Date:Saturday March 10 2007
Ouch. Well that hurt, didn`t it? Giles Barnes playing more like a 1980s John Barnes and Derby giving us a footballing lesson to go with the 5-1 spanking.
Luckily for me I was 'only` watching it in the pub with a few other London-based U`s, but even there we were outnumbered by Derby fans that, oddly, greatly enjoyed their night.
We tried everything too. When one of our number, Tom, went to the loo we didn`t concede for at least three minutes. I couldn`t persuade him to go back, even if they did have TV screens above the urinals. He said there was a man in there that kept squirting things at him and demanding money.
The players looked tired though. After their exertions this season who can blame them? Derby played the 200mph stuff we usually excel at. I hoped they`d tire but the scoring rate only slowed once they were utterly uncatchable - much like their talismanic Barnes.
It`s a tricky time for Geraint Williams too. We`re all aware of our financial limitations and the impact that has on the depth of the squad. That means a lot of our back-up options are young pros, who need to be looked after carefully. Unlike the Birmingham`s of this league, we can`t field a reserve side of ex-Premiership stars with international pedigree. Future stars maybe, like Medi Elito, but that`s as close as we get.
There are many who are delighted with 52 points and think we may as well experiment now. Pitch in the likes of George Elokobi, Lawrie Wilson et al. Give Hogan Ephraim a crack and let Jamie Guy get a few starts under his belt. Heck, sling Medi Elito on as a sub now and again - what`s the worst that can happen?
We might discover a youngster with the talent to match his passion and potential. Someone to improve the first team, get tongues wagging and scouts sniffing around Colchester again.
What`s the downside? We lose a few games. Our play-off hopes were always slim, at best.
But there`s more to it than that. Much more.
Football`s all about winning. If you`re not trying to win, what`s the point? If you choose a bit of a 'stick a pin` team, what sort of message does that give the players? "Don`t worry lads, we`re not that bothered so you needn`t be." What about the players that are left out, those that have slogged for 36 games to get us to that magical 52 point mark?
And what about the defeats? 5-1 to Derby stung, but at the moment it`s an aberration, a bump on an otherwise marvellous road in our first season in the Championship. If it became a regular occurrence for the next ten weeks what effect would that have on the club; the players; the fans - and of course the money men, the sponsors.
Would you want to link your club with a team or hearty battlers, punching above their weight? You bet you would. What about if they get frequent poundings with a half-hearted team selection?
Project that on to future players. We all want to sign the next Neil Danns or draw in the next Lua-Lua. Are little Colchester tempting as a plucky battler, giving youth a chance? Very much so. Are they so appealing when the team gets humiliated all too often? And their facilities aren`t up to much either… maybe you should look elsewhere…
Whilst it`s tempting to sling a few bits together and see what happens, Weird Science-style remember… you might not get Kelly LeBrock, you might get a Frankenstein. (And if you don`t know who Kelly LeBrock is, think 'Kelly Brook` and the idea works the same.)
Give some monstrous backing to those super white and blues!
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Date:Saturday March 10 2007
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