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Bowyer Interview - "At the moment, I am gambling every year"

Haven't seen this posted anywhere yet. I'm prepared to sink my own thread if need be...

Lee Bowyer can see the irony in his relatively formal choice of match day attire; crisp, white shirt, red club tie and jacket or sweater if he feels the cold. 

‘I don’t normally like wearing suits,’ admits the Charlton manager. ‘As a player, I’d hate having to go to events where you had to dress up. The shoes weren’t comfortable, the tie made me feel like I couldn’t move. 

‘But looking smart for a couple of hours on a Saturday isn’t going to kill me. My teachers at school wore suits. It signified someone in charge, to look up to. My managers were the same, George Graham, Sir Bobby Robson, proper jacket and tie. 

‘So I thought, “Yeah, that’s the way.” It’s my job now, to represent the club.’ 

Listening to Bowyer at 42 is interesting. The combative former Leeds, Newcastle and England midfielder wasn’t regarded as natural management material and chose fishing over football in retirement until former team-mate Harry Kewell asked him to help out with some youth coaching at Watford. 

He turned out to be good and even better as a manager after answering an SOS call at his first club, Charlton, in March 2018. 

He reached the play-offs three months later, won promotion in his first full season and is now riding high in The Championship on the smallest budget.  

Bowyer, who faces former club Leeds in south-east London on Saturday, has made some concessions as manager – like his dress code - but hasn’t changed in other ways. 

He’s still slim and fit enough to take part in training and is proud to have two midfielders at the club who share his fierce competitive instinct; youngsters Josh Cullen and Conor Gallagher, on loan from West Ham and Chelsea respectively. 

‘Managers knew what they got from me every week and these two lads are similar,’ says Bowyer. 

‘Josh gives a minimum 7/10 performance every week and can push up to an eight or nine. He won’t let me down. 

‘Conor is like me because of the way he breaks forward and his determination. Someone wiped him out against Reading the other week, the next tackle he went through the feller and I’m thinking “fair play to you”. 

‘At 19, he’s standing up for himself. That will take him a long way. They are taking on board what we say. I used to keep gambling to get in the box and scored goals.’ 

Bowyer’s mission to improve players has been a huge asset with controversial owner Roland Duchatelet slashing costs in order to try and sell the club. 

‘We have built good relations in the loan market with West Ham, Chelsea and Arsenal in particular. Other Championship clubs can afford to pay a higher percentage of wages but we can still get the players because they see us as the best place to learn,’ he explains. 

‘It’s a win-win. We had Krystian Bielik on loan from Arsenal last season and when he went back in the summer, they sold him to Derby for £10million. 

‘He wasn’t worth that before he came to us because he got first-team games rather than under-23s football which isn’t real. Arsenal could have given us a little bit of that £10million though!’ 

Sitting in his office with a picture of his first game as manager against Plymouth framed on the wall, it’s nice to see Bowyer relaxed enough to have a joke in interview mode. 

Always popular with dressing-room peers like Alan Shearer, he grew wary of outsiders for a while after a couple of escapades became national news; a court case at Leeds in which he was acquitted and an on-pitch row at Newcastle with team-mate and friend Kieron Dyer. 

His record at Charlton is stupendous. The club had become a basket case following the departure of long-serving manager Alan Curbishley whilst still a Premier League club in 2006. Duchatelet arrived in 2014 and is detested by Addicks fans who blame him for relegation to League One. 

Bowyer wants to stay at Charlton for the long term but there is a lack of stability at the club

Bowyer had his own personal Duchatelet experience in June when the owner publicly announced his manager’s departure before immediately picking up the phone and agreeing a new deal

Nevertheless, the manager doesn’t hide his exasperation about being rewarded for promotion with a limited 12-month contract when his real ambition is to build a legacy like the legendary Curbishley.

‘I want to be here for a long time but unfortunately you’re not always in control of your destiny,’ says Bowyer.

‘I have a one-year contract again this season. There is no stability and you’ll come to a point of “how long can you keep doing it”.

‘If Charlton offered me a three-year deal, you know you can build and make it successful. But what if am not given that opportunity here? At the moment, I am gambling every year. We had 13 players leave and had to find another 12 to stay in the league. How many times can you keep doing that?’

Bowyer appears frustrated rather than angry. When he arrived as a rookie, he understood he needed to prove himself. But he’d hoped victory against Sunderland in last season’s play-off final at Wembley would be interpreted as evidence that he knows what he’s doing.

‘I felt disappointed for my staff as well as myself that we didn’t get the deals we deserved’ he says. ‘There will come a point of how long can this thing go on for.

‘I want to be successful here. I have been loyal and turned down jobs (he was heavily linked with Huddersfield) but where is the loyalty coming back? It has to be both ways. There is give and take in every walk of life.

‘I want to be here. I want to get Charlton in the Premier League. I want to be like Curbs (Curbishley). I live in the area, my kids are at school and settled. Everything makes sense.’

The complication is Duchatelet’s desire to sell which has led him to reduce spending commitments in order to try and attract buyers. Last year, Charlton fans infamously threw crisp packets on to The Valley pitch against Fleetwood as a protest against their absentee governor.

Bowyer said: ‘Disappointing is an understatement. That’s the worst we’ve played since I’ve been in charge – certainly the first 45 minutes. 

‘We were so bad, we couldn’t put three passes together.’

Bowyer says: ‘All owners have different ways of working. I speak to him from time, we probably had about five discussions in the whole of last season which is fine. It’s always civilised.

‘I get that he wants to sell and wants to reduce costs so our budget is bottom by a long way. Of course I’d love a £20million budget like some of our rivals but at the same time, he (Duchatelet) said Yes to nearly every player we went for in the summer.

