Peeters’ Progress – Crisis or Crossroads? January Window Preview: What will Roland Duchatelet do next at #Charlton after a year at the helm? #CAFC

Roland Duchatelet's first year at Charlton Athletic is nearly at a close. We take a look at progress so far and what he might do next

It's been a roller-coaster year for Charlton's new owner Roland Duchatelet (RD). After a shaky start, bringing new players in, losing a promising coach, gaining another, losing him, hiring yet another; losing a large portion of the squad, and then building another.. Charlton had got off to a decent start and were in touch with the top six until fairly recently. Since then however things seem to have gone seriously awry.

Sufficient Standard?

After losing some of Charlton's leading lights, new players were brought in but the consensus suggests the standard of the player required to compete in the Championship was underestimated by the new management at the Valley. The departure of leading lights in particular the highly effective 'warrior' type goal scorer Yann Kermorgant, compounded the failure of the newcomers to shine.

The Summer saw an upgrade, but also some gambles which appear not to have paid off. Big money signing Igor Vetokele, along with Gudmundson and Henderson, Standard Liege loans Buyens and Tal Ben Haim, also seem of good quality; while Bikey appears to have been an excellent freebie find. Other freebies and Standard Loan players have so far arguably failed to make an impact.

A Wafer Thin Squad

RD's people may have now better understood the type of player needed, but does the approach address the attrition of the Championship? The small size of the Charlton squad (and we assume this is a deliberate policy) is arguably causing considerable issues.  Of course if one had the luxury of 16 proven quality players things might be different, this is of course a rarity for most managers who usually have a blend of players - the problem for Big Bob is perhaps the weakness of the blend he has been given to work with.

The balance is arguably too far in the direction of untried/untested, inexperienced (in this league). To compound this some positions have little or no backup for Bob to manage his team with - if a player is out of form there is not often an obvious replacement to come in. The lack of depth has also increasingly been forced to players played out of position. To compound matters replacements in the squad for the inevitable injuries where they have been available have not demonstrated they can fill first team boots so far.

Striking options

One majorly weak area has been up front - with only 24 goals Charlton are joint second from bottom in the goals for column. Although the club were widely rumoured to be trying to improve that area, it failed to land any more targets. Until quite recently it had looked like the team would cruise to a Christmas in touch with the top 2, instead the Reds would be lucky to make the top 10. Very recently goals are starting to leak more frequently, so perhaps also a quality goalkeeper is needed to fill Henderson's injury absence.

So what happens now?

With Charlton somewhat adrift is it worth throwing money at the squad to push on for the top six this year, or at least get a team settled for a push next term? It's really a question of whether RD wants to spend any money at this stage. One suspects he may see what is available to him for loan or free before splashing any cash. The January window is renowned for being tough and more expensive, and Charlton are now 9 points adrift of 6th place. Of course the loan window goes on a bit longer so it is possible players can be brought in if January window replacements don't achieve the necessary results. On the other hand the strategy may be to establish a decent squad over a year or more, meaning any success before that time is merely a bonus while various options are tried and tested, and leaving more potential for serious talent to come in - the January window is not the best moment in terms of value for doing this however.

Is the Manager safe?

It is still early days but so far it could be argued the jury is still out, not forgetting that RD has a record of chopping and changing coaches, including at Charlton. Despite that and given the owner's choice of Peeters after the short but successful shift of Jose Riga, it suggests Big Bob is part of a master plan, which seems unlikely to be ditched given the challenges encountered so far in his first half season in charge. Nevertheless, staying in touch with the top six must surely have been part of the 'plan' so perhaps recent results are cause for concern, and maybe a reason for Riga to be sharpening his pencil..

Financial Fair Play and the Network Approach?

Part of the longer term presumed strategy to stay within football fair play regulations by exploiting the economies of the network approach in terms of player pool, and to some extent the scouting network will have been confounded by changes to regulations which, although remain the same for this season (but loosening significantly next season), seem unlikely to stick and may well be ignored this season.

While some economies have undoubtedly been seen through this approach in Buyens, and Tal Ben Haim, others have not proved so lucrative. There is also little evidence that the club has got much nearer to the stated objective of breaking even, although Charlton do seem better run financially than some other clubs in the Championship. The loosening of FFP must limit the impact of the Network approach, and will surely have been be a blow if that truly was part of the strategy. On the other hand it still offers economy and a large scouting network, so the business case in terms of return on investment still makes sense.

Given the club (like most others) is still losing millions of pounds per year, the question remains how long would any owner want to do that for ? And  we have no documented 3 or 5 year plan to comment on. It would also seem the best economy would be to buy the right players for the right price and gain promotion ASAP -  easier said than done of course. The question here and for many other owners is how many attempts can they afford to make


Our guesses as follows:

  • Peeters will stay at least until the end of the season, assuming Charlton stay clear of relegation.
  • Higher quality players will be brought in during the window.
  • The potential shopping list of 2 strikers, a winger and possibly a keeper.
  • Maximum of one big money (1 million plus) signing, but even that is 50/50.



Check out our other recent article on Cash for the Cup here