If Ricky Holmes is a match-winner, the sort of player who can make the difference in a contest devoid of life, then Roland Duchatelet is a club-crippler. The sort of owner who can leave a club devoid of life. Intent on leaving it devoid of life as he leaves.
A transfer to Sheffield United waits for Holmes. A player who only signed a new deal in the summer, fending off interest from the Blades on that occasion, but on the premises progression would follow. It fairly apparent that, in the short-term, progression for the Addicks is not to follow.
A rare provider of quality as last season stagnated; the scorer of a hat-trick in defeat at Shrewsbury Town the perfect reflection of his influence. Decisive, match-defining and match-winning moments as the Addicks enjoyed a promising first third of this campaign. And even in a period where he, and his side, lack form, it only he that provides any sort of spark.
The threat of relegation last season a more serious one without his influence? Most definitely. Points to deduct from this season’s total without his influence? Most definitely. Charlton a weaker side without his quality? Most definitely.
The nature of a football fan, demanding the same loyalty they apply to their club from each player who wears the shirt, means Holmes will undoubtedly face some criticism. Greedy, uncommitted, that sort of thing. But, ultimately, Holmes’ move to Yorkshire makes perfect sense.
A 30-year-old who has never featured above League One level, who certainly possesses the quality to do so, with the opportunity to play under a former manager at a competitive, progressive, Championship club. Escaping a club in a fragile state, that appear increasingly unable to give him a chance to play football above the third tier. He deserves a chance at a higher level, and his efforts in Charlton red mean criticism is misdirected.
Directed, instead, towards Duchatelet. It the ease with, and the context in, this transfer has been allowed to occur that both angers and concerns. No fight to retain a key player, even a willingness to sell, while Karl Robinson is denied the opportunity to strengthen his squad as takeover talks take place in the background.
Duchatelet’s care for this football, from performances to its fans, has never been at an acceptable level. It half-business, half-play-thing, that sits as part of a failed project for which his attentions are minimal. No concerns in what state the club is left in upon his departure for the Belgian.
A notion substantially increased by what would appear an equally as imminent sale of Ezri Konsa to Everton is to follow. Konsa, just as much, should be fought for, though it seems that something we don’t do for our homegrown players under this regime. Don’t simply cash in, promote the value of continued first-team football while doing so, or at the very least demand a greater fee.
Again, though, you can’t feel angered at the individual. Why, having seen that Charlton have willingly accepted the offer, would he turn down a chance to progress further at a Premier League club? One that have given an opportunity to Ademola Lookman, gradually integrating him more and more into the first team.
My knowledge of business is minimal. My willingness to read up on theories about what Duchatelet is up to even less. But to my very simple mind, it would appear a sale of assets to take a few additional pounds for himself in order to lower his substantially excessive asking price and convince potentially buyers to make an offer.
Suck not just as much life, but as much financial gain out of something he cares little for. Sell, but refuse to make any sort of investments. Leave Robinson in the most impossible of positions.
An impossible position in which Robinson is handling himself in such a way that warrants all manner of praise. Tasked with keeping a threadbare squad competitive, while being refused signings he believed would be coming his way, and hung out to dry by those above him as he deals with questions and uncertainty about the takeover situation. His openness, or more truthfully his inability to stop talking at the right moment, can sometimes be an annoyance, but here it’s a vital connecter between club and supporters; the hurt and confusion he’s expressing genuine and matching that which belongs to fans.
In similar fashion to Holmes and Konsa, I wouldn’t have any accusations of cowardliness to send the way of Karl Robinson were he to escape the near-impossible conditions he finds himself working in. I don’t think that, given his character, he will resign. But there’s a weariness, a desperation, as he attempts to contend with this impossible situation that makes you have second thoughts.
Relief comes only from the fact that it is a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Duchatelet will sell. The desperate wish to have a man who has caused so much destruction, so much disconnection, out of the club soon to be fulfilled. I wish relief would also come from a takeover being completed before the end of the transfer window, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
What would appear now to be the case is that a new owner will not only have the task of rebuilding the broken relations between club and supporters, but completely rebuilding a team facing unnecessary weakening. The task of any new owner was always going to be testing, but now even more so if January stands to be as bad as it might well be. Worse before it gets better.
After so much of this nonsense, over so many years, it’s difficult to totally commit yourself to caring. Not least when life itself has as many flaws as this football club and its current owner. Wake me up when this is all over, and I can peacefully enjoy my role as a supporter, not spending it dodging stress.