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NEW ARTICLE: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place


What a mess.

How can a football club have allowed itself to get into such a ridiculous position? From such a position of momentum strength eighteen months ago as well. This isn’t something that has emerged overnight; like the equally ridiculous pitch situation this is something that has bubbled under the surface for a period of time and is now slapping us fully in the face.

Let’s very briefly recap.

- On promotion to the Championship, the squad saw just the minimum of bolstering, mainly Wilson and Button on pay later deals, before the late arrival of Fuller.
- The squad started this season noticeably weaker than the previous out-performing season, particularly in attacking options
- A number of the most key players from the previous two seasons (Solly, Wiggins, Kermorgant, Jackson, Cort), have been unavailable for chunks, and in some cases most of the season, and have not been adequately replaced.
- Bar Cameron Stewart, the manager was not allowed to bring in any players on loan
- A number of players appear to have been unhappy for some time with regard to contracts, promises, direction of the club etc It has not been a happy camp
- New arrivals have arrived in the last few weeks, but not it would appear targeted from the manager, in the key positions required and with no real belief they will improve our starting team

We have an interesting thread running on what we should do with the manager situation. I had to include the fence-sitting option of ‘genuinely don’t know’, because that is exactly how I feel.

I think Powell has been a great manager for us. I don’t think he is anyway perfect, and I won’t repeat my breakdown of views from September’s article ‘Standing up for what you believe and Hoping for Powell’. It’s rare that a manager has such a genuine connection with a club, and the like and respect from the majority of supporters, and i think if we had been in a different boardroom period, we could have gone on to have a run together like the Curbs / Murray rising years.

But I think it has stupidly been allowed to go beyond that now. This to me is a tired and exasperated regime and squad, one that was unhappily hanging in there for the first half of the season because they knew that a change in ownership was imminent. That’s evolved, but nothing has really changed for the better, certainly from what we have publicly seen.

So let’s break down the options:

Pay off Powell and his coaching team now.

Pro - The set-up appears down and disheartened, and sometimes a new face and new ideas can re-envigour and trigger a reaction. The likelihood is we appear to be going down anyway, so what exactly is there to lose?

Against - A new man would have no time to bring in any players that he wants (and we have seen with Powell, no one appears to be able to bring in what they want), would be left with a disheartened squad he could not change, and there is no certainty he would even have any experience in English football. We know Powell appears well-liked by his squad. If he is struggling to get the best out of them (having previously proved he can), is there much chance a new outsider would? We saw what happened with Parky’s squad that Powell took over in their last few months what happens when it becomes known that most of the squad are being moved on in the summer

Giving Powell a new contract now

Pro – Would equally give clarity to the situation and settle uncertainty both with supporters, current playing squad and potential new recruits
Against – Game by game his position of strength is weakening as the uncertainty and lack of squad improvement is having more and more of a negative impact. A situation has been allowed to evolve where a number of supporters have now firmly entrenched themselves in the Anti-Powell camp, and an unwelcome and unproductive split in support is now always going to flare up whenever we lose a couple of games. Some of his decision making remains questionable, and there is an argument that some form of change either now or in the summer will probably be for the best given it has been a draining couple of years for everyone.

Keeping the status quo

– Making a big managerial decision could potentially shape how this club evolves over the next couple of years. It is unfair on RD to come in and have to make such a decisive decision so quickly. Nor was there any commitment that he was going to pay out for new recruits when he already has surplus at his other clubs. Give him time to see how his manager, and newly transferred recruits from Liege, perform

Against - This for me is the worst option of all. I said last week following the ‘meet the board’ video - "We are in a clear relegation dogfight at this point in time with just a handful of other clubs. I see a lot of those clubs taking gambles and bringing in new players to hopefully improve their situation. We at present have not done, and look likely to put all our hope and trust in a collection of players who most likely will be moving on to pastures new at the end of the season. Doing nothing would effectively be a bigger gamble than taking a gamble. I'm in no doubt this squad needs strengthening to ensure survival, particularly up front, and whoever does come in has got to hit the ground running. Small changes can make a big difference in this league, in either direction".

So there we have it.

I genuinely think we have evolved into a situation where we are stuck between a rock and hard place, and there is no clear direction in which way to turn next. The problem with that is the worst option of all is the one that doesn’t involve any form of turning. I genuinely wouldn't know what to do for the best, but fear that whatever happens will only make a difficult situation worse.

The majority of supporters at this point in time remain behind the manager, but the number that are falling into the JUST category is growing by the game, as are those in the anti group. A new contract for him now won't have the same critic-silencing impact it may well have had just a fortnight ago. Either results improve one way or another, or the backdrop is undoubtedly going to get more poisonous.

Following this club is a struggle to be enjoyable at the moment.

(Please do add your views on the YOU DECIDE thread)


  • good read [email protected], I personally think that powell needs to be supported by the new man, given some money and i think we'll be okay.I understand he sometimes comes across as tactically inept in important games and his substitutions arent always great but think of what he has acheived for us, and i think as a man whos only been in the management game for 3 years, he's done well for us and with the right backing from both the board and the fans, he could take us up again.It all comes down to his peers dipping into their pockets
  • edited January 2014
    Not a nice read but that sums things up well.

