Saturday, 14 March 2015

Charlton 1 Blackburn 3

It just seemed to be one of those days.

The irony is that, aside from 2 woeful defensive mistakes, we played pretty well. For the opening 10 minutes it could have been anyone's game. Both teams started with confident spells of possession. If anything, I think we looked the more likely of the two teams.

Unfortunately, after Chris Solly and Roger Johnson's defensive howlers, a comeback didn't ever seem a realistic prospect. I think the most distressing element of today's game was that Igor really didn't look himself. Unlike the early stages of the season, he seems to struggle when the ball is played to his feet and he looks like a shadow of his former self.

To go from the back to the front, I think I should discuss each player's individual performance today. Stephen Henderson was back, displaying his usual confidence with aerial balls and shot-stopping. He really couldn't do anything about any of the goals.

Chris Solly had one of those games where he looked clueless and poor in possession. He was responsible for the first goal, unnecessarily putting the ball out for a Blackburn throw when he really didn't need to. It was good to see Ben Haim back after his injury, although some people seemed to be sceptical after having witnessed several good performances by the young Joe Gomez. Personally, I thought Tal had a very good game, looking very solid at the back while also providing the team with several decent runs from the back and always looking able to provide a classy ball to someone in space. Regrettably, the same cannot be said of his centre back partner, Roger Johnson. Completely at fault for the second goal, he looked unsettled all game and managed to make every Charlton fan draw a breath whenever the ball was played to him. I'm willing to make allowances for his poor performance in some ways, however, because of how well he has played in our last few games. Morgan Fox had a very quiet game, but I thought he was pretty poor overall. Unable to match the pace of his opposite man, as well as demonstrating an inability to cross the ball, he really showed his lack of experience today, despite his previous great performances.

Moving on to the midfield, I thought that our man of the match was probably Jordan Cousins. Every time he got the ball, he showed a maturity and intelligence which should really be beyond the capabilities of a 21 year old. He seemed to do pretty much everything right, always finding a decent pass and tackling with a ferocity and determination befitting of a Charlton captain (which I think he should be given a shot at, despite Solly being the obvious choice). He really has shone in Jackson's absence and I personally will be voting for him as player of the season, even though the season is not over yet. The rest of the midfield was really a mixed bag; Yoni Buyens took his penalty well, but did little else all game and proved a liability in possession. I am adamant that, when Yoni plays well, the team plays well. In the same way, I think that Blackburn were one of those teams who closed Buyens down when he had the ball. Unfortunately, as good as he is with the ball at his feet, he really struggles under pressure. Buyens is definitely a classic 'luxury' player; he thrives when given the time to boss the game, but really panics when pressed in possession. On the wings, I thought Gudmundsson and Bulot were largely irrelevant for the whole second half. While they looked classy and tricky in possession in the first half, the second half was not really designed for wingers as we looked to attack Rovers with a more direct approach. Other than their invisibility, they did okay in possession (and I must say, Bulot has a fantastic cross on him).

Up front is probably the most interesting area of scrutiny today. Tony Watt, as majestic as he has been in the last few games, was simply not given the aid he needed today. His usual strong and threatening self, he was guilty of missing a one-on-one situation which you would have put your house on him to score. However, as bad a miss as it was, you couldn't help but feel that Watt was not given sufficient help all game, particularly in the first half where he resembled Wayne Rooney in terms of having to drop incredibly deep to get the ball. Despite his wastefulness with his big chance today, I thought he had a decent game again and gave his all to help the team and create chances, and he really does seem to frighten defences with his pace, directness and strength. Vetokele, however, gave an uncharacteristically lethargic performance today. He moved as if every run was a real strain and, in my opinion, he is still carrying an injury. If you ask me, his season is essentially over, because he needs the upcoming Summer break to recover from the knock he picked up against Reading and he will not get back to his old ways until he has been given proper respite from that. He looked slow and reluctant today, although he did also provide a few great flicks, particularly for Watt's fantastic chance.

