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What's gone wrong at Charlton?

Paul Fletcher | 06:29 UK time, Friday, 20 February 2009

For many years, Charlton were regarded as one of British football's finest examples of a well-run club.

Despite their relatively modest size, they had became an established Premier League side with a rebuilt stadium, excellent links in the local community and a sound balance sheet.

They finished the 2005-06 Premier League campaign in 13th place, just two years after a remarkable seventh-place finish had seen them narrowly miss out on Europe. In one sense the 2005-06 campaign had been business as usual with Alan Curbishley's side picking up enough points early on to ensure there would be no panic in the closing weeks of the season.

But three years later the Addicks are anchored to the bottom of the Championship and seemingly destined for League One.

It is a sorry tale, breathtaking in its speed and a salutary lesson in the realities of modern football: it takes a lot longer to build something than tear it down.

But just what has gone wrong at Charlton? And at the end of this blog I want to know what you think has happened at the south London club.

Here is midfielder Matt Holland's view.

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To understand Charlton's problems, it is important to reflect on the 15 years that Curbishley had in charge at The Valley.

After a brief period yo-yoing between the Championship and Premier League, the Addicks won promotion back to the top flight in 2000 - and stayed there.

"The reason Curbishley did very well was that his recipe for maintaining stability was a good one," said Dave Rudd, a lifelong Charlton fan and a member of the club's fans' forum that meets regularly with the board.

"The team habitually reached 40 points (the tally usually regarded as enough to avoid relegation from the Premier League) quite early in the season. His teams picked off points against clubs likely to be relegated - often 18 came off the sides that ended up going down."

It was a successful strategy but with the points accrued so early in the season it left fans dreaming of Europe only to be disappointed by an almost annual loss of form after Christmas.

By the time of Curbishley's final season in charge some frustrated fans wanted to see a little bit more ambition. They had perhaps had too much of a good thing but - as my Grandma used to say - be careful what you wish for.

"Towards the end a lot of people got frustrated because it was a case of going to a club like Middlesbrough and playing for a draw, finishing 13th and doing it all over again the next season," said Rudd.

Curbishley himself was not immune to the groundswell of feeling that his era was coming to an end.

In a rare interview about Charlton to be broadcast on Football Focus on Saturday, Curbishley explains: "I felt it was perhaps time for everybody concerned that someone else should come in and carry it on. I did not see the prospect of breaking into the top six."

Goalkeeper Dean Kiely played 248 times for Curbishley. He puts it like this: "His time had run its course and there was a chance of going a bit stale."

And so before the final home fixture of the 2005-06 season against Blackburn, Charlton chairman Richard Murray announced that Curbishley, who was close to tears as he paraded around the pitch after the final whistle, would leave the club at the end of the season.

Fans pay tribute to the efforts of Alan CurbishleyWe are now in the third season since Curbishley's departure and the Addicks are onto their fourth manager.

Charlton's board faced tough decisions after Curbishley's departure and must accept their share of the responsibility. They had not been required to appoint a manager for 15 years and the man they had was prudent with the club's finances.

I think this is very important. For the club to show more ambition they would have to spend more money - and so it was imperative they appointed the right man as manager and gave him time to succeed.

The board brought in Iain Dowie, who had recently left bitter rivals Crystal Palace, and the recipe at Charlton changed. The solid, if somewhat predictable, fare under Curbs was replaced by a more ambitious menu.

"It's a great move for me. I'm aiming for the top half of the table and a European place," said Dowie, who spent more than £10m before the start of the 2006-07 season on the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Djimi Traore and Amdy Faye.

It was big money by the Addicks standards but Dowie wasn't given long to mould his new-look team and found himself sacked in November after just 15 games in charge .

Les Reed was brought in to replace Dowie but he didn't last long either. On Christmas Eve he was replaced by Alan Pardew after only seven games at the helm. The club now insists Reed was only ever a temporary move, but they were not making those sorts of noises at the time.

Either way, Charlton were on their third manager of the campaign and as the calm of the Curbishley era gave way to instability and change it was no surprise that the season ended in relegation.

"Iain Dowie was given 15 games, which was disappointing, Led Reed six or seven and then another change was made," said Curbishley. "You look at some of the major decisions that were wrong.

"Being relegated is the biggest thing that has happened. Once you get relegated you have to bounce back or it becomes very, very difficult."

Money was raised by selling key assets such as the club's England internationals Darren Bent and Luke Young, while Pardew spent £12m bringing in the likes of Luke Varney, Izale McLeod and Zheng Zhi.

The season started promisingly with just one defeat in their opening 10 Championship fixtures but form fell away and the club finished in 11th. Charlton fans are becoming familiar with the pain of relegation

This season has been even worse, and Pardew was sacked in November 2008 after a 5-2 defeat by Sheffield United saw Charlton slip into the bottom three of the table. Pardew later admitted that he had not been able to turn around a club on the slide.

Rudd's take on Pardew is this: "Maybe one of his weaknesses is that he was good at buying good footballers but a manager has to hook it all together. We were not a good team."

Pardew's assistant Phil Parkinson was put in temporary charge and eventually given the job permanently despite the fact the team had picked up just three points in his eight games in charge.

Charlton's win over Crystal Palace on 27 January was their first in 19 games, a dreadful run which saw them tumble to the bottom of the table. Fans I spoke to struggled to understand why the team looked so poor. Clearly lacking in invention and confidence, the inclusion of a series of loan players did little to help add stability, with only the emergence of talented 16-year-old Jonjo Shelvey providing a rare piece of good news.

The attempts to both retain their top-flight status and then return immediately to the Premier League had taken their toll off the field as well.

The annual report for the 2007-08 season was released in January and revealed a loss of £11.5m. The bankrolling of players has come at a cost and the club's debt now stands at about £37m.

Murray, who declined to be interviewed for this piece, recently went public to deny rumours that the club are close to entering adminstration (they would be the first Football League club to do so this season if that was to happen). Murray and several directors have lent £14m to the club and cannot be accused of lacking commitment or a genuine desire to see Charlton flourish again.

However, they do not have the finances of football's true big-spending owners and the club held talks last year with Dubai based investment group Zabeel Investments about a takeover at the club. It came to nothing, as did previous discussions during 2007 with other potential foreign investors.

It all adds up to a depressing story of how things can spiral out of control.

Curbishley returned to Charlton as West Ham manager in February 2007 as both clubs battled relegation and left his former home with his tail firmly between his legs after a 4-0 defeat.

Only once has he been back in a non-professional capacity, on 8 February 2008, and he saw his old team defeat Palace 2-0. Curbishley left thinking they would reach the play-offs.

What has since happened to the club where he gave so much is a cause of great sadness for the 51-year-old.

"I have been shocked by the quickness," he said. "I don't take any pleasure out of having left a club in mid-table in the Premier League and looking at what has happened. I am devastated to see where they are now. I feel sorry for so many people who put so much work in."

Years ago Rudd remembers Curbishley pointing to Martin O'Neill's Leicester City as an example of a club Charlton should look to emulate.

The Foxes currently are on the cusp of bouncing straight back after relegation to League One. Barring something spectacular the Addicks might once again be advised to look towards the East Midlands club for inspiration.

So what do you think has gone wrong at The Valley? And how can Charlton go about putting things right?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Nice piece Paul, I guess that's the price a small club pays for trying to be over ambitious. Sure Curbishley helped Charlton punch above their weight at times, but getting rid of him & pushing for a european place done them in. To spend more than you're earning as club is never healthy, especially small clubs. They certainly can learn from Leicester City but i just can't help but feel that it's too late for them this season. They will go down! Will they bounce straight back up like the Foxes, I very much doubt it!

  • Comment number 2.

    Simple... They let Curbs leave.

    How can they put it right? Not really sure, ask Luton.

  • Comment number 3.

    Medium sized club, did well, stupid fans living in cloud cuckoo land always demand more.

    Same story that always happens, it just took longer to play out at Charlton.

    There are over 50 clubs in the league who's fans think they should be in the premier league within 5 years

    I have had conversation with fans of my club Swansea City, who were complaining about our run of draws and saying that Roberto Martinez hasnt proved himself yet. Well that run of draws saw us comfortably in the top half of the Championship, for the first time in decades after nearly going out of the football league and business in the past 6! RM also lead us to the League One championship. These fans will never be satisfied with standing still, they are the real scurge of football.

  • Comment number 4.

    "What do you think has gone wrong at the valley?"

