America – home of the brave (and homeless)

Breeders Cup 2Breeders Cup Del MarWe’ve just got back from a recent holiday to Southern California. We did the Route 1 trip down from San Francisco to San Diego and eventually had 2 days racing at The Breeders Cup in Del Mar. It was a lovely trip and one that I last did 40 years ago. That’s a bloody long time ago and quite a few Kronenburgs have passed under my bridge since then.

I like America and Americans, they are generally more friendly, polite and respectful than us Brits but I was struck by the level of homelessness that has transformed their city centres. In San Francisco there are a number of blocks where the inhabitants most resemble zombies – the living dead – hundreds upon hundreds of them wandering around trance like with a shopping trolley containing their worldly possessions. Even in the financial district and upmarket retail areas as we walked down to the farmers market in every doorway lay a relatively lifeless bundle of person. We witnessed the same phenomenum in Los Angeles and San Diego. The Californians rationalise this as a direct result of it being warmer in California so that tramps congregate there. The lack of some kind of safety net in the Land of plenty and the home of the brave is shameful.

The other amazing aspect of this was that the rest of society, suitably suited and booted just walks alongside or next to the zombies with the two groups completely ignoring each other as if they exist in some kind of parallel world.

Our experience in the USA was further brought into focus last week by the comments from the departing London bureau chief of the New York Times. Steven Erlanger said that our island is undergoing an identity crisis and is engaged in a “controlled suicide”. Our country is apparently “hollowed out” , “deeply provincial” and having a ” nervous breakdown”

Whilst we might despair at the poor judgement displayed by many of our senior politicians on all sides, Erlanger failed to mention  that the UK is still the 5th largest economy in the world , unemployment is lower than any time since the 1960’s, we are the most generous charitable givers in Europe, there are 1.8milion more kids being taught in good or outstanding schools than 2010. The UK has less healthcare inequality than most other nations. Heroin use is going down. Happiness ratings have risen in the past year.

As long as you don’t dwell too much on the Daily Mail or the Evening Standard the list of positive news is full and very long indeed- we have much to be thankful for and I’d rather live in the UK than anywhere else – if only for the decent beer in a pub, a lovely cup of tea and the warm glow of an afternoon with friends at The Valley.

I think Mr Erlanger might have a shock when he goes home and heaven forbid should he get ill or lose his job.

442 at The Valley

Those of you who joined me and my mates ( the three of us) in the sea of red emptiness of the East Stand last night will think I am referring to the total crowd attendance. Close as that may have been to the actual attendance , Well actually no, I am referring to our Karl’s team formation.

We consistently struggle to dominate generally inferior teams at The Valley because Big Josh gets isolated and does not get enough support close to him. It is a recurrent problem . I’m not being critical of any of our midfielders, although it seems to me that having Holmes Reeves and Marshall in the team together is probably one too much luxury.

I absolutely understand why we play this formation away from home and also against the better teams. I also fully recognise that Karl can only play with the tiny squad of front players that he has available to him. However, when he brought Karlan on last night and at last Josh had a mate up front we looked so much better. At the end of the day we were playing Rochdale at home . It was the same story against Bury a few weeks ago , we need to be more direct, straightforward, why not an old fashioned 442 ?

Anyway, in Karl we trust.

Turning to the Back to the Valley dinner which is now a 400 person sell out – whilst it’s great that it’s a sell out – am I the only person who wonders how we manage to get 10% of last nights total crowd to turn up for a relatively expensive dinner. Do these people actually come to matches ? It makes you wonder if it would be more profitable to turn the whole football club into a ‘Come Dine with us’ experience – it was then that I remembered the last nights Crossbars chicken dippers – so maybe not.

I like you Karl

Our man Karl is doing a good job and I like him . He always pays respect to the supporters both on the road and at home. The team is playing some attractive stuff and it’s enjoyable to watch .It was a great result today away at Bradford, a place we have typically struggled since our last win back in the 80’s . It may well prove to be a seminal moment in our season. The result that made us believe.

