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The FULL story revealed for the 1st time of Charlton's fall from chasing the Premier dream - Part 1

The following is a report of how Charlton fared over the next 4 years. It is, of course, fiction.

It couldn't possibly come true, could it? Or after recent events, could it?

2013/14

The closure of the transfer window saw Chris Powell left with a bitterly divided squad. The sale of Ben Alnwick particularly annoyed a number of players after his recent fine form; whilst the treatment accorded to Yann Kermorgant left the entire squad in no doubt that their futures were no longer going to be safeguarded at the club. The new players who came into the squad, whilst being welcomed, found it hard both to settle into a new country and team – something not helped by the inability of many of the new arrivals to speak English.

It therefore came as no surprise when the new look team slid from crisis to crisis. Existing players whose contracts were due to expire lost heart and interest, whilst the new players were slow to settle and sadly, often looked completely out of their depth. 7 consecutive defeats, compounded by a 5-0 thrashing at Sheff Wed in the FA Cup, saw Charlton sink to the bottom of the table by mid-March.

The situation was not improved by news that Chris Solly had had to retire at the age of 23 because of the injuries to his knees. But if that was a shock, the impromptu press conference called by a tearful Chris Powell on 31 March was a bombshell. At that conference, Chris Powell announced his resignation, claiming that although he loved the club, he was in an untenable situation with players being bought and sold over his head.

Within hours, it was announced that Julien Le Nobody was to be the next Head Coach, raising suspicions he had long been lined up to take over the role. He was a man that no-one, even seasoned watchers of European football, had ever heard of. A trawl of the internet subsequently revealed his only management experience was as a youth coach at Standard Liege a few years earlier.

At his press conference, Le Nobody stressed what an honour it was to be appointed and said how he would work tirelessly to take Charlton back to the Premier League. However, under his leadership Charlton remained stuck at the bottom of the league for the rest of the season, with relegation being mathematically confirmed at the Brighton away game. (A game in which Dale Stephens scored the only goal with a stunning 30 yard volley).

2014/15

The close season at the Valley was not a happy place.

As expected, most of the players whose contracts were up left the club. Michael Morrison moved to Celtic, Ben Hamer to Sunderland, Dorian Dervite to Brentford, Cedric Evina to Orient and Danny Green returned to Dagenham & Redbridge. The contracts of Johnnie Jackson and Andy Hughes were not renewed and both retired. Neither was offered a coaching position at the club.

Then came the bombshell news that Jordan Cousins was to sign for Arsenal for £1m. Rhoys Wiggins’ departure to Crystal Palace for £500k swiftly followed. The new 4 and a half year contract he had signed back in January at least ensured Charlton received a fee for his departure, slightly softening the blow of his leaving for the deadly enemy.

The decision by the club to raise Season Ticket prices by 20 per cent, despite relegation, had already badly affected the sale of season tickets. (It was claimed football at the Valley had been too cheap for too long). With the news of the departure of Cousins and Wiggins, sales dried up almost completely and fewer than 5,000 season tickets were sold – the lowest number for over 20 years.

Reinforcements for the departing players were signed but these came exclusively from the stable of clubs owned by Roland Duchatelet. Most were young but promising players but few had any experience of playing in England. The team that kicked off the 2014/15 season consisted of 5 players from RD’s sides and 4 players who had come through the youth team (Pope, Poyet, Gomez and, Lennon). Lawrie Wilson and Simon Church made up the numbers.

The team actually made a promising start to the Division 1 campaign, playing some neat, tidy attacking football. But the rest of the league soon got to grips with the Charlton youngsters and the bigger, stronger players that most other teams possessed soon began to bulldoze their way to victory. By late autumn, the team had slipped into the bottom four. Attendances, which had been on a steady decline, began to drop alarmingly and the 1-0 defeat at home to Bradford in December – in which Phil Parkinson refused to celebrate the winning goal – brought things to a head.

The next edition of Voice of the Valley called for a boycott of the forthcoming home game against Oxford to protest at the way the club was being run – a call that they had made some 30 years earlier. This was immediately denounced by the club’s most loyal fans on Charlton Life who said in no small measure that this was not the time for a boycott. Passions between the 2 groups threatened to get out of control and the sight of die-hard Charlton fans nearly coming to blows upset many.

