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Blind Love

Blind Love

But will 'Super Greg`s` imminent departure turn out to be a blessing in disguise?

The saying 'love is blind` wasn`t supposed to be hijacked by football, but it is the only possible motto to explain why so many ardent supporters scale the length and breadth of the country every week, rain or shine, to follow their team.

It also applies to punters at Colchester United, as a high percentage (some still voting on this website) debating the future of Greg Halford refuse to read the taro cards. The forecast is that he will be off to the Premiership come January - with the player even saying as much himself.

It would surely take something special (like an absolute guarantee of top-flight football) to keep the man they call 'Super Greg` at Layer Road.

The story so far, after Halford`s transfer request was first lodged in late August, has been pretty predicable, since it is one being played out on a loop throughout the Football League.

Many sides are said to be interested, the likes of West Ham, Charlton Athletic and Manchester City, for example. After getting wind of this, the in player question declares that he "wants to test himself at the highest level," and begins to dream of pastures new. Even if it means taking a gamble, and ultimately landing a supporting-role - perhaps as serial benchwarmer - for a living.

Admittedly, Chelmsford-based player Halford is young enough, (21, turning 22 on December 8th) with experience, (126 starts for Colchester) to make the mistake of leaving simply for a pay-rise, because he can make up for lost time later on in his career. (Shaun Wright-Philips, anyone?)

Not to suggest that he does not have the ability to break into a Premiership starting-11 already, but one factor working against him might be versatility. As a U`s graduate, Halford has occupied the right, centre back, wing, and central midfield positions. If his sole motivation for leaving is for more money, he may well discover that, in life, it is not everything.

What price for loyalty in the modern game? The U`s were largely responsible for developing Greg into the fine player he is today. To be fair, he has repaid that faith by weighing in with a share of goals and fine displays during this campaign, and others. Murmuring from the stands, however, suggests a belief that Halford had in fact already decided to leave the moment Phil Parkinson abandoned ship.

Is he a mercenary then? Well, it is almost certain that any supporter in his position would be extremely tempted at the prospect of competing against the likes of Lampard, Rooney and Henry every week. Also, despite the general perception of the average footballer as a money-grabbing blighter, the fact remains that a period of around a decade in football`s limelight is not that long.

It is understandable - given Greg`s calibre and importance to the team - that the thought of losing him is too painful for some to entertain. It also represents a recent comment made Celtic bass Gordon Stachan, who argued that it was "not his duty to love Celtic Football Club," because that would stop him from doing a professional job. The logic might be a little hazy, but you get the point.

By applying that to the Halford saga, it helps negate any accusation that Colchester (or the player himself) are not doing enough secure his future. If he is no longer willing to fight for a common cause, it is better that he moves on. For, while his on-field form has not dipped especially due to the transfer talk, it is clear that the interest has turned his head.

Whatever Halford is planning, Colchester are in a win-win situation. How? Because with every goal he scores, and every scout he impresses, a few more noughts can be added to his transfer demand, currently projected at 2.5 million. This could be injected back into the squad for re-development, where every penny counts. If he stays? Hallelujah.

Still not convinced? History tells us that losing Michael Owen did not stop Liverpool winning the European Cup in 2005, and the same goes for Arsenal, whose runner-up spot in the same competition last season was achieved without Patrick Viera in midfield. So should Colchester lose Greg Halford, it could turn out to be a good omen, and not a cause for gloom, after all.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday December 7 2006
Time: 1:53PM

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