Date:Tuesday January 30 2007
What probably started as a statement of fact by the agent of Colchester United`s captain, Karl Duguid, threatens to turn into a moral marathon, which could include all of football`s favourite buzzwords.
Values, loyalty and commitment will be on trial, as a whirlwind of transfer speculation engulfs Britain`s oldest recorded town, now that Barry O` Conner has revealed: "Karl will be a Bosman free in the summer, if nothing happens in the transfer window." Following a thunderbolt strike against rivals Ipswich 10 days ago, this news bulletin - which went on to link 'The Destroyer` with Watford, West Ham, Charlton and Sheffield United - hits the Colchester faithful right between the eyes.
How should those at Layer Road interpret newspaper reports that their stalwart standard-bearer may be about to fly the nest? This column would usually suggest a method of strict denial, where the offending tabloid becomes a folded paper aeroplane, with no more said on the subject. However, these rumours jump off the page in such a way as to make an immediate demand on the attention.
Time then, in Labour speak, to separate myth from fact. Karl is out of contract in the summer, meaning he is considering his options - and quite rightly. The player, who has been with Colchester United for just over a decade, has been quoted as saying, on numerous occasions, that he`d like to stay for the entirety of his professional carrer. Beyond that, management beckons for 'Mr. Colchester`, whose other prized ambition is to seize control of the Col U managers` tracksuit in the future.
It stands to reason that the man with an Evening Gazette column would never leave East Anglia. This much we know - or think we know - before, that is, we recall that temptation is a vice from which nobody is exempt. Would Karl really be able to refuse a big-money move, if a concrete offer came through? A football carrer is finite, and all that, so it flatters his vanity to be chased by so many Premiership sharp-shooters.
The other side of this equation is that, despite his loyalty to those in Essex, he will not be allowed to hold the U`s to ransom, no matter how much he has spent in blood, sweat and tears during 332 appearances for the club.
When taking into account Duguid`s devotion, whispers about his future seem to have about as much credibility as a craftily-leaked government document, because they sound more like shouts. Agent O` Conner, obviously trying to secure the best deal on behalf of his media-savvy client, perhaps threw together a vaguely believable press-release, citing competitors for Karl`s signature, even though they may not exist. In the world of the auctioneer, they call that annoying practice bidding off-the-wall.
Not that Doogie, as he is affectionately known, paints the picture of a malcontent who wants out. At least, he does not do so publicly. How could he, when he currently rakes in a reported £60,000-a-year? Colchester`s policy of keeping their men lean and hungry, using short-term contracts, is unlikely to change even for 'Mr. Fantastic`.
As Karl ponders the possibility of shattering several thousand more hearts in the stands, mark today down as the day that Colchester supporters realised that Doogie really is human - and not an immortal terraced God - after all.
Date:Tuesday January 30 2007
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