    The answer to this question is in the blog: "Dowie, who spent more than £10m before the start of the 2006-07 season on the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Djimi Traore and Amdy Faye." Two players who were never very good and Hasselbaink who was well past his best. Iain Dowie has built his entire managerial career on the fact Andy Johnson had a terrific run of form for a year under him at Palace. Generally, his record both in terms of signings and results, is pathetic.

  • Comment number 5.

    Lots of good points but I'll chip in with a couple of different ones.

    In the last few years we've made a habit of selling crucial players at inconvenient times. Scott Parker was tempted away by Chelsea when we were sitting in the Champions League positions at the turn of the year; Danny Murphy and Andy Reid were our most influential midfielders in their respective teams- both were sold with an hour left in the transfer window. Madjid Bougherra wasn't that good, but we still sold him very close to the beginning of the season this year.

    We've also let youngsters go too early who have turned into good players. It seems like there isn't a match that goes by without an ex-Charlton player in the ranks. Michael Turner, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Danny Haynes, Danny Shittu (I'm sure there are more I can't recall)... none of them given a chance by Curbs.

    Since Curbishley left we've been plagued by some terrible managerial decisions, most of which were made by Pardew. His most expensive signings turned out to be his worst ones - Luke Varney (2m), Andy Gray (1.5m) and Izale McLeod (1.5m) have not worked. We let Iwelumo and Paddy McCarthy go on the cheap, who have both been excellent for Wolves and Palace this season. His cheapest signings got us the best players, but we inexplicably didn't use them enough: Chris Dickson (35k) and Therry Racon (300k) are only just starting to get games under Parkinson, but most fans are still wondering what Yassin Moutoakil (400k) has done wrong (the club claimed Barcelona were interested when we signed him!).

    We need a ridiculous run of form to escape now, but it's possible. I cannot see us keeping Jonjo Shelvey if we go down. Look out for him, he is destined for stardom.

  • Comment number 6.

    On the handful of occasions I have been to the Valley I have always loved the community feel and spirit of Charlton, and being a Chelsea fan found myself quite envious that this is something Chelsea has never, and probably will never have. I hope Charlton can stop the rot, because clubs like these are good for both football and society.

  • Comment number 7.

    To be honest it's like most things in life 15 years of steady progress and it all starts to get a bit too familiar, we crave even more as fans. And why not in Charlton's case, they had a number of good seasons in the top flight, looked the established side of the premiership. Bit like Labour at the mo, they've had a good run but lets face it we'd all like a change, but will the Tory's do any better? Charlton took a big punt, it failed and the horror is that it will take time before another Curbs is found and for medium sized clubs a manager of this stature is far more important than players

  • Comment number 8.

    Very simple, Curbs left. Theres not much more explenation to it.

    How do you realy think Curbs feels about seing this happen? Its like taking an old barn, slowly giving it love and time, building it into a stately family home, then moving out and watching the new people that live there p***ing on the front gate, leaving scrap cars on the lawn and generaly turning it into a crap pit.

    It is a shame but, look what happened to Leeds... Its just one of those things that can happen in football.

  • Comment number 9.

    Some good points, though these points have been made and endlessly discussed on the Charlton 606 boards for many months.

    It doesn't look good for us but we are not actually relegated yet. This kind of post mortem blog is a little mistimed.

    The team last week looked better than for some time and charlton fans are hopeful of an upturn as we have some players back from injury, the midfield looks better and some strikers who look like they may score. Saturday will indicate for sure but the times of post mortems for me are later.

    I'll answer a couple though.

    Curbs as great as he was left a stale aging squad. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall, which he is why he left. Curbs made some mistakes too with poor attitude players such as Marcus Bent. He surely would have done better with the money that Dowie wasted. The whole change of management was mistimed and wasted.

    The club had expanded his fan base, with fans from other clubs coming as it was cheaper to see premiership football at Charlton; and lot of newer fans expected success.

    Dowie was tactically inept and wasted a lot of money.

    The bigger underlying problem is that the amount of money that it is required to maintain a club in the premiership is now very large. To succeed or compete you need owners with deep pockets. This allows the club to overcome mistakes in management appointments or player acquistion; or keep key players and people at the club.

    Charlton reached their peak with Scott Parker, when were 4th. Chelsea enticed him away (didn't need the play or wanted to play him) and we couldn't replace him.

    Dowie wasted our money for sure and there was nothing in the pot to undo the damage.

    Clubs are forced to overstretch themselves to stay in Prem. The financial fall out of the loss of revenue from a premiership cost base to a championship income is immense.

    There is a massive problem with the unequal distribution of television money and the vast amount of funds needed to compete.

    There will be a lot more clubs that find themselves in Charlton's postion.

  • Comment number 10.

    Iain Dowie is a pathetic manager and has ruined a few clubs. However, Charlton have not helped themselves by selling their top players and not being able to suitably replace them.

  • Comment number 11.

    The problem to me is short-term ambition. After Curbishly left they should have looked to maintain stability rather than change the strategy with a new man at the helm. And let's be brutally honest - Dowie was NEVER going to break into the top 6, ant any club. The club has paid the price, and I believe the blame lies firmly on the board.

    My club are guilty of the same error. Pompey have also been punching above their weight and I think most of us are aware of the financial mess they are in right now. Had more money been spent on the often promised academy, training ground and statium, then they would be in a much better position to get back into the premiership next season, because I'm horribly sure they'll be relegated in May.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well put, Paul. It's clear the overambition of the fans and board, hungry for success at the English game's summit far too early, led to Charlton's downfall. Charlton have a potentially huge fanbase to draw on - ranging from London to the Kent coast - and every season spent 'lingering' in the Prem drew more and more from further afield. It was, apparently, only a matter of time before the Valley was expanded to accomodate over 30,000; the sort of attendance and financial foothold surely required to break into the top half of the table regularly.

    But no-one could wait for this to happen. Curbs was out (though I believe he would have gone very soon anyway had everyone not got itchy feet) and Iain Dowie thus began his reign of terror, which saw such calamitous events as getting lost jogging in Newcastle on matchday and playing Kwik Cricket at training.

    You could always see it wouldn't work, but Les Reed? There must have been some fragrant joss sticks in the boardroom that day. Nonetheless Charlton was, and always will be, a community-run club which looks after its fans, and I love it. But more should have been done to nurture this while the club was flying high. The stadium; the fanbase; these were the assets Charlton should have coveted the most when they were chasing the European dream - not Djimi Traore and Jimmy Floyd.

  • Comment number 13.

    Great Blog and something very close to my heart as a Wednesday fan

    I think Charlton tried to chase something that was never there for them, a club of their size was always going to struggle to break into the top 6.

    I actually think Dowie should have been given more time, how can any manager make his mark with only 15 games to do so. Even the best would struggle in those kind of timeframes.

    It's a long road back but I hope they can bounce back

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't think they gave Dowie enough time. Sacking him looked like panic stations for a club that sold itself on stability.
    I don't buy into this "well run club" idea. They've had their 15mins of fame and bigger and better clubs have gone the same way of the Atticks.
    I heard they got rid of the fans Director posistion because the last one got too big for his boots. I think their fans suffer from Small Club Syndrome. They need to remove the chip from their shoulders and get a life.

  • Comment number 15.

    Does know one else find Chelseasaffers "To spend more than you're earning as club is never healthy" hypocritical.

    As a Charlton fan I didnt want more than Curbs gave us, think its unfair to assume we did

  • Comment number 16.

    I am a lifelong Charlton fan, and have been shocked by the demise of our oonce great football club.

    I agree with you Paul that we appointed two managers who were not cut out to manage our FAMILY football club. We were always a team that wanted to help the local community, and that gave us a solid fan base. As soon as we got Dowie, we completely forgot about this and focused on success. The board has to take the blame for this, because they did not listen to the first rule of business: If you expand too quickly, it just collapses. Just ask Leeds. What we neeeded was a slow growth, like Everton.

    However, this article did not provide a large enough view. It just gives a basic view, which has been discussed endlessly on 606 by fans.

    This article did not paint the whole picture in regard to us. The article was one of doom and gloom, but we are now starting to improve, and we just survive the relegation battle. If we do, it is no thanks to the doubters that constantly comment on our failings Paul.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    As a Watford fan, after the demise of Leicester, Charlton were the club we aspired to be - a stable, well-run club that seemed to be able to maintain top-flight status while remaining financially-sound.
    It's interesting that no club has yet taken over that mantle and there's no obvious candidate.

  • Comment number 19.

    What people tend to forget is that things had started going badly wrong in the final season under Curbs. Parker had gone and along followed Smertin and Murphy and we were essentially left without a central midfield.

    Amid the emotion of Curbs' departure, we were getting hammered every week and Dowie was left with a huge task to just keep us up the following season. He bought spectacularly badly and the rest is history.

