Charlton Athletic – Where did it all go wrong?

by Mystical Mike

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Who is to blame?

In the Premiership years, Charlton Athletic were seen as the model for any clubs gaining promotion to join the elite. So what went so wrong at The Valley that saw the Addicks fall to the depths of the wrong end of the Championship. As they stare League One football in the face, Charlton’s recent history leaves behind a sad tale of a football club that was just too ambitious at the wrong time.

Charlton under Alan Curbishley in the Premier League were perhaps the steadiest of all ships in the division. Some teams attempted to spend, spend and spend some more upon elevation from the Championship but Curbs kept a keen eye on not going over the top in his ambitions and new found wealth, instead relying on good, hard working and honest professionals to keep the club in the top flight.

Athletic rejoined the Premier League in 2000 following a one season fling in the mid 90’s as they secured the Division One title under Curbishley. By 2003-04, he’d led his side to the brink of European football with a seventh placed finish after years of wise spending and balancing the books. But it was after he left after fifteen years in the job that the club got too ambitious and the wheels began to fall off.

Iain Dowie lasted just twelve games in charge after taking over with a promise of taking the club to the next level. Les Reed took the reigns but was replaced on Christmas Eve 2006 by Alan Pardew, who steadied the rocking ship but couldn’t keep the club afloat and Charlton were relegated.

Early promise the following season saw Athletic in the automatic promotion places by mid-October but they disappointed after Christmas and ended 11th in the Championship. This season was a shocker from the word go and the ambitions of the Addicks’ fans was bringing more and more pressure on the struggling Pardew. He ultimately paid the price for a terrible start and left the club last November.

Phil Parkinson took control but even he couldn’t lift the club out of the doldrums and the once proud Premier League team now find themselves deep in the mire with fans now accepting the fate of League One football next season.

So what’s to blame? Was it greed, a club pushing to try and get beyond it’s means and failing? Was it a simple case of Curbishley’s departure sparking unrest in the camp?

I tend to think it’s a mix of both…the brave new era after Curbs left was seen by the people at the top as a chance to push things and spend more on wages. Ultimately that cost them, with huge pay packets being relegated with the club and they’ve never really recovered.

It’s all in all another sorry tale of money being the root of all evil and who knows what difference there may be at the Valley today had Curbishley’s values stayed with the club and not died the moment he walked out the door.

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  • Darren

    Talk about a roller coaster! They were one of the favorites for automatic promotion when an Arab firm came in for them at the start of the season. It never happened and the only way has been down ever since. Was it 18 games without a win? Horrendous run. It’s a shame as they did seem to be a very well club.

    It is the curse of the new stadium? How many teams have gone down since they had a new stadium? Ok, so its still the Valley but you know what I mean

    Sunderland (Yo Yo)

  • JackieEmu

    I think the decision to sack dowie sowed the seeds of doubt that have resulted in an unstable club…he was putting his stamp on things and is then replaced by the inept les reed who then tries to undo all dowies work only to be replaced by pardew who then undoes the work of dowie and reed…the result a shambles…and a ship off course that will take a long time to turnaround…

  • Peza

    After all the years that Curbs was in charge it was amazing that Dowie was only given a few games. They had a big panic up and got rid of him far too soon. There was always going to be a wobble at the club after so many years with the same manager. Selling Andy Reid last season was also unbelievable! They took the money but he was their best player and club captain and the club was just out of the play-offs at the time. This season the club got rid of too many characters around the place like Ben Thatcher and Chris Powell who were great for team spirit and also helping the youngsters. I hope that Parky stays in charge for next season and that he can bring a bit of stability to the club and some of their talented youngsters can step up and get them promoted.

  • Ash

    To be honest it couldnt happen to a nice club.

    I live in the Charlton area, eventhough I’m a QPR fan and their fans are some of the most fickle I’ve ever come across. When I was at school in that area, and Charlton where a first division side no one supported them – it was all Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. Then after THAT game (4-4 best game ever Mendonca blah blah blah) all of a sudden there where Charlton shirts, bags, scarves all over Woolwich Polytechnic school from boys who were loyal fans of different clubs a season before. I know when a team is successful the local area its in jumps on the bandwagon but in Charlton it was ridiculous!

    This led to a hatred for this stupid ‘model family club’ that I still have today and I for one are happy to see them routed to the bottom of the league. And who’s to blame? Those bloody fans that’s who! Having started supporting them when they got successful they got too greedy and wanted rid of Alan Curbishley beacause as far as they were concerned he’d taken them as far as he could and it was time for a new man to take them on a level. Fools, two years on look where they are now! A board that hadnt needed to make a mangerial appointment for 15 odd years have had made three very questionable choices in Dowie, Read and Pardew and look where its got them. How much do those fans wish they hadnt forced Curbishley out now eh?

    Oh and I see those fickle fans have already turned their back once again on the Addicks and now can be probably seen down the pub on a Sunday with their Chelsea shirts watching Jamie Redknapp and Richard Keys.

  • Dave Martin

    Very interesting artical yeh we find all very strange at the Valley of late. Can’t believe it to be honest.
    Clubs chiarmen and directors need to look long and hard at what’s happen .

    Still life goes on and the old division 3 may be as good a place to bounce back from as anywhere

  • Jay (Stickly) Halling

    So many people have regurgitated this ‘opinion’ it’s getting silly. The bottom line is we were bottom of the premiership when Dowie was sacked, and heading to the bottom of the championship fast with Pardew in charge. Yet nobody said they were terrible appointments when they were made… The line that always makes me smile though which I hear from so many ‘experts’ is ‘ You should never have got rid of Curbishley’!! HE RESIGNED!!! 🙂

  • dexylongshot

    They really are in the poop now. I read in the paper last week that they were selling of there training ground in New Eltham and then renting it back of the developers for 40 large a year over the next 25 years. A sad day for the Addicks.

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