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Home » Charlton Athletic Match Reports » Shakers Defeat Issues Reminder That Regime Remains Satanic

Shakers Defeat Issues Reminder That Regime Remains Satanic

Over a thousand of them travelled from South East London to Bury, prepared to support the side that represented their damaged club. Charlton supporters, in spite of the return to League One and the summer activity offering barely enough to loosely bandage the top half of a wounded body, continue to show diligence and commitment in the face of a poisonous disease sweeping through the Addicks.

You could not criticise the collective that stood behind the goal at Bury’s Gigg Line, providing almost unrelenting encouragement for the first side selected by Russell Slade. A clear intent, intertwined with the occasional call for the club’s hierarchy to depart, to provide a somewhat fresh side with support it had not yet earned.

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But so too, as full-time approached, could you have sympathy for the justifiable anger that had replaced the offerings of support untainted by previous events. The cries of fury, protest and frustration as the Shakers doubled their lead a reminder, if it were needed, that the only antidote to the poison that is crippling Charlton is to completely remove the source.

There can be no attempt by Roland Duchatelet, Katrien Meire and Richard Murray to address the sizeable sum of issues they have created at this club, for the damage they have already done is too great. Their half-hearted efforts to heal wounds meaningless when such disillusion, disconnection and anger – the sort that can only be resolved by a complete revolution – exists among such a large number of devoted Addicks.

The defeat, a sluggish and unorganised effort punished by an energetic but less than excellent Bury, a catalyst rather than a cause for such emotion. Anger remerging as those efforts to heal wounds became more obviously half-hearted. A squad, still understocked in all departments for this new season in the third tier, without cohesion or quality.

A squad that, in different circumstances, might well have been given the benefit of the doubt, but not a squad that needs to produce in order to deflect away from the damage that Duchatelet’s regime has done to Charlton. That needs to produce in order to deflect away from severe lack of depth it has.

Some of that anger, rightfully, sent the way of Slade and his side.

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An aging midfield and a complete lack of attacking cohesion allowing Bury to be the most adventurous side for much of the afternoon, but for the period prior to the hosts taking the lead. An encouraging spell of sorts for the Addicks followed by Jason Pearce giving away a brainless penalty, needlessly hauling down Nathan Cameron, and Neil Danns converting powerfully with 71 minutes played.

And though substitute Ademola Lookman provided some attacking intent, such was the overall disjointed and sluggish performance of Slade’s side, you could not begrudge Bury their second three minutes from time. Cameron knocking a corner down, and Kelvin Etuhu converting at the near post despite a desperate attempt to clear the ball from the line.

This uninspiring effort, however, was, as has so often been the case for Charlton supporters in recent times, something of an afterthought. Instead, a motivation to unleash their feelings towards the regime that continues to cripple this club, that had been hidden in favour of supporting a side wearing Charlton colours previously.

A feeling reaffirmed that supporting any Charlton side untainted won’t be possible until this regime departs.

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A feeling somewhat removed from the hopes that existed prior to kick-off, which suggested Slade and his side, though limited in number, might well be able to provide distraction on a matchday from the anger that exists towards the club’s regime.

Concerns within the first competitive XI selected by Slade, but seemingly not enough to create grand fear at League One level. Roger Johnson the weak line in an otherwise solid backline, which featured debuts for goalkeeper Declan Rudd and centre-back Pearce, along with dependable full-back duo Chris Solly and Morgan Fox.

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The greatest imbalance seemingly coming in midfield, where it appeared Johnnie Jackson would slot in on the left in order to accommodate debutants Kevin Foley and Andrew Crofts. Ricky Holmes providing the creative influence out wide, while Lookman, seemingly as a result of his truncated pre-season, began on the bench.

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And there were first competitive appearances in attack for Lee Novak, starting after a scare over a hand injury, and Nicky Ajose. Much expected of Charlton’s new forward duo following their summer arrivals, not least with little in reserve.

But that Rudd, confidently claiming a cross from wide with Bury’s Tom Pope lurking, was the first debutant Addick to be called into action set the tone for the opening 45.

Not in the sense that the hosts were totally dominant, with genuine chances at a premium, but Charlton constantly found themselves on the back foot in response to the raw pace that their opponents offered. A trend they struggled to grow out of, as attacking threat and midfield energy of their own was worryingly absent.