    I love Curbs, but he left us with a threadbare squad anf the decline was never arrested.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the timing of this Blog is a bit early. We still have a chance to survive and now some of the more spirited players are getting a chance we are more likely to stay up. I think only having 2 central defenders this term has not helped us at all. Every position should have some form of competition.

    Looking at Curb's reign it is important to remember that it was not just him. Keith Peacock and Mervin Day also played a huge part in the success. Keith Peacock by all accounts was really the man who controlled spending and advised whether it was wise to spend extra.

    Ian Dowie was a disaster from day one and the change of management set up didn't help. Les Reed wrong place wrong time. A good technical coach but could not raise any fight.

    We are still missing that passion on the pitch. They need to find that and do it now.

  • Comment number 21.

    Surely (don't call me Shirley) if Curbishley made his own mind up to leave that can't be wholely attributed to Charltons demise?

    The infrastructure should have been there to continue and at least hold on to a prem spot.

    I'd say the two problems were lots of money spent on mediocre talent and sacking Dowie far tooo soon. He had to come in and change everything, should have been given more time, or they should have found a manager whose idea's were similar to Curbs.

    Regardless, Charlton - in my humble opinion - are one of the last true community anf family clubs left and I wish them all the best in getting themselves back on stable footing as soon as possible.

  • Comment number 22.

    The answer is two words.
    Alan Curbishly.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ #18 - two words. Wigan Athletic.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good summary but necessarily can't cover all aspects of what has happened and has to dramatise some of the things that happened. Football is a zero sum game and sometimes things go pear-shaped.

    We were not guilty of over-ambition or unrealistic expectations. Curbishley did a magnificent job for the club, but his time had come and as Southampton and others before us found, if you have a limited ground capacity and resources you only need one bad season in the Premiership and you're in trouble.

    Stability is great, but it was soon clear that Dowie was the wrong choice (the potential candidates for the job were not exactly impressive). Pardew came close to keeping Charlton in the Premiership but failed to shape a team for a bounce back, despite good backing from the board. That paved the way for inevitable cutbacks/player sales for this season and continued turmoil.

    Yes, this is a tough time for the club. But administration is not likely, we own our own ground, have a very strong bond between the fans and the board (it is wrong to suggest that the fans' director was axed because of his actions, it was a sensible move to replace a fans' director with a consultative fans forum), and continue to stand out for community relations. We may struggle for some years, whether or not we stay up this season, but we won't lose our sense of identity and when we come back it will be with a retained sense of the real meaning of success and failure.

  • Comment number 25.

    I struggle to feel much sympathy for charlton, they were comfortably in the premier league with curbishley doing a great job, they got greedy, had unrealistic expectations for their team, got rid of him and now they are rooted to the bottom of the championship...the highlight of their 04/05 season was sending palace down and they thought they had got another one over us when they took dowie, who is laughing now?

  • Comment number 26.

    Although Charlton finished in 13th place at the end of the 2005/06 season they ended on a disasterous run of form. With the playing staff they had (even with as good a manager as Curbishley) I couldn't see them doing anything but getting relegated the season after. It was clear they needed to strenghen the squad, especially down the spine of the team. When Dowie came in and purchased a defensive midfielder in Faye and a comanding centre back in Diawara (currently playing for French title chases Bordeaux) I thought he had made the perfect signings. Dowie's demise (possibly Charlton's) was brought on by the inability to get these players playing at the form they are capable of. Due to their price tags they left Charlton in a financial predicament if they failed, which they did but had they not been purchased Charlton would have been severly struggling. I felt the purchases were made just to stand still but unfortunately might have been a primary cause in the turmoil the club finds itself in now. The one purchase Dowie made that I thought was a shocker was Andy Reid but he proved to be a winner. They have been unlucky.

  • Comment number 27.

    Worth noting that the current bottom four in the Championship have all played in the Premier League in the last 4 years, and are all now struggling financially.

    Meanwhile, the clubs who are flying high at the top either still have their Premier League squad from last season (Birmingham and Reading) or have been building steadily over a number of years (Burnley, Swansea, Preston, Wolves, Bristol City).

    There's a lot to be said about stability generating momentum. I don't think there's much coincidence in that not only are the teams at the bottom struggling financially having suffered massive reductions in revenue, they've also all changed their manager at some point this season.

    No club has a divine right to be in the top flight, and the likes of my team (Southampton) and the other strugglers in the Championship have often suffered because the fans have been treated to a "feast" of top-flight football for years and then it's a culture shock when they have one bad year which results in relegation. In the cases of us and Charlton, it's almost certainly going to result in another one.

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't think Charlton can be criticised for having ambition after so many seasons of stability in the Premier, but I think that for a mid-table club with a relatively recent top-flight history it takes a lot longer to feel comfortable enough to try and kick on towards Europe. Time and again you see promoted sides come up and nestle in the top seven after a wonderful season and then get relegated in the one or two years following that success.

    In the short-term, while it would be painful for all concerned with the club, a demotion to League One wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Look at Leicester - pretty much certain to be a Championship team next season because they were determined not to panic and let themselves get swamped with negativity. What Charlton need if they do go down is a competent manager, financial stability, hungry players and understanding fans. There's little stigma attached these days to a former high-flying side that find themselves in the third tier, as long as they don't implode completely.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with a lot, since Curbishley left Charlton have not been the same since. Iain Dowie came in and he didn't last long with the poor run of results he was having. Les Reed never would cut as a manager and he proved it at Charlton.

    Pardew took over at a difficult time as the fans watched there side slip to the Championship and this season just snapped away from then and deservedly he got the sack.

    Personally appointing Phil Parkinson as full-time manager was ludicrous in my eyes as he wasn't even finding his feet with the caretaker job.

    It's like a number of clubs, Leicester City now in League 1 but doing well, Southampton are down there again and so are Watford four teams there including Charlton who all recently were Premiership teams.

    I don't want Charlton to go down like I don't want Southampton or Watford because there big clubs but Charlton at this stage of the season have got a big task like Luton and Bournemouth of League 2.

    Charlton have got some really good players in the likes of Matt Holland, Andy Gray, and Nicky Bailey etc...

    Only time will tell but all the months remaining in the season Charlton are going to find it incredibly tough to get out of the relegation zone as League 1 beckons for them.

  • Comment number 30.

    whats happening to charlton seems to be a sign of the times.

    a lot of clubs seem to have followed the same pattern, ourselves included.............. the worrying thing to me is that only mancheter city have actually recovered from going into the abyss,

    the list is growing, ourselves, leeds, sheffield wednesday, leicester....... looking like being joined by charlton and southampton haven't yet recovered from spectacular declines.

    maybe every dog does have it's day and we've all had ours :(

  • Comment number 31.

    Im a Charlton fan and to be honest i could see this coming way before Curbs left because we have always been a shop window for bigger clubs to pick our best players!
    There is only so many half decent players you can sell before your left with a weak,unorganised,demoralised team which Charlton gradually became.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Like any other genuine Addicks fan I'm gutted, shocked and deeply saddened by the quick demise of my club. I've seen plenty of dark days but none, I foresee, darker than the one's ahead. I have some strong opinions about what’s going wrong, but (and here’s where I potentially open a whole can of worms), I don’t think that Curbs, and the regime of the time, can distance themselves completely from the current situation. Anyone who has followed the Addicks close enough to have a right to judge fairly will know that the club had well and truly stagnated in the last 18 months of Curbs reign, and relegation was most certainly on the cards. Yes, he’s rightfully a Charlton Legend of the highest order. Yes, Charlton can only be in a position to lament their downfall as a result of Curbs undoubted success over a decade and more. Yes, regardless of my retrospective summerising, we remained a Premier League club. But be under no illusion, there are many factors to Charlton’s demise, and they date back further than some think. If I was to generalize, I’d say the club reacted far to slow to the long-term implications of Curb’s departure, Dowie was given big money and bought some truly awful players, Loveable Les Reed should never have taken the offer of the job, and Pardew is clearly getting a reputation of being a tad big for his boots and unable to make his promising looking teams gel with any consistency (as was the case at West Ham). With regards to the latter, he also, in my opinion, bought the wrong type of players to the club. Whilst looking good on paper, his buys were simply not tough enough (in a physical sense) to compete in this division. To date, it's that major problem that Parkinson is trying to overcome.

    Given some recent signs (at home at least), I still believe we can survive this season, knowing, as I do, the nature of the Championship. Foolishly, perhaps.

    None the less, hope always dies last, and as an Addicks fan, it’s all I have left…

  • Comment number 34.

    Burnley fan here.

