Diego Poyet has left Charlton. Deep down, we all knew it was coming didn’t we? We could dream and hope for the best but football always has that awful potential to let you down.
Throughout the first few months of this year watching Poyet excel in our midfield while everything else seemed to be crumbling was one of the few joys in a dark part of the season. It also filled you with promise – that things wouldn’t turn out so bad, that we would improve. Why? Because we had that special talent from which we could build better things; a Lee Bowyer, a Scott Parker, or even a Jonjo Shelvey. Charlton have produced plenty of good players (and still do – many are in our squad now) but very few who have the talent that makes you dream.
Now those particular dreams are over. We know that Poyet will go onto a bigger stage. He’ll grab the headlines for another club and they’ll get the plaudits. The fact he started at Charlton will be reduced to a piece of trivia.
So it’s easy to feel angry and betrayed at the youngster, and to see his departure as an act of disloyalty. But I think that’s slightly unfair.
As Charlton fans, the club is little more than the crest, the colour of the shirt and the stadium we play in. That’s what we’re loyal to. But that’s not the case for a professional player without the same romantic attachment.
For a player the club is the people he works with and for. And the Charlton that raised Poyet is different to the Charlton that exists now. Managers, staff, direction, approach – it’s changed.
So we have to ask the question; who did Poyet really owe a debt of loyalty to? The man that gave Diego Poyet his debut? He was sacked just a few weeks later (something which clearly troubled the midfielder as he was the only player to make a public statement in the wake of Powell’s departure). Did Diego Poyet really owe Bob Peeters or Roland Duchatelet anything? I’m not sure he did. He’s worked for the latter for six months, he’s never met the former.
Like many others, I believe Poyet would have got the games and the time to progress at Charlton. It makes his departure all the more frustrating. But if you step back and look at the situation from his – or at least his advisor’s – perspective then things might not seem so idyllic.
Charlton have had three different managers within six months of the Roland Duchatelet era. Two different coaches that Poyet has formed relationships with have been moved on. The squad is currently very light on numbers. Poyet and his team may not currently see Charlton as it is as the best environment for him to progress in. Whether right or wrong, that’s something that will have been considered.
Yet I don’t believe the midfielder was not at the very least open to the idea of staying at Charlton. He wasn’t off at the first opportunity (like other squad members) and he’s yet to find another club. He would have had his price and the club would have had their position – Richard Murray has made it clear that lengthy contracts that carry an element of risk will be avoided. Unfortunately, it seems the two positions couldn’t be reconciled. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality. I don’t think either side deserves blame for having their stance and sticking to it.
So while it’s undoubtedly disappointing, I don’t begrudge Diego Poyet for leaving.
But I do hope he learns a lesson from those that have gone before him. Lee Bowyer and Scott Parker also promised so much in Charlton shirts and although both reached the top of the game after leaving the Valley, neither made as much of a mark as they should have. Bad calls and the wrong clubs decisions cost them.
It would be a shame to see Charlton’s latest graduate fall foul of a similar fate. I want to see him thrive. Because whatever he achieves in his career – and I’m sure it will be a lot – nothing can change the fact that he was made in Charlton. It was here, at the Valley, where he first blossomed, and it was us who got to see his talent before anyone else.
Diego Poyet will wear the shirt of another club but in a strange way, he’ll always be ours.
The buzz is back
It’s not all been bad news. In between Diego’s departure we’ve had the excitement of new arrivals, the relief of Michael Morrison’s contract extension and an encouraging first press conference from Bob Peeters.
Nothing can excite a football fan quite like a new signing awkwardly posing with the club scarf. Now I want to see the new kit adorned on our new pitch. I want to see if Igor Vetokele is as good as YouTube suggests and if Yoni Buyens has more to his game than his sparse Wikipedia page. I want to see what Bob Peeters is like as a manager (he was impressive enough in the press conference).
But most of all, I just want to go to the football again. Last season was a draining one for many reasons, but after what has been a glorious World Cup so far, the buzz is back.
And speaking of the World Cup, how good was it to see a Charlton player get on the scoresheet for the first time? It’s genuinely something to be proud of, as was the way in which a small corner of South East London got behind Reza and Team Melli. It was hard not see within that Iran side some qualities you always expect from the best Charlton teams – togetherness, spirit and being more than the sum of your parts.
Reza will come back to London a better player and will have hopefully proved a point to Peeters which Jose Riga never quite got – he’s a centre forward, not a winger!