reading (Charlton Athletic 3-4 Reading)
Johann Berg Gudmundsson V Birmingham City (Charlton Athletic 2-1 Birmingham City)
Winner: Ahmed Kashi V Peterborough United
Yeah, he was never not going to win it, was he? Utter class.
The Johnnie Jackson Goal of the Season
Many of the most enjoyable goals in this torrid season weren’t necessarily stunning strikes, but spectacular given the context they were scored in. The Johnnie Jackson Goal of the Season is awarded to the scorer of a goal that produced the greatest feelings of joy and wildest scenes of celebration.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson V Hull City (Charlton Athletic 2-1 Hull City)
You know that Guy Luzon Character? The bloke who spent most of his time crouching in the technical area with a stern look on his face? Well even he enjoyed this one, so it must have been good.
After Abel Hernandez, equalising in the 89th minute, had cancelled out Simon Makienok’s headed goal, momentum was with Hull in an extended period of stoppage-time. Hernandez seemingly winning it for the Tigers, only to be denied by the assistant referee’s flag.
And once you consider the perceived quality of recently relegated Hull, in addition to the pressure they were applying, Gudmundsson’s 97th minute winner becomes even more spectacular.
Johnnie Jackson and Jordan Cousins V Fulham (Charlton Athletic 2-2 Fulham)
Lifeless and losing to Fulham by two, the Addicks were dead and buried with nine minutes to play at The Valley in October.
But on came captain Jackson, having been sparingly used by Luzon up to that point, with his presence almost single-handedly changing the game. A thunderous header halving the deficit immediately.
It was, of course, Cousins’ stoppage-time equaliser that earned the Addicks a point, but it was Jackson’s influence that was the catalyst for the comeback and upturn in atmosphere.
Johnnie Jackson V Birmingham City (Birmingham City 0-1 Charlton Athletic)
A first away win of the season sealed by a signature thumping Jackson header, which also happened to be his 50th goal for Addicks. Great scenes of celebration in the St. Andrew’s away end.
Callum Harriott’s second V Brentford (Brentford 1-2 Charlton Athletic)
The unexpected nature of Harriott’s early first at Griffin Park in March certainly made it enjoyable, but it was his match-winning second that was celebrated with real vigour.
Used to capitulating after losing a lead, the relief of the Addicks regaining the advantage after Yoann Barbet’s equaliser was certainly part of the reason behind the wild joy in the away end.
So too was it down to the fact Harriott’s emphatic strike was scored in front of a noisy terrace, and that the three points it gave Jose Riga’s side a decent chance of achieving made survival look a little less impossible.
Jorge Teixeira V Middlesbrough (Charlton Athletic 2-0 Middlesbrough)
With the atmosphere already intense, a consequence of a day of protests, Teixeira’s headed opener against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough made for wild celebrations at The Valley.
Confirmation, if it were needed, that protesting against the regime doesn’t limit support for the team.
Jorge Teixeira V Birmingham City (Charlton Athletic 2-1 Birmingham City)
With relegation moving closer to being confirmed, this was the sort of brief moment of joy that felt extra special. A break from the grim nature of reality.
A dramatic stoppage-time winner from Teixeira that might not have been enough to keep Charlton’s chances of survival realistically alive, but it didn’t stop the moment being any less enjoyable.
Winner: Jorge Teixeira V Birmingham City
Controversially beating Gudmundsson’s winner against Hull, Teixeira’s stoppage-time header to beat the Blues takes the award for the brief moment of joy it provided in the heat of despair.
The Bradley Pritchard Miss of the Season
Those that failed in front of goal to an extent that everyone’s favourite Zimbabwean would be proud of compete for arguably the most coveted award. Preference given to those misses that were not only horrendous, but important.
Simon Makienok(s) V Nottingham Forest (Nottingham Forest 0-0 Charlton Athletic)
During a night that featured many missed opportunities, with Forest goalkeeper Dorus De Vries in fine form, it was Makienok’s failings in front of goal that proved most frustrating. Each miss on its own wasn’t particularly bad, but when you combine an off-target header, a wayward volley and another nod towards goal that De Vries really shouldn’t have been able to save, Charlton’s inability to win at the City Ground has a lot to do with the Dane’s failure to finish.
