Friday, December 31, 2010


So after much deliberation, due diligence, and rumour, we now know who has taken over the reins as Charlton Athletic chairman from Richard Murray.

Michael Slater. Yes, Michael Slater.

No, not the Aussie cricketer who plundered England for runs at every opportunity in the 1990’s and no, not the authority on Charles Dickens who writes books on his subject regularly. This Michael Slater (left), though only 44 years old, is a retired lawyer!

Other than what was released on the official website earlier this afternoon, little is known of Slater, but much more is known about the other half of the new owners, Tony Jiminez. Jiminez name has been linked to Charlton since Murray announced that an indicative and legally binding offer for the club was made in early December. Jiminez is also close friends and a regular colleague of Dennis Wise (spit), but no mention of Wise being involved in any role at Charlton has been made at this stage.

Jiminez , also 44, was recently vice-president (player recruitment) at Newcastle United (where he worked with ex-Addick overseas scout Jeff Vetere), and is apparently a season ticket holder at Chelsea (although so are many wealthy people these days). He also has “a capacity to get things done” which has “helped him to win the trust of prominent people”. He certainly has Murray’s and Peter Varney’s trust it seems in that he will not hurt our club, even though one quote says “He knows nothing about football." It was Jiminez who apparently brokered the deal with Zabeel a couple of years ago, which came close to completion before being scuppered by world economics.

Varney and Murray remain on the board, along with Stephen Kavanagh, Slater and Jiminez, and that can only be a good thing.

Interestingly, the company that bought Baton (Murray’s own take-over vehicle) is Swiss-managed and controlled, and may have been set up in the summer by Sebastian Sainsbury, thereby linking him with this take-over too. Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited is owned by Jiminez though.

Slater has announced his tenure with some nice words about the proud history of the club, and the potential it has moving forwards, though I have to admit that we have heard much the same before parroted from Murray and Varney. Slater says that the take-over brings financial stability to the club, which is great, though no mention of any funds being available in the January transfer window is made. What has been said is "What we won't do is create unrealistic pie in the sky expectations. We will always live within our means and, with a sound commercial approach and the run of the ball on the pitch, our aim, obviously, is to make steady, upward progress and bring success to The Valley."

Sensible words, provided the club remains successful on the pitch.

Slater does seem like a very successful business man from his resume, and with a legal background (he has an Honours Degree in Law), he should know what he can get away with. With Jiminez’s financial clout (he allegedly has links with the middle east?), this pair, along with the football acumen of Murray, Kavanagh and Varney could be just the right people to take Charlton forwards with a sound footing.

It didn’t quite happen before Xmas to give us the present we fans wanted, but this move is a nice way to start 2011. A new decade, with new owners, let’s hope they too last close on twenty years, as Murray has, and can superbly build the club as he did.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Danger Danger!

Who is this man, and would you let him loose with your children?

He's scored a few times this year already!

He is known to sneak around the back!

He obviously has dancing feet...

He can give opponents a "tough" time.

He is always being chased by someone.

He frequently disappears into the crowd when "scoring".

He is a marked man.

He can certainly "Wag" the dog.

Answers to be found on the right wing on Sunday, hopefully!

Happy Xmas!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow Good

While November was a joyous month on the Addicks front, December has been anything but. The triple pronged attack on the league plus the two remaining cup competitions has faltered, and badly, and now it does seem that a major rebuilding exercise in confidence may be required, if not amongst the players, then amongst the fans.

How much any of this is to do with the due diligence currently nearing completion prior to any takeover is unknown, but we have seen in the past that such talk, and close proximity to potential upheaval, can be detrimental to team spirit and fans expectations. The fans can dream of course, but why for the players though, I’m not sure, as I doubt many of this team are going to be more uncertain of their places after Xmas than they are already – we are unlikely to be spending that heavily and bringing in a completely new squad, despite supporters hopes! The takeover is due to complete, barring unforeseen circumstances, on this Friday, and amazingly we have yet to find any evidence of who is actually stumping up the money to buy the club from Richard Murray. Plenty of unfounded rumours persist, with the usual suspects currently mentioned (usually magnates from USA, Russia or the Middle East), but one name does seem to be cropping up as part of the consortium quite a bit just now and that is Dennis Wise. I’m no fan of this “little shit”, as I am fond of calling him, ever since he simulated copulation on the back of John Humphrey in the final game of 1985/6 season when playing for Wimbledon. He gets up people’s noses, and doesn’t smell nice. He may be the saviour of our club (in the short-term) but I very much doubt you will find me liking him if ever our paths cross. I hope that the rumours of his involvement are unfounded in this respect, as I really wouldn’t like him associated with our club, and the hope of getting a taxi home from SE7 would diminish. He would not be one of the money men either - he didn’t make a massive fortune from playing and neither would his managerial career have given him that large a pension – so one can only presume that he would want to install himself in some (maybe senior) managerial capacity (but without responsibility for results as he would never be to blame…). This would immediately put any incumbent coach under pressure, and would inevitably end in failure I feel. Hopefully, this will never come to fruition and our new board will be free of Wise and his cronies.