    Interesting reading this blog and the one thing that stands out to me is the Charlton board were simply out of practice when it came to appointing managers.

    When they appointed Iain Dowie he was very much in demand after a great couple of years at Palace. Did they just dive in with 2 feet though? They seemed to do what a lot of top clubs do and pin pointed a manager and went and got him (not much different to Chelsea and Scolari).

    It's not always that simple though. My clubs last 2 appointments as manager have been inspired choices. Our near neighbours PNE also have a good track record when it comes to this as well. When we appoint managers it is very much like how normal companies appoint someone. Advertise the post, see who applies then go through a process of identyfying the best candidate. In the case of Steve Cotterill and Owen Coyle neither were obvious choices and on the first day looking for a manager neither would have been mentioned by our fans. Just like good managers look to see how a player fits in as a character in the dressing room a club needs to work out how a manager will fit in with the profile of the club. You do this by keeping an open mind, interviewing them and finding out about them off the footballing community.

    Obviously some of it is down to luck as well. Dowie appeared a good choice at the time. Pardew has had a mixed career but no one would have expected him to do as poorly as he did. I can even point to Andy Gray who I'm not the biggest fan of. You bought a proven championship goalscorer. Why he hasn't delivered I have no idea but he should have done far better than he has.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think employing Dowie was the biggest mistake any team could make. The guys an idiot. He got a good reputation for having a decent run of form in the championship at the very end of a season, mainly thanks to Andy Johnson, and finished 6th. Luckily for him the momentum saw his team through the playoffs, but in the premier league proved how clueless and reliant on 1 player he was.

    I think Dowie should now just stick to his sky sports reporting job and knock management on the head

  • Comment number 36.

    Although Charlton have their own specific reasons, they are still part of a much bigger trend - teams will fluctuate with their fortunes!

    It's a shame (for Charlton fans at least) that Charlton are suffering, but other teams have seen their fortunes rise - remember when Wigan were a bottom league team? Now they are the established PL team. Charlton's history suggested they were never going to hang around in the top flight forever. But no doubt they will be back one day, then down again, then back...

    Others here have said it already - fans expect too much. It is not logically possible that every club progresses - some must suffer the consequences of another's success.

  • Comment number 37.

    Overambition sent Charlton down?!
    I think not.

    What saw them go down was their failure to progress, it happened to Southampton, almost Fulham and it looks like Middlesbrough may well be heading for it.

    A team can't fade into midtable mediocrity year after year, eventually, they will go down, as there is no progress.
    Any talented players they have, e.g. Parker will be tempted away to the clubs chasing promotion and few people want to come to a club who on the whole are satisfied with another 11-13th place finish.

    Once a club stops ascending, it is impossible to just stay there, progress and improvement must be made, otherwise all the teams below you are going to catch you up and overtake you eventually.

    The club HAD to show ambition and they eventually tried, though £10m was still not really enough to help push into the top half and it was with the wrong man.

  • Comment number 38.

    Simple enough.... Dowie was our undoing. the board didnt help either trusting a new manager with the kind of financial backing Curbishley could only have dreamed of in a lump sum. The legal rangle between Mr Dowie and Crystal Palace cannot have helped matters and to be honest i wouldnt be suprized if there was something on the illegal side to cover Dowies court costs.
    Very bad decision with Les Reed. The manclearly had no respect from the dressing room. Probably thought whos this mug coming in to tell us. With no top flight managerial experience.
    Pardew i thought was the right choice at first and i do feel for the guy somewhat. although most of his more expensive signings were questionable i dont think the board helped again at all. This season getting rid of 'Big Chris' was crazy i think Paddy McCarthy and Mark Hudson would have made a great pairing at full back. we just needed to sort out the middle of the park, which Matty Holland seems to have been doing on his own since Scott Parker left. How do the board respond?....... they get Nicky Bailey. altho a trying player he was never going to single handedly win Charlton promotion although that was the boards idea for the season. I knew it would be a struggle this season, but i didnt expect this. The only way from here is better development and good scouting of league 1 players. providing we stay up that is. but it is clear there needs to be a big clear out whatever the weather.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a Stoke City fan, a club probably of similar size and means to Charlton, I can empathise. Charlton, like Stoke, also have the distraction of many other Premiership clubs in reasonable travelling distance, making it difficult to draw big attendances. Curbishley achieved moderate success on a limited budget, a quality well admired by previous Stoke boards.

    I for one did not leap for joy when the Peter Coates/Tony Pulis partnership was re-established at the Brit, but the return to the top after a 20-odd year absence demonstrates what can happen with a progressive, united management team and a bit of cash (Coates is a local self-made man, unlike some other chairmen who seemingly regard their community's club as an expensive train set). However, I digress.

    Charlton was a good man-manager but after a very long stint in charge it is only reasonable to think you have achieved as much as you can with the resources you have. Until the game implodes and we see an end to £20m+ transfers and the likes, supporters of the Charltons, Stokes, Southamptons et al of this world have to be content with what success they can find. Better that than become a soul-less, out-of-town Chelsea or Man Utd fan!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I feel really sorry for Charlton and in normal circumstances would not want them to go down (same as Southampton). But as a Watford fan and in the dog eat dog world of the Championship it is unfortunate that I'd much rather they go down than us of course! It's such a shame though for clubs like Watford, Charlton, Southampton, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Forest, Bradford, Swindon and Oldham (to name but a few), who have tasted the Premiership in recent years and now find themselves struggling away.

    I guess this is the changing face of football these days.

  • Comment number 41.

    Never liked the fact Charlton sought to undermine the support bases of nearby clubs by offering free transport to The Valley from these other clubs towns.

  • Comment number 42.

    As a Southampton fan I sympathise with all of the above. We are so similar it's untrue apart from one very big thing...our Chairman Rupert Lowe who thinks he is bigger than the club when he hasn't a clue.

    See you in League One with us next year

  • Comment number 43.

    It's too easy to blame everything on Dowie.
    He must've been doing something right for ol'slaphead to fancy him enough to tap him up in the first place.

  • Comment number 44.

    Where did it go wrong? It wasn't relegation that was the problem it was promotion to the top flight. That's when Charlton started getting ideas above their station; believing that they were a Premiership Club. They're not. They're a Division 3 side who got lucky and are now finding their true level.

  • Comment number 45.

    It must be horrifying for clubs like Charlton, Southampton, Leeds and Leicester.... to see your once Premiership stalwarts sink to the Championship is not the end of the world but league 1!! That is truely terrifying..... All you can do is look at Man City they are Prem to League 1 back to Prem in 5 years must have been a rollercoaster unfortunately for these clubs.... I cant see them doing it! Leeds wont get promoted this year again, Leicester will but then what? and as for Charlton and Southampton.... get used to a long trip to Carlisle and financially its not fun times ahead!

    And for those people who seem to think charlton were the only well run, community club (Maybe in London!) what about Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan and Everton! Possibly more but im from the North West so there the only ones i can prove!

  • Comment number 46.

    Great blog, really really good blog.
    I just think if you added a bit more detail it would be more interesting. Other than that REALLY REALLY great blog.

  • Comment number 47.

    A few points:

    1. Curbishley left through mutual consent. He wanted one more season but the board felt it best that such uncertainty would not be beneficial so they both agreed he should go at the end of the season. If he'd stayed we'd now only be in this position next season.

    2. Dowie didn't leave purely because he's useless. There were other underlying reasons why he left. There have been rumours of breakdowns at the training ground and player unrest due to his training sessions.

    3. Pardew's signings have been bad on the whole, and then he let our best players go. McCarthy and Iwelumo should never have gone, while letting Varney go was a mistake. Instead we're now playing with Deon Burton. Poor.

    4. Tomorrow will tell all Charlton fans if we have a chance of staying up. Win, and I'll hope. Lose or draw, hope gone, let's start rebuilding.

  • Comment number 48.

    "Never liked the fact Charlton sought to undermine the support bases of nearby clubs by offering free transport to The Valley from these other clubs towns."

    Not true. Charlton offer £6 return coach travel from Kent and London locations. Some "fans" they are of these "nearby clubs" if they pay for that plus their matchday ticket to come watch us.

    Shrewd business if you ask me.

  • Comment number 49.

    44. I don't know where your ideas are coming from but I've never heard such nonsense.

    Charlton paid the price for trying to go that step further. Bringing Dowie in spending £11 million on new players was Charlton trying to make that push into the top half of the Prem after reaching the 40+ points and then relaxing for the rest of the season.

    Highnsight(sp?) is a wonderful thing but at the time we were quite excited by a new season with new hopes, new manager and finally some big money (in Charlton terms) spent.