Franck Moussa V Brentford (Charlton Athletic 0-3 Brentford)
Johnnie Jackson V Cardiff City (Charlton Athletic 0-0 Cardiff City)
Normally flawless from this sort of position, an unmarked Jackson could only head Gudmundsson’s corner into the ground and over the bar. In a game of few chances, this would ultimately prove a huge miss.
Yaya Sanogo and Simon Makienok V MK Dons (Charlton Athletic 0-0 MK Dons)
In truth, the blame for the failure to beat MK Dons in this must-win game lies almost entirely with Jose Riga. His tactical set-up and the timing of his substitutions completely wrong. But Sanogo’s inability to turn in Zakarya Bergdich’s delivery, in addition to Makienok’s unwillingness to gamble, didn’t really help.
Callum Harriott V Birmingham City (Charlton Athletic 2-1 Birmingham City)
The less said about this the better. At least, with Teixeira’s late winner, it didn’t prove costly.
Igor Vetokele V Queens Park Rangers (Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Charlton Athletic)
Having drawn level, the Addicks were now well on top against QPR in April. But Igor Vetokele’s inability to take this glorious one-on-one chance proved particularly costly, as the R’s were able to grab a stoppage-time winner.
You’re only kidding yourself if you don’t still miss the wonderful Frenchman. He’ll feature in this award until the end of time.
Winner: Yann Kermorgant
And it probably always will be. No, you move on.
The Anil Koc Signing of the Season
Much like the loan signing Anil Koc in 2014, the candidates for this award were additions that, though didn’t necessary show a lack of quality, failed to have any impact. Their signings practically pointless.
Arriving on loan from Everton in September, with a spell at Cardiff during the previous season earning him a positive reputation, young winger McAleny seemed like a useful addition to Charlton’s squad. That particularly true with Cristian Ceballos injured and Zakarya Bergdich, well, being Zakarya Bergdich.
Instead, McAleny was sent back to Merseyside before the natural completion of his loan spell without having made any sort of impression in SE7.
His contributions minimal, with there seemingly a reluctance to fully commit himself. Large chunks of games passing by where you would forget he was involved, before an uninventive run into a dead end or a tame final delivery would see him reappear in disappointing fashion
The emergence of Ademola Lookman, and Karel Fraeye’s insistence on playing forwards out wide rather than recognised wingers, ultimately pushing McAleny down the pecking order to a point where his loan move benefited no one. A relative waste of time.
The signing of South Korean left-back Suk-Young, on loan from QPR, was seen as an opportunity to give Morgan Fox a break from the side. The academy graduate enduring a tough time, but not removed from the starting XI owing to the fact that there was no one available to replace him.
But Suk-Young was largely deployed on the left of midfield, failing to impress and keeping Ademola Lookman out of the side. Fox thankfully improving towards the end of the season, growing in composure and confidence, but the manner in which Suk-Young was used made his signing rather odd.
Maybe a little harsh, considering a large part of the reason Ceballos failed to impress was owing to injury, but it doesn’t take away completely from the feeling that the former Barcelona and Tottenham attacking midfielder should have offered much more.
With high expectations given his reputation, the Spaniard never really showed any glimpses of genuine quality in the appearances that he did make for the Addicks. His shunning from the first team in the final part of the season, despite being fit, reflective of that.
Oh, and he can’t take corners. He really can’t take corners.
While not universally respected as a person, given the manner in which he departed the club in 2014, only the most stubborn of Addicks would suggest they didn’t have respect for Poyet the player when the academy graduate rejoined the club on loan in January. Gus’ son not only impressing for MK Dons in the first half of the season, but his work as a deep-lying playmaker was the catalyst for Charlton’s survival two seasons ago.