    I'm getting worried. I keep checking my phone and logging into here expecting to see that Powell's gone. It's awful that we're even having to discuss this, despite results and some very poor football I don't think Powell deserves it.

    Something does have to change, we all know that. I would like to see a couple of UK based players coming in who will know the league and will be up for some scrappy games. However, we have a little over 48 hours of the window left. That means any fees would be exorbitant, while if we do have to sell to buy we have almost no time to find adequate replacements or improvements.

    Therefore I fear that we'll be left with a couple of cast-offs from Liege or elsewhere who will struggle to adapt. Then if results don't improve then Powell goes. Whatever happens we need an overhaul of the playing staff in the summer.

    I am also confused here as RD is apparently after money more than anything. If clubs are interested in Stephens or whoever then it would make sense to offer deals then sell in the summer for larger fees than would be obtained now. Relegation though, would mean reduced fees.

    I dunno, I'm rambling and this is a huge mess. At least we're safe from adminstration (for the moment).

    Edit: I wrote that before seeing about Yann. F***.

  • Good article afka .. Powell makes a lot of tactical and selection mistakes often repeating the gaff more than once .. However, his heart is in the right place, I can forgive him even the most exasperating f**k up because he does the wrong stuff from good intentions. I write that after having watched a diabolical performance at Doncaster from a shambolic and seemingly disorganised team. Compare however to the well organised outfit (after Evina was replaced) at Huddersfield. Quite remarkable the change for the worse in three days. Is this Powell's doing ?
    This is fundamentally the side that got us promotion and a decent standing last season. It is getting old and shelf shabby together and needs refreshing, not with young Europeans with strange sounding names but with some experienced English/British pros.
    However, I do not think (from NO evidence at all) that the new owner is 100% behind either Powell or indeed CAFC as an entity. He has many fish to fry and I get the idea that CAFC is part of some great experiment, a trial of Euro/cross border club integration...... I know (one might say) .. I read far too many books and watch too many Spy movies !!

    A new manager at this stage of the season would not improve things unless he were to be given a LOT (I mean a LOT) of money for emergency team re-building. If RD decides to do this, so be it .. but he won't .. Powell is here until at least the season's end and I pray that we will not end up being relegated. If we are, no way will it be all Powell's fault. He has my (and I am sure 90% of all the fans) blessing and backing.
    One caveat and I have been writing this for months. Powell MUST decide on a playing policy and team formation to last for EVERY game. Ridiculous decisions such as including Evina last night, must be eliminated ... square pegs in squares and round batons in circles please Chris ..... and Evina !!!!, be he round or square should get no nearer another game than the bench, as a last resort
  • .....don't forget to renew your 2014/15 season tickets by the end of March to take advantage of the early discount!
  • I also support Powell. He's a Charlton guy, like the rest of us and seems to be working within very unusual constraints. I don't know, but suspect his team selection last night had to be based around the players who had stayed in Yorkshire following the Huddersfield game. On the face of it, a bit of mid-season team bonding away from home probably seemed like a good idea. (Not sure it ever worked during the Prem years as we usually lost the game after the squad had been off sunning themselves / training in Tenerife or wherever.) But what I saw last night was a team that was tired and short on creative ideas. I know the penalty and sending off killed the game but even before that we had had one shot on goal from Jackson, which went high and wide. If I'd known that was going to be our last/only meaningful attack I might have got back on the A1 early.

    For me the issue seems to be Roland's game plan. At the moment, it's almost as though Powell has to say to him the position that needs filling, and Roland then has a rummage around to see who is on his books that might fit the bill. This is what agents do of course but they usually have access to a bigger pool than SL's reserves. If this is the way the club is to be run then it doesn't matter who Powell is replaced with - the constraints and players will be the same.

    If I was a betting man I'd say that Roland has told Powell to prove himself by keeping us up and then he'll be rewarded with a decent contract. The only question therefore is whether Powell sticks with us or tells Roland where to stick his job. Abuse from the fans will certainly help him make that decision.

    As for his tactics- he's 3 years into his first managerial job. I don't know about the rest of you but I still make mistakes and I've been doing my job for a lot longer than that. I'd like to think we can cut him and the players some slack, support the good, forgive the bad and hopefully they'll start playing with confidence again, slowly pick up the points we need and drag ourselves above that lot from up the road. Naïve? Probably. Optimistic? Always.
  • Much as I was frustrated at the team selection last night, I am more concerned about the lack of guile and focused motivation. The former we have lacked for many years - traceable back to the sale of Andy Reid, but we have usually been able to rely on this bunch for a decent team effort. Last night they looked as though they couldn't wait to get off home. If Chris is losing the ability to get them playing for the shirt then his main selling point is diminishing, because on-field tactics ain't his strength.

    But what we can't know is why and we certainly can't realistically expect someone else to come in (and spend f... all )and suddenly turn this around.

