Karl Robinson – “never been so excited”

Karl Robinson gave a brief question and answer session to members of The Fans Forum at the training ground last week. He was accompanied by Chief Scout Steve Gallen. These were some of his observations:

He said he had never been so excited about a pre-season.  There is no choice other than promotion.

He thought people would be very excited by Tariqe Fosu-Henry  ("he reminds me of Ademola")

He has the budget to get the players he wants.

The money was there to win the league last season but we got mediocre players.

If I fall short, that's my fault.

Ricky Holmes is not for sale. He has been offered a new contract.

We must move on some existing high earners but buying is easier than selling.

We are close with one signing. We need 6 or 7 more. We need a full back, a winger, a number ten.

The three new players so far have really wanted to be at Charlton. The signings went through very quickly but Clarke and Marshall had been targets for the last two months.

Ahmed Kashi is back this week. Karl hasn't met him yet but Kashi is also keen to be back at Charlton and has improved his English. Karl is amazed there is so much enthusiasm about a player who has only played eleven games for the club, but he is impressed by Jacko's opinion of him.

He was keen that new signings did not block the path of one of our own under 23s. He didn't think that Tariqe did that.

We are looking at four goalkeepers. Dillon Phillips will be number 1 here one day. He has done too well to sit on the bench. Its a dilemma to know whether to send him out on loan or not.

We'd love to have Jay da Silva back but Chelsea are preoccupied with other things at the moment (Diego Costa).

We are now taking much more care of injury protection.

Charlton supporters have been here before.  In the summer of 2014 we were looking forward to Vetokele and Gudmundsson playing under new face Bob Peeters. Within a few months we saw the departure of Peeters and the 5-0 thrashing at Watford. CAS Trust called a public meeting after the appointment of Guy Luzon and there was a much-welcomed revival inspired by Tony Watt.

The following summer brought a clutch of promising new signings (including Kashi) and there was some optimism despite the ominous departure of Phil Chapple. Nevertheless the season began with the not-yet-ready Ahearne-Grant up front. Watt lost his mojo. Lack of squad depth dropped us from 3rd at the end of August to 20th by mid October. There was the debacle of Karel Fraeye followed by relegation.

Last summer the appointment of Russell Slade was hailed as proof that lessons had been learned. The signings of Ajose, Novak and Magennis promised a hatful of goals. Many Charlton fans agreed that the regime should be given another chance. A few months later Slade had gone.  Supporters - weary of yet more instability and disruption - turned away.  An imbalanced squad which lacked creativity in midfield struggled after the sale of Lookman.

Will it be different this time? Will there be a balanced and suitably deep squad assembled that can withstand the rigours of a long season? Will Academy graduates only be promoted to the team when they are ready, rather than from necessity or blind stubbornness? Will the manager stay in post for a whole season?

CAS Trust are sceptical about whether success at Charlton can be achieved under Roland Duchatelet's ownership. We fear that too many supporters have become disillusioned by the constant instability and the apparent lack of ambition. We search in vain for evidence that Duchatelet has learned any humility during his disastrous tenure.

But if you can't be optimistic at the end of June, when can you be?