The 'Championship Manager debate'?
By use of this phrase I mean no insult to fans, many have them have watched an awful, awful lot of (sometimes awful) football. However most fans would probably admit that they do not know everything that happens behind the scenes or what is going through the Manager or Board's heads at any one moment and often a fair bit of second guessing and assumption is required - in some case they might even admit to not being professional football managers. Nevertheless this kind of discussion and sometimes heated debate, is all part of the culture of our game, and is a very common discussion topic amongst fans. Also to be fair to Charlton fans recent research at the end of last season from CAS Trust showed fans are far more in favour of investment in our Academy and a contract extension for Chris Powell than they are for purchasing star names - see the next edition of TNT out on Saturday for more details.
To set the scene for this article let's quickly look at Charlton's squad and Chris' management of it.
The end of last season saw the departure of many out of contracts players much like under Chris' first summer in charge, it is a managers prerogative to decide who will be offered what, what value they bring, etc. Some decisions are possibly more painful that others, but Powell has often shown strength in making tough decisions in this area.
Scott Wagstaff widely acknowledged for his work rate and being a Charlton youth product and a bit of goal grabber from midfield, was a hard one to swallow for many. Other departures included one time defensive hero and former Exeter centre half Matt Taylor; big signing last summer Goal keeper David Button, and colleague John Sullivan, leaving only Nick Pope as Ben Hamer's understudy. Another was goal scorer Bradley Wright-Philips, you only have to watch the League 1 title winning season DVD to puzzle on that one who some felt wasn't given much of a chance and deserved a longer run in the squad; while others thought he showed he couldn't cut it at the higher level - perhaps due to his long term knee problem? Similarly, the sadly injury prone Fuller and Haynes may not have been offered the same deals.
Another reason it is assumed, for non-renewals can be making way for better recruits. Chris Powell's squads have always until now been tightly managed with senior players farmed out on loan rather than sitting in the reserves. This year players like Green are back in the camp for a second shot - although that may be a temporary stop gap situation or indeed a genuine management technique being employed.
There have been signings in the form of forwards Marvin Sordell (loan) and free contracts Simon Church and centre half Richard Wood. Indeed there may be further strengthening in the window and later in the emergency loan window which takes place later. However many have drawn the conclusion rightly or wrongly that investment in the squad is down, and the wage budget has been cut.
The question of contracts
What is seriously irking some of the Addicks faithful is something that many find a complete puzzlement. That is the apparent absence of contract renewals for many of our best players and indeed backroom staff including our Manager. Barring Simon Church, Lawrie Wilson and Callum Harriot, should the situation remain the same the rest of our squad and management team would be allowed to walk out for next to nothing should they wish at the end of this season; as well as it is assumed their much depleted contracts also affecting any current sale value.
There does not seem to be the investment level in players so far to support theory of advanced Premiership squad cleaning i.e. a big promotion push which once achieved might require a squad clear out.
Others hint there may be some strategic overview governed by Financial Fair Play restrictions, that will only get tighter driving down long term wages and see a weakening in the transfer market - evidence for this is sketchy at best however in terms of contracts, player movement, and fees in the Championship - nevertheless we will follow up on this soon.
Finally some are even controversially suggesting that the contract situation is culpable for the apparent underperformance of Chris Powell's squad so far this season this season.
The next few days and maybe weeks including the Leicester match will be very interesting in the run up to the transfer window closing and afterwards, as to whether and how this situation is resolved. In the meantime here is a table showing the number of players out of contract in 2014 in each team in the Championship