Thomas Sandgaard has been urged to appoint Charlton Athletic legend Alan Curbishley in a key advisory role after the South London club’s season hit crisis mode on Tuesday night.
The misfiring Addicks are 23rd in the League One table after a 4-1 home loss to Bolton Wanderers dialled up the pressure even more on manager Nigel Adkins.
And former Charlton defender Steve Brown has described it as a “no-brainer” for owner Sandgaard to utilise the knowledge of Curbishley, who twice won promotion to the Premier League and accrued 729 matches during his time in charge in SE7.
Curbishley had the East Stand renamed in his honour this summer and has been a regular pundit on Charlton TV.
“Take Charlton out of the equation and think about Alan Curbishley as a man,” said Brown. “It is astonishing he is not in football, full stop.
“He has the connections to help bring in players – to put round pegs in round holes – along with his experience and football understanding, in terms of tactics and how a side is built.
“He can advise people through the things he has learned from in the 40-50 years he has been in it.
“Now drop in the time he has had at Charlton and the success he had here – and also where Charlton are at the moment. The owner is a fantastic, positive guy who has put his money in to make sure Charlton still function as a football club. The one trick I think he’s missing is someone with really good experience and knowledge of football sat on the end of a phone line so he can say: ‘This just happened Alan, what do I do?
“I find it perplexing. It seems such a simple thing to me. He’s there, we’re using him for Charlton TV…why isn’t he the other side [in the directors’ box]? Why isn’t he next to Thomas and the man he can lean on for anything to do with football? He’d love to be involved. If you think the level he has managed at, that puts him in a very elite bracket. And he should be working in some capacity.
“But Curbs is not alone on that front. I’ve worked with some very good people who spend a little bit of time out of the game – whether that be one, two or three years – and they are dismissed. And it’s mental.
“People think that football has moved on and they haven’t got anything to offer. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Football doesn’t actually change that much. The way we phrase things changes. Yes, people try different tactical set-ups and there are more formations now – there is more information than there has ever been. But ultimately as a basic foundation, football brains are football brains – they’ll always be able to work out what is going on. Curbs is one of those.
“You’d have to ask Thomas why he isn’t involved. For me, it is a no-brainer. It’s the first thing that should have been done. He should’ve aligned himself with someone of Curbs’ experience and football knowledge to understand how it works. It’s not the same as business. Business and football are completely different worlds.
“With Curbs you get trust and honesty – and that’s not to say that people at Charlton aren’t trustworthy and honest. But I know 100 per cent that Curbs is.
“You’re getting his honest answer and a trustworthy answer. It’s not for the benefit of Alan Curbishley, it’s for the benefit of Charlton Athletic.”
There have been audible calls from supporters at the last two matches for Adkins to be sacked. The former Southampton, Scunthorpe and Reading manager has vowed to fight on.
Even a win at Fleetwood Town tomorrow would not lift the Addicks out of the relegation zone.
“If you take on a managerial role then you know the way modern day football works,” said Brown. “If you have four or five bad results then pressure starts to build.
“We’re now one win in 10 and you can feel the pressure around the ground. They [the fans] are still trying to get behind the team when performances warrant it. But, by the same token,when we collapse like we did in the last 20 minutes on Tuesday then they are going to vent their frustrations.
“Nigel has been in the game a very long time, he’ll know that the pressure is building. He’ll know he is under the microscope from the owner, and more so from the stands. They have got to a point where they are very frustrated.
“It’s a bit grim at the moment. I don’t think there is anyone in the industry who doesn’t expect pressure to come when the results don’t come.
“It’s the first thing that happens at a football club when the results don’t come, you get that reaction from the stands, and then it snowballs. Every result you don’t get it snowballs just that bit more.”
Charlton have taken two points from a possible 15. And Brown says now it is a case of grinding out results by any means necessary.
“I don’t care if the football is mind-numbingly boring,” he said. “You have to be incredibly resilient.
“Nigel came in and said he wanted to press from the front. But if you’ve not quite got the players to do that, or we are not quite getting it right or having the joys we want it to when we press, then maybe you have to go back to being extremely difficult to beat for one or two games.
“It might not be pretty to watch and you might end up in a 4-5-1 situation. You might have to go a little bit negative – but you have to stop conceding goals.
“Once you do that then you give yourselves at least a chance. You just need one or two opportunities, stick one in the back of the net and you find yourself getting a little 1-0 win and three points on the board.
“What you can’t do is keep having setbacks and conceding goals, keep having to chase games. When we concede goals this side seems to not be able to respond particularly well.
“You have to really tighten up defensively as a team, all over the pitch. That might mean you have to drop deeper and be more compact, even lose your width a bit so there are no gaps. Let their defenders have it, try and play on the counter a bit more.
“We’ve had one clean sheet this season. That means in the other nine games we’ve had to score at least two to win a game – at least. On some occasions it has been three or four. That’s an uphill battle.”
Charlton are only 4/1 with bookies to be relegated to League Two – 10 other clubs have shorter odds.
“It’s too early for relegation talk,” said Brown. “They recruited players who had not been playing or have had injuries. I do believe there is a very good 11 in that [squad of] 27.
“Did I think after 10 games they would be on the points they are? No. I thought we’d be at the other end of the table. There does a come a point where it will become a factor, but I don’t think that is yet. It’s not rocket science though, we need to stick some points on the board sharpish.”
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