‘I am happy with the squad we have. We have players who are hungry and want to prove themselves.

‘I don’t know why the club hasn’t been sold yet, I wish I did because I keep getting asked. Someone said there were people at the last home game looking, I told them they knew more than me! These things I can’t control.’

What Bowyer can control is performances on the pitch, and they have been excellent. Charlton were unbeaten in their opening six games before a slip-up against Birmingham.

Last season’s leading scorer Lyle Taylor is injured but Bowyer has assembled a healthy squad and Jonathan Leko, on loan from West Brom, and Tomer Hemed are options up front.

Bowyer was part of a Leeds team that once beat Charlton 2-0 at The Valley in 2001 to go top of the Premier League.

‘I’d be surprised if Leeds fans didn’t give me a good reception next week,’ he said. I gave them everything for six-and-a-half years. People still talk about that Leeds side today and it has a special place in my heart. They have a very good team under Marcelo Bielsa. It will be a good challenge and give us an idea of where we are.’

Plenty has changed at Charlton since Bowyer signed his first pro contract with the club 25 years ago, and then again not so much.

‘Chris Parkes (club secretary) was there when I signed that contract and he’s still here. His office is down the corridor from mine,’ says Bowyer.

‘Chris isn’t the only one. The groundsman was here when I was a kid. There are a few like that. They are the heartbeat of this club.

‘Keith Peacock (former manager) and Richard Murray (former chairman) still come to the training ground every Thursday for a chat. There are familiar faces around. It’s why everyone loves this club.’

The pleasant surprise is that Bowyer, one-time enfant terrible, is now the leader.

He planned to spend his middle age looking after the carp fishing lake he owns in France. Instead, he’s got a highly-promising managerial career ahead of him.

‘Things unfold for a reason.’ he said. ‘But for me to be sitting here now as a manager in The Championship, it’s not something I thought would happen.’



  • ^^^ Great stuff
  • Lucky to have him
  • Basket case lol
  • edited September 2019
    Love how he's got a framed picture of that Plymouth game

    Of course the win helped us secure a Play-Off spot that year but there have been far bigger under his stewardship

    Just love how simple he seems to keep things
  • Shows that everything is far from fine at the Valley, Bowyer's tenure is uncertain and Duchatelet is still holding us back.

    After reading that i'm pretty sure that Bow wont accept another 1 year contract if douchbag is still here next summer
  • edited September 2019
    We are in a precarious position and badly need the stability of a new owner before January who can prioritise extending Bowyer's contract and supporting him in the transfer market. What Bowyer has achieved is basically ridiculous with the instability within the club.
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  • I agree he needs and deserves a longer deal but it wouldn't end the high player turnover as we are heavily dependant on loan players AND have players on relatively short contracts, so each summer you know a significant number will leave
  • Candid interview. Sounds like he'll be off in January if the right offer comes in - you can sense his frustration with RD throughout that. Mind you, if we lose four out of next six or something, then Duchatelet will probably fire him now he has broken a little free from the party line.

  • Terrific interview 
  • Redrobo said:
    Candid interview. Sounds like he'll be off in January if the right offer comes in - you can sense his frustration with RD throughout that. Mind you, if we lose four out of next six or something, then Duchatelet will probably fire him now he has broken a little free from the party line.

    I disagree. I think he wants the job long term for the stability of his family life and that he wants to build something here.
    Indeed he does but Douchebag has only given him a one year contract.
  • Yep, a great interview.

    I can understand and agree with everything Lee has said

    Very sobering.
  • Redrobo said:
    Candid interview. Sounds like he'll be off in January if the right offer comes in - you can sense his frustration with RD throughout that. Mind you, if we lose four out of next six or something, then Duchatelet will probably fire him now he has broken a little free from the party line.

    I disagree. I think he wants the job long term for the stability of his family life and that he wants to build something here.
    agreed - i dont think there's an angle to anything that he has said - i think he'd love the club to be bought, he gets a longer contract and a normal transfer / wage budget before it all goes tits up coz he knows that we are getting away with it at the moment but he cant keep pulling rabbits out the hat
  • Bowyer leaving in the summer unless he gets a reasonable deal ?
  • edited September 2019
    Bowyer to Millwall? I feel sick suggesting it.
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  • Bowyer to Millwall? I feel sick suggesting it.

  • edited September 2019
    Sounds very much like a self-advertisement to me with a firm reminder that he has only been given a limited contract extension, "There's no stability and you'll come to a point of 'how long can you keep it going'."
  • If you'd have described the manager we would now have and that it would be an ex player, I think Bowyer would have been about 100th on my list.

    But he's proved and continued to prove himself. With a little bit more financial backing I really think he could achieve so much more and he's already achieved a great deal.
  • If Duchatelet doesn't change his ways, Lee will be off by next summer.
  • Very shrewd fella is Lee Bowyer.

    Obviously totally bemused by the owners lack of interest and ambition for the club.

    Let's all hope and pray some responsible new owners arrive soon, but, after 5 years I won't be holding my breath.
  • He just says it how it is. Love him. However, it is a grim reminder that the real problem is still here and what he has given us back has dulled some of that from our vision. If our owner doesn't go then Bowyer will and possibly sooner than we thought. I think he is sounding more downbeat than he has before. Sobering, as was said.
  • Great read that
  • Typical Bowyer, totally honest and without any hyperbole. Love the guy. If anybody needed convincing that while Roland owns the club we are merely treading water and waiting to be relegated the Mail interview should leave them in no doubt. HE HAS TO GO! 
  • Davo55 said:
    If Duchatelet doesn't change his ways, Lee will be off by next summer.
    When Duchatelet does eventually sell, it'll be just our luck that we'd be taken over by a consortium led by Boris Johnson.

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Roland Out Forever!