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Chris Powell - too nice to succeed?

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Paul Fletcher | 08:27 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Matt Holland wasted no time in sending a good luck text to Chris Powell when his former Charlton team-mate was appointed manager of the League One club in mid-January.

He had to wait a few days for a reply but an apologetic Powell eventually got in touch and explained that he had been deluged by hundreds of voice mails and texts wishing him well.

It is a small anecdote that says a lot about Powell's standing in the game. A former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, he appears to be as popular with supporters as he does among his peers.

Southend fans voted him their all-time cult hero in a BBC poll and he was also named supporters player of the year at Derby County. Powell had three spells as a Charlton player and it was obvious from the reception that he received ahead of Tuesday evening's match against Colchester at The Valley that he is held in incredibly high regard by the London club's supporters.

Chris Powell is the manager of Charlton Athletic.

Powell is an intelligent and considered individual. Photo credit: PA

It is easy to understand why Powell has a strong connection with the people who paid to watch him; he shares their passion for the game. I recently watched an interview he did at Leicester during the twilight years of his playing career. He sounded emotional as he talked about his love of the game and his hope that the influx of money had not soured other people's passion for it. They are words that would sound insincere in the wrong hands but it is obvious that Powell truly meant everything he said.

I canvassed the opinion of several fans and club staff on Tuesday evening and all spoke of a sudden and very definite change of mood around The Valley since Powell's appointment.

I thought Powell's predecessor Phil Parkinson was slightly unfortunate to lose his job. A new board took over at the turn of the year and sacked Parkinson after a home 4-2 defeat by Swindon on 3 January. Chairman Michael Slater pointed out that the Addicks had not won since 20 November, a sequence of five games. But the club had only lost two of those and had won their previous five League One fixtures. Parkinson, whose team reached the play-offs last season, was dismissed with Charlton fifth in the table, just three points off automatic promotion.

He achieved this despite severe financial restrictions that saw valuable players such as Jonjo Shelvey and Nicky Bailey sold to balance the books. Parkinson, however, was accused of negative tactics and did not have the accrued goodwill that Powell accumulated over more than 250 appearances.

Without doubt, the Charlton supporters are clearly delighted that someone they regard as one of their own is now in charge of their club.

But is a man who is universally regarded as one of football's genuinely good guys cut out to succeed in the rough and tumble of management?

"A lot of people say that he is too nice to be a manager but I do not think that you can play for as long as he did and be successful without having an edge to you," Holland told me.

Powell's playing career spanned 24 years, with several seasons spent alongside Holland at The Valley as the London club enjoyed a golden age as an established Premier League side.

"He was always very thoughtful on the game and started studying for his coaching badges long before he retired," added Holland, who now works as a pundit.

"He was interested in tactics and discussed them with management fairly often. Alan Pardew in particular had a lot of time for him."

Powell, who retired as a player last summer, had been on the coaching staff at Leicester when he received a call out of the blue on Wednesday 12 January. He had managed the Foxes reserve team the day before and was happy learning his trade under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but the lure of what he has described as his spiritual home was too strong to resist.

He headed down to London for an interview and reckons he wandered around the city in a daze on the Thursday afternoon after being told that he had got the job.

Eriksson, who selected Powell for and England debut in 2001 when the full-back was 31, recently said that he thought Powell would make a very good manager. Holland shares Eriksson's opinion, arguing that the new Addicks boss will be able to bring the best out of his players.

"The biggest skill as a manager now is man-management," added Holland.

"He was a top professional. He was always on time and nobody worked harder in training. Even when he was in his mid-to-late 30s he was still in the top few players at the club in all the running sessions. He looked after his body and will expect the same standards from his team."

Holland recalls Powell losing his temper both on the pitch and in the dressing room when things were going badly and is confident that the new manager will be anything but a soft touch.

The Addicks boss showed on Tuesday evening that he is not afraid to fight his team's corner. Midway through the second half a bizarre and farcical incident took place, starting when referee Darren Sheldrake ruled out a goal from Steven Gillespie. The visiting team protested and the official changed his mind after consulting with his linesman. Confusion reigned inside the ground and Powell led his team's protests, first discussing the decision with the fourth official and then with the referee. Sheldrake then consulted with his fourth official and once more changed his mind, settling on a drop-ball.