It no surprise that Bury’s first genuine opportunity came as a consequence of the Shakers pushing men forward, and capitalising on the space afforded to them on the edge of the box. The ball running loose to an unchallenged Jacob Mellis, and the midfielder’s strike flashing across the face of goal. With a margin great enough for Rudd to watch and observe, but not quite great enough for there to be no discomfort in the away end.

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Left-back Greg Leigh, swinging wildly in the way an overenthusiastic full-back might do in such circumstances, causing less concern as he blasted horribly off-target from a half-cleared corner that followed, but definitely contributing towards a need for the Addicks to show greater urgency and intent.

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Urgency and intent that could be shown by getting out to their opposing men and not simply allowing them time on the ball, or by pushing the Shakers back with a few runs of their own. The lively Holmes, providing Charlton’s only genuine outlet while Novak struggled to get the better of Cameron and Anthony Kay, did his best to produce the latter. One of his moves forward concluding with Ajose crossing for Crofts, but his volley hit into the ground and tame.

But the pace and trickery of Holmes, allowing him to get the better of Leigh down his flank, did at least inject some life into this previously lifeless effort. A powerful effort from one-time Charlton loanee Tom Soares clipping the back stanchion of Rudd’s goal, but the Addicks attempt on the counter much closer to breaking the deadlock. Ajose’s swerving strike from distance just about kept out by Ben Williams in the Bury goal, and an offside flag preventing Novak from pouncing on the loose ball.

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And Ajose, anonymous for much of the opening third, was involved again moments later as Jackson’s lofted through ball ran perfectly for him. Williams, however, out superbly to narrow the striker’s angle, and prevent a first Charlton goal for the summer signing from Swindon.

At least there was finally some reward of sorts for the unrelentingly vocal visiting supporters behind Rudd’s goal, who were seeing their side showing a touch more promise. There no great science behind it, with the moves forward either the result of direct balls or Holmes’ ambitious runs, but the creating of chances welcome after such a slow start.

Reward of sorts that wasn’t followed by punishment, despite Croft’s rather unnecessary pulling back of Danns that awarded with a free-kick Bury in an inviting position. The dead ball teed up for the former Bolton man, but his effort soaring over the bar and only rising thereafter.

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In fact, there probably still a need for the Addicks to head to the comfort of the dressing room for half-time. Pope invited to cut inside, but thankfully dragging a tame effort wide, before Johnson’s misreading of a bouncing through ball almost allowed Nicky Clark in. Slade’s side far from convincing, and probably thankful to be level at the interval.

The truth in that reaffirmed by the positive, and confident, start made by Charlton to the second half, in some contrast to the uneasy and tentative effort seen for much of the first.

It, as was the case for many of the more positive moments of the opening 45, led largely by Holmes’ endeavours down the flank. The summer signing from Northampton touching the water by winning an early corner, before rifling a ball across goal that needed an intervention from Williams and couldn’t be turned in at the far post by a stretching Novak.

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Holmes then the beneficiary as Novak finally showed the tenacity and strength he’d previously struggled to. His dogged work eventually seeing the ball worked to Holmes, but the determined Cameron managed to get his body in the way of the winger’s strike.

And finally, the Addicks were allowed to venture forward without Holmes’ influence, as the most marvellous move down the left came agonisingly close to resulting in a Charlton lead. Jackson timing a ball through to Fox perfectly, his delivery defence-splitting, and Novak inches away from getting the touch required to divert the ball goalwards. Once the initial groan of frustration had been shaken off, something resembling a roar of encouragement emerging from the away end.

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A roar, however, that would soon be silenced. The thorn patch walked into with full knowledge it was there, rather than misfortune having anything to do with Slade’s side failing to build upon their early second half promise.

For even with the introduction of Lookman, Bury showed defiance in the face of the attacking threat Charlton were showing. This period of their game, led by the resilient efforts of their centre-back pairing in addition to the relentless running and battling of Soares and Danns in the middle, worthy of more credit than the stage during the first half in which they were obviously dominant.

And with such resilience allowing for the game to settle, a chance appeared for the hosts. Danny Mayor’s near-post header from a free-kick forcing a smart reflex save out of Rudd, and rewarding Bury with a corner.

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A corner that the Addicks would not defend with any sort of composure or organisation. Or sense, for that matter, as the ball was delivered too long for Cameron, but Pearce had already hauled him to the ground before the delivery had completed its flight. Referee Miller having no hesitation in pointing to the spot; Charlton, on this occasion, with no cause to protest.