On the playing side, the results have turned as cold as the weather; since my last post, we struggled to get past Luton in the FA Cup second round replay. I missed the game due to a prior commitment, and returned home free of the result hoping to have taped the game; to my dismay, the VCR failed to work and I have still yet to see the goals. The performance was not one that impressed many Addick fans sadly, and after falling behind in the first half, an equaliser from the head of Scott Wagstaff did ease tensions just before half time. Their better fitness then conspired for Charlton to add further goals from Joe Anyinsah and a deflected free kick from Johnnie Jackson for a comfortable-looking (but anything but) 3-1 win. The win was important, as it gives the club an opportunity to make a little money from an away tie at Spurs in the next round. The idea that our cup run may go any further beggars belief currently, and Harry may be thinking that he can use it as a showcase for a lot of reserve players who need a game before being sold in the January transfer window; I’m sure whatever side he puts out will be way too strong for this current Charlton team sadly. I suppose we can dream of a draw, and more revenue from a replay, but the idea of Defoe, Keane, Crouch, and Pavlyachenko, let alone Lennon, Modric and Krancjar, failing to score a few past Robbie Elliot is not a dream I can entertain (being a realist).

The Luton replay, thanks to TV requirements, came just three days before the next league game, and the players who took the field against Walsall did look very weary. Aside an early volley from Wagstaff, not much happened in the first half, and the second, despite two half time substitutions, was even worse. Marco Van Benson missed his only opportunity, and eventually the goal that the possession Walsall had deserved finally came. There was little apparent effort to salvage something, and the “Big One” was in the bag. I don’t know what price bottom-of-the-table Walsall had been at the bookies to win the match against a side sitting second and unbeaten in eleven games (maybe 6-1?), but I’m sure someone made a killing somewhere (Essex maybe?).

The bad news didn’t end there, as just two days later the club crashed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy semi final (southern section); this competition, however minimal, does provide clubs such as ours with the only realistic chance of winning a cup final at Wembley. It was sad then to see the players perform little better than they had done the previous weekend, despite six changes to the team. Benson was given a rest until late in the game, as was Anyinsah and Jackson, and after a couple of good saves by Elliot, and some poor Brentford finishing, the lottery that is a penalty shoot-out was once more before us. Brentford, of course, had seen plenty of practise having been in five other shoot outs this season alone, while Charlton just had that awful memory of losing to Swindon last May in the back of their minds. It is no surprise therefore that Charlton lost, but the manner, with the home ‘keeper saving the first three Charlton kicks was bizarre to say the least. Lee saved from Jackson (blasting another penalty straight down the middle), Therry Racon, and finally Kyel Reid, who at least made him move toward the ball. Elliot made one save in return but the inevitable happened and the loss was registered. It was a game that Charlton should have been up for, but they weren’t; the negativity creeping into the club again.

Last Saturday’s game at Hartlepool went the same way that the Rochdale game did at the start of December – an early call-off due to the severe weather gripping the UK, and Charlton head into the Xmas period sitting in fourth place in the table. Once the Spurs game is out of the way, we will only have the league to concentrate our minds on and the hope is that without distraction, we can improve our form and move higher in the table.

Whether the take-over allows for any new signings I don’t know. It is probably fair to say that few, if any, Charlton players will be approached with a view to a transfer elsewhere, and there seems no real need to sell anyone at this stage. The players whose contracts end next summer may well be in the spotlight (Racon, Jose Semedo, Kelly Youga, etc), but even if they are not going to stay at The Valley beyond season end, there seems little likelihood of an offer that would want us to part with them now being placed on the table. Phil Parkinson’s squad was built back in August with the mind to take us all the way through to the end of the season, and from where we are now, he is just about in the right place. The only issue is the football the team are playing, which really is poor considering how high up in the table we are. It’s not too negative, or boring, just poor; little apparent purpose much of the time, and an over-reliance on the other team making more mistakes than we do. Hence us scraping one goal wins over much of the first half of the season.