    Good article this AFKA - I'd give Powell his contract despite everything - he has earned that in his time with us.

    100% support. I (literally) have got the T Shirt.
  • Great article and very very.well written

  • 100% support. I (literally) have got the T Shirt.

    So you have

  • This squad has played above it's level. That may sound portentious, but I mean that Powell has assembled it brilliantly on a tight budget and it can compete in the champ. It lacks offensive options, and other players such as Jackson and Pritchard have made little impact compared to last season.

    Why he insists on playing 4-4-2 away from home with a limited un-pacey team, who have not had a flat 4 midfield that at any time is capable is another matter. There's plenty of over paid rubbish in this division who panic at home when matched or outnumbered in midfield. Playing five across midfield, especially with Stewart, would have won us a crucial few extra away matches. Having said all that, this squad is committed to Powell. They are limited. I can not see any manager getting a whole lot more out of them. A different manager, still desperately needs a some pace on the flanks, and a goalscorer. Without that the squad's cohesion would disintegrate for almost anyone I care to think of.

    Skipping to the end Afka you're absolutely right, there is no definitive answer. I didn't think this squad needed much to compete against the many poor teams in this div. Indeed a revitalised Sordell could go a long way to doing this. But a concerted effort to get two very strategic loans, both pacey, would have seen this squad at time of writing ease to safety. That appears very doubtful now.
  • Powell all the way, even if we are relegated. I think the lack of funds so far plus events (like sending offs and injuries) plus pitch problems, plus uncertainty plus the failure to overcome the nervousness / inattention at home have all led us to where we are BUT Powell is the man to get us out of it. In a few days time we will know whether any new players are coming in and that is when we will have a better idea of the ammo in our locker . EVEN IF these players are all we have got then so be it. Go down but go down fighting is what I say.
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  • Maybe RD's plan is to use Charlton as a feeder focussing on youth development,a bit like Crewe used to be.In which case it would be cheaper to have us in League One where a young team can compete.
    Asset stripping the current squad creates some cash,guarantees relegation and lowers the financial requirements for next season.
    Makes sense if you have no identification with Charlton at all.
  • First time on here since lunchtime and I find strong rumours that Yann is off to the south coast plus more discussions as to the best way forward.

    All I will say is that, assuming the players had the day off following last night's match/late arrival home, I am expecting some decent incomings tomorrow ( not from SL) & possibly a new contract for SCP to be signed.

    Not ITK as such but this and ONLY this must be the game plan to save our season . End of.
  • edited January 2014
    Firstly, because I believe Powell has made a fair few tactical mistakes, it is only my unqualified opinion and doesn't mean I am right though. What I do believe more passionately, is that Powell is a terrific squad builder and would have got us promoted to the Premiership if Cash wasn't such an idiot! I doubt we could attract anybody better, but he can't have had any say in the dealings we have witnessed in this window.

    It was reported that Chrissy wanted to tie up the outstanding contracts and had a list of players he wanted to bring in. We all know that none of the players who have come in would have been on it and as for the contracts - total failure. I think he knows that he won't be manager for long, but if he has the chance, he will do his best to keep us up. I hope he gets that chance because he is our best hope.
  • I'm not very good at DIY, but you know I've become a lot better at it since I learned the value of having the right tools for the job. Amazing what a difference that makes.

    For me, the mistakes Powell's made have largely been to try to accommodate the shortfalls in the squad he has at this level. A couple of injuries and suspensions - which are prevalent at this time of year - and he's having to pick from the academy.

    I fear it's all too late, but I'm desperately hoping that RD finds some money to bring some proper Championship quality players to the club, particularly up front, to save our season. Otherwise we lose our best players, we lose our manager and we'll be starting again in League One with a gamble of a manager and squad.

    He needs to resolve the manager situation first though, one way or the other.
  • CP will go anyway, but he's a dignified guy and will probably just walk in May.

    He could walk straight into any number of roles with the FA, and the wheel will be off at Watford before too long.

    Let's stay behind him until then - this mess is not his fault.
  • He has been the glue that has held us together this season. Maybe RD does understand that or will come too. Next Home game - Chrisy powells red and white army for the whole game.
  • First time on here since lunchtime and I find strong rumours that Yann is off to the south coast plus more discussions as to the best way forward.

    All I will say is that, assuming the players had the day off following last night's match/late arrival home, I am expecting some decent incomings tomorrow ( not from SL) & possibly a new contract for SCP to be signed.

    Not ITK as such but this and ONLY this must be the game plan to save our season . End of.

    you'll be VERY lucky ducky ..
  • I think if CP is only offered a contract to the end of the year he will walk after the Birmingham home game. We will know if regardless of the result he does the big wave thing at the end of the game.
    He will want to say good bye to the fans and he will do it in the dignified way that is CP.
  • CP Tweet: There were a number of issues at Doncaster. It wasn't right from start to finish but we wipe it from the memory.

    Were the issues just the obvious ones on the pitch or was there something behind the scenes? Illness perhaps, as the subs were not the ones expected?
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Roland Out Forever!