Overall, it was a very bizarre game. Far from looking generally shocking, we possessionally matched a very classy and physical side and could have picked up another couple of goals on balance. It is a very odd situation when our biggest crime is trying to keep the ball in, rather than using some initiative and letting it go out for our throw.  On balance, we actually played quite well. All their goals were absolute giveaways and, with slightly more clinical finishing from our usually ruthless front men, we could have nicked it today. The problem with facing Jordan Rhodes is that any defensive frailties will be exposed and made to be regretted. I have come to the conclusion that, much like Derby's Chris Martin, Rhodes is one of those players who, in terms of gameplay, is actually a fairly quiet character. He does the simple things and contributes with the occasional classy touch or lay-off. But what is so effective about these types of forwards is that they are not even particularly brilliant footballers; they are just world class goalscorers. Rhodes took his goals today with the confidence of a forward who looks like he can score any time he wants to and credit must be given to the clinical nature of his finishing. He is, as someone recently described our own Tony Watt, 'a Scottish predator'.

Despite maybe a slightly harsh scoreline in terms of the gameplay/chances created today, we showed some encouraging signs and lost against a very decent side. What I will say is that our next games are pretty much all against sides who are in free fall form and, for me, our season will be made a brilliant one if we are the ones who put Millwall down. I will, of course, be at The Den for that game and, though I hate to jinx such an important fixture, I do just feel that it could be the time for a long overdue victory. On to the Blackpool game, and one can only hope that we maintain our direct, composed attacking game on the bog of a pitch at Bloomfield Road. COYA!!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The notion of football from the eyes of a young Addick

Football is the greatest thing in the world. I'm not talking about that well-known idea of how it brings communities and people from all walks of life together. That is good, don't get me wrong. But no; I'm talking about pure selfish ecstasy. Charlton won their fifth game in six last Saturday in a tough away game at Cardiff and the feeling I had was almost too much to describe. Incidentally, my first reaction was that I wanted to propose to Tony Watt and run away to start a new life together. But having had time to cool down and reflect, it became clear that it is the best feeling you can experience and that nothing really comes close to it (apart from love, but I'm only really talking about important things in this article). I'm not an idiot, I'm aware of how childish and hyperbolic it sounds to say that my entire weekend, and general outlook, was improved because of 11 men on a pitch kicking a ball around. Also, I'm a happy person anyway; the Addicks do not provide me with the only means of joy I have. But I maintain that nothing can change your mood like your club, your second family, triumphing.

It's in your blood, you feel it in every part of your body, it runs through you like fire in your veins. I don't think one can truly experience euphoria until they possess a fanaticism towards a football club. Love it or hate it, football is the only thing that can do that. 'Oh but what about rugby, cricket, other sports..?' you may ask. I'm afraid I won't accept that. Having been several times to cricket and rugby matches, I can tell you that fandom is a wholly different experience there. Fans from opposing teams sit together, drinks are enjoyed, and the on-field action serves its function as an entertaining accompaniment. This does not, can not, happen in football.

The Romantics used to talk about the notion of the sublime, with William Wordsworth describing poetry as the 'spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling'. That is what football is for me and for thousands of others. For 90 minutes, everything changes; you no longer think rationally, left with no option but to helplessly place your heart in the hands of 18 men you don't even know and will probably never meet. People often say that friends are the family you choose; to me, that is a football club as well. That is why it is so hard to hear people ask why we care so much about football. More significantly, that is why it is difficult not to feel frustrated by the concept of 'glory supporters'. Because one of the greatest things about supporting my club is that it is moments like this that make the feeling of success all the sweeter: because with it comes the heart-crushing feeling of defeat. Binary opposites serve to highlight the joy of experiencing the other side; without so much evil in the world, we would not appreciate compassion and goodness in the same way. And in the same way, we would not appreciate the joy of winning without first experiencing the bitterness of losing.

So to you, non-football fans, I completely understand that there are other hobbies and passions that you have that make you happy. But I do not think anything can come close to the beautiful game. It is the greatest thing in the world.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Who should Roland sign?

