Richard Murray, the Charlton Athletic chairman, yesterday promised to give his beleaguered head coach, Les Reed, time to turn the club around but insisted: "We have to see some changes."
Murray added that he thought Reed's record was "not good enough", that the "team didn't show a lot of passion", and that "maybe we haven't got a good enough squad". That squad, he said, was to be overhauled in next month's transfer window but Reed would have to "wheel and deal" without selling Darren Bent, Charlton's leading asset. Souleymane Diawara, the most expensive summer signing of Reed's predecessor, Iain Dowie, was to be made available.
Murray also dismissed the possibility of appointing Alan Pardew, whose name was chanted by Charlton fans after Tuesday's Carling Cup quarter-final defeat to League Two Wycombe.
Murray was speaking in the early hours after that home defeat, the chairman emerging from The Valley after Reed and his coaching staff had been smuggled out of the ground via the disabled entrance. Reed refused to speak to the media after the match and Murray said: "Les is getting hammered at the moment. It is a tough spell for the club and he's taking some unfair criticism, stuff about him being a grandfather and so on which is not relevant.
"We were awful but those who watch Charlton regularly may say it was the same under Iain Dowie [who was sacked earlier this season after two months in charge]. Maybe we haven't got a good enough squad. Les Reed's current record is similar to Iain's - not good enough. But are both managers at fault? Or maybe there is not a right balance in the squad.
"At the moment, we are carrying on as we are. We have got three key games until 1 January, then we will make some changes with the team. We will spend some money but we will have to wheel and deal. We spent £11m in the summer, a lot of money for us. We backed Iain, they were Iain's signings - in no way did we bring them in. I had never heard of Diawara - apparently the best centre-half you've never heard of. We spent £3.7m which for a club like us is a fortune."
There will be few takers for Diawara, though, or anyone else in the Charlton squad aside from Bent. Scott Carson is on loan from Liverpool and Luke Young, the next most valuable player, is injured. Few others would raise more than £2m.
Promising to allow Reed, who has never dealt in the transfer market before (his only management experience is a season at Wealdstone) to handle the wheeler-dealing is in itself an expression of faith in the 53-year-old. That faith will, though, be severely tested should Charlton continue to play as poorly as they have in their last three matches, even if, as Murray notes, Reed inherited a difficult situation.
"You have to look at what went on before," added Murray. "Apart from Iain's signings, this is the squad Alan Curbishley left us with, maybe Curbs had that ability of getting a bit more out of some players.
"These are difficult times - I am sorry for the fans. I don't think the team showed a lot of passion. The body language was poor."
Murray, who has been on the Charlton board for 15 years, admitted relegation was a real danger. "I am not going to wave white flags but the way it is looking, Reading and Sheffield United are going to get out of it which means two established clubs will go down."
The irony is Charlton's struggle comes after their heaviest summer investment ever. "Like Birmingham last season we tried to go to the next level," said Murray. "It was so tempting to go that way. People were fed up of finishing 12th each year. You push the boat out and maybe you lose a bit of what you have. We brought players in on bigger wages, but maybe the players don't care much about the club. They are different sorts of players."Reuse content