If Parky could get some confidence into the team, and get them playing with the spirit which he confirms surrounds the club, then we may be able to go forward with hope. But despair sits with us currently, and that is never a good accompaniment for Xmas spirit! We don’t have to worry about Pardew coming to spoil our Boxing Day this year, but can we get a result against a dangerous Southampton team? Can we follow up that game with good performances at high-flying Brighton and Colchester? Will we have any legs left to play against Swindon in the first home game of 2011? Or will our minds be focussing on the match coming up in north London?

If Mr Wise does come to SE7, these five games may be all he needs to feel that Parky isn’t his man. You have been warned.

Happy Xmas to all readers of this blog, Charlton fans or otherwise, and of course, to Dennis Wise.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Moving in the Right Direction

It is very true that a lot can happen in mere minutes during a football match, so in the month since I last blogged, it is no surprise that we have seen plenty of action both on and off the pitch. Amazingly, most of it is good news too!

My previous prose was written in the lead up to the Peterborough away game, where I confidently predicted that we might see one side get a bit of a pasting. I am glad I was correct in this summation, but thankfully horrendously wrong in my prediction and that it was Charlton who emerged victorious. The home team that day played the first 45 minutes as if in a collective daze, and even though an injury to Joe Anyinsah had to be dealt with, Charlton capitalized on every single mistake to snatch an astonishing 4-0 half-time lead. Even though many fans listening in via the radio or CAFC Player remained wary of that score being a winning one, Charlton held on firmly and scored once more to run out 5-1 winners in the shock result of the day. It seemed like everyone came to the party, with two goals from Johnnie Jackson (left), the first one a penalty, two more from Lee Martin (who had arrived as substitute for Anyinsah after just 20 minutes or so), and one from Paul Benson, plus plenty of assists from others in the team or solid defensive displays.

If ever one result ignited the season from a fans perspective, then it was this one.

It should be noted that Peterborough did play awfully in defence, but their dangerous attack still needed controlling, and the guys at the back did their collective job very well.

That match was quickly followed by a home FA Cup replay against Barnet, and the weekend enduced euphoria quickly evaporated on a cold night (if that is possible?). Only Kyel Reid’s solo goal lit up the evening, and a paltry crowd started to drift off long before the final whistle. Luckily, they didn’t miss any goals, mainly due to Rob Elliot’s heroics in the second half, where he made a good number of excellent saves that basically ensured the victory and progression to the 2nd round. It was nice that Rob had a good game, as many of the recent plaudits have gone to the outfield players. When called upon, Robbie has been pretty consistent this season, even if many would not consider him to have been at his best prior to this match.

At least it meant progression, and the following night we found that it was to be a game against Luton in the next round, after they won their own replay. That was a game for the future though…

Back in league action, and the only league team from Somerset came to SE7. Yeovil played well, and often embarrassed the Charlton team who seemed to think that goals would come without much effort. In some ways, the players were right, and goals by Jackson (again!) and Therry Racon twice gave the Addicks the lead, after Elliot had been beaten by a surprising shot from 25 yards that went in off the post. After half time, things got worse when Yeovil equalised again, and when Christian Dailly was sent off a few minutes later, and with twenty minutes still left in the match, fans hopes for any points were diminishing. Luckily, Yeovil’s least favourite substitute – Akpo Sodje – came on to the pitch and worked his socks off to create the chance for a win. From my seat, it did look like he timed his run well and would have reached Gary Doherty’s header into the box, though what he would have done had he reached it I’m not sure! We will never know though, as a Yeovil defender pulled him back by the shirt, just enough, and Sodje fell theatrically to the ground. Penalty, red card, and a goal, in that order, and three more points in the bag. Jackson had never scored twice in a game before the Peterborough match, and now he had done so two weeks running!

Dailly’s sending off was harsh in my opinion. Sure, he led with his arm, but at no point did he swing it or "aim" it at the player. Later, it transpired that it was in fact his head that made contact with the opposition player, but the TV angles could not confirm this. An appeal was considered, but bearing in mind the short thrift with which such claims are treated these days, it just didn’t seem worth wasting five grand (the appeal cost) with no visual evidence to back up the statements made by both players regarding what touched who. As it was Dailly’s second red card of the season, he now had to sit out the next four games.

