Friday, November 17, 2006

From the Fans Forum

New manager Les Reed and second in command Mark Robson met face to face with over 200 Addicks in the Valley’s Millennium Lounge this evening. I managed to get myself a seat at the fans forum, and although I was gutted when I was told that I couldn’t bring my lap-top inside, I rallied, got myself a pen and paper, and scribbled furiously throughout the whole event.

The idea was that I would then type out as much of the proceedings as I could for the benefit of those who weren’t there (and Inspector Sands), just in case the club decide not to release the whole audio recording to the general public.

By the way, if anyone reading this happened to be there as well and thinks that I’ve made a mistake in what I recorded, I don’t care. I did as well as I could.
For the rest of you, I hope you’re thankful! This is going to take me hours to do :-)

I’ll summarise what was said for the most part, but verbatim quotations will appear in capital letters and bold type.


Fans Forum, Millennium Lounge, The Valley, 8pm – 10pm, November 16th, 2006

BH – Ben Hayes
LR – Les Reed
MR – Mark Robson
Q – Question from the audience

I arrived earlier than most and managed to get myself a seat in the middle at the front. There were at least 6 seats facing the audience, so I assumed that Reed and Robson would be joined by others from within the club but it turned out to be just the two of them in the end, with Supporters’ Director Ben Hayes presiding over the whole event.

I was a little disappointed that neither Varney, Murray, nor anyone else from the boardroom level attended the evening. It was obvious pretty much straight away that some of the more meaty questions about Dowie’s departure were going to be met with “no comment”, and that the whole forum would be about first team matters rather than the weightier issues that the last 7 days have seen arise.

There was a generous round of applause when Reed and Robson came to the table, and then Ben Hayes addressed the forum by asking Les Reed to TALK US THROUGH THE LAST 72 HOURS.

LR – Stated that he received a call from Richard Murray at approx 6:30pm on Monday evening, and the chairman went on to say that he had had a long discussion with Iain Dowie and that consequently Iain would be leaving the club. He then suggested that Reed should get in touch with Mark Robson, arrange a meeting with the players, and begin to prepare the team for the trip to Reading on Saturday. Les described himself as SHELL SHOCKED when he heard this news.

On Tuesday morning there were only 7 regular first team players in training due to injuries, the International matches, and a reserve match that afternoon. Reed met with the 7 players who HAPPENED TO BE THE MOST SENIOR PLAYERS and informed them that he was now in charge. Murray told Reed that he didn’t want the role to be temporary because he didn’t want his new manager LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER at speculation within the press. Reed again described himself as SHOCKED AND DELIGHTED with this news, and then told the forum that he just wished his promotion COULD HAVE OCCURRED UNDER BETTER CIRCUMSTANCES. The appointment was then described by Reed as A DREAM COME TRUE for him, and as ONE OF THE BETTER JOBS IN FOOTBALL.

Reed also confirmed that despite allegations in the national media, there was no dressing room unrest in the days leading up to Dowie’s dismissal, no training ground bust up’s, and that the players were all IN FULL SUPPORT of Iain Dowie.

The meeting was difficult for Reed who claimed IT WAS NO EASY TO ADDRESS THE PLAYERS WHEN I WAS STILL IN SHOCK MYSELF. After the meeting he then phoned all of the absent players and gave them the news.

The team were described as SHOCKED AND DISAPPOINTED initially, but Reed then told the audience that training that afternoon was first class, and the players minds were focused on Reading.


BH – Asked Les if he could now talk about the future a little more, and shed an light on who would be the third man involved in this new management structure.

LR – replied by saying that he had NO IDEAS as to who the third man is going to be, and that he doesn’t even know what the job description is yet, but he has had LOTS OF APPLICATIONS ALREADY!

He then went on to speak about Mark Robson’s knowledge of the younger players at the club due to his previous role, and the fact that this role is now vacant. He also stated that perhaps the incoming third coach will be utilised in this area, whilst also alluding to the fact that it would be a shame to lose Robson’s experience with the youth team. He suggested perhaps tweaking the roles slightly so that the younger players could reap the benefit of Robson’s experience, and that we could ensure a SMOOTH PATHWAY FROM THE YOUTH TEAMS INTO THE FULL SQUAD.

Reed and Robson will talk more about what they require from the third man after the Reading game is out of the way.


Q – Richard Murray talked about teamwork in his press conference after Dowie departed, and said that not all parties had been acting as a team, what was this all about?

LR - Didn’t really answer this question satisfactorily in my opinion, claiming that Murray’s comments were not referring to the ex-manager himself, but to the management structure of the club that was put together in the summer (Reed/Robson/Dowie).

