Sunday, 8 May 2011

They were the worst of times and well the worst of times.....

This is the first part of the review of the season from H2V. 2 further parts maybe forthcoming in the next couple of weeks. In this part I concentrate on the season up to January.
It has been the worst season that charlton fans have endured in my lifetime no bones about that.  Having missed out on Wembley last season, we at least expected a play off place this year, but as is the way with Charlton, we conspired to machine gun ourselves in the foot. In the summer two core players, Bailey and Sam left.  Bailey for over £1 m. Even his biggest fans were surprised at that fee.  Unfortunately this windfall was not available for squad reinforcement but for maintaining the clubs liquidity.
It all started if not well then ok. For the fourth year running the opening game hosted a promoted side and like last year against Wycombe we picked up 3 points.
The pre January period was marked by continued skirmishes between.the anti parkinson and pro parkinson brigade. And the question of achievement versus performance. 
In the summer parkinson had put together a team from virtually nothing - a nominal fee for Abbot and £35,000 for Francis - neither of whom could be said to be an overwhelming success. The big money went on Benson, although his fee and wages over the life of his contract were said to match the investment into any other member of the squad.
As we can subsequently, see from the efforts of others, parkinson seems to have assembled a talentless group which he was able to mould into something resembling a team that could challenge. The problem being that when all parts were not in tune  "the wheels of the bus fell off".
I have no doubt that the highlight of the season did not occur on the pitch but in the board room. The way was paved by Richard Murray taking over debt that were not waived or postponed in the summer. And then slater and jimminez came on the scene leading their band of unknown investors to rescue us from almost certain administration. According to Varney we would not have survived to the end of the season. So a debt of gratitude is owed to the new owners. Their first meaningful act of ownership was to dismiss the division one manager of the month.
I have argued that the sacking of Parkinson was a matter of when and never if.  Sadly for him, his team gave an abject performance against bottom placed Swindon and Slater moved the next day in the best interests of ensuring promotion this year.
The demise of Parkinson was swift and brutal, there were rumours that there was an argument amongst the board after the game and later Richard Murray is alleged to have said that he would not have sacked Parkinson.
I have made it clear that I liked parkinson and thought that he was a capable manager. Other feel he was useless and only here because even the clubs cat was too expensive and it is true to say that he was lucky to have a job after we were relegated. His record of 28 games, 4 wins,11 draws and 13 defeats is indefensible in a results business. However, many people argue that Chris Powell should currently be judged on performance not results. This being the case Parkie took a dispirited low morale disorganized team and improved their performance making them difficult to beat, as testified by the last 10 games (W2 D 6 L 2) of the Championship relegation season. What he did not do was make them winners and for that many fans never forgave him.
The highlights of Parkinsons last season were Peterborough away a victory nobody can claim as anything other than superb, maybe the highlight of his reign, running alongside the 5-1 demolition of MK Dons the previous season.  Other highlights were the 3-0 away demolition of Swindon, but overall players such as Wagstaff, Lee Martin Benson, Akpoe failed to deliver and the wheels fell off against Wallsall, Brighton and Swindon and the worse thing about this were the glory games were away and the failures at home.
Ultimately, despite getting us to the play offs last season and 5th this season and only 2 points off the automatics Parkinson was unable to win over the majority of the fans, despite his successes, the fans were unwilling to accept or understand the constraints that led to dour but winning football or that he had been part of the Pardew regime.  His mere presence became divisive and it is for that reason, I believe that the new owners were never going to keep him in place.
In January, 5th in the table 2 points off automatics we could argue we had had an ok season  and were on course for at least the play offs and then the balloon burst…..
The next posting will be the rest of the season and the final part will be the future….