Karel Fraeye has broken his silence to talk about his time at Charlton.

The former interim head coach reflected on his three-month spell at the Valley.

The 38-year-old Belgian was relieved of his duties on January 13 - the day after the 5-0 Huddersfield defeat.

In an interview with News Shopper, Fraeye talks about six major points:

  • How the interim tag did not help him, the players or fans
  • A meeting that took place after the FA Cup exit at Colchester between him, Katrien Meire, Richard Murray, Johnnie Jackson and Stephen Henderson
  • How he wanted to bring in Yann Kermorgant and Lee Tomlin 
  • His relationship with supporters
  • Giving Ademola Lookman his first-team chance
  • Roland Duchatelet

When Fraeye was announced as Charlton’s interim boss last October, not much was known about him apart from the fact that he had been Jose Riga’s assistant two years ago.

The former Gent academy coach had been managing Belgian Third Division side VW Hamme and was responsible for the Spanish network side Alcorcon when he got the call from owner Duchatelet to take temporary charge of Charlton.

Fraeye says he had a clause in his contract at VW Hamme allowing him to leave if the Belgian tycoon required his services.

News Shopper: Roland Duchatelet. PICTURE BY EDMUND BOYDEN.

Roland Duchatelet

Despite back-to-back wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham, injuries to key men with a small squad made it difficult for positive results to continue.

Fraeye on the interim tag not helping him, the players or fans:

“Interim clearly means it is temporary. If you’re temporary in a job, then you should only be there for a few weeks. 

“The interim tag means you take the job for a bit while the club look for someone else. I don’t think the club were looking for someone else at the time. 

“The interim tag didn't help me. If you go through the story, being named interim, keeping that tag, and not giving any more information to the players, the press or the fans, this created the belief that I was only here on a temporary basis.  

“As no information was given, it is logical that people start to make up their own stories and views. 

“Especially for the players, it became more difficult when results started to drop.

“It had fans rightfully thinking, ‘while he’s here, let’s see who the next manager could be’.   

News Shopper:

Harry Lennon

“No information was ever given to them. Every time I received a question on the interim tag, it became more difficult for myself, the fans and the players. 

“For example, Harry Lennon, I remember when I called him back, he was gutted because he was playing well for Gillingham. 

“But I didn't call him back to make up the numbers, I knew with his pace and defensive qualities that I would need him. 

“I spoke to him, telling him to work hard, and that I had real belief in his qualities, and wanted to give him a chance. 

“After, I heard he asked Steve Avory, with whom I really worked well with, ‘as he is interim, what will the next manager do with me if he doesn't like me?’ It's an example of how it did not help. 

“Charlton is a very good club and I’m sure if the board had someone lined up, he would've been very happy to take charge. 

“The interim tag was not beneficial to working with the players, an earlier permanent decision - positive or negative - would have been better for everyone. Just an open communication on what the plans were.”

During an eight-game winless run, Charlton had the chance to regain some confidence in an FA Cup tie against Colchester.

A second-string team was fielded, with upcoming games in mind, and the Addicks lost 2-1.

Following the game, Fraeye admitted a meeting took place between him, Katrien Meire, Richard Murray, Johnnie Jackson and Stephen Henderson:

“I won't deny that after the Colchester game, I was with the skipper, Stephen Henderson, Katrien Meire and Richard Murray.

“At the start, I was not there because they wanted to ask the players questions about me. I fully agreed to that. 

“After ten minutes, they called me in telling me in front of the players that the players fully backed me and that a managerial change would be seen as a bad decision. 

News Shopper:

Katrien Meire and Richard Murray

“They said that even with Mourinho, it would be hard to keep the team up. We all agreed with the board and myself that the team needed more strengthening. 

“That’s what I told them before. These are things that should be discussed internally. In the press and media I always defended the team, but we knew very well that strengthening was essential.

“Good players aren't necessarily good Championship players. Some players adapt very quickly, some need time and others will never adapt to the physical demands of the league.

“But, you have to know this league to understand.

“So the board backed me and I was told new players would come through the door.

“A day later, they rang me and told me the backing was not there from the owner and a Huddersfield loss would see me gone. That happened on the Sunday evening.”

Fraeye admits he knew the team were in desperate need of strengthening and drew up a list of Championship-experienced players that he wanted to bring in.

He wanted to sign Yann Kermorgant on a permanent deal and take Lee Tomlin on loan to add some much-needed creative spark to the team:

“It was no secret that we had an interest in Yann - I was sure that this season and the next, he could be a very important player for Charlton. 

“As Charlton have a young, but talented squad, you need players with real experience that you can look up to.

“A player like Yann would’ve been one of these. For 18 months, he would've been very good for us. I had contact with him and his representatives that the deal could be done.

News Shopper: Yann Kermorgant celebrates scoring from the spot

Yann Kermorgant during his Charlton days

“However once we were close, I was sacked and I see he’s now at Reading. 

“Lee Tomlin would have been an excellent signing as well, we had some players who knew him, and we talked about him.

“Tomlin was very positive and open to come. Later on, again, I was no longer there and then he went to Bristol City. I did not have any money to spend.”

Fraeye endured a rocky relationship with Charlton fans and knew only positive results would win them over:

“The way some people treated me was harsh and incorrect. As I was on the frontline, people started to blame me for everything; recruitment, injuries and a thin squad.

“The only way I could've earned their backing was to get the results. It’s not always easy to make a chocolate cake with pepper and salt.  

“For most of December and January, we had no Alou Diarra, no Gudmundsson, Bauer, Lookman and Vetokele.

“If you take out these five players, in a very important period, it didn't make the job easier. I put Lookman in the team but I only had him for about four games because of his injury.

“Brighton and Bolton were key moments, if we had won those two games then no one talks about it.

“I think it’s clear that Charlton will stay up with players like Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Igor Vetokele, Patrick Bauer, Chris Solly and Ademola Lookman, when they stay fit and are in good shape, they are above par.  

News Shopper:

“Jackson’s leadership and some new signings will do the rest, and I do wish Charlton a good final run. I know José Riga will do everything he can to succeed.”

Fraeye on Lookman:

“He will be a key player for Charlton. I asked for Ademola to train with us, and he convinced me straight away.

“In only my second game in charge, I was brave to put him on the bench. His first start against Birmingham and first goal against Brighton will always be in my memory. 

“Ademola is an intelligent boy and will not take too many steps at a time. If he can cope with all the things off the pitch, stay as critical as he is now, the future looks bright for him and for Charlton. 

News Shopper: Ademola Lookman. (53823408)

“To hold on to players like him, is key to building their squad to aim for promotion in the future.

“He has seen other players moving to the Premier League too soon and ending up at different Championship or League One clubs.  

“His sense of touch, finishing, even both feet, quick reactions and decisions, technique and pace with creativity and a positive mentality will eventually make him a Premier League star, and, who knows, an England international.

“Steve Avory and his team deserve a lot of credit for detecting and developing him.”

Fraeye on Roland Duchatelet:

“With the owner, I’ve always been honest and straight to him and he’s been honest and straight to me, as was Katrien Meire. 

“That’s the way I always like people to get along. But of course, my ambition is to manage and I don't know if this could happen working with the owner. I need some time to get things clear.

 “I’ve had some offers from Europe, but, of course, working in England would be my preference, and although the perception might not be ideal, I am happy to feel the interest of some clubs.”