My frustration and anger towards the regime that currently controls Charlton Athletic grows stronger, which is apparently possible, with each Football League club that announces the appointment of a new manager or head coach following the conclusion of a swift recruitment process.
Let’s, for example, take Rotherham United. A club that would have also been planning for a return to League One were they not intelligent enough to appoint a Championship specialist when their situation appeared most bleak last season.
They would have hoped that Neil Warnock, the man that pulled them clear of the relegation zone in quite stunning fashion, would remain in charge. Contingency plans, what with them being a sensible club and all, would have unquestionably been in place, but their target was to tie down the experienced boss beyond his initial temporary contract.
Exactly two weeks after the Millers were forced into altering their plans, with Warnock deciding he didn’t wish to remain at the Yorkshire club, they have today unveiled Alan Stubbs as their new boss. A manager whose reputation has risen at some pace during his time in charge at Hibernian, concluding with a victory in the Scottish Cup final.
An excellent appointment, that was made extremely quickly given the alteration in plans that was required, and goes a long way to addressing the disappointment that Warnock’s departure created at the New York Stadium.
And if Rotherham aren’t the best example to use given that they are still a Championship club, then let’s take a look at Northampton Town. The Cobblers promoted to League One, but somewhat unexpectedly losing Chris Wilder to Sheffield United.
Wilder, who turned down the job in SE7 as he wasn’t given the assurances he requested, was made manager of the Blades on May 12th. Seven days later, Northampton’s recruitment process was complete, and Port Vale’s Rob Page was their new boss. Swift.
By contrast, almost a month after Jose Riga’s resignation was confirmed, Charlton are still yet to find his replacement. Almost a month since his resignation was confirmed, but it seemed he wouldn’t be remaining at The Valley from as early as the start of April. Players saying as much at sponsors’ events, and his words in post-match press conferences offering further suggestions.
Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, therefore, have realistically had the best part of two months to /conduct and complete a recruitment process. Two months that have seen a handful of targets identified, but no appointment made. Two months that have reaffirmed the complete incompetence of this regime.
Of course, had the initial focus on Wilder ultimately been successful, then this rant wouldn’t be necessary. They would have made a promising appointment in reasonably quick time. A begrudging pat on the back offered.
Identifying and conducting interviews with a target, however, is meaningless when it is their own faults that have prevented a boss from being appointed. Had Wilder been offered the reasonable reassurances he demanded, a contract in SE7 might well have been signed before the Blades showed interest.
Nor does the fact that numerous names have been mentioned as targets in the weeks that have followed the failure to appoint Wilder mean this recruitment process is good enough.
Partly because three weeks have followed, making the process of finding a second target longer than other Football League clubs have needed to conduct a whole recruitment process from scratch. Partly because the other rumoured targets, including the likes of Billy Davies, Nigel Adkins and Russell Slade, are not currently employed as managers and therefore need only convincing that this role is one worth taking.
There’s no compensation packages to be agreed, nor a need to prove that the Addicks can offer more than the club they currently work for. It’s not quite as simple as “fancy a job”, but it might as well be.
And yet, the rumours have quickly cooled with each name that has been suggested. Whether they’ve had talks or not is unknown, but if they have, then Charlton are failing to convince out of work managers that managing at The Valley is an attractive proposition.
Extremely worrying, irrespective of the fact that targeting experienced British bosses is a touch more reassuring than appointing someone from within the network after conducting 20 interviews in a day.
Worrying, too, that we’re now in June and still the Addicks have no boss. That the process of rebuilding a side, which needs to happen regardless of whether Duchatelet maintains control or not, is being delayed. We’re already well behind other more stable and sensible clubs in League One, making the advantage we could possibly have in terms of size and status when it comes to attracting players completely irrelevant.
It means that regardless of who is ultimately appointed, that appointment will be tainted by the length of time it has taken for the club to complete this recruitment process. Tainted by the knowledge that many out of work coaches have not pursued an interest in the job because of the conditions that Duchatelet, Meire and Richard Murray have created. Tainted by the fact the appointment will be relatively low down the list of candidates, and we’ll effectively have to settle for someone that’s willing to work in the unhelpful conditions.
There’s simply no excuse and no justification for the amount of time it has taken, and continues to take, to find a replacement for Riga. Another failure to add to growing list of failures attached to this horrendous regime.
And yet, during this managerless period, Meire has had the cheek to stand up at a business of sport event and suggest that her running of the club isn’t a complete disaster.
She can make desperate attempts to defend herself all she wants, but her continued failings prove that her leadership of the club is a complete disgrace. While Rotherham can offer a stable base, and Northampton can provide ambition, we’ve got a nice pitch. There is no football strategy to tempt the highest breed of candidate in.
Instead, we’re simply going to have to settle for someone desperate enough to take the job on what will almost certainly be, if not in writing then in reality, a temporary basis. Until they find the conditions they’re working under too tough, or until a change in ownership occurs and the club becomes as attractive a proposition as it should be to high quality League One bosses.
As testing as ever to feel any sense of optimism and enthusiasm. The chance to inject even the smallest amount with a quick and reasonable appointment lost.
Edit: Just as I was about to post this, Blackpool announced the appointment of Gary Bowyer. Even Blackpool, a club whose crisis eclipses ours, have been able to appoint a relatively okay-ish manager in quicker time. For Christ sake.