It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United (From Essex County Standard)
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It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD U's REPORTER SIMON SPURGEON DELIVERS HIS THOUGHTS ON Colchester United IN HIS WEEKLY COLUMN:
MY father-in-law is one of life’s great advocates of the art of the practical joke.
Offering visitors a plate of suprisingly life-like rubber biscuits and watching them try to break their teeth on them is one of the many potential hazards of a trip to my wife’s family home.
You know you may become the victim of his latest prank at any time and I sometimes think it would be safer to spend a couple of hours in the company of Jeremy Beadle.
The watchfulness required to avoid becoming that victim makes me feel somewhat immune to the effects of pranksters and I thought I had spotted a couple in the direct aftermath of Saturday’s game against Wycombe.
I thought there were several U’s fans gearing up for April Fool’s Day a bit early when I saw on some internet messageboards that people were calling for Robbie Cowling to dismiss the manager who had got their team to within touching distance of a return to the Championship.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just plain daft.
Like the vast majority of people in the Weston Homes Community Stadium, the manner of conceding another late goal was a bitter pill to swallow and I was gutted to see the winless run extended to six games.
However, that feeling was tempered somewhat by a quick look at the League One table and by seeing that, despite having the division’s second worse form over the last half a dozen games, Colchester are now just six points off an automatic promotion spot.
I love the way messageboards provide a forum for discussion that used to be the preserve of the pub, but I have to say that I’m not a great fan of the annonimity that they provide.
I have to be accountable for what I write to the paper’s readership and my editor, but people can choose to go on these messageboards and say what they like without any fear of identification or consequence.
Of course we’re all disappointed by the current run, but to say the manager should go is ludicrous.
A lot of discourse was surrounding Colchester’s direct style of moving the ball up the pitch quickly, but it’s a system that has worked handsomely this season so why would they consider abandoning it now?
Much of the unrest also centred around the way the players dropped too deep in the closing stages against the Chairboys and while it was galling to concede a late goal which looked like it should have been disallowed, I agree that they shouldn’t have permitted Wycombe a sight of goal.
Boothroyd may have bolstered his midfield towards the end of the game, but he didn’t tell them to camp in their 18-yard box, it just happens.
As U’s assistant boss John Ward quite rightly said, the players are only human and they got defensive as they looked to hold on to their precious lead.
These were, after all, the same players who had seen Walsall break away and score a late goal as they pushed up the pitch just seven days previously.
Not all the messageboard posters were calling for Boothroyd’s head – far from it.
In fact there were plenty with reasoned opinions, who were disappointed, but looked at the situation from a rational perspective – their team are sixth and two wins from an automatic promotion spot.
Now, I’m not a big one for looking at omens, but I do occasionally see things that make me believe fate has a hand in our future.
Back in 2006 the start of April was heralded by a home stalemate with Brentford and two games later the U’s ended a lengthy run of poor form that took them to an unbeaten end to the season and ultimately an automatic promotion place.
The current League One table is actually incredibly similar to how it looked at the same stage of that famous 2005/6 season.
Substitute Norwich for Southend as the runaway leaders and, like back then, there is a scrum of five or six teams behind them all within a handful of points of each other.
In the situation the U’s find themselves in, you can either look at the table or the form book.
Only Stockport have worse form in League One over the last six games and there will be those who view that as an indicator of things to come, but as every David who has lined up to face a Goliath will tell you, the form book counts for nothing when the whistle goes.
Aidy Boothroyd is a renowned student of the psychological side of the game and I’m convinced he’ll have his players looking at the table rather than the form books.