As it happened, the boycott took place and was remarkably successful. The club announced a gate of 5,135 but most supporters thought that actual numbers inside the ground barely numbered a thousand. Oxford supporters, to their credit, joined in the boycott, with the exception of Jethro Harbinger who had seen every one of Oxford’s games live ever since they joined the league in 1962. He apologised but said he just had to be there. Our own Seb Lewis was said to be a broken man when told he was still about 1,000 games behind Harbinger’s total of watching consecutive games.

The boycott, though, had no effect whatsoever on the way the club was run. The few remaining players from Chris Powell’s time in charge – Lawrie Wilson, Simon Church and Callum Harriott – all left the club in the January transfer window and were replaced by yet more recruits from Standard Liege’s reserve team.

Julien Le Nobody, by now even more unpopular than Ian Dowie and Alan Pardew combined, continued to maintain that the club was going in the right direction.
But events on the field showed the exact opposite and the club managed to beat its record for the number of consecutive defeats. Attendances were now in complete free-fall, with barely more than 4 or 5,000 home fans being in actual attendance (as opposed to the 10,000 figure still being quoted in the press). As for away support, only 37 fans attended a Tuesday night trip to Rotherham.

A second successive relegation was duly confirmed in April with a defeat at local rivals, Gillingham. Charlton fans left the ground with the gloating chorus of “We’ll never play you again” ringing in their ears.

TO BE CONTINUED

Comments

  • Don't give up your day job
  • I think that's a good piece of writing. I had to remind myself that this wasn't necessarily what was going to happen.

    You left out the bit about the billionaire takeover bid than came to nothing.
  • decent, but did thi take you like an hour to write or something...
  • Hamer to Sunderland ha ha
  • There really isn't any need for such pessimism at this stage. Prior to this window we were heading for relegation. The squad desperately needed freshening up - and that's what's happened. OK we lost Yann, but Bournemouth made him an offer he couldn't refuse at his age, and one which the club felt they couldn't match. Good luck to him. Dale's wish for a move is long standing. We can't have people here who would rather be somewhere else.

    Anyone can see that we need to score more goals, so we have got two new strikers both of whom are reputedly prolific scorers, and who may turn out to be fantastic acquisitions. Sure we all love Yann but his record shows he would never be able to get the goals we need to stay up. Maybe these guys have no experience of English football, but also our opponents have no experience of playing against them. That's an experience opposing defenders may not enjoy!

    And true we may be a bit short handed in MF. It seems we made a serious attempt to sign Gradel which unfortunately didn't come off. There is still the possibilty that a MF could come in when the loan window opens.

    Your prophecy may come true, but equally the changes might reverse our fortunes, keep us in the FLC and set us up for a realistic promotion push next term. Until I see real evidence to the contrary, I'll be optimistic and expect the latter scenario. In fact, I'm excited about seeing these new guys playing for us.

    Something had to be done. Something was done, and for now, that's good enough for me.
  • The only thing I find unrealistic about this possible scenario is the assertion that we are apparently trying to get promoted to the Premier League.
  • Christ!! I think I need to go back on that Samaritans thread....
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  • edited January 2014
    You'll get plenty of 'like's, but you're right. You are the ultimate optimist.
  • You sure have alot of spare time to write such pointless words.
  • Up to you 'fortune' if you want to waste your time writing this ...but I just don't see the point. Bottom line you are rubbishing the new owner before he has even had a chance to put any plans in action.

    Ok, I am an optimist and believe he could be taking us in the right direction, and your post is tongue-in-cheek ...but I don't see why you thought it was necessary.
  • Absolutely ludicrous. Suggest you take 15mins to watch the interview with RD, Katrien Murray & Powell in which they explicitly outline intentions to keep ticket prices down and how we should now be in a position to not sell our best young players before they've realised their full value. Give them a chance before airing such absurd negativity.
  • The only thing that's ludicrous is thinking that anything about this takeover could be positive. I'm a normally optimistic person, but Duchatelet is bad bad news. The guy has been successful so far at Standard Liège but his tactics won't keep working. There will be no team spirit even if there is spirit in the stands. Mathematics do not eternally win football matches.

    I think you should stop airing such absurd positivity!
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Roland Out!