Unlike the last two articles I have written, which were simply analyses based on fact, this article will be much more subjective. It seems to me that this is a Summer rife with opportunity, a chance for our owner to build on the successful survival last season. For me, the best way of doing this is holding on to the right players and introducing some fresh faces (proven at Championship level of course), and coupling this with the introduction of a few choice youngsters. If the season we just had has shown me anything, it is that Charlton's youth academy is a force to be reckoned with, even by Premier League standards. Particularly now that Dervite is supposedly on his way to Bolton, the introduction of players such as Harry Lennon will be a welcome addition to our team. So here are some of the ideas I have for Mr Duchatelet this Summer:


Ben Alnwick

Why look any further for this one than the man who looked perfectly good for us in that brief period when Hamer was injured? Currently a free agent, Alnwick only made one appearance for Orient when he moved away from us to make way for Thuram. With Hamer apparently moving away from Charlton this Summer (with Leicester the most likely destination), it would seem perfectly logical to re-sign the man who, in his 8 appearances for us, played extremely well. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that I felt slightly more assured with him in goal than I did with Hamer, but that is of course subjective. I would like to see Alnwick return and compete with Pope for the first team spot, providing us with a perfectly good pair of keepers for next season. One slightly different point I'd like to make is that I hope  Ben Roberts, or whoever was responsible for this tactical approach, tells our number 1 keeper at the start of next season to do what Hamer seems to have been doing for the last few weeks towards the end of the season. I noticed that Hamer seems to have started to try, whenever possible, to either roll the ball out to one of our full backs or, when kicking, aim for the wide men. This has proved very effective and epitomised the possessional confidence Riga instilled into the team. I think Alnwick will work well with this system and believe he is the right man to sign this Summer to compete with Pope.


Sean St Ledger/David Edgar?

Buying any full backs would, in my view, be completely pointless. With Wilson, Solly, and Nego more than enough to cover right back, and Wiggins and Fox both also on long-term deals covering the left back position, it seems to me that the centre back position is the only defensive position in need of strengthening. With Dervite gone, and Morrison potentially following him, Edgar and St Ledger are just two potential signings we could consider for next season. Both of them are out of contract and seemingly unwanted by their respective clubs (Burnley released Edgar on loan to Swansea where he only played a few games, and St Ledger has been out of favour at Leicester, on loan at Millwall, and presumably unable to make the step up to Leicester's current Premier League status). Having seen both of these two play, I would definitely not rule them out as potential signings. These two are just suggestions, but it is becoming clear that we need reinforcements in this position. 


Harry Arter

As someone who has followed Charlton from a very young age, I was confused as to why Arter wasn't given a proper chance for the club. Having watched him thrive at Bournemouth in particular, I am convinced he would be a brilliant signing for us. He is a creative player, seeming to always find the right pass (like Poyet) and I really enjoy his style of play. Unlike the defensive signings, this is a signing that I am going to be wholly specific about and say that I think Arter is exactly the right player to sign in this transfer window. He is still young and his contract expires next month for Bournemouth. Additionally, while he seems to be a key player for them, I understand that Bournemouth are in financial trouble, reporting a £15m loss in the 2012-13 season and in serious debt. This, in turn, has meant that they are now due to sell key players such as Lewis Grabban in an attempt to regain financial stability. It is therefore possible that we could sign Arter from them this Summer and I believe he would be a perfectly suitable replacement for Poyet if he leaves. 

Astrit Ajdarevic

I'm a big fan of Astrit and believe we should sign him on a permanent deal. He is versatile, passionate, incredibly skilful, and if he can get his fitness sorted for next season, I believe he would be another great signing for the club.


Marvin Sordell/Imoh Ezekiel

I think our goalscoring record spoke for itself this season. However, towards the end of the season we suddenly showed our ability to hit the back of the net. In particular, our games against Sheffield Wednesday, Yeovil, and Blackpool were a good sign of our goalscoring capability. Two players who were responsible for this were, ironically, the two players who seemed to receive the most stick from the fans. I cannot stress enough how vital Sordell's hat-trick against Wednesday was. I am convinced, despite the fact that this is not arithmetically true in hindsight, that we would have gone down without those goals. That game, we were given a taste of how good the 'confidence players' can be when they are full of it. Sordell's goals in that game were all fantastic, showing his ability to be absolutely lethal in front of goal when he is at the top of his game. Equally, his goal against Blackburn looked effortless, despite the fact that we went on to lose that game and his penalty attempt was saved. On a slight tangent, I think that was almost a good thing in hindsight. The fact that Sordell had the confidence to want to take the penalty ahead of Jacko really does suggest that he has gained bags of confidence in his ability. The idea of him optionally taking a penalty at the beginning of the season is laughable and, looking back, he was a shadow of his current self. But with this new desire and commitment, he can be a truly prolific forward.