It was, therefore, incredibly disappointing that Poyet failed to make any sort of impression during his second spell in SE7. Chances limited, and those handed to him not taken. Quiet defensively, meaning his excellent ability to break up play was not on show, while his passing was largely conservative and unimaginative.
Ricardo Vaz Te
It all started reasonably well for former West Ham forward Vaz Te, whose exploits at Upton Park made his arrival in SE7 an exciting one. His feet were quick, his name was sung, and chances were created.
But the initial effort and energy shown was lost in quite abrupt fashion. Replaced by something that more accurately resembled an uninterested journeyman. His performance in the defeat at Huddersfield Town, without any effort whatsoever, just about summing it up. A huge disappointment.
The most pointless of all the summer additions, that ultimately met a fitting end.
Winner: Diego Poyet
All worthy contenders, but the fact Poyet failed to replicate the form he showed in order to help keep the Addicks up in 2013/14 makes his the most underwhelming signing.
The Christophe Lepoint Signing of the Season
The candidates for this award were, like Lepoint, signings that simply failed to perform. Pathetic, rather than pointless.
Energetic, composed and seemingly possessing a strong eye for a pass, the early signs were promising. Ba, a summer signing from Sunderland, made a decent first impression in SE7.
But his energy was soon replaced by a sluggishness, his composure quickly lost, and his passing became horribly erratic. His presence in midfield offering absolutely no reassurance whatsoever, as opposition central pairings began to overwhelm him with ease.
No wonder that, by the end of the season, the Frenchman was rarely getting a place in the matchday squad, and posting a video of his own highlights (I assume after heavy searching and editing) on Twitter.
Premier League clubs were apparently admirers of Moroccan international Bergdich before he joined Charlton, but his performances for the Addicks are unlikely to have maintained top flight interest.
Signed to replace Rhoys Wiggins, Bergdich was instead deployed almost entirely in midfield, and rarely provided any sort of threat. Brief cameo displays under Jose Riga’s leadership not enough to cover up how abysmal he was otherwise.
Another stunning effort from the Duchatelet scouting system. Plucked from Sporting Lisbon and handed a five-year contract, Sarr has failed to show the required quality for the Championship, let alone to play for one Europe’s elite clubs.
His reading of the game atrocious, his defensive errors increasingly pathetic, and the way in which any striker with a bit of pace and strength has been able to bully him is laughable. Even Ishmael Miller and Emile Heskey have had some fun against Sarr.
Will League One be more his level? His efforts against Colchester United’s Marvin Sordell and Chris Porter in the FA Cup suggest not.
He wasn’t good the first time, so why sign him again? Desperation and laziness the only justifiable answers for the return of Johnson.
His efforts in the five games he played, all defeats, were horrendous, while his attempts to deal with Yann Kermorgant during the defeat to Reading were pathetic.
Oh, and to make matters worse, he’s contracted for next season. Grim.
It was always going to be something of a gamble signing a player who had played two games of professional football since February 2014, and it proved to be a gamble that didn’t quite pay off.
Williams carried the look of a man who had forgotten how to play football. Not simply rusty, but appeared horribly uncomfortable. The Middlesbrough loanee lacking any sort of composure, despite having a reputation as a reliable utility man.
Having made countless errors in his handful of appearances for the Addicks, Williams was quickly sent back to Boro. A sense of sadness existing that injury had damaged the career of a solid Championship footballer to such an extent, but no sympathy for Charlton’s decision to sign him.
Winner: Naby Sarr
Heartbreak for RoJo, but the money spent on Sarr means he claims the award. Straight out of the Duchatelet textbook on how not to run a football club.
The Johann Berg Gudmundsson Signing of the Season
On occasions, Roland Duchatelet’s flawed recruitment structure has actually managed to sign a player for Charlton who isn’t horrendous. Iceland international Gudmundsson the prime example, and a handful have followed this season.
With leadership, composure and defensive qualities belonging to an experienced centre-back in the prime of his career, it’s easy to forget that Bauer is only 23.
