Charlton Athletic yesterday announced the surprise promotion of Les Reed to succeed Iain Dowie - and revealed that they had conducted an unprecedented two-week investigation, interviewing players and staff, before deciding to sack their head coach.
Such was the speed of Dowie's dismissal that he was informed over the telephone on Monday evening, after spending the day at his family home in Bolton, while yesterday his car was still at the training ground. Charlton admitted that he had not taken the news well.
The terms of Reed's contract have not yet been agreed, but the 53-year-old, who came back to the club in the summer and wasassistant to the previous manager Alan Curbishley, has been appointed on a full-time basis. He will be assisted by the former player Mark Robson.
Charlton's chief executive, Peter Varney, admitted that promoting Reed, with the club bottom of the Premiership, was "a gamble" especially as several more established managers, such as Glenn Hoddle, were certainly interested in the post. However Varney also added that the sacking of Dowie, just six months, and 15 games, into a three-year contract, was "not just [about] results".
In his most telling comment, he said: "It is vital everyone works as a team in this situation. Unfortunately, I have to say that hasn't been the case." Varney added: "With Iain's full knowledge over the last couple of weeks we have conducted a review internally of every single aspect of what goes on with the football-management side. We came to the conclusion, having done that review, that things would not improve on the pitch. And therefore we had to take the decision; some may think that presumptuous but we had to look at the situation and think will this improve? We didn't think it would."
Varney's words amount to an indictment of Dowie, his management style and the regime he headed at the club. Dowie also appears to be the fall guy, however, for Charlton's bold decision to overhaul their coaching structure, with a general manager, Andrew Mills, introduced following Curbishley's departure after 15 years at The Valley.
"When Iain came in the summer we wanted a structure and we wanted everybody involved in that structure to be happy that it could work and to make it work," Varney said. "In truth, in part, that hasn't worked. That came out of the review and we had to take a reflection on why that wasn't working."
Varney said there were "concerns" about Dowie and his management style. "This was not a behind-the-scenes process where Iain doesn't know what's going on or who we're talking to," he said. "It was a very thorough and detailed review." That may well be the case but, by the very nature of instigating such a review, and gathering information about Dowie, it undermined the manager at a time when complaints were growing about the atmosphere within his squad, his tactics and his approach, which some found overbearing.
Varney, however, said Dowie had been given the full support of the board in the past, not least in the transfer market. "We backed him with £11.2m, this club has the highest wage bill it has ever had in its history," he said. "We think we have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that Iain has had all the support."
That support also included help with a forthcoming court case in which he is being sued by Crystal Palace's chairman, Simon Jordan, after he resigned at the Championship club. "Sad as it is, and this is not a personal thing with Iain, you have to step back sometimes and look at what you think is happening to your football club," Varney said.
Nevertheless the sacking looks like a panic measure and although Charlton clearly believe Reed will bring "stability" he has no record of taking on such a position. "If somebody new came in it would take them a period of weeks to find that out," Varney said of the decision not to consider more experienced candidates. "We have four particularly important games coming up against sides that in a normal season we would be likely to get points against. We had to take all these factors into account."
Reed's path to the top job
Les Reed, the new head coach, is in his second spell at Charlton. The 53-year-old joined the club in 1995, after eight years as a regional coach for the Football Association, and was the first-team coach under Alan Curbishley when the club were first promoted to the Premiership in 1998.
He became the FA's director of youth development and was appointed technical director in 2002 when Howard Wilkinson left.
In 2004 he also departed, but in 2006 joined Charlton again as Iain Dowie's assistant.Reuse content