 He and Harriott both came into their own towards the end of the season, with Harriott's hat-trick against Blackpool and brace against Watford epitomising this sudden confidence for the pair.
 It seems that Bolton don't rate Marvin, and this, coupled with their vast amount of debt, could mean that we could sign him on a permanent basis. I believe that, with the right start to next season, he and Harriott could work well together and become regular goalscorers. 

As far as Ezekiel is concerned, he looks a very handy young player with a decent goalscoring record for Liege and we have apparently been strongly linked with him. While he is contracted to the Belgian club until 2017, I think he is worth a punt on a season-long loan deal, and Roland could make further use of his network to make this happen. He's just an example of the sort of player we should be signing this Summer, because I don't personally believe that Reza and Church will be a strong enough attacking partnership to compete in the Championship next season. We need goals and these two are just two of the players I think we should sign. 

Jose Riga

As well as making a few of these player signings, I believe that the most important signing our owner can make is Riga. He changed the way we played as a team and I believe that, with him at the helm, we can push for the playoffs in the upcoming season (provided we make a few signings to strengthen the squad). 

Overall, the future looks bright and if we can hang on to the players who made the difference last season, as well as exploiting our superb youth academy, there are good things to come for the club. For the people who are already beginning to fret about Duchatalet's intentions this upcoming season (asset-stripping, selling our best players to Liege, using us a feeder club etc..), try to remember that, while his footballing knowledge may be slim, he is also a businessman with a desire to make money. The way that he will do that is to get Charlton to the Premier League. Look at Cardiff; they earned £62m from television sales alone this season, despite their relegation. While they obviously have a bigger fanbase than us, this is still something to look at. Is our owner going to be more concerned with getting his Belgian club to the Champions League or with getting us to the top tier of English football? Time will tell, but I have a funny feeling our fortunes are about to change. Inevitably, this will be accompanied by some unpopular decisions, some head-scratching, heartache and pain. But this is the nature of football, and indeed of being a Charlton fan, and it's par for the course. I'm looking forward to seeing what the upcoming season holds in store for the club. I could be wrong, I could be right, but I will embrace the owner's decisions with cautious optimism.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Charlton Athletic: a glimpse into the future.

The primary silver lining to the cloud that has been the 13/14 season for Charlton has been the promise shown by our young squad members. They have all proved themselves when called upon and seized the opportunities given to them as a consequence of the need to rotate the squad. In this article, I'll be analysing each of the members who have contributed in different ways this season and what they offer for the future of our great club.

Nick Pope

It seems fitting to start from the back and move through the positions. It is therefore important to look at the keeper who is looking more and more likely to be Charlton's number one if and when Hamer leaves in this transfer window. Pope has been in superb form for York City, playing a vital part in guiding York to the League Two playoffs this season. Despite not appearing for the Addicks this season, his 15 clean sheets in 21 league appearances for York leaves us with a decent alternative to our current number one if he leaves in the Summer. It certainly isn't going to be Thuram after all..

Chris Solly

At the tender age of 23, Solly would still be eligible for Young Player awards, and so needs to be considered in this article. Despite a serious lack of playing time this season, Chris 'better than John Terry' Solly still has a lot to offer for the club. His performances, albeit rare, against the likes of Barnsley and Blackburn show that he is more than capable of holding his own against any team in the second tier. His commitment to the club has been confirmed by penning a four year deal for the club at the start of this season and, once he is back to full fitness, I believe he is capable of regaining his status as one of the club's best players.

Morgan Fox

As someone who has seen Rhoys Wiggins be consistently excellent in the last few seasons, it is needless to say that I was delighted to see him sign a new four year contract with the club. Originally, I saw the left back spot as one in dire need of strengthening. With Wiggins injured, we would surely be left exposed and vulnerable down the left with Ceddy Evina proving rather a liability every time I have seen him. But since making his way into the first team ranks, Morgan Fox has been nothing short of a revelation. He is only 20 years old, yet plays with the same cool head and maturity as Poyet. In the games I have seen him in, I have honestly preferred him to Wiggins. Don't get me wrong, I still highly rate Wiggo and think he should still be the starting left back next season. He's far more experienced and could prove to be a handier player in the context of the whole season. But the way that Fox has thrived since entering the first team in Wiggins' absence must surely give Riga (provided he is still with us next season) something to think about. Another youngster with a four year contract, I have no doubt that this position is suitably catered to at least for the next few years.