The German, strong in the tackle, superb in the air and an intelligent reader of the game, adapted to the English game quicker than many overseas signings after arriving from Martimo.
A real shame that injury prevented the BFG from playing in the second half of the season, and his performances were tainted ever so slightly by a lack of a discipline.
Replacing Roger Johnson and Naby Sarr isn’t exactly a difficult job, but the defensive resolve Teixeira has provided has been even more welcome given the quality of the centre-backs that were in the Charlton XI before he arrived from Standard Liege in January.
Not enough to stop the Addicks leaking goals from set-pieces, let alone prevent relegation, but the Portuguese has not been lacking in individual resolve and fight.
Something of an old-fashioned defender, with his favoured move a first-time clearance, Teixeira has also proved a threat in attacking situations. His goals against Middlesbrough and Birmingham two of the better moments of this season.
The Algerian’s performance against Leeds, his first appearance since September, left many supporters wondering whether this season would have concluded in relegation had he been fit for the duration of it.
For Kashi, missing much of the campaign with an Achilles issue, displayed the composed class in a deep-midfield role that he had shown during the nine appearances he made prior to suffering his season-disrupting injury.
Strong and deceptively athletic, superbly skilled in breaking up opposition attacks, and possessing a clever eye for a pass. He is a class above League One, and keeping a hold of him could be massive.
Simon Makienok’s Dog
Makienok, a disappointing signing rather than a poor one, may not have provided as much joy as was hoped upon his loan arrival from Palermo, but his pet dog certainly has. Just look at how cute it is!!!!
Very much a personal one, but my fan girl tendencies exploded when Kermorgant signed and returned the photo I took of him after the defeat to Reading. The most excited a signing has made me this season.
He even finished it off with his old Charlton squad number. What a guy.
Winner: Simon Makienok’s Dog
Its existence being brought to my attention has arguably been the highlight of this horrendous campaign. I’m more upset about it disappearing from these shores once Makienok departs than our relegation to League One.
The Yann Kermorgant Performance of the Season
Those that currently represent the Addicks all aspire to perform to the same standard as Yann Kermorgant. It only right that the award for performance of the season is named after the Frenchman.
Tony Watt (Watt, Watt) V Queens Park Rangers (Charlton Athletic 2-0 Queens Park Rangers)
In a time when Tony Watt was not simply an injury prone trouble maker, but additionally possessed talismanic forward abilities, the Scot’s efforts in the second half against QPR on the opening day of the season gave the Addicks an unlikely victory.
Benched following a disciplinary issue, Watt was introduced at half-time and transformed the game. Second best in the opening 45, Watt’s pace, trickery and drive put Charlton on the front foot, with the Scot giving them the lead seven minutes after the break.
And his constant desire to test the opposition defence kept the Addicks in control, allowing for Morgan Fox to strike home a sweet second.
Simon Makienok V Sheffield Wednesday (Charlton Athletic 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday)
The positive impact that Makienok has been able to have at times has made his overall efforts for the Addicks during his loan spell from Palermo even more frustrating.
For while there have been many games where his contributions haven’t been pleasing, there have been a handful where he has played an important role in victories. Not least during the win over Sheffield Wednesday.
In addition to taking his goal well just before the interval, adding to Jackson’s opener and doubling Charlton’s lead, the Dane held the ball up well and brought others into play superbly. Something he should have been doing for the duration of the season.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson V Rotherham United (Rotherham United 1-4 Charlton Athletic)
Gudmundsson, without ever being poor, has sometimes been a little sluggish and underwhelming this season, but he certainly wasn’t at the New York Stadium.
His bursts forward led a persistent Charlton attacking effort, and allowed the Iceland international to supply his teammates on three occasions. Bombing into the box and driving across the face of goal for Vetokele to finish, picking out Makienok with a corner delivery, and feeding Ademola Lookman for Jose Riga’s side fourth of a productive afternoon.
Yaya Sanogo V Reading (Charlton Athletic 3-4 Reading)
I maintain that Sanogo’s second, a header that found its way over the line via Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, was an own goal, but it takes little away from the Arsenal loanee’s impressive efforts that were ultimately made meaningless by a pathetic Charlton defence during the defeat to the Royals.
