By Tom Smith
I am sick of Charlton. We all are, this is not a controversial statement these days.
There are so many reasons to be feeling morose going into the festive fixtures. One in particular is the lack of impact new manager Karl Robinson has had on the club since arriving in November. However, in my view the reaction to Karl has been too harsh and Charlton fans must allow more time to the current Charlton manager.
Don’t get me wrong, the last two games have been very unimpressive, and like many I blamed Karl for this. Peterborough were on a very hot run of results and we had a string of injuries, yet KR decided to play an extremely attacking team. Against Millwall too, we went with a number 10 in Lookman, instead of a more pragmatic defensive midfielder. We needed to grind out those results and Karl showed naivety when he went so gung-ho.
Having said that, these attacking tactics have been used to try and gain immediate respect from the Charlton faithful. He had visions of netting three at the New Den, and the sold-out Charlton end running over to the dug out, lifting him above their heads, and crowd surfing him all the way home, with cries of “Messiah” ringing in his ears. This was never going to happen. Where I think I differ from the majority of Charlton fans though is, after that frightful game I was not yet ready to crucify the new Manager as a false prophet.
Most of the fan commentary I have heard following the game is “Shut up Karl, we were better before you came”. I find this is an extraordinary re-write of history. Were we better? I certainly don’t remember feeling like we were playing expansive, attacking football. Generally, Slade was a disaster – in the transfer window, in his press conferences and in the games themselves. I have even heard, rather comically, that Nugent should have kept the job or should get it now. Suddenly some fans want an interim manager ahead of a full time appointment!
Karl hasn’t got it right yet but we need to give him time because he has the right attitude and the right ideas. We all wanted to see Botaka start, and immediately Karl played him. That tactic hasn’t necessarily worked but he looked very dangerous in the first half against Bradford, where we should have won easily.
As for the clamour callings for Robinson to restrict his press interviews and, essentially, shut up, I find this bemusing. Have people forgotten the uncomfortable, awkward, bland and at times offensive Russel Slade press conferences? I bet Terry Smith and Louis Mendez haven’t. Karl is enthusiastic and wants to be successful, and he wants to give the fans a feeling of what is happening with the team. Even the fact he is from Liverpool seems to annoy some fans, and did so before he has even opened his mouth as Charlton coach. This has not been a good start from a new manager, but it is reactionary to instantly call for him to change his entire personality. I think a lot of us were really impressed by his interaction with the players when he came in. I remember seeing a tunnel cam video where he was hugging Josh Magennis that filled me with joy. I was at the Bradford game and seeing him out there taking training before the game was fantastic.
We do not want another new manager. In Karl we have a young, passionate and hungry man longing for success. Injuries, and fixtures like Millwall and MK Dons twice have not made it easy for him, but the way he wants to play and interact with fans, is at least pointing Charlton Athletic in the right direction.