They Think it`s All Over...
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This time last year Colchester were still riding high on the euphoric wave of League One promotion joy, savouring the slim prospect that they might gatecrash the Premiership after just one Championship campaign.
Fast-forward to the present, and the only way you might chance across Col U at the top end of the table is by turning the page upside down.
Team 24 of 24. Bottom. Last. They think it`s all over? It isn`t yet, even though the record books persist in filling out the future in various bleak ways.
If you`re a U`s fan, it cuts through the heart to read, as we did in this morning`s EADT, that the spectre of a first relegation in nearly twenty years would, without more wins, make 2007/8 the worst ever season at Later Road.
Trouble is, cutting remarks can lead to a cut-up credit card: fans might decide against renewing their season ticket when the club are on the verge moving to a new ground - to add salt into that particular wound, Chief Executive Marie Partner would not deny on BBC Essex that prices would rise, even in the event of the trapdoor opening.
Ironically enough, the U`s current predicament is a media man`s dream; best season ever last year, to possibly a worst of all time this is a pretty black or white picture to paint. It`s sure a juicy juxtaposition when the heroes of yesteryear become today`s failures - caption writers everywhere are suddenly put out of a job because facts freely fall into laps.
The stat that would record the 2008-mark Colchester United in the annuals of 'worst ever` is not set in stone, but looks a weighty anchor to leave on a seemingly sinking ship. Yet, it`s still live: if the club double their wins total to twelve (currently six) then the Houdini escape might very much be on.
Fine, this column concedes it`s not quite that simple -Geraint Williams now has to fight the pressure of his job result by result, because some of the fans need convincing that his club will shed the shackles of a perilous drop-zone. Besides, the U`s need must less to worry about beating the book and more about beating the clock.
While Williams admitted he does not set targets after Saturday`s loss to Crystal Palace - he would not betray a figure of points needed between now and May - he must know that the really important score is a winning one. Wins, starting against 22nd-placed Sheffield Wednesday tonight, are more important than any tallies or records.
True, football works best when nostalga, statistics and a jolly good game are all married under one rocking stadium. But there`s no time for that kind of precise alchemy now - the team can ping the ball like a beautiful ballerina, or bulldoze the opposing penalty area for all the faithful care.
Cue the motivational songs, because tonight`s game signals the start of Colchester`s last-chance saloon in the Championship.
The mantra of choice for this column`s soundtrack would be: points, not pretty-boy passing or Prozone-perusing, win prizes.