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Home » Opinion » Charlton’s Policy Might Have Moved On, but Driesen Revelations Reaffirm Supporters Should Not

Charlton’s Policy Might Have Moved On, but Driesen Revelations Reaffirm Supporters Should Not

From the first month of Roland Duchatelet’s reign as Charlton Athletic owner, the phrase “move on” has been persistently used in an attempt to brush mistakes, insults, and the overall damage done to the club underneath the carpet. Or maybe underneath the sofa.

The relatively small sub-section of supporters that see getting behind the team as their only role often informing those who bemoan, criticise and protest with justification that they must simply ignore past events, and look into the future with unjustified confidence. A chuckle provided on the handful of occasions when it suggested to me that my blog name needs changing in order for myself to move on.

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And it was Chris Powell’s sacking, in particular the way it was constructed and the horrendous way he was treated by Duchatelet and Katrien Meire, that made “move on” a phrase more widely used in SE7 than “the mist rolling in from the Thames”. Simply continue supporting the team, and disregard any emotion and connection you have towards a Valley legend.

But it player sales, beginning with Yann Kermorgant and continuing throughout each and every transfer window since, that have given the phrase its longevity. Ignore the way adored and/or talented players have been forced out of the club for less than they are worth, for they are now former Addicks, and simply support the dross that has replaced them.

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The greatest issue with that, of course, is that while a certain number of supporters informed the growing majority of their need to move on, the regime were not. Mistakes worsening, insults more insulting, and damage greater. The only moving on occurring being that the regime’s actions were forcing supporters of many years to feel like they need to move on from what was no longer feeling like their club.

However, the combination of two stories in this previous week suggests that, after two and a half years of horrendous footballing decisions, Duchatelet’s regime might have finally moved on from their flawed transfer policies.

It would probably be expecting too much for perfection, and there has still be frustration during this summer’s transfer activity. Jordan Cousins, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis sold for well below their perceived value, suggestions that boss Russell Slade had to fight against Meire in order to sign the players he desired, and the slowness in recruiting means that, even now, there remains a lack of cohesion in the side.

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So too are numbers lacking in certain positions, with a failure to recruit beyond Fredrik Ulvestad on transfer deadline day leaving the Addicks a little light in midfield and up top.

But it’s another decision made on deadline day that implies a very definite change in policy. A very un-Duchatelet-like decision not to cash in on Ademola Lookman with a serious offer made, and instead see the value in retaining the exciting teenager.

It probably the first time that the early suggestion that we no longer need to sell our most promising young players at the first sign of cash appearing on the table has actually been backed up. It’s only taken 30 months for an acceptance that footballing success is actually quite important, and holds greater worth than offloading players without considering the consequences to on-the-pitch events.

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And so too has it only taken 30 months, the destruction of a bond between supporters and club, and a relegation for the manager to finally be given reasonable power.

The signings belonging to Slade and chief scout Steve Head, and not the regime. The signings, while collectively not quite there yet, all making an immediate impact given the fact they all reasonable experience of either the English or British game. It’s only taken 30 months.

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The signings, therefore, not belonging to a network scout. A network scout named Thomas Driesen, who has been revealed this week. The second part of the suggestion that the regime have moved on from their horrendous transfer policy.

For given the transfer activity overseen this summer, it’s apparent there is no longer a reliance on him, and that he no longer has the final say.

Driesen, as revealed by Belgian magazine Sport and followed up by NewsShopper this week, is a mysterious 20-something given power by Duchatelet to effectively have control of transfers at three of his network clubs (Charlton, Ujpest and Sint-Truiden) on the basis of a single email of Standard Liege-related analysis and some nonsense about Mario Balotelli missing a penalty.

He had no previous football experience, and his searches were carried out through analytics and statistics, which carried greater influence than the beliefs of any head coach or scout on the ground at Charlton. So too has it been said that he analysed matches, sending emails to head coaches post-match that were signed by Duchatelet and directed also to Meire.

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It Driesen who thought Piotr Parzyszek was better than Yann Kermorgant, Loic Nego better than Chris Solly, and Yohann Thuram better than Ben Hamer. It Driesen who encouraged the wasting of millions on players who were not suited to the English game, or simply not good enough. It Driesen who prevented successive head coaches from building squads.

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Bob Peeters spoke of him, he led to Phil Chapple’s departure, and Guy Luzon suggested that he could only make suggestions, with Driesen incredibly having the decisive say.

But only now do we know the full extent of the control the ‘network scout’ had, who he is, and how ridiculed he was by those behind the scenes at Charlton not connected to the network. That Duchatelet gave Driesen power is yet another insult to the club and its supporters, reaffirms it has been run as some kind of bizarre experiment, and is part of the reason why now find ourselves in League One.

And, as such, Driesen is a reminder that, for many supporters, moving on is not an option. In spite of those who might throw forward the move on arguments now able to suggest that the regime have done so, evidence such as the use of this network scout reaffirms that that the damage already done is impossible to ignore.

For the use of Driesen shows yet another insulting and damaging mistake by this regime that can’t just be overlooked. That means hatred against them will remain regardless of what they do. That means it’s impossible to feel any sort of proper connection to the club while those that run it have treated it with such distain.

Duchatelet and Meire don’t deserve this chance to alter things, and that’s without considering the fact that Charlton under this regime remains very much a pathetic parody. The mistakes since the end of last season numerous.