Callum Harriott

Not such a consistent performer, Harriott is perhaps the most interesting of the youth products. His dire performance against Barnsley, twinned with the way the fans got on his back when he regularly gave the ball away, really epitomised his season for me. He looked out of his depth, desperately lacking in confidence and deeply unsettled as a player. However, his last few performances towards the end of the season, particularly in away games, have really silenced some of his biggest critics. He scored 5 goals in 2 games at the end of the season (2 of which were in the crucial game against Watford) and he looks like a different player. The faith Riga showed in playing him, despite his awful previous performances, really demonstrates the manager's eye for talent. We can only hope that Harriott's form continues into next season because, like Sordell, he is a confidence player and, like Sordell, he can be lethal when it matters most. Overall, he is a hugely talented prospect as he grows in confidence for the future.

Jordan Cousins

At 20 years of age, Cousins has been the lynchpin of our centre midfield this season. For me, he is understated as a player and yet his contributions to each game are pivotal. He has been consistently combative this season, combining strength and passion with awareness and vision. Cousins can easily be looked over because he is not such a flashy figure as Poyet, but he is another lad with an incredibly bright future and I hope he can maintain his form for next season, particularly as he may well be paired with a much less talented colleague in the centre of midfield.

Diego Poyet

Poyet's contribution to this season speaks for itself. Winning the Player of the Year award after having played only 20 games this season, he has been a class above the rest of the team in terms of ability. He is only 19 years old and his contract unfortunately runs out this Summer. Since his contribution this season and his general skill need no discussion, all that is left to think about is the renewal of his contract with the club. I have always been a great admirer of his Father, particularly with the way he has (probably) steered Sunderland away from relegation in the Premier League and I think, based on the evident closeness the Father and son have, Gus may well advise Diego to stick with Charlton for a few years and mature as a player. We saw how Scott Parker chose money over his own player development, moving to Chelsea for 10 million and eventually becoming something of an understated journeyman (despite his England caps and occasional captaincy). I personally think Poyet is the best of all the future talents we have seen at the club and I hope he realises three things: 1. His family is not exactly strapped for cash, so there is no real need to make a big money move yet. 2. For the sake of his own career as a footballer, which should be at the top of his priorities, he should stick with us and continue to excel and lead the team with his class. 3. The fans, players and manager all love him to bits. There is no real reason why he should leave and I hope that his decision-making in the next transfer window mirrors his attitude while playing for the club. That is, he bleeds Charlton and shows commitment, passion and loyalty to the club who helped mould him into a world-class prospect for the future. I have little doubt that he will play for England when he is older and would be a real asset to any club. He really is better than Gus..

Piotr Parzyszek/Anil Koc/Loic Nego

Understandably, before we were finally greeted with a frenzy of goals at the end of the season, many Charlton fans were left wondering why our 'Polish starlet' from De Graafschap was not being given a chance for the club. After banging in goals for his former club, it did seem like a bizarre decision. Well, from what I gather, he is similar to Reza in that he has not quite got used to the intensity and ferocity of the Championship. As Mark Gower pointed out when he arrived at the club from Swansea, the Championship is arguably a tougher league than the Premier League. It is generally a raw gritty style of football with no one team easily the best (although Leicester fans would probably have something to say about that). It is unpredictable and claustrophobic, with every team fighting tooth and nail to win. So it is perhaps understandable that the likes of Polish Pete, Koc and Nego have been given little or no playing time. They are all young and show promise but they have to be given time to adjust to a very tough league before they can show us what they can really do. Give it a few years and I'm confident they'll get there.

Overall summary

The future looks very bright for our club. We have had an extremely tough time this season, with a change of ownership, manager and necessary squad rotation. Not to mention a dire pitch for the first half of the season. So it has been a real relief for Addicks fans to see that our young team have really pushed the boat out and given everything to keep us safe from relegation. The likes of Harriott, Cousins and Fox in particular give me real hope and, with savvy investment from our Belgian owner this Summer, I honestly don't see why we could not be pushing for the playoffs next season. As Riga pointed out to the players, never mind ability, you'd struggle to find a better team in terms of togetherness and fighting spirit. Let's hope that the youngsters, with Jacko as their leader, can hear these words and believe in themselves enough to build on the passion and fight which Riga has brought to the club.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The pros and cons of the takeover.