The only hope that Rudd, having produced such a marvellous save prior to the corner, could keep out Danns’ effort from the spot. The Norwich loanee diving the right way, but realistically nowhere near the former Bolton midfielder’s firmly struck penalty.

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Just 19 minutes remaining for a Charlton side with little in reserve to come back into this game. Support still there, but frustration growing as Lookman’s fine work to break into the box wasn’t rewarded with two players in red peeling away from an inviting cut-back. The perfect reflection of the lack of cohesion in this side.

A scramble resulting in a pot shot from Jackson, which floated over the bar, but the task Slade’s side faced to get back into this game reaffirmed by the fact Brandon Hanlan, on his professional debut, was turned to from the bench.

The desperation, too, reaffirmed as an optionless Holmes tried his luck form the best part of 40 yards, and the ball unsurprisingly trickling well wide. Frustration, and understandably so given how committed their support had been for the majority of the afternoon, now growing to a point where it was noticeable in the away end.

Frustration that became anger with three minutes to go, as the efforts of the Addicks to defend another Bury corner were flimsy at best. Pope easily allowed to nod the delivery back into the centre, and Etuhu bundling the ball over the line.

Defeat on Charlton’s return to League One, where immediate redemption was promised on the basis of Duchatelet and Meire remaining, simply not acceptable.

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Not least defeat in such a drab and gutless manner. Frustration and fury voiced at those Addicks brave enough to traipse towards the away end at full-time as a consequence. But even at the conclusion of such a disappointing performance, it was not they who were the real targets of supporter frustration.

Once again, the cries were as loud and passionate as the support had been for much of the game. A strong desire to remove the regime voiced, that was applauded by Bury’s Soares. This frustration that the result of one tame defeat, but the consequence of continued mismanagement and mistreatment.

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For even in such a poor performance, the reason for it comes partly back to the source of the poison that continues to spread stronger and deeper throughout the club. A more cohesive effort would surely have been seen had Slade been allowed to properly build a squad, and not been scratching for a side in the week prior to the season getting underway.

All pre-season preparation tainted by the summer recruitment beyond the initial three arrivals, for there has been no opportunity to build anything of quality, or anything cohesive.

No greater sign of that than in the middle, with a centre-mid deployed out wide, and two very defensive midfielders paired together centrally. There room for one of those three in the side, but certainly not all three. The lack of creativity and energy alarming.

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But it seen elsewhere, too. Johnson and Pearce, lacking composure for much of the game, spending much of their time hoofing the ball in no general direction, Solly and Fox not worthy of criticism, but struggling to make an impression, and Novak and Ajose largely isolated.

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The only genuine plus point to take from the game was the attacking intent that Holmes provided, but that meaningless with no one able to provide a finish, and no one willing to prevent the opposition from enjoying even greater attacking freedom. Bury’s midfield, via a bit of strength and some pace, allowed total domination.

We could not be further away from having a cohesive unit, and those supporters who deserve so much more for their efforts could not be further away from having what they warrant.

For once again, there can be no forgiveness. Not when the damage done is so extreme, and not when the attempts to address the issues are so meek.

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8 Comments

  1. Paul Gresty says:

    Excellent article. Thank you

  2. Alan says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Thanks for the article, I appreciate it’s no small task and it has been written very well.

    I just wanted to say that even though the performance yesterday was not brilliant, it is only the first game and there are 45 to go. So I won’t be hanging myself just yet. On top of that we are not only a newly relegated side but also one with a new manager so the transitional period will take even longer.

    There is still just over 3 weeks of the transfer window left and we know there are deals coming and as Slade put himself, we need to be patient to get the right deal.

    A British manager with Championship and more importantly perhaps, League One experience has been appointed. Experienced British players have been signed. These were all demands of most fans, yet apparently yesterdays loss is RD/KM’s fault? Pearce, a signing all fans applauded, gave away a penalty but he is exactly the player fans were after. People make mistakes and it takes time. We aren’t demanding him to be sold or for Slade to be sacked, because it’s one result. And as much as the board have made mistakes, yesterday’s result is hardly their fault. Slade has wanted certain targets and has had to be patient. Again, not the boards fault. We can’t expect an overnight fix because a lot of mistakes have been made. But, there is certainly a better direction than last year.

    There has been a lot of movement, more out than in, so we have to give Slade time to work with his team. Had Holmes’ shot gone in yesterday, we could have been looking at a very different game.

    Look we should of never been in this league in the first place, but we are here now and we can’t be surprised by a result like yesterday and assume that it means relegation to League 2 like some fans have mentioned. I think our position by Christmas will be more of a tell than the opening fixture.

