UN­HAPPY VAL­LEY NEEDS QUICK LIFT

Charl­ton spi­ral is a threat – Curbs

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

CHARL­TON Ath­letic le­gend Alan Curbishley fears the club will go stale un­less they can es­cape League One im­me­di­ately.

The un­rest that clouded South Lon­don last sea­son, with weekly protests against the Charl­ton board of di­rec­tors, went hand-in-hand with rel­e­ga­tion to League One – a far cry from the heady days in the Pre­mier League un­der Curbishley’s man­age­ment.

The same level of venom does not seem to be in the air at The Val­ley this term, but the sup­port­ers have most def­i­nitely voted with their feet.

The av­er­age at­ten­dance has dropped by al­most 5,000 from 15,632 to 10,899, a fig­ure even more alarm­ing when you con­sider the av­er­age gate dur­ing the 2012-13 cam­paign was 18,499.

Curbishley, who en­joyed 15 years as a man­ager and two play­ing spells at Charl­ton, fears the spi­ral will con­tinue un­less Rus­sell Slade can achieve pro­mo­tion – and fast.

Es­tab­lished

“I feel so sad for what’s go­ing on at Charl­ton,” said the 58year-old.

“There are lots of peo­ple still there from my time at the club.

“It’s ten years since I left and it’s in­cred­i­ble how things have changed in that time.

“You shouldn’t take things for granted.

“Charl­ton had be­come an es­tab­lished Pre­mier League team and were look­ing at who they could at­tract to kick on.

“Now, they have ex­pe­ri­enced the pain of two rel­e­ga­tions and, with ev­ery­thing else go­ing on, they are in dan­ger of stay­ing where they are for some time.

“The club have to get back in the Cham­pi­onship. It’s no good for them in League One.

“They have got to win the fans back if they have any chance of be­ing suc­cess­ful. Rus­sell Slade was a good ap­point­ment. He has great ex­pe­ri­ence at that level, but he needs sup­port.”

Curbishley has been out of the man­age­rial game since his time with West Ham came to an un­savoury end in 2008.

Since then, he says there have been of­fers for his ser­vices that he turned down.

But, hav­ing waited so long for the ‘right’ op­por­tu­nity, Curbishley now fears he has been out of the man­age­rial game for too long to re­turn.

“Over the years, I have had quite a few of­fers to go back into man­age­ment. I felt my record stood up to scru­tiny, so I didn’t want to take just any­thing,” he added.

“I turned down Pre­mier League clubs that were down in the rel­e­ga­tion zone with 13 or 14 games to go that wanted sav­ing. And I turned down teams in the top half of the Cham­pi­onship, hop­ing for a boost to reach the play-offs. I was pre­pared to wait un­til some­thing big, that I wanted to do, came up. Per­haps I waited too long.

“Times have changed. The Pre­mier League and Cham­pi­onship are flooded with for­eign man­agers and it’s more dif­fi­cult now.

“I see my role go­ing for­ward as maybe do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, as I did at Ful­ham: an ad­vi­sory role if there is a man­ager not threat­ened by that struc­ture. There is a stat that 60 per cent of first­time man­agers never get an­other job. “Per­haps that would change if they had some­one around with a lit­tle more ex­pe­ri­ence to con­sult.” In the eight years since Curbishley left West Ham, he worked, briefly, as a tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor at Ful­ham dur­ing Felix Ma­gath’s spell as man­ager and then re­turned to the Cot­tagers dur­ing Kit Sy­mons’ ten­ure as part of the back­room staff. The ex­act de­tails of his roles have been un­clear and that topic is the sub­ject of his new book, Game Chang­ers. Curbishley con­cedes that, since he last picked a start­ing line-up, foot­ball has changed be­yond all recog­ni­tion. And here he takes a look at the mod­ern game in all its guises, in­ter­view­ing chair­men, chief ex­ec­u­tives, man­agers and play­ers all the way down to the fans and ground staff. “Fans hear lots about cer­tain roles within foot­ball clubs but don’t nec­es­sar­ily know ex­actly what they are and why they are so im­por­tant,” Curbishley ex­plains. “On the first day of the sea­son, Arsene Wenger didn’t pick Laurent Ko­scielny against Liver­pool when he had an al­ready-weak­ened de­fence be­cause the head of their med­i­cal de­part­ment told him he shouldn’t. “That’s a lot of power to tell Arsene Wenger who he can and can­not pick. So, I went and in­ter­viewed those peo­ple. “I spoke to the kit-man at Nor­wich, David Sul­li­van the co-owner of West Ham, Frank Lam­pard and Steven Ger­rard, and ev­ery­one else in be­tween. Peo­ple that have had a big ef­fect on the chang­ing face of clubs over the last ten or so years. Have th­ese changes all been good? That’s what I try to present.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

OLD TIMES: Alan Curbishley in his Charl­ton days and, in­set, cur­rent boss Rus­sell Slade

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