The match was decided by an excellent finish from new signing Bradley Wright-Phillips, but Powell was unimpressed by aspects of his team's performance in the opening half and admitted that there had been stern words at the break. As a player Powell was always keen to share a joke, but he seems to have made it clear quite quickly that he stands apart from the squad now that he is their gaffer.

Chris Powell had three spells as a Charlton player.

Powell was a popular figure during three spells at Charlton. Photo credit: Getty images

"The other day I walked into physiotherapist's room and noticed that everything suddenly went quiet," the Addicks boss told the BBC's Late Kick Off programme. "I knew why it had happened."

Powell appears to have arrived at the club at a moment when financial stability has returned after several years of uncertainty - and he has inherited a squad that looks equipped to claim at least a top-six finish this season.

He has surrounded himself with an experienced backroom staff of technical director Keith Peacock, assistant manager Alex Dyer and first-team coach Damian Matthew. Powell has signed a three-and-a-half year deal and the hope is that he can bring a period of calm to a club that went through four managers in as many years. Powell wants to restore that "Charlton feeling" of a genuine pride in wearing the shirt and I have heard fans suggest that they have got their club back.

In his programme notes on Tuesday chairman Slater said: "For the long term a new and inspirational manager was the key. We've found one."

Crucially, Slater added that he understands there will be no quick fixes and unrealistic timeframes. Powell might be a Charlton legend for what he did as a player but it is important he is given the time to find his feet as he takes his first steps in management.

"He is at a club he knows well and the fans both like and respect him so that will buy him a little bit longer than normal," said Holland.

"But unfortunately that only lasts so long. Ultimately, it is all about results."

An emotional Powell cried after his last appearance for the club as his team-mates paraded him around the pitch on his shoulders.

Charlton supporters and countless others in the game are hoping that Powell's tenure as manager does not end in tears of a different kind.

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  • Comment number 1.

    The boo boys dahn our gaff ended Parky's career cos as you were sayin up until is sackin ourn were doin well n were in 5th losin juss them 2 Swindon n Walsall n winnin the previous 5. Also iss a bit unfair to solely blame the gaffer when the team plays badly as iss up to them to do their jobs n put in the effort. Less ope Powell gets the time e deserves but wot I reckon e'll follow in Curbs footsteps with is intelligence n good luck.

  • Comment number 2.

    Chris Powell is King!

  • Comment number 3.

    Gary Speed at Sheffield United is the perfect example of someone who is too nice to succeed in management.

    I feel he will fail at Wales.

    He is very similar to Chris Powell in that respect.

    I remember Neil Warnock saying the same about Kevin McDonald when the Aston Villa job was vacant.

    Does not always work out for those who deserve it.

  • Comment number 4.

    Arise Sir Chris! Charlton legend, and one all round lovely bloke. So glad he's at the helm, and you're right, we've got our club back.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Too nice to succeed" is possibly the silliest headline I've seen. Is Chris Hughton nicer than the late Sir Bobby Robson? Was he too nice to succeed? Ian Holloway? Chris Hughton (before Ashley brought his mate in)? What are you really asking with that headline?

    Good luck Chris in your new job. Hope you have great success with Charlton.

  • Comment number 6.

    You Mr Fletcher, should be talking about last night's game...

    A referee "anticipating" an off-side decision that never came?

    The fourth offical intervening as play has or is about to restart ...possibly having reviewed video evidence?

  • Comment number 7.

    Just because he is a nice guy doesn't mean he won't be a good manager. Surely it is more down to the tactics he implements and getting the squad working together than shouting at people. There is more than one style of management, and as United Dreamer pointed out, there have been plenty of nice managers over the years who have succeeded. Anyway, I am sure that when a rollicking is called for Powell will deliver it. Good luck to him, I hope he does well.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    addickted2Charlton, comment number 1. Could we have a translation of your comments into English please?

  • Comment number 10.

    I dislike Mourinho intensely and don't think he's a 'nice guy'

    But his players at Porto, Chelsea and Inter all adored him and seemed particularly upset in each case when he left.

    The public persona is meaningless, we'll soon find out if Chris Powell has the necessary steel (Bobby Robson certainly did). I'm not a Charlton fan but I wish him all the best.

  • Comment number 11.

    Got my Chrises mixed up lol. Serves me right;)

  • Comment number 12.

    All the best to Chris in his new post. Fondly remembered from his years at Derby, we haven't had a decent left back since he left. Always came across the way Fletch describes him in this blog - passion alloyed with intelligence. I think he'll do a good job at Charlton.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice to see a young(ish), english, black manager getting a chance. Ill never forget him crying when he got his first england cap.