Credited with a hat-trick, helping to give the Addicks some hope after they had fallen 3-1 behind thanks to a Kermorgant onslaught, his all-round play was also impressive. His well taken first and two headers that followed as commendable as his hold-up and link-up play.
Just a shame that Roger Johnson lacks any sort of resolve and composure, really.
Callum Harriott V Brentford (Brentford 1-2 Charlton Athletic)
Having been unable to hold down a place in the side, despite impressing when given an opportunity, since returning from Colchester, Harriott’s double against Brentford not only revitalised Charlton’s chances of survival but also his Charlton career.
The academy graduate’s opener came with just 19 seconds gone, converting Fox’s cross, and his second, taken in clam and composed fashion, came after Barbet had equalised. Goals complementing an overall excellent attacking display, that just about kept Charlton’s hopes of avoiding relegation alive.
Jordan Cousins V Middlesbrough (Charlton Athletic 2-0 Middlesbrough)
Particularly in the context of the protests that took place during the Middlesbrough game, that might well have distracted a weaker character, Cousins’ performance in the victory over Boro was sublime.
Dominating and dictating in the middle, against arguably the strongest midfield in the division, the unlikely win over the promotion-chasing side was instigated as much by Cousins as it was by Aitor Karanka’s absence. Pressing with unrelenting intent, breaking up attacks with regularity, and starting new ones of his own.
A vast improvement on the academy graduate’s early season form, and part of the reason many were convinced to vote for him for POTY.
Alou Diarra V Birmingham City (Charlton Athletic 2-1 Birmingham City)
It was an attacking threat that made Charlton’s performance in victory over Birmingham so impressive, but it would have been meaningless without the solid base provided by Diarra in a deep-lying midfield role.
Though slightly less energetic, it was a performance similar to Cousins’ in the win over Boro. The Blues punished for moving the ball too slowly, with the Frenchman breaking up opposition attacks with relative ease, and beginning new ones thereafter.
The sort of performances that Diarra replicated on several occasions towards the end of the campaign. His battling efforts in midfield the catalyst for the slight improvement in overall displays, if not necessarily results.
Nick Pope, Ahmed Kashi and Johnnie Jackson V Leeds United (Leeds United 1-2 Charlton Athletic)
Battling efforts, too, were important in the victory over Leeds post the confirmation of Charlton’s relegation. A result built on resilience.
On his return from injury, Kashi was sublime, controlling the midfield and breaking up play with relative ease, while Jackson threw himself in front of Leeds shot after Leeds shot, supporting his words following relegation with the sort of valiant effort that supporters craved.
And when Charlton’s midfield duo were beaten, Pope refused to be. Some of his saves, particularly from Marco Antonucci, simply outstanding.
A shame that such whole-hearted efforts couldn’t be replicated throughout the season.
Winner: Jordan Cousins V Middlesbrough
In a season where character and effort has regularly been questioned, that sort of fight against such strong opposition is to be celebrated.
The Yohann Thuram Performance of the Season
Another Performance of the Season award named after Frenchman, but this one slightly less positive. The worst individual effort of the campaign acknowledged for emulating Yohann Thuram.
Callum Harriott V Peterborough United (Peterborough United 1-4 Charlton Athletic)
Before Harriott was single-handedly beating Brentford, he was running into dead ends and wasting glorious chances against Peterborough in the League Cup.
His performance that night, crippled by classic Harriott decision making, sped up his loan move to Colchester.
Simon Makienok V Ipswich Town (Charlton Athletic 0-3 Ipswich Town)
Despite having impressed just a few weeks earlier during the victory over Sheffield Wednesday, Makienok was at his incompetent best against Ipswich.
Dominated by Ipswich’s defence, unable to win headers, and weak in his efforts to hold up the ball, the Dane offered less than nothing. Both home supporters and Sky Sports scathing in their assessments.
