15 November 2016

The Sacking of Russell Slade

Tolstoy famously and wrongly said that all happy marriages are alike while every unhappy marriage is different. There are many successful alternative models for a happy marriage, while unhappy marriages tend to share certain features: bad communication, distrust, lack of a shared objective and, if there are children, deep distress, fear and confusion. They don't know why their parents are arguing but they know something's wrong, and they may respond with tantrums or sulks or more serious antisocial actions. A good social worker can diagnose the health of a relationship by looking at the childrens' behaviour.

People routinely underestimate the intelligence of footballers but even the dumbest of them can feel the same vibes that upset small children, and even the dumbest of them, spending hours in the company of their smarter teammates, will come to understand exactly what's gone wrong in the managment of the club they represent.

The great Richard Cawley (who unlike Tolstoy is seldom wrong) tweeted this last night while the sacking of Slade was still unconfirmed:

Either deliberately or carelessly, Slade's position was being undermined by this public display of a yellow card warning him to improve or face the sack. I think we saw the outcome at Swindon on Saturday when, by all accounts, even the brighter, older children Jack and li'l Chris threw a 90 minute sulk. They knew Slade was unsupported by the ownership and nothing he could have said - even if he were a far more charismatic leader than he appears to be - could have brought more out of them. The backstage actions had once again wrecked any semblance of team spirit. Just as happened immediately before the sacking of Powell, Peeters, Luzon.

No-one can manage Charlton successfully in the current set-up. Slade is probably not a great manager, but I can't believe he's not better than his record at Charlton will suggest. Those few months, those 16 games will be a blot on his otherwise decent but unspectacular record and a cause of nightmares for years to come. I actually feel very sorry for him. In spite of the baseball caps.

13 November 2016


CARD's latest brilliant idea had me making an unexpected Sunday morning trip to the Valley

 A taxi decorated with images from the anti-Duchatelet protests is heading to Belgium today, to deliver Roland's birthday presents and to publicise the campaign. Two other cars are going, less flamboyantly, and a total of 12 people will be spreading the word. They'll also be visiting First World War memorial sites.

On its return the taxi will keep the decorations for three months while Chris, its driver, continues to ply for trade around London, so look out for it. At the ground this morning there was some discussion of how it could be pre-booked for strategically important journeys, such as to the FA or the EFL offices. I've a feeling we'll hear more of that later.

This little charmer won't be going to Belgium. Gadafy is her name and she stole everyone's heart when she dragged her human along to the photoshoot in front of the North Stand.

At 11 there was a short and moving act of remembrance outside the West Stand, with details given of people connected with the club who died in the two world wars.

The people going to Belgium are paying their own way, it should be pointed out, but if it's been a while since you contributed to CARD funds, maybe it's time to slip them a few quid.

06 November 2016

Tooting and Mitcham 4 Cray Wanderers 0

My third non-league game of the season brought me by Tramlink to a ground I've gone past a few times while cycling the Wandle trail. The KNK stadium is, but what do I know, pretty impressive at this level (rymans isthmian league south). A decent stand on one side and covered terracing at either end for the small but noisy group of singing home supporters who, in true old school style, switched ends at half time. I don't at all consider myself a football traditionalist but that's one of the things - alongside players wearing shirts numbered 1 - 11 and match officials in black - that I prefer about the non-league game.

I've enjoyed good luck with my non-league games so far and that continued. This was an enjoyable affair on a bitterly cold afternoon, both teams trying to play a skilful game perhaps because they didn't have the pace or the physical presence to do otherwise.

Billy Dunn's 25th minute goal separated the teams after a fairly even first half, but in the second half three goals in five minutes (Mike Dixon twice and Chace O'Neill) - largely the result of calamitous defending - destroyed any spirit in the Wanderers, and the game fizzled out, with only a few hearty fouls to cheer any visiting supporters (I didn't see or hear any, but they had nothing to shout about.)
Osibodu lumps the ball upfield

As the Wanderers' match report says:
It came as something of a relief when the final whistle went and there could be no complaints, the better side had won today and showed how tough this division is going to be.

The sun set gloriously over the far side of the pitch and I managed to grab a shot of it which by pure luck includes some actual football action, so I've added a caption.

Another thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at a new ground. A friendly feeling in the stand and honest effort from all the players on the pitch. I could get used to this.