  • Comment number 14.

    Now then,

    Thanks for your thoughts so far. Alas, I'll have to keep this brief as I have just done an emergency dash to pick the little one up from nursery. He has conjunct - how do you spell this? - vitis, and the nursery did not want him infecting anyone else. Pretty gunky round the eyes. Anyway.....

    When I started looking into the subject of Powell and management I came across the same comment again and again - namely, what a nice bloke he is, but is he too nice to thrive in such a cut-throat business?

    It was the over-riding theme and, thus, what I have attempted to tackle here. I think that right now isn't too bad a time to take over at Charlton - they seem to have off-field stability at last but expectations have been lowered after a few disappointing years.

    Powell is clearly intelligent and articulate. There is a lot of goodwill towards him. Many things are in his favour.

    It would be a great story if he were a success but I guess in some respects (but not all) we will not have our answer until we see how he handles a period of adversity; whether he has what it takes to drop a former team-mate or cast someone adrift someone he likes if they are not delivering on the pitch.

  • Comment number 15.

    Changin gaffer makes no difference to the attendance dahn our gaff. Last night was a low as the earlier games, many fans ave left cos iss league 1 football n they don't want to see it rather than support the team to go up again. They don't take the bad times with the good. After 2 relegations we've lost abahrt 10,000 odd fans, the £5 tickets against Exeter will elp boost the crahd but lower attendances aint got anythin to do with the manager.

  • Comment number 16.

    @1 & @9

    Perhaps this explains addikted's poor English. Follow the link and click the 'Dialectize' button.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    His appointment really seems to have had a good effect at Charlton. Lived in South London all my life, plenty of mates who are Addicks fans, and they are all really enthusiastic, all really loved Powell when he was down there. It is great to see him get a chance, because I don't think anyone could suggest such a popular figure not just at Charlton, but in football in general, so definitely wishing him well.

  • Comment number 19.

    thanks for the article. always nice to see CAFC content mention the sale of shelvey from underneath PP^s feet. i must correct you, as PP didnt even play him.

    nicky bailey produced some of his worst football under PP also.

    we were all happy i think with the business concluded in the summer up to a point. that point being paul benson. who by no means has been a disaster, however if your manager courts a player so publically and sets his heart on him, you expect something a bit special. or at least expect that manager to play to his strengths, something john still noticed PP was not doing.

    PP is a nice fellow. perhaps too nice. dont think u can be labelling the same accusations at powelly. a smiling assasin as a player (ask premiership wingers of the early naugthies if he was too nice!) who can hopefully translate this into the managers position

  • Comment number 20.

    For non-Charlton fans, addickted2charlton is someone we've gotten used to. After reading a few of his comments it's easy enough to understand what he's saying, but for the uninitiated, it can be a nuisance. Here's a translation of his two comments so far

    The booing fans at the Valley ended Phil Parkinson's because - as you say in the article - we were doing well and in 5th position. Also it's a bit unfair to solely blame the manager when the team as a whole plays badly as it's up to the players to do their jobs and put in the effort. Let's hope Chris Powell gets the time he deserves. I think he'll follow in Alan Curbishley's footsteps with his intelligence and good luck.

    Changing manager makes no difference to the attendance. Last night was as low as earlier games, as many fans aren't going to the Valley now that we're in League 1. Some fans don't take the bad times with the good. After two relegations we've lost about 10,000 fans. The £5 ticket deal for the match against Exeter will help boost the crowd but overall lower attendances aren't because of the manager.

    Great article, Mr Fletcher. Five stars. Hopefully he will be a success.

    And I hope your little fella gets better soon.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great read as always Paul!

    Its great to have a man at the club who loves the club almost as much as us, I never had that feeling about Parkinson, who talked the talk but ultimately came up short. Yes we lost 1 key young player and one player who IMO thought he was better than he was but the squad we have, and had last season should be doing better in this league.

    We won games without impressing, usually the sign of a good team but in our case it was more a lucky team! The fact we rarely impressed under him with the exception of a handfulof games says it all. He was the wrong man for the job when he was given it, but I do feel a number of our fans got on the players backs too soon, especially at home, maybe we were spoilt with the success Powell, Holland et al brought us?

