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Protesting Against the Regime Remains as Important as Ever

There are three types of individuals who would see the job of Charlton Athletic manager, and as such working under the one of the most heavily criticised and opposed ownership regimes in English football, as an attractive proposition.

The first being those who are, in one way or another, already part of Roland Duchatelet’s heavily flawed network. Moved from one part of it to another, irrespective of whether they are qualified or suited. Heavily opposed and understandably seen as a direct link to those above; it no wonder Chris O’Loughlin has been looked upon suspiciously.

The second being those who are desperate for a managerial job. The inexperienced, those who have been out of a job for a while, or those whose powers are seemingly fading. Charlton still a relatively large club, and working at The Valley gets a name into the public domain.

And the third is the naïve, optimistic, and arguably arrogant. Who believe they can heal all the damage that has been done under this regime through managerial panache and results. Ignoring what has previously occurred at the club while it has been under Duchatelet’s control, seeing it is an exciting challenge, and not quite understanding the emotions that supporters have been driven to feeling.

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Success on the pitch is undoubtedly most likely to come from the appointment of a manager with characteristics that resemble the third description. Especially if you’d prefer to be a little less cynical and refer to that type of manager as a determined one.

In fact, you could probably label Russell Slade as determined. An obvious and proactive attempt made to instil some sort of normality at a club which has none.

He was unquestionably his own man, fighting against the regime over signings, and you never felt like he was one of them or working exclusively for them.

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You can question some of his tactical decisions, and some of his post-match comments were a little frustrating, but the way in which he conducted himself overall was in contrast to previous bosses under this regime and deserves respect.

The consequence, of course, was that Slade was sacked just as results began to improve. Sacked after Katrien Meire had shown a long-term commitment to him. The true characteristics of the regime exposed again, and more upheaval required.

Assisted by the efforts of those who travelled to Belgium in order to protest, rarely has the media been so damning in their criticism of Duchatelet’s regime. Rarely has Duchatelet felt the need to speak, and speak with ignorance, arrogance and distain towards Charlton supporters. The inability to address the divide between club and supporters couldn’t be more obvious, and the need to force this regime out couldn’t be more apparent.

The actual number of supporters in attendance for the Port Vale game undoubtedly much less than the reported 8,992 at Port Vale, supporters completely disconnected and disillusioned, and anti-regime chants still being sung during the 5-1 win over Bristol Rovers.

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Positive results are wanted, desperately wanted, but they aren’t going to solve three years of damage. Supporters aren’t protesting in the hope of enforcing a persistent upturn in results, but they are protesting in the hope of protecting the future of their club, forcing out of destructive hands, and being able to feel some sort of connection and bond once again.

And so, the suggestion from manager elect Karl Robinson that “we need to stick together, the protests need to stop on Saturdays” to a supporter after Bristol Rovers is not a sign of positive determination, but a naïve and arrogant belief.

It completely disregards the feelings and the mentality of Charlton supporters. They are not passive supporting robots, who can immediately decide all the damage and disconnection is meaningless because sticking together with something they don’t believe in is more important. It’s simply not.

It disregards the fact, despite the opposition and the disconnection, the side maintains support. Protesting has quickly turned to positive energy on numerous occasions, and Addicks deserve plenty of credit for that. Not having their actions questions and told how to think.

It ignores that anxiety and fear over the way the club continues to be controlled by a poisonous regime overwhelms any positive feeling created by a result. The fear of what will come next, and the knowledge that three years on they still haven’t learnt from mistakes, and continue to damage both the club and relations between the club and its supporters.

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How can you believe he’ll be allowed to manage, allowed to lead, and given a reasonable amount of time? The protests stop, he’s ultimately sacked, the unchanged ownership remains, and we find ourselves repeating a similar process. The manager almost an irrelevance while this regime is in control; getting them out of the club anything but.

Which isn’t to say I want Robinson to fail. No one does. No one wants the Addicks to actively fail, and everyone hopes that the new boss elect will be able to make what is a useful Charlton side a consistently competitive one.

Robinson, as a character, is someone I don’t particularly appreciate. The sort of managerial personality I’m not a fan of. Arrogant, always looking to deflect criticism, the referee the first person to blame rather than himself or his side.

But his managerial record is handy. MK dons consistently competitive, the 36-year-old assisting in the development of some big talents, and a promotion to his name.

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That tainted slightly by MK’s relegation last season, and their struggle at the start of this season. Supporters long frustrated by his decision making, and feeling like it was definitely time for him to move on. His ‘highly-rated’ tag is fading a little.

You hope, therefore, there will be no continuation of a difficult final period in charge at Stadium:MK, and he’ll be able to instil the sort of positive football he got the Dons to play upon this Charlton side. There’s going to be a need for some individual improvement in midfield, but there every chance Robinson’s style of football can help to get the best out of our promising forwards.

Nugent has set that up nicely for him, if only by instilling confidence into them as a consequence of the victories over Port Vale and Bristol Rovers. Whether Nugent stays on, even if only to help with the transition, should be entirely up to Robinson, but it may be wise to keep the current caretaker boss around for the time being.

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Then again, it should be up to Robinson not to use O’Loughlin and Thomas Driesen, but it won’t be.