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There will, however, be some supporters who simply do not care. Who have no interest in how the ownership has operated in the past, and are only focused on what the team can achieve this season.

And, of course, I share an element of that view. That the main focus remains on hoping the side can achieve. A side which is in a healthier state than I anticipated, and should be able to compete in spite of the slight lack of numbers in certain positions.

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There certainly a greater ability to move away from the ownership issues over the course of 90 minutes, given that Slade and his side feels very distant from one previous ones, that had a greater connection to and sense of control from the regime.

But what cannot be ignored is that so many continue to oppose, protest and boycott. That the feeling against the regime, from supporters who so desperately wish they could simply support their side, remains as strong as ever. That the Driesen revelation has angered more supporters than the Lookman retention has provided with promise. That the past actions of the regime, and the mistakes they continue to make, mean supporters remain disconnected.

Even for those who demand that we all move on, the regime’s decision to employ Driesen means they are watching a lower standard of football this season. They may not feel insulted, but they must undoubtedly see the error.

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Many, however, do feel insulted. And they feel insulted that this regime continue. How can any sort of trust develop when, in addition to every other insult and mistake made, a man like Driesen was given power? You cannot simply move on from that.

It’s far too late for change. A reminder that the only moving on that needs to happen is this regime from the club that they have insulted and damaged.

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10 Comments

  1. Philip Read says:

    I could not have put this better myself. It should be required reading for all CAFC “customers”!

    Philip Read
    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. BC says:

    Excellent article summarising the current situation. The regime has made many mistakes and shown incompetence beyond belief, and this incompetence continues unabated with new unbelievable revelations virtually every week. I could probably move on from these errors. However, having supported the club for over 50 years, I can’t forgive them for taking away my connection with the club and no longer caring about events on or off the pitch. I am one of a growing number sharing this view, but they will never understand this. Thanks Roland.

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      So upsetting that fans like yourself, who have supported the club for such a long period of time, now feel disconnected.

  3. Dave Edwards says:

    If we don’t move on and Support the team we will stay in div 1.you can’t succeed without the support of fans,booing is negative

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      Completely missing the point. Supporting the team and opposing the regime two very different things. Don’t think you can criticise support in recent years, even with what’s occurred. Mass protests followed by strong support for the side, for example. Support this season excellent, despite anti regime chants still being sung, particularly away from home.

  4. Jonnyk says:

    That’s all well and good but the bottom line is if the owner doesn’t want to sell and has no need to sell then he won’t sell regardless to what protests are made.

    Unless we have collectively £20m+ then he also controls as to whom he will sell to if he is of a mind.

    Faced with this situation and my complete lack of control over future events I will concentrate more on supporting the boys each week.

    • BC says:

      To move on and stop the protests is effectively accepting Duchatalet’s odd footballing principles that have lead us to Div 1 on our way to the National League.
      The protests have at least resulted in us employing an English manager and a backbone of English players. Continued protests may not lead to the removal of Duchatalet, but may see an end to his interference in football matters. Also hopefully the employment of an experienced CEO or Director of Football to replace the current incompetent CEO.
      This will eventually lead to success on the pitch which will allow some return on Duchatalet’s investment.

  5. tombrowny says:

    Very thoughtful piece,must admit hadn’t heard of this guy until the other day,being a bit of a history buff he comes across as a kind of “Rasputin” type figure with Roly and Ms Miere as the unfortunate Zsar and Zsarina,I think you tapped into my own thought processes’ concerning continued support,in football terms its been a bit like being !Poland! you would like to stand on your own two feet but keep getting taken over,I have followed Charlton through various regimes,The Glikstens,they weren’t good,The Huyler years,fun but ultimately brought us to fives minutes of liquidation,with a stadium so bad it ended up a sheep grazing oasis in London,Selhurst and all that went with that,even worse Upton Park,three sides open,missing gate money,River Thames,
    at this point a mention for Mr John Sunley rarely gets a mention he saved this Club,but I look back and years 1992-2006 made it worth the pain. After relegation from the Premiership my mate the blackcab driver had cause to pickup a senior Charlton official from the Valley the following season and in conversation he said to my mate”just want to get rid of the f—-ing thing anyway we can,don’t know how true but its an indicator of how quick the rot was settling in.Is there a Lech Valensa in the distance who can say but I still believe the way for Charlton to attract friendly ownership or as I would always advocate !fan ownership! is first team success on the playing field it underpins everything a football club is about I make no excuses for this regime but Charlton Athletic exists and are still playing 111 years on,I feel I have been around for most of them and I still live in hope.Dont know if I spelt Lechs name right.

  6. Mark says:

    You really couldn’t make up the mess that Duchatelet, Meire and now the mysterious Driesen have made of the club – three total idiots out of their depth running a whelk stall let alone a professional football club.

    Sadly my 50+ years of supporting the club home and away through thick and thin – mostly very thin – has come to an end as I simply cannot work up the enthusiasm any longer to spend 7 hours on a return journey and spend £100 on a day out to watch the results of what these three total idiots have done to my club.
    Of course the team remains in my heart but my head just won’t let me undertake a long day out and spend a three figure sum on watching the fruits of their labours in action.

    I will return to my beloved Valley only when Duchatelet and his two stooges have sold up and gone back across the Channel – but I fear for where the club will be when that day finally arrives….

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