Build up to the big game
Interestingly, I received an E mail from a Millwall fan the other day who said:
'Unfortunately it seems to me our club has been sucked dry by some rather slick city types, whilst your own has been able to benefit from a more sombre and patient kind of business acumen.'
I was also talking this morning to the Saints supporter who has his office next door who had sat in the cold last night to watch his team go down to the Conservative Party's new team, Watford. For so long a Premiership fixture, Saints are now in the lower reaches of the Championship. For those who think it would be good for Charlton to go down, just reflect on that fate. Take a look also at Derby County and Leicester City.
I think it was The Times that said that Charlton's problem was that Alan Curbishley had created unsustainable expectations at The Valley. Charlton are a medium-sized club in a very competitive London football market. There is a broad relationship between resources and performance and, if anything, Charlton are punching above their weight. Throughout our whole history we have had difficulty in holding on to quality players and it doesn't get any easier in the modern game.
That is not to say that there is nothing wrong at The Valley. The business side of the management often exudes, whether intentionally or not, an atmosphere of a certain self-satisfaction and complacency. Our tactics on the pitch are often too defensive and negative, although that in part is the consequence of a distribution of rewards in the Premiership that encourages avoiding relegation as an objective. Why won't we leave someone up the pitch at corners to provide an outlet instead of everyone getting in everyone's way in the box?
But the critics who argue that Curbs is part of the problem are never able to come up with a credible alternative, by which I mean someone with relevant experience (doing it in League 1 doesn't count) who would be able to manage at a club with Charlton's resources. I might add that I prefer the cool, technically proficient manager to the passionate jump up and down type.
In any event on Thursday I hope that the team will get rousing backing from the crowd and that they won't jump on the first player to make a mistake. It's going to be tense with Boro playing for a draw or a 1-0 on the break, but let's try and have a united Charlton response.
The attendance at the Massives last night suggests that we are not the only club having difficulty in getting a crowd. It is twenty years since we were shown live on terrestial television and there is no doubt that it has an impact.