He also stated that Andrew Mills and Murray himself were also supposed to be involved in this team, but it appeared to me from the manner in which Les was speaking that this did not occur in practise. Basically, Murray comments were referring to all senior staff, not just the footballing staff.
It was also claimed that there was ALWAYS GOING TO BE A REVIEW, it just so happened that the club were bottom of the league when it occurred.


Q – In general, there was a better style of football under Iain Dowie than there was under Curbishley, will this continue?



Q – Are the current crop of players good enough to get us out of the mess that we’re in, and do you think you will be signing players in the January transfer window?

LR – Les told the forum that he was VERY CONFIDENT THAT WE WILL TURN THINGS AROUND, BUT ITS GOING TO BE A LONG HAUL. He also said that he will be setting the squad points targets on a monthly basis, and that the fixture list had given us a decent run in, although hopefully we would be out of trouble before it gets to that point.

Reed also stated that we are only struggling due to A COMBINATION OF REASONS.
- The late appointment of Iain Dowie and the subsequent late signing of players.
- Bad luck with injuries
- Bad luck in the matches played to date
- Difficult pre season, for example, he claimed that the management team only had 1 DAY WITH THE FULL SQUAD before travelling to the West Ham game.



Q – Just before we put to bed the incidents this week, the club have more than insinuated that Iain Dowie didn’t just leave because of results on the park. Can you tell us what happened?

BH – Chimed in to say that Les couldn’t really expand on what he had already said.

LR – Spoke out and said that the management structure that was put together after Iain was appointed was supposed to SECURE THE CLUB’S LONG TERM FUTURE. Before Iain was sacked, Murray/Varney didn’t feel that this future could be guaranteed, and they had to make a decision in the short term because the long term future was at risk.


Q – I don’t think that the strike force is good enough (Darren Bent aside). Marcus Bent is useless, Hasselbaink looks lazy. We’re just not scoring enough goals. What about the likes of Alan Smith/David Healy/Nugent etc?

**Spontaneous applause from the audience after this question**

LR – Les said something along the lines of - I agree that we need to do something about scoring goals, but obviously we are unable to until January. Other areas of the team (midfield, defence etc) also need to chip in, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE PLAY A 5 MAN MIDFIELD.


Q – Simon Walton looks good on Sky doesn’t he?

LR – Claimed that Simon was signed due to the fact that he has massive potential, and although he performed excellently in pre-season it was decided that he would benefit from some first team football. Therefore he was loaned to Ipswich.

Reed also stated that the club have been monitoring his performances for the Suffolk side so far. I SPOKE TO HIM YESTERDAY and assured him that he was still part of my plans, and my current thinking is that WE WILL BRING HIM BACK IN JANUARY


Q – What will your tactical approach be? Will we continue to play expansive football?

LR – Les stated that in order to get out of the position that we are in, it would be difficult to only play expansive football. Some of the uglier things will also need to happen.

WE HAVE TO BE VERY SOLID AND VERY RESOLUTE WHEN WE LOSE THE BALL. Reed went onto say that he would continue to use flair players such as Thomas and Rommedahl, but he would have to teach them to work harder when the team isn’t in possession.

MR – Also said that he was looking forward to working with the first team squad. Obviously he has involved in reserve and youth teams at Charlton in the past, and when asked how he felt about so many promotions in such a short space of time, he said I’VE HAD A FEW OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE ON OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, BUT DIDN’T WANT TO BECAUSE I LIKE IT HERE. COACHING IS IN ME, AND I LOVE DOING IT.


Q – Can you give us an update on current injuries?

LR – Les said that he is concerned about the inordinate number of hamstring injuries that seem to be occurring, and said that he will be reviewing the WAY IN WHICH WE TRAIN ON THURSDAYS AND FRIDAYS BEFORE GOING INTO THE HIGH INTENSITY MATCHES ON SATURDAYS.

He believes that the hamstring problems and injuries we are suffering may be due to the fact that we had much less of a pre-season than we have been used to in the past.

With regards to current injuries, Diawara won’t be fit for Reading on Saturday, neither will Kishishev, and Faye is suspended. Rommedahl will be fit, as will Darren Bent, BUT JEROME THOMAS IS TOUCH-AND-GO.


Q – Set pieces and corners, we don’t score enough. Do you agree?

LRYOU’LL CERTAINLY SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM NOW ON. Reed said that the team will be working on set pieces tomorrow at Sparrows Lane, and that he is aware how important they are to being a successful Premiership side.


Q – We seem to concede less goals and score more goals when Rommedahl and Thomas start on the wings, any views?

MR – Told the forum that he though Rommedahl had been much more effective this season that he has been in previous seasons, but he said that work is still required to improve his final ball. He believes that Rommedahl has pace which frightens defences, and that we need to get him in behind the opposition back line a little bit more.