Although I am a massive critic of Roland and Katrien, I am not entirely sure about the Aussies unless they’ve got the funds and stamina to make a real difference – but I would certainly be very disappointed if our Karl left because he’s doing a good job and I like him. It would be a big mistake from a new owner if they let him go …………………….

just like the idiot Belgians did with Chis Powell 4  years ago …………… we don’t need another Groundhog Day

 

 

Are the Aussies coming to our rescue?

I guess the first question to ask about the rumoured takeover by Andrew Muir and the Aussies is – can they afford it ? Bearing in mind Roland has insisted on getting his money back which is c £50m and the annual club losses in the 3rd division are £7m.

In the event that we get promoted which you would expect within the next 2-3 years, then annual losses would likely increase because of the need for better players to c £10m. Let us assume therefore that the next 5 years including the purchase price will bring the total investment to c £80- 90m which is required just to get us to a middle ranking ( if we are lucky) Championship club.

From the published figures, having sold his retail business , Mr Muir who is worth c £400m and has said  ( ” I’m not going to waste it on racehorses “)

n.b. – ; if he’s a bloke that doesn’t like wasting money then I’m already worried – think Roland and the duck tape on his shoes and his 70th birthday dinner in the window at at a Belgian Nando’s ;

– and according to The Rickster is about to commit c 25% of his net worth to a football club on the other side of the world from where he lives.

I’m not sure what to make of this – maybe he has got some other A$ billionaire friends who are up for the ride or maybe he’s just bonkers.

Anyway, it would certainly be impossible to manage the club more incompetently than Roland and Katrien – so they would certainly get a cautious welcome from me.

We all know that running Charlton is challenging and the supporters would be bought back in to any new regime that has some ambition and at least got the basics right and realised that the club belongs to its supporters whoever has the financial ownership.

 

 

Lost in translation

On a mobile phone line from Tel Aviv, our heavily accented ex Israeli manager,one of our twenty seven previous managers in the last 3 years, informed the News Shopper that Katrien Meire was the  ‘art of Charlton’

Modesty forbids Albury from revealing what he actually said about Katrien’s capabilities but  suffice it to say that anotomically it rhymes with farce.

Charlton going nowhere – slowly

Another pretty awful performance and terrible result yesterday against a poor team in the THIRD division of English Football watched by an ever dwindling crowd of less than 10,000. I guess it’s admirable in a way that Karl is sticking to this brand of playing it out from the goalie and then 25 passes later we get to the half way line but I’ve got to be honest, I’m a football Luddite, I’d much rather get it forward quicker and have 2 blokes up front.

I don’t know what the statistics are for teams getting promoted out of the bottom divisions of the football pyramid by imitating Barcelona or Arsenal, but I can only remember Swansea, Swindon ( under Hoddle) and to be fair to Karl – MK Dons in the last 50 years – which implies that it’s a bloody difficult thing to do.

The problem is that we have been well and truly sussed, the opposition push 10 yards further forward knowing that tactically we are a one trick pony. Southend , Wigan and Bury have all done it to us recently and we have been unable to cope.

Obviously the problem is exaggerated by the fact that we only one have one capable striker and as Karl memorably said yesterday we can’t expect Joe Doodo to create chances on his own – I guess the question is as a ” striker” what can we expect Joe to do do then.

We are still in touch with the leading pack but with the thin squad we have it is difficult to see beyond another mid table finish in a divsion where many of the teams have crowds below 5,000 – the misery of being a Charlton fan seems endless.

 

One Striker only

Is it really possible to get promoted with just one striker ?  – personally I don’t think so. Josh Magennis is a good player, but like all strikers he will have his off days and in his case if you include his international commitments he is going to end up playing lots of games this season, which inevitably take their toll. Heaven knows what happens if he is out injured for a spell.

Sheffield United ( Clarke , Sharp etc) Bolton (Madine, Clough etc) , Millwall ( Morrison, Gregory , etc) got promoted last year and obviously in our promotion year we had Bradley Wright Phillips , Yann Kermogant, Paul Hayes, and even Leon Clarke to name but 4.

Karl has the team playing decent football with lots of wingers and inside forwards, but in the pure striking department we are totally devoid of options and it is already starting  to cost us – both the Plymouth and Gillingham games would have been won with better,alternative and off the bench striking options.