    So, where it went wrong. Before relegation Curbs leaving was of course the biggest factor, we lost that stability we had for so long. I agree with others that Dowie wasn't given enough time. Not enough 'Charlton players' in over the last 3 seasons just journey men, loanees and a couple of players who look like they couldn't care less once they step out on the pitch.

    After relegation, we lost our best players as all relegated sides do, Darren Bent, Luke Young, HH etc. We seemed to do OK for the first half of last season hovvering around the play off places but Andy Reid moving to Sunderland last January killed all our creativity in midfield and we half been sliding down the Championship ever since.

    Still, all hope is not lost and I remain optimistic as we are not the only ones struggling at the moment.

  • Comment number 50.

    In the early and mid 1990s Mr Alan Curbishley found a top group of players. A mixture of old hand professionals and youth team wannabees who really wanted it. Keith Jones, Richard Rufus, John Robinson, Danny Mills, Eddie Youds, Shaun Newton, Mark Bright, Mark Kinsella, Sacha Ilic , Mark Bowen. Shrewd buys, sharp man management and good tactics designed by AC and (the much maligned) Les Reed, the head coach. Above all there was super Clive Mendonca. Players like Clive appear once in a career. Never a pass out of place and an ability to score goals in the Greaves/Law/Shearer class. Mendonca was to 1990s Charlton what George Best was to 60s and 70s Mancheter United and remember what happened to them after George lost the plot. If Mendonca were still playing now, he would long ago have been snapped up for 20 million plus by a Chelsea or a Newcastle or an Arsenal. He was that good. Luckily for Charlton he played for them before blank cheque leveraged buying became the fashion, a fashion that is fast sending professional football into oblivion.

    Charlton will struggle on. The club has a good youth policy, devoted (if a bit fickle) fans, a good ground and a promising manager. But premier league?, Europe? .. no. The club belongs in the Millwall, Palace, Coventry, Nowich, Ipswich pack and should remember that overambition can be fatal.

  • Comment number 51.

    To understand Charlton, also look at Southampton, Wimbledon and, many years ago, Portsmouth.

    The game is played as much in the mind as in kicking balls around. Here we have a club whose self-image is "competing for european places", "an established, top-half premiership team". So while this image persists a number of difficulties emerge: opponents are under-estimated; players and coaches hanker after the relative glory days; and the emotional depression keeps the vicious cycle going.

    One answer is to fall to league one and then rebuild against weaker teams, taking a 5-year rebuilding plan. Another is for the team and club to face reality: they are where their performances have placed them; they have to treat every opposing team as if Charlton are now underdogs, to work defensively to build a solid base; they have to get the basics right first.

  • Comment number 52.

    The biggest mistake the board made was to get rid of Iain Dowie so early. For a club to have a manager for 15 years to then sack his replacement after just 15 games shows an amazing lack of foresight. From what I understand there was 'review period' of Dowie's methods. Rumour has it that it was instigated by a number of players and more importantly Les Reed, a coach on Dowie's staff. No surprise then that the inside job ended with Reed in charge. This decision was incredibly short-sighted and it was no surprise to see them get relegated.
    I think Charlton should really have followed more the Reading mould. They got relegated and some really abject performances but crucially stuck with their manager and are on the cusp of a return to the Premiership.

  • Comment number 53.

    As a Saints fan I feel the pain, were both in deep, deep trouble and to be honest I think we are looking at League 1 football next year, I would say by the sounds of it though at least you have a board teying to run the club correctly they have obviously mad errors but have the best interests of the club at heart, whereas from what I cna tell we do not, it is also the way of footall that money talks and really you need it to do well.

  • Comment number 54.

    I seem to remember when Leeds last played Charlton in the Premiership, the chairman wrote in the programme notes how CHarlton was a great, well-run club and the demise seen by Leeds fans would never be sen at Charlton as it was in safe hands.

    Ironic. From that moment on I expected Charlton to slide down the divisions as he didn't realise the snowball effect that happens when clubs start to slide.

    Leeds can't move up the divisions as they're skint, as are Charlton, so let's n ot pretend they'll do a Man City and bounce back immediately. Man City came back up so quickly as millions bankrolled them during that period.

    It's a sad situation when big clubs (especially Leeds) find themselves down the divisions. Rivals may laugh and say it's a good thing, but a Premiership with the likes of Wigan, Hull City, Stoke and Portsmouth is a devalued one, with the greatest of respect to those clubs. I'm not saying they don't deserve to be there - they do. I's just saying Leeds v Manu is a ibgger game than Hull City v Manu.

  • Comment number 55.

    The problem started when Alan Curbishley was allowed to leave, simple as that!

  • Comment number 56.

    Enough of all this constructive criticism stuff !

    Charlton thought they were being clever replacing Curbs with Ian Dowie from Palace. There's no love loss between the chairmen of the two clubs but to appoint a manager just to wind your rivals up was folly !

    So who's laughing now Charlton ?

    Enjoy your trips to Southend Carlisle and Yeovil.

  • Comment number 57.

    We didn't know it at the time, but the sale of Scott Parker was the catalyst for what has now unfolded. The board did not have to sell him but the lure of the Chelsea buck, was too tempting for them.

    Also, Curbs inability to handle some of his players is also a factor. Throughout his 15 years in charge, if you were a player that upset Curbs, no matter how influential you were to the team, you got froze-out, for good! Steve Jones was a example of this, so was Paul Koncheski and more notably Danny Murphy, who was on the verge of an England call-up at the time, when he fell out of favour with Curbs, after being sent off against Arsenal.

    But the majority of the blame must be placed clearly with the board. Richard Murray interfered too much in transfer negotiations (eg Tim Cahill, who was on the verge of signing for Charlton from Millwall, but didn't, because of Murray's bungling - how lucky were Everton!). The appointment of Dowie (what were they thinking) and their continual 'hire 'n fire', knee-jerk reaction to the clubs' leadership since, which has led to the clubs' instability.

    Unfortunately, it all points to Division 3, sorry League 1, but like the pheonix, we'll rise again!

  • Comment number 58.

    I respectfully disagree with Whitecoaster (point 50) that Addicks fans are "devoted (if a bit fickle)". Asides from being a contradiction, one thing you could never level at true Charlton fans is that we’re 'a bit fickle'. True there will be exceptions, as in every case, but for the most part, Charlton fans have remained fiercely loyal to the club despite putting up with a long history of disappointment and desperate times.

    I think I can speak for most Addicks fans when I say we don’t assume a divine right to be back in the premier at all, but is it too much to ask to expect Championship stability?

  • Comment number 59.

    Not a good time to be me. I'm not sure if I am more embarrassed to be a Charlton supporter or work for

  • Comment number 60.

    Leeds United
    Leicester City
    Luton Town
    Charlton Athletic
    Rotherham United
    Bradford City

    You can name so many, all with recent downfalls after being so high, perhaps shopping for players and managers isn't their thing? Stick with your manager and you'll stay up. So what happens when you go into this period? Copy Nottingham Forest is the advice I'd give, with limited resources and not much hope after going down to the Legaue One, they're back in the Championship and showing signs of promise with not much variation in Manager after that disappointment in Gary Megson.

  • Comment number 61.

    This is a strong piece with some intelligent footballing insight in the comments posted. Not to shift the subject from Charlton, who are perhaps more deserving of the regard, but I have to take exception to, if not great umbtage at, the comments made by #6.

    To begin with, you're wrong about Chelsea. I suspect your 'fan' status has been and will be about as permanent as their position in the table. Chelsea was once very much a club that was involved in the community, and the feel, the spirit was most certainly part and parcel of my former love to the club itself. Our true supporters have been shunted out, replaced or silenced; our boardroom is filled with double-taking, bald and balding lawyers, whose flaccid comments make any person with the merest degree of sense or education cringe inwardly; and our players, good heavens, our players, list like a who's who of all that is wrong with the modern game: Anelka, who tried even Wenger's patience and has been a spoiled mercenary wherever he has played, a man who makes the average Frenchman seem resolute and firm as an oak; Mikel, who suddenly realised that he hadn't meant to sign with Utd, after all and so wished to tuck his toys away and walk; Ballack, who complained about how hard it was to find a flat in London on 130,000 a week; and, of course, good old Ashely Cole, who simply cannot open his mouth without proving how utterly bankrupt a club this has now become. And when these simpletons do speak and say something mildy amiss, we have Kenyon and Co. coming out the same afternoon telling us all what they had really intended to say, and well, if we don't believe them, by golly they'll sue. Whenever I hear the smug, ubiquitous comment 'as a Chelsea fan myself', I quite literally feel sick to my stomach. It's precisely because of our new morality of fans that Chelsea no longer has any sense of community or spirit. But don't you dare try to imply either here or anywhere else that it was always this way. Those of us who invested whatever we had in a mythical piece of turf on a pitch that was forever falling apart just to keep our club afloat know otherwise.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think these clubs that come down from the prem. struggle due to the nature of the football in the championship. There isn't much between teams and grinding out results is a must. The ex prem. clubs are seen as a scalp and games are raised.

