Monday 24 November 2008

Who's Next?

So, I wrote my match report on Saturday evening, closed my laptop and headed off to a friend's party trying to put Charlton related thoughts to the back of my mind so as not to dampen the mood. I was having a pretty decent evening and got chatting to a couple of Watford supporting friends about the plight of our clubs. They were big Boothroyd advocates and stressed that they were disappointed that he was no longer their manager before speculating who might replace him (I'm pretty sure Brendan Rodgers wasn't one of the names that came up). One of them then turned to me and said, "so, you must be pleased Pardew has gone?". "What?!". "Didn't you know? He's left by mutual consent". I didn't know, that was the first I had heard of it.

I always seem to hear about significant Charlton related news second hand. When Dowie got the boot, I was happily eating a bowl of coco pops when I got a call from a friend at the gym telling me to tune into Sky Sports. When we bid Les Reed farewell, I was out of the country snowboarding and got the news by text message. When Pardew was appointed, again it was a text message delivering the news. I never manage to find these things out myself! Anyway, this one was always coming but it was a bit of a shock to the system nevertheless. As many blogs have pointed out, Charlton fans are simply not used to this rate of managerial turnover.

I will look back on Pardew's time in charge in terms of what might have been. When he arrived almost two years ago I, like many others, felt that the board had finally got the right man after the disasterous tenures of Dowie and Reed. Whilst he could not keep us in the Premiership, I did not blame him for this given what he was left with. Last season started encouragingly but slipped away as Pardew's judgement got confused with too many loan signings and an all too frequently changing starting XI. The number of sales Pardew was forced to make over the summer I think took most by surprise, but the fact remains he failed to get the most out of a largely talented squad. I am sure it won't be too long before he is back in work, it's just a shame it didn't work out for him at Charlton.

We are now looking for what will be our fifth manager in just over two and half years and we absolutely can not afford to get this one wrong (witness Leicester last season). Organising and motivating a demoralised squad who have just been plunged into the Championship relegation zone is not an easy task and requires a steady hand. The speculation has already begun in the papers and on the blogs, most notably New York Addick's excellent piece (more) left no managerial stone unturned. To my mind, these are the main contenders and my thoughts on them:

Phil Parkinson - caretaker manager and if he gets a couple of good results against QPR and Southampton then he could provide the board with a particulary easy (and cheap) option. Like many of the Addickted though, I am against his permanent appointment. I think we need a completely fresh start and his involvement with the Pardew era would prevent that. His managerial record at Hull was also less than brilliant.

Mark Kinsella - see above. Reserves are also floundering this season.

Alan Curbishley - his name is the only one I read about in the papers this morning and he made sure he has cleverly failed to rule himself out of the job, despite commenting that he wanted his managerial return to be in the Premiership. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be able to sort out the mess we have found ourselves in. However, the consensus seems to be that his reappointment would represent a backwards step and a failure to sort out for ourselves as a club what has gone wrong. In addition, I would not wish his excellent reputation at the club to be tarnished by a disappointing second spell and would not consider him for the position.

Sam Allardyce - currently available and with an excellent record at both Notts County and Bolton (the jury is still out on his time at Newcastle in my opinion). He certainly would not bring 'sexy football' to The Valley, but he would bring considerable experience and a knack of turning out an organised side. His wages may be prohibitive however.

Billy Davies - knows the division and has a good Championship record at both Preston and Derby. Question marks remain over whether he would be the man to take us any further given his Premiership record with Derby, as well as the manner of his exit. Was also interviewed when Dowie was given the job, which by all accounts did not go as well as was hoped from either side's perspective.

Adrian Boothroyd - did brilliantly to get Watford to the Premiership but performances over the last couple of seasons haven't been too dissimilar to Charlton's and I have a nagging suspicion that this opportunity might have come too soon for him.

Gus Poyet - on the basis of his playing style and his television interviews, I like the guy and he appears to have the potential to be a good manager. Unfortunately he only has experience as a number two and there is no guarantee that being a good assistant means being a good supremo (ask Sammy Lee and Carlos Quieroz).

Lawrie Sanchez - not a option I had thought about until reading NYA's article but not a bad shout. Did very well at Wycombe and as national manager of Northern Ireland, before a short and undistinguished spell at Fulham. Out of work and available.

Plenty for the board to think about and having just written down most of the potential candidates, not a very easy decision at all. I'm not sure what timescale they have in mind for the appointment although I would have thought the new man would want to get his feet under the desk ASAP. All things considered, my preference would be for either Davies or Allardyce. I'm not sure Davies will come though after his previous experience with the club and I think Allardyce will cost too much money. Speculation is all well and good but for now though the focus needs to remain on getting something out of our next couple of games and giving the new manager, whoever it may be, the best possible starting position.

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