    As mentioned earlier, changes don’t happen overnight and had we won yesterday I’m sure people would have been praising Slade and not the board yet if we lose it’s different. (Not suggesting you would have). And whether people like it or not, Slade has been appointed by RD/KM so if he is successful, then they are successful too. It can’t work one way and not the other.

    Sorry Kyle this isn’t explicitly aimed at you but more to the fans generally. Thanks again for the article.

    Alan

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      Over the course of the season, there might well be improvement upon yesterday’s performance. In fact, there has to be, and I don’t doubt that there will be. Our ambitions for the season don’t alter on yesterday’s efforts.
      But at the same time, it feels naive to sit patiently and expect Duchatelet and Meire to oversee not only a dramatic change in fortunes on the pitch, but a dramatic change in the whole structure, ethos and atmosphere of the club.
      Can you not see how unprepared for yesterday’s game we were? That a midfield was cobbled together of players far too similar to play together. That there was no cohesion and chemistry whatsoever, partly as a consequence. That when Bury took the lead, all Slade had to turn to on the bench were youngsters who aren’t yet ready for first team football. That we’re in such a position almost fourth months after relegation is incredible, and is the fault of the regime. The argument that there’s still some time left in the transfer window, and that there remains 45 games, doesn’t mean this fixture is meaningless. They should have been prepared now.
      Additionally, by refusing to sell up, Duchatelet has created a condition where immediate correction of the mistakes made and damage done is required. Under a new regime, untainted by previous actions and not guilty of inflicting the damage, there would be greater patience. That simply logical, and a result of the emotions of supporters.
      While Duchatelet and Meire arrogantly maintain control, pressure is invited upon them, and justifiably.
      Then there’s the collective level of anger that a large amount of supporters hold. It’s poisonous. It doesn’t exist on the basis of yesterday’s result, it exists on the basis of two and a half years of horrendous mismanagement and the running of a football club in a manner that continues to insult supporters. The performance merely providing a platform from which to voice further anger.
      So no, yesterday was not entirely the fault of the regime. I appreciate the cusp of your point, in that they cannot accommodate for a couple of half chances not being taken, and a few defensive errors.
      But that a side without any sort of cohesion or depth took to the field yesterday is the fault of the regime, and is the result of a summer where they failed to build on what was a positive start to recruitment.
      And so too is the anger that exists as a consequence of yesterday’s performance the fault of the regime, for it is they who have created such an atmosphere among Charlton fans, and they who have created the immediate pressure upon themselves by remaining at the club and halfheartedly making an attempt to fix it.

      • Alan says:

        If we can agree changes have been made on the pitch then I don’t think it is naive to give Slade and the board the time to make changes. The signings have been the right signings and we have 3 weeks to make some more. And yes you’re spot on, it isn’t good enough considering relegation was nearly 4 months ago but it was unclear at that point who wanted to go and who would go as well as not having a manager. Slade was appointed only 2 months ago and again maybe the board should have been quicker in appointing but I am glad we waited and got him than rushed in appointing another network manager.

        He has identified his targets since joining and has signed some successfully, if the other clubs are waiting for a bigger deal or other transfers themselves then we need to be patient.

        I think people instantly draw comparisons with Powell’s title winning year and as much as it was a fantastic year, not only did he have the back end of the season before but I also firmly believe that he made signings of players that were noticed from his time at Leicester and so he knew quickly players that would be a big success in L1. Once he ran out of his little black book so to speak, results dropped off a bit once in the championship. Now I am of course speculating and it could have been that he had plenty more in mind, but the owners at the time certainly didn’t have the financial capabilities to match his optimism and we nearly went into administration. RD bought us and since then, whether we like it or not has invested money. You talk of structure and I would say investing in the training ground, relaying the pitch, adding a new TV and painting the seats and stairs is certainly something we haven’t seen in a while. And he has certainly invested in players but I think we can both agree that some are certainly not suited to the English game.

        One thing I do agree on is the way they have treated fans. The way they have approached fans views has been a little disrespectful. Now me personally I would say who are we to question an owners decision to hire or sack a manager and quite frankly I think it’s a shame the way football is now days that there is such little patience among fans that generates the desire for short term success but that isn’t just Charlton. However the very little dialogue that they have had has been insufficient.