Those sorts of restrictions on Robinson’s ability to manage, in addition to simply having to work under Duchatelet and Meire, reaffirming that he’s not simply walking into a job where results will make everything better. Where he can transform the club.

Results are important, of course, but it’s difficult for many to see the importance of them when there’s no connection to the club. When connection won’t return until this regime have departed.

The importance of forcing this regime out of the club, of instilling connection once again, and as such protesting, will remain high until it brings a different kind of result. The result of feeling like we’ve got our Charlton back.

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6 Comments

  1. sonko luna says:

    many people are getting very pissed off with this negative narrative that keeps being regurgitated. I like many others want the protests to stop at the game. i support the team not interested in any other personal agendas. The brainwashing you and others peddle, trust me its near tipping point with other fans and patience is thin. stop trying to be a martyr and try being a normal football fan who supports his team and players and not like kids who try and disrupt everything… embarrassing

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      1) The vast majority of supporters, whether that be in the form of survey results, engaging with the protests, feeling a disconnection/not attending, or expressing their opposition, believe the protests need to continue and that the regime must go.
      2) Having a personal agenda against the regime suggests it’s born out of irrational thought, and based on a hatred without reason. Failure, flawed ownership, destroying the connection between the club and its supporters, and quite openly expressing disdain towards supporters suggests otherwise.
      3) Brainwashing? Not at all. Have your own opinion.
      4) I support the team and the players. I’ve missed two competitive games – Preston away and Cheltenham away – this calendar year, and that despite suffering from crippling mental health issues and epilepsy.

  2. Tex says:

    I have thought long and hard about where this situation is heading. I don’t go along with the conspiracy theorists who think RD is trying to run down the club and sell the land to property developers although hearing so little from the Belgian leads to speculation. I think he’s stubborn and I think the best chance of him selling is if we are in a higher league position than when he bought the club. Preferably that’s the Premier league and an asset that would then be worth multiple times what he paid (inc the debt he has loaded onto the club). So in short he’s not going anywhere in a hurry. Does that mean that pulling together and getting behind the team to get promotion this season and hopefully again in the near future is the best form of action – possibly. It wouldn’t need to a full surrender.

    • Kyle Andrews says:

      It’s a theory that makes sense, but then you ask yourself why has Duchatelet allowed the club to be in this position? Why didn’t he invest in the squad last season, or the season before that? Why hasn’t he appointed respectable managers? Why is the squad this season, even when promotion is promised, very short of numbers? Why has O’Loughlin come in? It’s hard to believe that footballing success is the priority, not least with him having so little interest in the club, and continuing to employ senior staff who have so obviously failed. As such, it’s hard to believe that success is possible, let alone the sort of success that would see the club rise to a position where Duchatelet could make return on his investment/loan etc. In the mean time, the amount he is owed rises, and more supporters become detached and disillusioned, while it’s incredibly difficult for those who are already detached to suddenly reconnect themselves with the club. Being proactive and attempting to force change, though obviously not a simple task, appears more plausible.

  3. ColinG says:

    I listen to all comments and the one glaring thorn in the whole CAFC set up is our CEO . RD has invested heavily in the club and in the beginning perhaps there was a chance that we could be successful and he had my full backing even when he sacked our beloved manager and sold our 2 best players . What I cannot understand is his continued belief that KM is capable of running such a club as Charlton with its magnificent stadium a loyal fan base and huge catchment area , she is so unbelievably unqualified that it just does not make sense why she is still in charge and for 70 yr. old RD what should be a huge ego trip in owning our wonderful club must now be causing so much embarrassment , grief and concern you really do wonder where it will end.
    For me the protests must continue

  4. Mark says:

    I enjoy reading Karl’s comments because, in my opinion, they are spot on.

    The problems at The Valley haven’t been caused by the supporters – they have been caused by the Duchatelet / Meire regime.
    Before their arrival the club was under-funded, yet relatively stable. We had an excellent manager in charge who had got us promoted with over 100 points the season before.

    Is it the supporters who have caused the downward slide and debacle of the appointment of so many unsuitable managers ever since? No – that has been caused by the two people mentioned above.

    IF you are happy to sit in the Valley that was ‘given’ a new pitch (no option not to there!) and a lick of paint with £35m of debt added onto the Club in the form of loans to Duchatelet’s company then fine.

    IF you are happy to be described as a “customer” and if you don’t like what is on offer then you are told you have the right to go elsewhere to watch your football, then fine.

    IF you are happy to see the academy talent used as a cash-cow for the transfer market and being told to enjoy the young players before they are sold off to Premier league clubs, then fine.

    IF you are happy to see the club sink down into division 2 (the fourth tier remember – NOT the 2nd division where the club lingered for so long since 1957 – and possibly out of the Football League altogether, then fine.

    IF you have the welfare to Charlton Athletic Football Club in your heart AND you want the club to be as successful as possible and you remember when the Premier League clubs regularly visited the Valley during the Curbishley years then it is NOT fine.

    Duchatelet is ruining our once great club. IF you can support an owner who is so disconnected that he has only seen two live games in 3 years then again, that’s fine.
    It’s NOT fine by me or thousands of other real Charlton supporters.

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