09 August 2014

Under new management

Just up the road from me is a pub that has stood empty for about a year after the previous manager had a disastrous fallout with the pubco that owns it. This week, though, the pub is going to reopen after a huge amount of work. The owner claims to have spent £400,000 on the place, which is believable, given the look of the building. It looks terrific, and promises to be a great place to visit, selling good beer and offering decent meals. A whole new set of staff has been recruited and they've been getting training over the last few days. It should be a great pub, but until it opens - indeed, until it's been open for a while - no-one can be sure of that.

In other news, the football season starts today. Roland Duchatelet has had a very good summer. Far from being the asset-stripper some of us feared, he's put a lot of money into the club. There's a pitch to be proud of, some much-needed refurbishment of the stands and some interesting and - by Charlton's recent standards - expensive player recruitment. We haven't seen this level of investment in the squad since the Dowie/Pardew years. And look how that turned out ...

It might be fine. Charlton may now have a manager and a squad that can, at least, easily survive and maybe do better than that. But it's very uncertain. Few of the new players have any experience at this level; the manager, as manager, has none. And while I'm now happy about Duchatelet's good intentions, I can't help but look back at the player deals he made in January. They were, mostly, wildly misjudged and contributed to a wholly avoidable relegation scare. He and his advisers clearly didn't then have an adequate understanding of the Championship. Has their judgement improved since then?

We get the first hint of an answer this afternoon. I'd expect Brentford to be strong and supremely well-motivated, and if Charlton get a point, it will be a good result. Maybe we'll get a better idea from Tuesday's game: if Charlton get a win in the League Cup against lower-division opposition we'll know that things really have changed.

If not, you can find me in the pub.

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