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French's Thoughts - Jim French's weekly look at the U's
6:31pm Thursday 18th October 2012 in Sport
New era, new manager for Colchester United, and a new weekly column for the Gazette. Under irresistible pressure from Jon Waldron, I’ve agreed to write a weekly review of all things in the world of Colchester United, at times the football world beyond our team.
I will try to keep it balanced, topical, and (hopefully) well-informed. I am first and foremost a U’s fan, so total impartiality may be beyond me!
Sea change. Noun. Definition ~ 1. A striking change, often for the better. 2. Any major transformation or alteration.
The definition of sea change is worth including, as all U’s fans bask in the pleasure of the sea change that Joe Dunne has bought to Colchester United. Can you believe it is only weeks since Joe and Mark Kinsella were unveiled as the dynamic Dublin duo assigned the task of taking the club forward? In that relative footballing nanosecond, so many things have changed for the better, and the benefits are there to see on the pitch.
Against Stevenage you could see that our tempo of our attacking play has increased dramatically, we are always looking to be on the front foot, and the underlying personality of the team has changed for the better. Stevenage manager Gary Smith made the pre-match error of predicting that his side would exploit our ‘chinks’. Happily, it didn’t quite turn out like that, but he should have known that footballing predictions rarely do.
The barometer of performance is always the paying public, and up in the stands the wisdom of crowds never lets you down. The ovation that the team received as they left the pitch at half time and at the end of the game was the stamp of approval that they deserved.
So, how have these changes come about? In a mere three weeks we have begun to see the effects of the ground rules that Joe lay down to his players on his very first day. He made the point that he demands bravery from his players, a quality for which Joe himself will be remembered. On the pitch, bravery is taking responsibility, putting your head above the parapet, and not taking the easy option.
These are the themes that Joe will be instilling into his players during every training session at Florence Park. It’s also about playing personnel, and the message is already there for those with an ear to hear it. Shape up, or ship out. There is no middle ground.
On Saturday against Stevenage, some of the hard work bore fruit. We attacked them with verge, pace, and bravery. Not one challenge was shirked, and not once did we point the finger of blame at a colleague.
Under the new regime there will be bad days, bad defeats, even runs of form when nothing goes right and we all despair. Let’s face it, in Joe’s first game against Hartlepool we were 0-1 down after 20 minutes and ready to despair. But that’s football, and it’s only the bad times that make the good times great. But, and it is a big but, if we keep doing things right, all week and on match days, then normal order will soon be resumed.
This week there will be a healthy sale of tickets for the Carlisle game on Saturday, as word spreads that the U’s are on the charge.
This dovetails perfectly with my final thought. Above everything, Joe wants the club and the town to come together. He recognises that this must be the ultimate aim of the club, and will be something that we have achieved in previous distant eras, but not enough in recent decades. He’s got it right. If we can achieve that then the force will be irresistible. Now there’s something we can all strive for!