Charlton’s success in keeping hold of Ricky Holmes has seen them act like a big club.
That is the view of Karl Robinson after the Addicks boss helped to tie down the winger, 30, on a contract until the summer of 2020.
Sheffield United wanted Holmes, who had 12 months on his terms going into the close season, and had bids rejected.
And make no mistake, if the former Northampton attacker had headed to the Blades – linking back up with Chris Wilder – it would have undone Charlton’s incoming business in the eyes of many supporters.
It was a battle that Charlton could not afford to lose.
You have to see it as a change in attitude from owner Roland Duchatelet. He was harangued for cashing in on Yann Kermorgant, then aged 32, in January 2014. The fans’ favourite went on to win promotion and adulation at Bournemouth. He is still going strong at Reading.
To lose one crowd-pleaser is careless, to lose two would have been unforgiveable – even if Holmes was probably at his final point of being saleable for significant money.
“I wanted to keep Ricky but we had to prove the club was matching the size of his ambition,” said Robinson. “Everyone speaks about Charlton being a big club – but you have got to act like one.
“That is down to how you conduct yourself in transfer windows, winning and losing games and also having transparency. This is acting like what we are. I want open lines of communication, and we’ve got that.
“When I sat down in the summer and we were talking about players to bring in, I was very adamant before we got anybody that we had to nail down Ricky – that he couldn’t go anywhere. The board really understood that.
“I know what they turned down and it is quite considerable for a 30-year-old. You can offer anybody a contract when nobody else wants them, it’s rejecting an offer.
“Can Ricky go and complete 11kms in a game? Can he get into double figures for regains and interceptions? If he has got all those physical attributes then his age is of no relevance. If you have got experience it puts you in a far better place.”
Holmes scored 13 times in 31 League One outings and would have built on those impressive stats without two months spent recovering from a broken foot.
“The aim should be for all of the rest to rise to the levels he had last season,” said Robinson. “That is our objective. If the wingers get double figures it gives us a right chance against anybody. It was only him, outside the strikers, who did that.
“Our job is to make sure we maximise our wide players and number 10.”
Wilder, who had Holmes as part of his League Two title-winning squad in the 2015-16 campaign, claimed that Sheffield United’s push for Holmes had to stay within budget.
“I can’t just go and pay over the odds,” he said. “The club has not had a structure in the past and, I believe, has struggled because of that. If you stick to a structure, you get good days and bad days.
“Would I like the top Championship budget? Of course I would. Are the owners in the position to give me that? No. It’s as simple as that. I’ll work with what the owners give me.”
Robinson insists that Holmes was never eyeing the SE7 exit door.
“I wasn’t overly worried,” he said. “I knew Ricky wanted to stay and the club wanted to keep him.
“The speculation was external to us. Me and him had a lot of conversations, so I got close to what he wants. As soon as he knew our ambition and drive matched his it was a no-brainer to do.”