Duchâtelet’s plans for José Riga
“We will back you (Jose) 100%, and I really want you to see and hear for yourself a rip-roaring Valley because it will send shivers down your spine.” – what I wrote the day José Riga was appointed.
With rumours growing that Paul Hart will leave the club in the summer to embark on a much bigger challenge, many are talking of what Roland Duchâtelet’s plans are for Jose Riga.
Riga has acheived his goal and I think he has acted in a warm and very professional way in what were very difficult circumstances. He has endeared himself to players and fans, even to the most-avid of Chris Powell supporters, and gone about his job with the minimum of fuss.
Helped no doubt by Alex Dyer and Damien Matthews, who also should take great credit, as well as senior pros such as Johnnie Jackson and Andy Hughes, who was the centre-piece of the immediate post game celebrations on Tuesday, Riga’s ability in quickly adapting to new surroundings and mostly talking in a foreign language has been outstanding. Add to this the non-stop cycle of crucial games, which would’ve not allowed him a lot of time on the training ground to implement his ideas and philosphies, this has to be his greatest achievement in football, in what I maintain has been his biggest ever job.
Riga has been honest about his future. Asked about it on Tuesday he said “Let me enjoy the present before thinking about it. The future I have to discuss, I don’t know when.”
His speech after the Watford game understandably sounded a bit like a farewell because simply it might well be. Duchâtelet brought him to The Valley I suspect with a plan beyond this season within his network potentially in one the Academies, and with Paul Hart giving notice of his intentions, it make sense that Jose heads Charlton’s.
José was Technical Director of Milan’s Academy, albeit only for 5 months, but we have witnessed how well he has continued to groom and encourage the young players in his 15 games at the club. He has taken to talk proudly of the players ‘made in Charlton’ possibly knowing that one day his job will be to produce more great young players.
Whilst the network players given to us by Duchâtelet and Dudu Dahan have mostly been ignored by Riga, as Powell attempted to do because of their genuine lack of ability or readiness, Riga recalled Pigott and has had Lennon, Phillips in and around the squad, picked Fox over Evina, perservered with Harriott and relied on Cousins and Poyet more than anybody.
Now don’t get me wrong, Powell gave these players their debuts, encouraged their development and pushed different owners for new contracts, but Riga has been influential in firstly convincing Duchâtelet that this division contains as a whole better and bigger teams than in the Belgium Pro League and secondly pushing the young players to the forefront of our relegation survival.
Although I feel a little bit awkward about singing “José Riga’s red & white army,” because for me not enough time has elapsed and I am still haunted by how we all opened our arms when ‘Super’ Alan Pardew arrived, I really hope that José gets a rousing reception at Blackpool on Saturday from Addicks’ fans. He will deserve every clap.
I also really hope he stays as 1st team coach next season. He deserves the chance and I think our chances of keeping Diego Poyet and some of the others will only be enhanced. If Riga is allowed to convince Poyet to stay, from a position of authority, then I think Charlton fans have a greater hope of seeing Diego bossing the midfield in a Charlton shirt next season, and therefore we should feel more confident about our revival.
I have many reservations about what plans Roland Duchâtelet has for our revival, but that is not for now.