    We've now got a complete new set up and hopefully can start to look forward again, Powell coming home has certainly galvanised the whole club, we just need to give him the time to build his own side. Who knows, Charlton who were the club every smaller club looked upto some 10 years ago could once again be a trend setter, without bringing his colour into it,its been widely documented that there have been few successful black managers, hopefully in Chris we have one who will be that breakthrough that is needed.

  • Comment number 22.


    I have never before seen anybody actually write in 'Cockney', I'm sure it's a good point you make... Although I'm not actually sure!

  • Comment number 23.

    addicktedtocharlton we get it, you're from London. It doesn't mean you have to script everything like Bill Sykes' Nancy. If you at least try and preserve your wonderful English language rather than insisting on letting everyone know about your silly dialect we may actually take you seriously.

  • Comment number 24.

    Bailey was doin better under Parky n thass a fact. E was the leadin goal scorer after Burton lass season n won ourn games as well as earned points when ourn were comin from behind. Iss all well n good to pick on a gaffer when there sacked but Parkinson did an excellent job dahn our gaff with less money than is rivals n an igh turnover of players in the summer, sum 30 odd. He led the team to sum great wins over Peterborough, Carlisle, Swindon away, Sheff Wed, Leyton Orient away to name a few by playin good passin football. Iss up to the players to deliver cos iss all abahrt results n wins, perfomances aint so important in this league. I can see sum of the BBs gettin on Chris Powell's back after only 2 games when as a new gaffer e needs the time to see ALL the players play so e can assess them n make the right team selection.

  • Comment number 25.

    More translation:

    Bailey was playing better under Parkinson. That's a fact. He was the second highest goalscorer last season and won points when we were a goal behind. It's very easy to attack a manager after they've been sacked, but Parkinson did an excellent job at the Valley with less money than rivals and a significant turnover of players in the summer. He led the team to some great wins by playing good, passing football. It's up to the players to deliver, because football is a results business - performances are worth nowt in this league. I can see some people getting on Chris Powell's back after only 2 games, but he needs time to see all his players and grow into the role.

  • Comment number 26.

    Reading this blog I can't decide if Powell sounds like:

    John Barnes - described by all at Tranmere as a nice man, but a useless manager who has loved by media-types, who took over a club after an unjust sacking without the prior record to instil confidence; or

    Les Parry - described by all at Tranmere as a nice man, but actually a good manager on the limited budget he has, who can make the players feel good, happy and confident (which benefits them on the pitch) and who can enjoy a joke with the media and his players.

    I hope for his own, and Charlton's, sake he's more of the latter than the former. As a player he was a likeable player, scourned by Big 4 Fans for having the audacity to play for England despite being at a smaller club, and for that I give him much respect.

  • Comment number 27.

    Shades of Southampton and Middlesbrough in terms of events at Charlton both of which saw the manager sacked when teh club are in a good league situation. Saints have brought in Nigel Adkins who is doing an excellent job and have improved yet Middlesbrough bombed. Chris Powell will get a lot of goodill initially and tactically a lot of people seem to think he knows what he is doing (including Sven) and hopefully for Charlton they will be proved right.

    Personally I think he will do well. He was excellent at Southend and Charlton as a player and if he managed like he played he will be very good indeed

  • Comment number 28.

    I remember these guys...from my first FIFA game. They were a weak team that increased the difficulty for me. I used these guys a bit, although I'm not sure whether they were regulars or reliable subs in my team.

  • Comment number 29.

    #28 - when I started playing FIFA it had international teams and was well funny

  • Comment number 30.

    Delighted to see Sir Chrissy getting a crack at management, and I suspect he will be surprisingly good at it. He was, and remains, a huge favourite at Southend. When he left the feeling amongst the Shrimpers was that, far from being annoyed that our favourite player had left, we felt he should have gone a couple of seasons earlier because he was so clearly far too good for the level we were at. He always gets a tremendous reception when he returns to Southend, and I am sure that is true for every club he has played for.

  • Comment number 31.

    lower attendances aint got anythin to do with the manager.

    That's correct we've lost over 10k fans because Murray sold every good player we had, which inturn gave us a WORSE team... Pure & simple!
    We also lost the potential to grow further, with the "target 40 thousand" agenda for the same reason...
    If these backers (whoever they are) can change this predictable merry go round,
    Powell & the club may stop what has become groudhog day!

  • Comment number 32.

    Chris Powell is not ALL nice. I saw him tread on Ricardo Fuller's head three years ago in a stoke-southampton match (Karma bit back later though - he scored a spectacular own goal) He'll be fine.