The first of these was the Bristol Rovers home game, played on another cold Tuesday night. Jon Fortune had seen plenty of game time in the previous two matches, and he started here alongside the ever consistent Doherty. It was another very average performance from the Addicks, but whereas the home side saw plenty of luck against Yeovil, here the well had run almost dry. A quiet first half saw the away teams on loan goalkeeper make one very good save from Benson, and while never really threatened, you knew that Charlton’s make-shift defence would probably not hold out for the whole game. Sure enough, midway through the second 45 minutes, a corner was headed out, and a crisp shot followed the smooth squaring of the ball. Rifled through the packed penalty box, Elliot stood little chance as the ball nestled in the corner. Charlton did up their game, forcing a couple of excellent saves, and when Reid’s shot from a far post cross veered away from goal, it was touched home by a jubilant Benson. Akpo couldn’t weave his magic on this game, much as he tried, blighted by the 'keeper again, and the scores finished level. At least Charlton saw other results go with them, as they had done over previous league weekends, and now the team sat in second place behind early season leaders Brighton.

The Luton match was another played in near freezing temperatures. With relatively few home fans in attendance (in the 8600 strong crowd) and a full away end, it was a surreal atmosphere not seen for some years at The Valley. And consequently, maybe, Charlton played like they did in the old days. Luton stroked the ball around and had most of the play, but Charlton’s cutting edge was sharp, especially with Anyinsah now back from injury. It was Joe who headed in Reid’s cross early on to give the home side the lead, but a weakly given penalty brought the teams level well before half time; Elliot actually saved the spot kick but was powerless to prevent the rebound being headed home. Even then, Jackson, on such a rich vein of goal-scoring now, headed home his own goal to allow Charlton to retake the lead at the break. The pattern was similar in the second half, with the away team bossing the match mainly, but not until Drury hit a sublime "pass" over Elliot from 25 yards did they draw level. The draw was a fair result, and ensured both teams watched the balls being picked out of the bag by wide-boy rock-stars intently the next day. Late in the draw, Charlton’s number 57 brought the right variety of fixture with an away tie at rip-roaring, goal-scoring, Champions League outsiders Tottenham Hotspurs. Even if the replay is won (and with Semedo back, plus with Wagstaff and Doherty fit, we should have a much stronger team available...), we should not dream of progressing, but at least the revenue (with live TV coverage via ESPN)) and exposure from the game will be nice.

That made it ten games since the last defeat (and also makes my holiday seem like a long time ago!), and a fine come-back by the team and the management.

Into December, and all we have really seen is snow, and more snow. The cold weather turned colder, and my plans to go to Rochdale (via a drinking session in Huddersfield) were cancelled as was the game. This was quite lucky really as I was in fact stuck in Germany for most of the week, where tales of German efficiency proved to be very wide of the mark (no pun intended!). None of the trains I caught ran on time, and my flight was cancelled without notice with many passengers at the gate. My trip to the airport had been enlivened by travelling with many yellow and black clad Borussia Dortmund fans, en route to their Europa League game that evening. Not for years have I seen so many bottles of beer being consumed on a train on the way to a footie match! I’m glad they won as it was very, very cold that night…

Possibly the only piece of good news I had while abroad was that, finally, we have movement on the takeover front. I wrote in my last blog that "…one day, Murray will have to sell up, and we all have to hope that the guy who follows him will have a heart and wallet at least as big." Well, we do not yet know who the person or people holding the notes and waving them in Richard Murray’s direction are, except that the bid is led (or more-correctly, fronted) by Peter Varney (left). Always a Charlton man, Varney failed when trying to push through a previous take-over about 16 months back. What none of us know is who is involved, and the Charlton Life board is full of rumours about Middle-Eastern, American, Irish, local, and in-house buy-outs. It does seem that Seb Sainsbury is not involved, which might upset all those fans who now have him as their Facebook friend. The take-over due diligence is now in full swing, and the paperwork is due to be completed prior to Xmas, provided nothing untoward crawls out of the woodwork. Nothing is done until it’s done though, so we had better keep our fingers crossed because if this bid fails, I doubt we’ll get anything else! Ever! Whether Varney will re-assume his CEO role, or even if Murray will remain on the board are still unknowns, but I have a hope that both elements come to fruition. As has been mentioned elsewhere, Richard Murray should be thanked for all his efforts over the last twenty-odd years; without him, this Charlton, our Charlton, would not have been the same.


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