        I personally would say be careful what you wish for, yes i scratch my head at some of the decisions made but there is certainly a different approach to the last few seasons. Who knows, someone could finally buy out RD but not really have the money to invest in the infrastructure like he does and i think some of that gets overlooked. If our academy rating changes to Level one that could be massive for the club.

        I’m not saying I don’t understand the frustrations but we all knew the situation before the match and venting it straight after seems to me like it is just about what’s on the pitch. I know it’s not but when fans show discontent at one defeat it worries me that fans are missing the bigger picture. Fans talk about going to games for 40-50 years yet expect instant success from a new manager. As you said, they were unprepared but it certainly isn’t the first time it’s happened at Charlton. And even when we seemed prepared like the Iain Dowie appointment with 15m in signings, we still ended up having a terrible season.

        We all know RD has no intention to sell but at least there is a change in approach and however small that may be, as CAFC fans who have endured more than most I was surprised to see such little compassion towards an owner that has invested probably the best part of 20m into the club. Now I don’t agree with some of his decisions but investment like that can’t be ignored and neither can the appointment and signings of British players/staff.

        I’m not saying forgive them by any means, but at least respect the decision to try something different and out of respect for Slade, give him time to work his magic like he has done previously.

        Thanks for the well written response Kyle and for not throwing abuse in my direction like some have in the past. We all want what is best for the club.

        Alan

      • Kyle Andrews says:

        Yep, you’ve said it all yourself, the lack of pace in the way things have been conducted over the summer has harmed us, and that can’t be justified by the idea that it’s better to take time than rush. Other clubs, those that are run in coherent manners, seem to have been well prepared for the new season without panicking and rushing. Praising the absolute minimum, ie changing to a footballing strategy that makes even the slightest bit of sense, is dangerous. Duchatelet could not have done anything else this summer or his position would have been even more untenable than it already is.
        And the change is really only halfhearted. Meire remains, for example, despite constant failure and errors. She has run out of chances, and yet is continued to be employed by the club. Continuing to insult, and make mistakes.
        The comparison with Powell is obvious, because that was a successful transformation. A side, with similar characters, gelled together at pace.
        Powell obviously restricted in his ambitions by the financial restraints that followed under Slater and Jimenez, but their financial limitations doesn’t provide justification for anything Duchatelet does.
        Investment comes in the shape of a loan, with work on Sparrow’s Lane seeming to have stopped, and investment in the squad comes from the money made from player sales. Money, particularly in the case of Cousins, which isn’t nearly enough. Besides, investment of any kind is hardly meaningful when such disconnection between club and fans exists. It’s very hard to get excited about the ground being well maintained (again, the absolute minimum) when the overall running of the club and actions of the regime has created a great deal of apathy.

  3. Alan says:

    Taking time is something Slade himself is using in the transfer market which is better than solving the problems by recruiting from other clubs in the network.

    We haven’t panicked or rushed and that is why we have seen a slow change.

    Cousins wanted to go, as did the others and I am told they were subject to release clauses. Gudmundsson came in on a free and was sold for around 2m so i would say that it is fairly good business. Investment in players came before this season anyway so you can’t deny he has spent money on players, even if poorly on some.

    I think our love for Powell blinds us at times, i think he was excellent in L1 and seemed to do well in the first year back in the Championship but his second year and his spell at Huddersfield shows he’s not quite the manager he is made out to be at times. (Don’t get me wrong, the man is a legend!)

    Nearly all clubs take out loans for investment, thats how it works in football so no different to anywhere else. And Sparrows lane was to be done in phases, it is the transition from one phase to another rather than stopping.

    Maybe we just disagree on how a football club should be run, but i think running it with your heart like Murray did for many years meant the club was at risk financially in the long term. I would take how it is run at the minute over administration any day where you would see the club’s existence under threat. I know some would argue the same is happening at the moment but i don’t think we can make claims like that until this season is over.

    What changes do you think needs to be made? Genuine question as i am curious as to what everyone feels needs to be done. I feel even if changes were made, people wouldn’t accept them anyway with the current board. People have made their mind up and won’t consider anything else.

    If the club were promoted would that change things in your opinion? What about to the Prem?

    Alan

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      You talk as if people making their mind up over a regime that has inflicted anger and apathy upon supporters for two and a half years (not two and a half months, two and a half years) is wrong. Supporters are well within their right to have no desire to trust this regime, and I’m yet to see anything to make me think I should. The only acceptable change would be Duchatelet selling up. Yep, he doesn’t want to, but that doesn’t mean I, and other supporters, accept it.

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