In relation to Roland Duchatelet's recent takeover of the club, I have been amazed to see how 
misinformed and naive some of my fellow Charlton fans have been about the whole affair. Particularly 
with regards to the recent sacking of Chrissy Powell, many Charlton fans have been far too 
scathing and narrow-minded with their views towards it all. As a young Charlton fan, there are several crucial points to be made which I think need to be acknowledged before a well-rounded opinion can be formed about what the new owner, as well as the new manager, have done so far. 

Financial disarray
First of all, we have to remember the financial situation the club was in prior to the Belgian businessman's takeover. Kevin Cash, the man who was essentially bankrolling the club, withdrew his financial support for the club. Thus, we would have probably been facing eventual administration without any financial aid. Duchatalet's takeover has meant that he has taken on the debt the club had, as well as providing financial ammunition for loanees and potential transfer targets (particularly forwards) in the Summer.

The pitch
Jose Riga has done, in my opinion, a great job since taking the managerial reigns of the Addicks. However, his job has been something of an uphill struggle from the start. This is down to many things, but nothing is more significant than our testing schedule. Because of the dire state of the pitch at our beloved Valley, as well as our decent cup run, we have had several games postponed. This has meant that we have been playing at least two games a week, which I think it's fair to say is a difficult prospect at both ends of the age spectrum for our team. Cousins and Poyet, with a combined age of 29, have been superb considering their inexperience and wearying match schedule. It's no secret that both Jimenez and Slater were nothing short of negligent towards the home pitch during their tenure. But because of Duchatalet's takeover, we are now able to address these problems, with the club already having made a request to Greenwich council to introduce a new playing surface with under-soil heating. 

The departures/new faces
Many fans were outraged when Duchatalet first took over the club. Rumours of his poor treatment of players, as well as fan protests, at Standard Liege by the Belgian only added fuel to the fire. This was then worsened by the 'outrageous' decisions to sell supposedly our two best players. But this is not as black and white as it seems. Firstly, let us analyse the departure of Dale Stephens. Personally, I always felt that the centre midfielder was something of a liability. He gave away possession far too easily and always played with something of an 'I'm too good to be here' attitude. Aside from a few spectacular goals and glimpses of class, I thought he was highly overrated. So why Charlton fans were quite so angry at his departure is a mystery to me. Particularly when you look at who has blossomed in his absence. Diego Poyet, at 19 years of age, has been by far our best player since joining the first team. He possesses a maturity and class which I feel blessed to be able to watch every week in the West stand and I don't think it would be unjustified to suggest that he will be a future England player. There are a few players who I have watched over the years and realised from their first touch in a Charlton shirt would be stars in the future; Scott Parker and Jonjo Shelvey to name the two most obvious. But, to me, Poyet has the potential to be more of a complete player than either of those two. In conclusion, the departure of Stephens has been a blessing in disguise.

This one is a bit of a mixed bag. I cannot even explain how distraught I was when I saw that Kermit was going to Bournemouth. I felt almost tearful reminiscing over his time with the club. He epitomised Charlton, always giving 100% every game, towering above defenders twice his size in the air, superb from set pieces, incredibly skilful, prolific, a favourite of every fan. You could also rely on him to have an absolute blinder against Leicester. So I could understand the attitude of the fans when he left. However, I have realised in more recent weeks that this is not as bad as it seems. If we think about it, Kermit didn't actually score that many goals for us. True, he was usually top scorer and would usually bury it if he was given the chance. But we were still in a terrible position in the league even while he was playing regularly. I don't think this was his fault. The club seemed to be lacking in poise and class in the early stages of the season. To be honest, I think this may have been partially down to our style of play under Powell. We lacked belief in our passing ability, opting usually to pump the long ball and try and aim for Yann's head and hope for the best. This was simply not a viable option in this league and I think we are better for it, although I still miss Yann regularly when watching Church running around aimlessly, seemingly unable to keep hold of the ball, let alone hit the back of the net. In summary, Kermit's departure proved to be an error of judgement by the new owner, but he only had a couple of years left in him and his departure significantly reduced the club's wage bill as he was the highest paid player at the club.