    It would be nice to see some so called established premier league clubs plummet through the leagues.

    For the record the best teams I have seen play this season are Doncaster, Reading and Swansea.

    Good luck PNE in the run in.

  • Comment number 63.

    OK Hambo3. I accept your correction!! Perhaps it is the 'floating supporter' of whom Charlton attracted many that were/are the fickle ones.

  • Comment number 64.

    Charlton went down becuase Curbs left, the same thing will happen to Portsmouth, Fulham, Wigan and Hull.

    To sum it up it's just football taking its natural course. What goes up must come down!

  • Comment number 65.

    Why do people who dont follow that particular team always feel they can comment!

    Firstly, it wasnt necessarily a desire from fans to get Curbs out so that we could suddenly break into the top 4! It was more the fact that everybody connected with the club realised that his reign was coming to an end, stale does not do it justice! No one denies that Curbs made Charlton, but no Charlton fan would deny that for the last couple of years of his tenure, the football was becoming unbearable. Best to leave as a legend!

    Secondly, so many errors have happened at Charlton since his departure. The appointment of Dowie, the needless spending of millions that we couldnt afford on a team that had finished mid-table the season before, the panic sacking of Reed, and everything about Pardews reign as manager. Wrong signings, too much money, a big mouth, and too many loans signings who dont care about the club.

    I'd like to say we've turned a corner, maybe too late for this season, but who knows we could emulate Leicester next year and we might see actually see some pride again! And also as much as i love the legend that is Mark Kinsella, everytime i look down at him shouting and hollering from the side lines, im reminded of good times long gone!

  • Comment number 66.

    At first Charlton and their fans were happy with being in the premier league, but after a few seasons maintaining their premier league status was taken for granted. The fans wanted more and at the time Alan couldn't deliver, what their fans didn't understand was that their expectations were too much at a time and they didn't think of the impact it would have on the team if they got rid of Alan. He made Charlton a fairly consistant team, if not one of the most consistant in the bottom half and i believe that had they stuck with him he would be in the top half with charlton, and with their healthy bank balance and huge TV funds they could of brought in a bit of quality and with the premier league being as tight as it is this season...possible challenging for Europe. This is from a neutral point of view am a Toon fan, but great blog anyways its nice to see an insight into footballing teams.

  • Comment number 67.

    It looks like Charlton overestimated their position in the EPL. They thought they could get rid of the manager, bring in someone more ambitious and - within a few years - they'd be regulars in the UEFA cup.

    In practice, their grip on EPL midtability was much more tenuous than they thought. A shaky start with Dowie and they were looking a relegation - then they're into the oft repeated "new manager - decent start - fall away - panic - new manager" cycle. And the associated freefall.
    It'll only stop if they pick a manager and keep faith in him - or stumble across one who is lucky enough to limit the fall away...

  • Comment number 68.

    The Charlton fans who were chanting for Curbs to leave all those years ago deserve what they've got.

    You were over achieving and got greedy. THe only people i feel sorry for is Curbs and those fans who knew they were on to a good thing but they were in the minority at the time.

    Funny how no Charlton fans admit to being one of those Boo boys now...

  • Comment number 69.

    Our demise can't be put on on reason alone.

    1. Ian Dowie. Spent big, didn't get the basics right.

    For example, spending nearly 4 million on a centre half, but not organising which defender comes for the ball and which one mops up. In Dowies ill-fated reign in charge, we conceded many 'simple' goals from balls over the top.

    Not forgetting he spent a combined 4.5 million on Amdy Faye and Djimi Traore, two of the worst footballers i have ever seen.

    People argue that he wasn't given enough time. There was more to it than our poor performances on the pitch that led to him being shown the door.

    Dowie's brother Bob was working at Palace, and our board instructed Iain that we were not going to make an approach.

    Iain discussed team matters with his brother anyway, much to the disdain of our board.

    2. Under Les Reed we became a lot worse. The players just didn't care. He did the decent thing and resigned, i feel a bit sorry for him as it was the board who panicked in making his promotion.

    3. Alan Pardew. Started well, but eventually failed to keep us up. Injuries to Darren Bent, Andy Reid and Luke Young were a big part of it in my opinion.

    Post relegation, AP was given the task of rebuilding and getting us back up. My expectations were for us to be in with a shout of the Play Offs, by and large we were for most of the season.

    We sold influential midfielder Andy Reid to Sunderland. I can't see how we ever could have kept him anyway. AP's reaction to it was the catalyst for our recent troubles in the depths of the Championship.

    Pardew started signing talented loan players for no reason. Scott Sinclair being the most obvious example. We already had right sided midfielders so signing another had achieved nothing.

    AP's biggest problem was that despite signing some promising players, he never built anything that remotely resembled a team. His solution to every problem was to sign a loan player, something which destroys team spirit and club stability.

    At the end of last summers transfer window, we were left with only 2 centre halves, 1 left winger and 6 strikers. Only one of those strikers ever looks like scoring.

    Another relegation will be another complete disaster.

  • Comment number 70.

    In short, the blame for our decline lies with the only constant factor over the last four/five years: not the players, the managers or the fans. It's the club's board who have ultimate responsibility for this mess. Until they are removed the situation will just get worse.

  • Comment number 71.

    its simple. Curbishley is out of work. Charlton need a good solid manager who understands the club and can build a competitive team. Even if they go down this year, with the right manager in charge who has the support of the board and the fans, Charlton will bounce straight back and in time maybe even get back into the Premier League.

  • Comment number 72.

    Charlton have always been a small, harmless lower division club. A few years in the Premiership, filling the ground with bussed in day trippers doesn't change that. They are just returning to their rightful level alongside similar sized clubs like Brighton and Millwall. Now all we need is for Chelsea to return to the mediocrity which summed them up for years and London football will start to return to normal.

  • Comment number 73.

    You took Dowie to get one over Palace, what you didn't know was that he was rubbish.

    You thought you were putting one over us and it has blown up in your face. I for one am going to love every minute of you going down.

  • Comment number 74.

    To the comment made at #64 - I am an Arsenal fan but the Football displayed at Wigan will surely see their comfortable top flight status sustained. They've been in a cup final and had two brilliant managers at the helm since that meteoric rise from the League One. Their finances are stable and the JJB is a great stadium (despite the struggle for tickets) mark my words in a couple of Years with talents like Valencia and Zaki they will end up playing European Football.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think that Charlton should bring back Alan Curbishley because he did do a great job there and i think if they bring him back again i think that he will keep charlton in the championship.

  • Comment number 76.

    In response to comment 61

    I respect you pasionate response, but not your wild and ranting assumptions. For the record I am 46 years of age and have supported Chelsea since I was 8.

    Furthermore, until I moved from the UK in 2002, I was a season ticket holder in the West Stand from the early 80's. You don't have to agree with my opinion formed over 38 years of supporting Chelsea, but you have no right to attempt to discredit it, especially when you don't know the slightest thing about my allegience to the club. I stand by my comments.

  • Comment number 77.

    As has been mainly said I think the following points summarise Charlton's decline:

    - Over ambition of the fans, reaching for Europe

    - Appointing Iain Dowie, it did appear an attempt to get one over on Palace. Dowie squandered money on Traore and Faye and increased the wage bill for Hasselbaink.

    - Les Reed was never a goer

    - Last season, we were the team everyone wanted to beat, and every win was expected, again it was hard to match fan's expectations after time in the premiership

    - This year, the board have felt the pinch, they gave Pardew a chance at the start, as soon as things started to go pear shaped they started selling players and loaning out others to lower the wage bill - a damaged limitations excercise

    To be honest as bad as things are I have great confidence in the board despite a few mistakes, they have tried to ensure we are financially safe via loan deals and selling the big earners. I think we have a chance of staying up and can come back up if we go down.

  • Comment number 78.

    The board have to take resposibility. They were the ones who choose Dowie, then replaced him with Reed and Padrew and now Parkinson. The board simply made the wrong decisions time and time again.