  • Comment number 33.

    A model professional that did a great job in the twilight of his playing career for West Ham.

    Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 34.

    Zsilent_Z Sir Chris has never played for Stoke/Southampton? Or am I missing something here?

  • Comment number 35.

    As a distant Addicks fan, I really hope Chris Powell succeeds where others have failed

  • Comment number 36.

    Reading through a few of these comments and some of the tweets I have been sent about the article it seems I have made one sure-fire error.

    I didn't know Chris had been knighted!

  • Comment number 37.

    For Chrissy to have succeeded in becoming a manager in what is a dominant white hierarchy would suggest that he hasn't achieved this status just by being nice. I used to think that talent was important but Pardew upset that theory, so is it just down to luck, or was it simply a need to appease the long suffering Charlton supporters and to get bums back on seats by appointing a Charlton legend? Possibly, but sentimentality alone isn't going to keep a business afloat and the Chairman is no mug. When explaining the appointment, the Charlton Chairman said of Chrissy, 'There's just something about him'. I concur with this statement.
    Chrissy will benefit from having a more generous honeymoon period than poor old Parky, and has already had some extra money, which is pretty important. Already we have seen that Chrissy is canny, quick to learn, adopts a collaborative approach and has a lot of influential friends ready to support him. But there is a hint of steel behind that infectious grin. On Twitter, one player reminded another that he can't turn up late for training or else he will now get fined. It's looking promising from where I'm sitting.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm sorry calydon_road, but what Charlton were you watching? Bailey started almost every game he was fit for, and scored a fair few goals too. Shelvey played most of his Charlton career under Parky, the only anomaly was when he got injured about 3 months before he was sold and the board didn't want to (and couldn't afford to) risk playing him, getting injured and scuttling any transfer.

    As for Powell being 'too nice', he is too bloody nice, but as a gaffer he seems to have knuckled down on that and shows his passion. The way he dealt with the ref last night proves that. The man has cojones.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yeah well said Milton, I agree with all wot you said. The boo boys get their facts wrong to attack Parky n you put them right on Bailey n Shelvey on ere.

  • Comment number 40.

    37. At 7:25pm on 02 Feb 2011, Addicks_revenge wrote:

    For Chrissy to have succeeded in becoming a manager in what is a dominant white hierarchy would suggest that he hasn't achieved this status just by being nice.

    Come off it !

    Any intelligent person can see that skin-colour or ethnicity is a completely superficial and irrelevant factor in judging anybody else.

    I'm sure that club chairmen wouldn't ''cut off their nose to spite their face'', and consequently, will appoint the best man for the job, regardless of skin colour.

  • Comment number 41.

    As for nice guys apparently not succeeding in football management ?

    What about Pep Guardiola ?!

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.


  • Comment number 44.

    Exactly how does my comment about Mr Fletcher's unfair scrutiny of a black manager contravene House Rules? Because i point out that similar questions are not asked of newly appointed white managers?? That is a fact, there's no swearing, or use of unacceptable language in my post,so wh the removal i ask?

  • Comment number 45.

    I worked with Chris for a few days while he was still a trainee at Palace (who let him go to Southend...). We put tops on bottles while we talked about football the entire time. One of our conversations was about Stuart McCall - a legend as a player, but not as a manager for my beloved Bradford - and I hope for Charlton's sake that the same pressure Stuart experienced as a manager do not come to bear on Chris. Good luck.

  • Comment number 46.

    Wasn't a fan of Parky, but I think he did an admirable job considering the situation he was in. Excellent in identifying players (a skill I hope Powell has!), and a good manager, just one I felt couldn't take us further than the championship. But all the best to him.

    With the appointment of Powell, I hope the club give him time. He is an intelligent chap with reputably excellent man management skills, so he just needs time to learn the craft.

    Its great to see an article on Charlton FC on the Beeb again. For a league one side we do punch above our weight media-wise.

  • Comment number 47.

    3 games
    3 wins
    3 clean sheets
    Powell is a hero
    Enough said

  • Comment number 48.

    As good as Parky did with what he had, there was always that feeling of being comfortable and settling for League 1, hence why i think it was right for him to go.
    With regards to heartfelt Powelly being too nice, if being too nice makes your players go out their and play their hearts out for their manager in return, then it's not necessarily something to be worried about.
    I believe Mr Powell will receive more reciprocation from the fans and players due to his niceties than what Parky did... but ultimtately, only time will tell.


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