Charlton as a 'feeder club'

This one is very simple to put to bed. From the moment our new owner came in, we were labelled as 'sub-standard Liege' and 'the new Watford'. But this has proved to be complete nonsense. Not one player has yet gone from Charlton to Liege, proving we are not a feeder club. And in response to the idea that we are just a club for Liege rejects, I personally think this is also rubbish. Ajdarevic, in particular, has been a real asset to the club. He's become one of my favourite players and he is only a loanee! He possesses finesse and passing ability rivalled only by Poyet. He also seems to be loving his time with the club, jumping out of the tunnel with Jackson after the Yeovil game. Gooch, while a little slow to get going, has also proven to be pretty handy in my opinion. His goal against Leeds shows the class he possesses, he is an international for a nation who have qualified for the World Cup and is a favourite of Iranians (as I think everyone at Charlton has worked out by now). He sometimes looks a little out of his depth, but this is due to adjusting to the ferocity of the Championship, as well as still needing time to mesh with his fellow players. Thuram has been a complete let-down in both attitude and performance, but this has been essentially irrelevant as he has been benched for almost the whole season. Some fans took issue with what Roland said about us giving players to Liege when they are very talented. But look at it this way: did he say that because he actually means it or because he does not want Liege fans to take issue with his attitude towards their club? If you read between the lines, then it becomes clear. Duchatalet is a shrewd businessman. So is he going to be more interested in the few million pounds that Liege will get for, at best, getting out of the group stages of the Champions League? Or will his real aspirations be to get Charlton promoted and obtain the substantial amount of money which Premier League football will earn him? I think this was only said to temporarily appease the Liege fans, while preparing to invest heavily in Charlton. Another pro for the takeover..

Powell's dismissal

Once again, I feel that this is a simple one. Despite being a great man, a cheerful and well-loved personality, he simply wasn't getting the results. Whether this was his fault is debatable. He did, after all, completely shake up the squad in his first full season and get us promoted in the first season. Then he effectively got us 9th place in the Championship with a League One squad at his disposal. With a weak squad, lacking in depth and variety, it is perhaps not Powell's fault that the results were not going our way in his tenure this season. However, his tactics and decision-making had to be called into question. He seemed to be scared of making substitutions and just didn't seem to be clinical enough with his tactics, usually preferring an ineffective 4-5-1 formation away from home, with Church at the helm. This, surely, is a recipe for disaster. He had to go in my opinion, and I think Riga has been as passionate as Powell, as well as being more positive in his style. Free-flowing football starting at the back, adventurous formations and usually effective substitutions are all helping his case. He is also proving popular with the players and fans. Plus Powell recently said in an interview regarding his sacking that, at no point, was he forced to make any decisions with regards to the teams he chose. Correct decision from Roland if you ask me.

Jose Riga

I think this has been covered in the previous section. But what is also clear to me is that the new manager is not just a 'yes man' puppet for Duchatalet. He has consistently benched Nego and Thuram, as well as often leaving Ajdarevic and Gooch on the bench. This shows that he is acting on what he thinks is going to win games, not what the owner wants. He also has to be empathised with, having to rotate Sordell, Obika, Church etc because of the regularity of our matches, and I think he has prioritised brilliantly.

Roland Duchatalet's intentions with the club

Again, this has been touched upon already. However, one of the most interesting things to analyse about the takeover is the owner himself. In all the interviews I have seen with him, I have instantly taken to him. His emphasis on our youth academy is admirable. He believes in using our youth to counter the Financial Fair Play regulations that are being instigated now and I think this is brilliant. His money also means that the likes of Cousins, Hamer, Morrison and, hopefully, Poyet will not have to leave the club because they will be paid sufficiently and rewarded with new contracts. He also seems to be a nice guy to be honest. He clearly has a lot of respect for Charlton and its fans, describing the Premier League as 'where we should be'. He is also presumably the one who is funding the new training complex. Again, I think he has been very sensitive towards the needs of the club and is someone I am glad is in ownership of the club. He wants us in the Premier League and has the money to get us there. 

Overall summation of the takeover

The pros of the takeover vastly outweigh the cons and I am delighted that it has happened. If it had not, the qualms anyone has with what has happened under Roland's reign so far would be irrelevant because we would have been completely ruined as a club without proper ownership. The takeover saved our football club.