    Dowie was simply awful, spending over £10 million on rubbish players like Hasslebaink, Traore and the Faye the terrible. Did he actually see any of these players before he spent all that money. Dowie did have a decent reputation before Charlton, and his appointment as I remember was generally favourable, however, the board should not have given him two seasons transfer money. This went against everything the club has being doing for the past 15 years, and paying ridiculous wages for Hasslebaink the greedy.

    When they made the right decision to get rid of Dowie they should have taken the time to make the right appointment. Les Reed was completely the wrong decision. Fair enough he may have been a good coach, but how many good coaches become good managers - hardly any. Reed would have been fine as a temporary manager for 3 or 4 games but to give him a contract that lasted a few years, only to sack him a few weeks later must have cost millions in compensation.

    To be fair again with the board the appointment of Pardrew, based on his previous reputation, was again favoured by the fans. He had premier experience with west ham, almost won the FA cup and was considered to be good enough to keep Charlton up. However, again his signings were simply terribe. Varney and McLeod can't even play football. When McLeod started a game earlier this season it was like he was on another planet, he wasn't even concentrating. He must be the dumbest player in the whole world, he just wasn't putting any effort in.

    The conditions weren't great for Pardrew, he did have to sell lots of good players. However, he should have stabilised the club. He managed the club very badly, brought bad players and now we rely on loan signings who show hardly any determination to Charlton.

    Now with Parkinson he beat Palace so thats always a good thing and won last weekend. His team selection seems to be better than Pardrew and the team seem to be more determined and playing as a team. I can see them getting of bottom of the table, but to avoid relegation will be tough.

    It seems like the downfall of Charlton was due to a over-optimistic board who made bad decisions and with managers who simply couldn't cut it in the current environment.

  • Comment number 79.

    As a Watford fan, after the demise of Leicester, Charlton were the club we aspired to be - a stable, well-run club that seemed to be able to maintain top-flight status while remaining financially-sound.
    It's interesting that no club has yet taken over that mantle and there's no obvious candidate.



  • Comment number 80.

    I am afraid that those that think that Alan C. leaving was the root of the problem are being naïve. Alan had taken the club as far as he could – possibly as far its resources will ever realistically get. It could be argued that he exceeded that expectation. In many ways he embodied the spirit or ‘soul’ of the club; committed, loyal, honest and hardworking. Not a star (except in our eyes), but part of team that tried hard, worked hard and strove together to achieve their goals.
    I believe that he probably should have left 12 to 18 months before he did, and that he, perhaps unconsciously, could feel a slide coming. But he could do nothing to halt that, and he fell foul to the unreasonable expectation, accelerated objectives and instant gratification culture that increasingly pervades sport.
    Do not get me wrong, I want to see Charlton in Europe, chasing EUFA and Champions league places. I wanted to see domestic silverware in the cabinet as much as any other long term fan (my first match was 42 years ago). So does every other fan of every other club. But actually I also want to see some football; I want to see committed players, keen, hungry and loyal to their team and the supporters, seeking to provide 90 minutes of entertainment. Alongside that, I want to see a management team and a Board that shared those values.
    For many years we had that. But the lure of the ‘big names’ JFH, Traore, Bent (both) etc. meant that these players were brought into a culture that was alien to them. I have never been in the dressing room – but I suspect that for many years it was a focused and enthusiastic place and if someone had a bad day or did not come up to the mark then they felt it - badly. One gets the feeling that the arrival of a ‘name’ changes that significantly.
    That does not mean to say that the club should not seek to attract the big names, far from it, we want to see them there. But we want them playing for Charlton –we just don’t have the room for prima donnas. I hasten to add that in no way would I consider any of the aforementioned necessarily in that category; my point is one of commitment and dedication to the club.
    I believe that this is compounded recently by the huge influx of loan players – it’s not their fault, they want to play football, but there is little incentive to play for the shirt.
    Paul in his article uses an interesting quote from Ian Dowie - "It's a great move for me. I'm aiming for the top half of the table and a European place"; just a small point perhaps but should it not have been a good move FOR THE CLUB and that it was the CLUB that should have been aiming for top half. He was the wrong type of manager at the wrong time.
    Phil P at least seems to have started to engender some kind of spirit in the squad – I am sure that it is no accident that teams he was worked with and played for could all be said to have that ‘tight-knit’ community feel about them.
    I hope that we escape the drop, league one is so tough to get out of (and will spark an exodus of some of our quality youngsters). But more than that I want MY football club back – that is the one that I was shouting for from the top of the banking – the teams that would give 100%, even if they got beaten. This is not a harkening back to the old days – this is a cry to allow football fans to see more football.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Anyone from the Top Four DOWN knows what is wrong with Charlton. They face the economic reality of British Football every day of the week year in and year out. Gossip in the Four Ale Bar would have told you the outcome for the likes of Charlton or my own club for that matter, TEN years ago.

    Anyone from the Top Four percent DOWN of the so called “High Value Added” part of the British economy knows what is wrong with it. They face the reality of it every day of their working or non-working week, year in and year out. Gossip in the Four Ale Bar would have told you the outcome THIRTY years ago.

    For Footballers Read Houses.
    For Cost Read Debt.
    For High Value Added Economy Read The Small Print
    For Media Read Media.

    The ultimate scenario I suppose will be when even fans of the top four clubs can’t afford to turn up; not withstanding the Top Four percent of the “High Value Added” society amongst their patronage; then they will have to paint the spectators in to the accompaniment of pre-recorded crowd sound and just hope the Far Eastern customers don’t notice. What they save on entertaining fans they can pay the footballers.

    There is some truth in Soccer being a game of misery – Live with it - Liverpool and Arsenal Fans are currently having to do so.

  • Comment number 83.

    re: 60

    In terms of Gillingham, most older Gillingham supporters know that we are traditionally a 1st-2nd division team and that we ultimately couldn't mantain that level. The squad in the Championship included premiership players such as Jason Brown (Blackburn when he plays), Nosworthy (Sunderland), King (Wigan / Hull / jail), Sidebe (Stoke)... It looks as if Matty Jarvis might also be up there soon with Wolves. That was a decent set of players who moved on, but we never had the funds to stay up and now we are around our natural level (although I se us more of a traditional 1st division).

    re: 48

    Most Gills fans blame Scally for not reacting to the Valley Express rather than the fact Charlton operate it... If Scally operated a similar scheme, our gates might improve.

    What annoys me most about Charlton is in '95 when we went into administration and everyone were bring their friends in an attempt to boost the gates and make the club look more attractive to new buyer, small groups of Charlton fans popped down to our final home matches handing out leaflets with a general message of "Sod Gillingham, come and see Charlton at the Valley instead"... from the view of a supporter of a club where no buyer had made themselves known, the fact that fans of another club were actively doing things to damage our surivial will always leave a taste in the mouth.

  • Comment number 84.

    I know slightly off topic but just want to reply to a couple of posts that mentioned my team, Gillingham.

    Firstly, to the Gills fan who criticised Charlton for offering coach travel to the Valley from the Medway Towns - even without the coach travel watching Charlton in the EPL was cheaper than watching us in L1. If you had recently moved to the area (n it was these people Charlton were primarily targeting) if you had the choice between Prem football and L1 football and the Prem football was cheaper its a no brainer.

    In reply to #60, our chairman has shown more faith in managers than most. Hess left as manager because his inexperience was catching up on him (he had relied heavily on Richard Hill as his assistant), Stan Ternant left because he didnt want to manage in L1, Neale Cooper left because he relied too heavily on average Scottish footballers & Jepson left because for whatever reason gave up caring.

  • Comment number 85.

    Great blog Fletch, as a Charlton fan I personally think that the blame has to be shouldered by the board. They made some catastrophic errors such as hiring Dowie and giving him two seasons budget (which he wasted on players such as Djimi Traore, Amdy Faye and Diawara). Then going on to appoint Les Reed who previously had no managerial experience, and finally after sacking Pardew not looking for a manager who is experienced in managing a Championship team (such as Billy Davies), rather sticking to what they have because it is the cheap option.
    The other thing I find baffling is that we got £16m for Darren Bent and £5m for Luke Young, yet we are apparently bordering on administration and are having to borrow money, where has all the money gone?
    I sincerely hope that the board apologise to the fans if we get relegated because they surely have to be held responsible to the dimise of our once great club.

  • Comment number 86.

    In response to norapeti

    It's pointless to reply as your comment isn't relevant here; this is a Charlton thread, and by the sounds of these supporters, they've waited a while to express their views. That having been said, your little bio suggests a lack of overall understanding. And for the record, if you had a season ticket, it's safe to assume that you lived in or near London, which means to say that no self-respecting fan of any English football team would refer to 'the UK', which is a purely political term: the fans I appreciate would say 'England', and would do so proudly. Take note from these supporters and move on.

