Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The End Of An Era

Today was always going to happen eventually. In some ways, having heard the events of recent weeks and the final explosion prior to the FA Cup match Sunday, I'm surprised it took as long as it did. Deep down though I don't think any of us were prepared for Chris Powell's exit from The Valley.

Whether the lovable gaffer was/is a club legend remains a topic for debate, but there are three things nobody can deny. Number one, he is probably the nicest man you'll ever find in the game. Number two, he's a bright young manager learning his trade and has more than enough potential to become a great manager. Number three, he's been treated unfairly and unjustly by Roland Duchâtelet.

There is no question he's got it wrong from time to time, just look at that game at Wigan, but he was paid to manage the football side, the playing side, of the business. That was his job title and job description. He may very well have failed to save us from relegation, heaven knows he's already worked wonders with next to no budget, and if he wasn't who he is we probably wouldn't be angry at his departure. Sacking a man through either incompetence in his job, or a need for a new direction is fine. Not letting him do his job, then sacking him because he complains is something else altogether.

Roland Duchâtelet himself said the money side of things were fine, it was the footballing side that created problems. A big reason for this was the owner sticking his oar in. He doesn't treat Charlton as an independent football club, he treats it as part of a footballing dynasty and it's very clear where we stand in the hierarchy. He is quickly taking our identity from us, has no passion or love for the club and sees Charlton as merely a stepping stone in the ultimate success of his flagship, Standard Liege. Why else would a businessman with no tactical on pitch experience tell the man he pays to look after such events how to do his job? It's not only laughable, it's ludicrous.

José Riga was today seen at the training ground hours before the club announced he was appointed as Powell's replacement. Quick work? The Belgian who has worked at Standard Liege surprise surprise had, I suspect, been waiting near his phone ever since Duchâtelet arrived in London for the promised call. Obviously a 'yes man' he will undoubtedly be in Duchâtelet's pocket when it comes to team selection. I heard a rumour from a goalkeeping coach that  Yohann Thuram-Ulien was brought here for match time in an effort to make the French World Cup squad. It's just one example of what to expect. I've no problem with who plays as long as they are there on merit. I guess that was Powell's argument too.

Chris Powell has treated us to a wonderful spell at the club getting us out of League One and giving us plenty of memories from towering wins but that is now all history; the swinging from the Hillsborough crossbar already seems an age ago. A new chapter is well and truly underway now, one that I will still follow but that already leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. And to think we thought we had it bad with Slater and Jimenez!

It's all rather emotional, I've felt dejected all day. I feel like my relationship with the club will never be quite the same again. I knew there were darker days to come, I just couldn't comprehend how much they would hurt. It feels like the heart and soul has been removed and boxed up in storage somewhere; we can just hope that one day somebody will find that box, blow the dust off it and return it to us. It's our Charlton and we want it back. 

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