LRREGARDLESS OF HOW WELL YOU THINK HE’S BEEN PLAYING FOR CHARLTON, HE SCARES THE OPPOSITION WITH HIS BLISTERING PACE. Reed also made the point that it gives the opposition manager something else to think about in the dressing room when he finds out that Rommedahl is in the side.


Q – The players’ body language speaks volumes so far this season, why don’t they fight back more after losing the ball?

**Smattering of applause after this question**

LR – Les agreed with the forum that on occasions certain players have displayed poor body language on the pitch so far this season. He also assured the audience that this is something that he will be looking at in future training sessions.


Q – Are we going to lose Thomas Myhre?

LR – Les Stated that Myhre had BEEN TERRIFIC in training, although he has had his fair share of injury problems so far this season. WE HAVEN’T GOT ANY INTENTION OF LOSING HIM IN JANUARY.


Q – We haven’t had any real leaders on the park since Kinsella/Di Canio etc. Who is the next natural Charlton captain.

LR – Les agreed that there is a lack of charismatic leadership within the side at present, and claimed that this is something which he has discussed with managers at other clubs. It’s a trait THAT SEEMS TO BE DISAPPEARING from football.

Les also said that the senior professionals at the club all have a role to play when it comes to leadership out on the pitch, and it shouldn’t all fall on the captains shoulders. He also expressed his wish to address this issue on the training pitch, and claimed that players showed a marked improvement in training today, (possibly due to the effect that a new manager has on a side).


Q – Andrew Mills, what does he bring to the table?

LR – Les fielded this question by saying that himself, Mark Robson, and the incoming third coach have the job of team building, squad building and developing players and tactics, and that the new structure of the club was put in place in order to allow them to concentrate on these primary responsibilities.

Mills’s job is to work VERY MUCH LIKE A LINK BETWEEN OURSELVES AND THE CHAIRMAN. He deals with the day to day running of the club and handles the issues of non-football staff, which allows us (Robson and Reed) to concentrate more on the first team.

He also stated that he would decide what type of player was needed, Murray and Mills would then find the players and come back to Reed with a list of potential signings. Reed/Robson would then make the final decision on who to sign.


Q – How can we hold onto Darren Bent in January?

LR – Les informed the audience that Charlton would not have a problem in holding onto Darren Bent in January, and was very complimentary about the player and his attitude. HE SIGNED FOR CHARLTON BECAUSE HE LOPVES IT HERE. HE’S NOT A DIFFICULT PLAYER, HE’S STILL A KID WHO TAKES HIS FOOTBALL TO BED WITH HIM. Cue the “ahhh, bless him's” from the female members of the crowd.


Q – We haven’t had a proper ball winner since Parker, when are we going to sign a similar player?

LR – Les claimed that one of the primary reasons for signing Amady Faye was his ability to win the ball and the presence that he has in the middle of the park. He also spoke about Simon Walton coming back to the club in January because ball winning is one of his strongest attributes.

Les then moved onto Omar Pouso and said that Omar is STRUGGLING WITH THE PACE OF THE GAME IN ENGLAND, but could still develop into a ball winner. Emphasis was also put onto the fact that it is the teams responsibility to work collectively in order to win the ball, the responsibility should not fall on one particular type of player.


Q – What’s happening with the kid Bolanos?

LR – Les explained the work permit problems which prevented Christian from signing for us in the summer, and said how upset the club were that their appeal was rejected by the Home Office.

He then suggested that perhaps a deal will still be done whereby we sign him and then loan him out to a country in Europe which has less strict rules on work permits (perhaps through our link up with Germinal Beerschot). The player would then have the opportunity to play in Europe, and continue to amass the International caps which would eventually allow him to play in England. IT’S DEFINITELY STILL IN THE WORKS.


And there you have it. That was the end of the forum. Ben Hayes stood up and thanked everyone for coming, as well as thanking Mark and Les for attending the evening in spite of the fact that it has been a busy week for them.

Overall, I thought Les Reed spoke pretty well about all things Charlton. I managed to shake hands with both Les and mark at the end of the Q+A session, congratulated them both on their appointments and wished them the best of luck for the future.

It's also probably also worth mentioning that the club held a raffle for a signed football (unknown at this stage as to whether Dowie signed it!) with the proceeds being given to the Valley Flag Campaign. £180 was raised, which is the price of half of one banner.

Feel free to add your own thoughts below.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Varney's side of the story

For anyone who was at work this afternoon, I recorded Varney’s press conference from Sky Sports News and have now uploaded it. (Just follow the link and then click download file.)

Varney Interview

It’s worth listening to if you haven’t heard it, even if it’s only to hear our Chief Executive’s comments on Simon Jordan’s latest rantings.

As for Cynic Athletic, the site will be back up and running again soon, I promise.