  • Comment number 87.

    With Curbishley in charge he consistenly achieved more from his squad than he was entitled to. He had players that would die for the cause and this is one of the critical differences to the current squad. It isn't just about skill. Parkinson needs to slowly alter the squad to be more of that nature; obviously loan players are a short term survival technique but they are really part of the problem not the solution.
    The spending policy of Dowie and to an extent Pardew has all but killed this club in financial terms. If they do not find a backer, there will be serious problems.
    I guess the youth will be asked to mature quickly and get them out of league 1; it can be done.

  • Comment number 88.

    The main problem that Charlton faced after Curbishly left was Dowie! Why they let him spend that amount of money on players that weren't the best is a mystery. Hasselbaink was useless and should be ashamed of his time at the club. Only on a couple of occasions did he look like he cared about playing for the club..the rest of his time was spent walking round the pitch! Les Reed should never have been appointed and Pardew was a good manager who we should have hung on to. If he was still at the club we wouldn't be bottom of the table now. To also get rid of every player that knew what a football looked like with the exception of good old Matty Holland then it is no surprise that we are in the situation we're in. Leicester may be good role models of how to bounce back up and I hope we manage that, I just don't feel it's very likely unfortunately.

  • Comment number 89.

    I remember going to the Valley in I think 2002 to see my team Walsall (at the time league one) beat Charlton (at the time mid table prem) 2-1 in the FA cup, which we considered a great top flight scalp. Its incredible to think that a few years later we will be playing them in regular league games next season

  • Comment number 90.

    I fear teams such as Portsmouth, to end up going down the same route as Charlton..

    Portsmouth have for a long time been paying way, way too much in wages, basically living in fantasy land...........

    If Pomey continue to lose palyers then i think they will end up in the same postion as Charlton, and similar to Leeds (however that is not really a shame).

    Charlton fans who wanted Curbs out are the ones to blame, like i would blame 'Harry' for Pompeys financial about leaving a sinking ship...

    Harry done the same to Bournemouth when he was there, paying stupid wages which the club could not afford and now 20 years on ,they are on the brink of losing their football league staus....

    Overall, sometimes just status in the league, like Charlton in the premiership, the odd cup run, and the odd big scalp, is what supporters should be happy with..

  • Comment number 91.

    As a Watford fan, after the demise of Leicester, Charlton were the club we aspired to be - a stable, well-run club that seemed to be able to maintain top-flight status while remaining financially-sound.
    It's interesting that no club has yet taken over that mantle and there's no obvious candidate.





    Half the North West?

  • Comment number 92.



    The real question is what planet are you from?

  • Comment number 93.

    Curbs brought in players who knew what it meant to play for Charlton and how important it was to the club and the fans to put the 'wilderness' years behind us.

    He put out unspectacular sides who did their job every week and usually did it pretty well. Occasionally you may have felt that you'd close the curtains if they were playing in your back garden but, for us fans, it was about making progress again and in our own ground.

    The question was how many seasons could you enjoy where you virtually write off a dozen games before a ball was kicked and looked on finishing fourth from bottom or better as a yardstick of success.

    The board should have kept a level of stability and continuity when they replaced Curbs - rather than Dowie who considered himself a moderniser.....a better mix of new and old.

    Too late now and the board has no choice but to ride out this storm, whichever division that may be in, and start building a new regime which will sustain the club at the highest (realistic) level for years to come.

    The good times will taste sweeter when they return.....

  • Comment number 94.

    First, I am amazed that someone at the Beeb has seen fit to write on Charlton. All we normally get is 3 line match reviews and bad news.
    As an International CAFC supporter but sitting in Valencia, I have watched this from the benefit of not actually having to see a game. I still try and get to the Valley when I am in the UK, and it remains, probably the most friendly ground I know.
    To support CAFC you have to be a pragmatist, given that, with the lack of external funding and sustained success, we have learned to live within our means. And this probably means, too good for the 3rd, lower reaches of the !st, and comfortable in the 2nd. (Sorry, Premier etc are just marketing names for what we all know are 1,2,3).
    Curbs did his bit, but was persuaded by the TV punsters that he was good enough to manage England. Sorry, but I think he would have been out of his depth. He had a poor Cup record, (every England game is a Cup Tie), and could not handle star material, which he tended to freeze out. He lost out and we lost out when he went.
    The Board also believed the hype that we could push on to Europe, sold this vision to managers who had no track record of delivering at that level, and then panicked.
    We need to go back to basics, use the talent that we have developed, fire them up with a vision of the club, and let them play.
    Less stars, more heart.
    I doubt very much that we can avoid the drop, and it will take a couple of years to get back up, but in 10 years which should be back in the "Premier", hopefully to stay for slightly longer.
    Mind you, by then, everyone at the top of the Premier will have moved on and we will still struggle, but that's the Charlton way.

  • Comment number 95.

    Matt Holland is an excellent example of the imposibilities of modern football for a club like Charlton. We bought him for 900,000 off of Ipswich who had been paying players above their income for a fair few seasons. Essentially we got an asset whose running costs/ wages were bigger than his value in the transfer market. Holland had been a superb player for Ipswich but also one who was past his best. He turned out to be a good investment most didn't.

    Players wages bankrupt clubs. Rarely do players make a real return on their wages. Outside the prem, wages to turnover ratios should be kept at sustainable levels it would be better for all.

    Like in baseball if you overspend you get fined; very rarely do overspenders succeed. Lord knows we deserved to pay monies to the football league, as our unsustainable cash helped unsettle Andy Gray and destabilise Burnley. Contracts as at Reading should be negotiated so as to reduce with the threat of relegation. The championship is a highly attended league. Bankruptcy should be punished with immediate relegation.

    All this are shoulds and probably will never happen. You can only respect the financial health of teams like Stoke and Hull, they deserve their success.

  • Comment number 96.

    Regular Charlton fans will recall that some weeks before Pardew’s sacking he wrote in his programme notes assuring us all that he wasn't using Charlton as a vehicle for a bigger club and that he was in for the long-haul, determined to turn around our fortunes…blah, blah, blah. I mention this as far from having the rousing, fist-clenching rally call effect I’m sure he was hoping, it was a statement that represented the end of my faith in Pardew and made me question how delusional others were around him. For me, it was as if he was assuming Charlton fans never blamed him for his part in the current plight and were scared he may head off in to the sun and leave us to rot. I was hugely let down by those notes. Upon reflection, I think Pardew should be ashamed of his time at The Valley, but I fancy he’s sitting on a beach somewhere expecting the phone to ring from one of the big 4 any day!

  • Comment number 97.

    This is why the cap on wages needs to be brought in. Clubs are spending beyond their means and if they get relegated, there is no way to recoup the same kind of money as they would get in the Premiership. Unfortunately the Premier league clubs just want to spend more of their piles of cash, meaning the gap gets bigger - bring in the wage-cap, the Premiership is killing football!

  • Comment number 98.

    Others have said it, I have watched Charlton since the sixties.
    Mistakes- letting Curbs go (maybe inevitable)
    - Dowie-little idea
    -Dowies signings, JFH,Faye,Troare,Diawra, all just taking the money
    Pardew- was getting it right, would have made play offs last season, got gready(or disallusioned) went for loan signings- cook,sinclair,Halford,Lita, bought Gray.Team got disrupted then fell away
    QUESTION- Board say loans and debt is owed to them, what interest/principal payments or salaries are they drawing out of the club?
    -this year some players appear not to try.
    Charlton became successful -the Charlton way. Players like Robinson,Powell, Jenson,Fish,Keily - not superstars but gave 100%effort.
    Need replacements that try.

  • Comment number 99.

    Promotion/Relegation is a fact of life, some would argue the lifeblood of football. If you are in the Premier League promotion ain't an option so unless you are one of "The big four" where being relegated is pretty unlikely at present then relegation will *always* be a threat.
    That of course leads to a drop in revenue, the need to off-load expensive players etc. and so a downward spiral is always possible, particularly with idiot boards at the helm of your club. Not a Charlton specific post, this applies to the overwhelming majority of teams. Look at Luton, once a top flight side, now about to exit the league altogether. Should Charlton avoid the drop I'll bet their fans feel more joy than some at Man U. when they win the Premier league yet again.

  • Comment number 100.

    i can see why charlton thought getting dowie in to follow curbs was a shrewd move coz there quite similar managers and men. only difference being the fact that although there methods are quite similar the effects of those methods make them like chalk and cheese. dowie is a rubbish at best football analyst for the beeb. and unfortunatley for charlton an even worse manager. and so the downward spiral starts....................


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