Jordan Cousins V Burnley (Burnley 4-0 Charlton Athletic)
Such was the poor form that Cousins was going through around Christmas time, there were serious calls for the eventual POTY to be dropped. Calls that reached their peak following a dire display at Turf Moor.
His passing erratic, his first touch horrendous, and his defensive resolve that proved so impressive in the final weeks of the season completely non-existent as Burnley ran riot. A decent recovery thereafter, thankfully.
Naby Sarr V Colchester United (Colchester United 2-1 Charlton Athletic)
In truth, most of Sarr’s performances for the Addicks this season could be in contention for this award, but his efforts against Colchester in the FA Cup were particularly embarrassing.
Sarr struggled to deal with former Charlton forward Marvin Sordell, who found a way beyond the centre-back on more occasions that just the time he was able to capitalise, and a Colchester forward line in general that would ultimately end the season in the bottom four of League One.
No surprise that this was his last game of the season for the first team.
Ricardo Vaz Te V Huddersfield (Huddersfield Town 5-0 Charlton Athletic)
Just about every member of the Charlton side that started the 5-0 defeat to Huddersfield deserves to compete for this award. Henderson not covering himself in glory, Johnson predictably weak, and the midfield non-existent.
But it was Vaz Te’s performance, on a night where the performance was so disgraceful that Johnnie Jackson saw it fit to repay the supporters who travelled, that reflected the overall efforts of the side most accurately.
Not just struggling to hold up the ball, win headers or cause threat to the opposition defence, but not bothering to attempt to do so. It always feels wrong to accuse professional footballers of being gutless and lazy, but this truly was a gutless and lazy performance. Riga’s decision to release him a few days after his return supporting that.
Rhys Williams V Hull City (Hull City 6-0 Charlton Athletic)
It turns out throwing a chap who had made two appearances in almost two years straight into the heat of a relegation battle isn’t the best idea.
Hull’s first the consequence of Williams gifting Abel Hernandez the ball. Hull’s second a result of Williams standing off Hernandez, and giving the forward plenty of time and space to pick out the top corner of Henderson’s goal. Hull’s third coming after Harry Lennon had gone to close down a Tiger, and Williams hadn’t bothered to pick up the now spare Robert Snodgrass. A fourth for Hull before half-time as Hernandez peeled off Williams with ease to convert Sam Clucas’ low cross.
All of that while miss-kicking clearances and misplacing passes with alarming regularity. A truly hopeless display.
Morgan Fox V Bristol City (Charlton Athletic 0-1 Bristol City)
Though justifying the booing of Fox isn’t something I want to do, it’s not as if the left-back didn’t provide ammunition.
Fox horribly uncomfortably for the duration of the game, with his play on the ball horrendous and Bristol City often exposing him defensively.
Roger Johnson V Reading (Charlton Athletic 3-4 Reading)
Much better centre-backs have spent their afternoons being bullied by Kermorgant. Centre-backs in red horribly hacking clearances and misplacing passes a regular occurrence in SE7 this season. Besides, Sanogo’s hat-trick was seemingly enough to mean Johnson’s defensive errors could be papered over.
Alas, Johnson had one last massive cock-up instore for us. Horribly misjudging the flight of Obita’s stoppage-time free-kick, resulting in an embarrassing failed attempt to head clear, and Deniss Rakels able to convert a late winner. Marvellous, RoJo.
Reza Ghoochannejhad V Sheffield Wednesday (Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Charlton Athletic)
Ricardo Vaz Te at Huddersfield II. Ghoochannejhad not simply struggling to make an impression, but not willing to put in the required amount of effort.
I wouldn’t dare celebrate a player’s injury, but I think I’ll make an exception here. The Iranian not being fit to play for the reminder of the season beyond the trip to Sheffield a blessing.
Winner: Rhys Williams V Hull City
Naby Sarr and Roger Johnson can feel aggrieved to miss out, but Williams’ performance at Hull was spectacularly dreadful. Not simply mistake-ridden, but a performance that made the Australian look completely out of his depth.