ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD U's REPORTER SIMON SPURGEON DELIVERS HIS THOUGHTS ON Colchester United IN HIS WEEKLY COLUMN: Balance is good, right?
A balanced diet, a balanced lifestyle, a balanced budget, a balanced mind – everyone seems in agreement that inequality sucks.
I’d have to say that I agree and I’d include that in my own personal footballing philosophy.
Balance on the football field is imperative to a team’s success in my view and I’m glad to say that I think Colchester United have got it this year.
If you look at the League One table, the U’s have a record of won one, drawn one and lost one at home and won one, drawn one and lost one away.
Now that’s balance.
With cup games included as well, we’ve had eight games to see the line-up that John Ward has this year and I think the team has a pleasing symmetry to it.
Regardless of the formation that’s employed, there are threats from either flank.
I think it’s the most balanced look to a side I’ve seen since the one that Paul Lambert put together at the start of the 2009/10 season.
I really liked the way the U’s then had Simon Hackney on the left wing, with Mark Tierney behind him and Ashley Vincent and Alan Maybury on the right.
Coaches will always tell you about the importance of having a solid spine to a team first and foremost, but it’s equally important to have strength down not just one but both flanks.
I haven’t been convinced that Colchester have really had that during the last two seasons, though.
I’m not disparaging either Aidy Boothroyd or John Ward in his first year in charge as both of them were working with groups of players they had inherited.
Both did the best they could and used the players they had to try to fit their respective systems, but I just didn’t think they were able to achieve a real balance on the pitch.
However, Ward has now had three transfer windows to mould a squad more to his own personal tastes and I think that’s showing in the line-ups he is now able to put out.
As I heard Sir Alex Ferguson saying this week, it takes time to put a team together that is how a manager really wants it to be and I’m glad Ward is being given the time he needs.
My personal view was that the left side of the team was the reason for a lack of balance under Boothroyd and for much of last year.
But Vincent’s switch to that side and Ben Coker’s emergence as an accomplished full-back seem to have been the catalysts for a really positive change.
Ward now has options down that side and that’s given a nice balance.
I know Vincent has been injured, but he’ll be back soon and what a great bit of business it has been to bring Michail Antonio in on loan.
The guy has real class and looks as comfortable on the left as he does on the right.
It would be great if Ward was able to extend his stay a bit longer – even a couple of months could make a huge difference.