Thursday, 30 April 2015

Do or Die - Preston

At 2pm on Sunday the 3rd of May we will know our clubs fate, will we once more scrape out of relegation for the 3rd year running ? Or will it finally be our time to bow our caps to League one before taking plunge into the icy waters of League two?

Currently it isn't looking positive, a draw albeit hearty to Swindon meant that Colchester go into the final game on 49 points, 22nd in the league.

18) Coventry - (-12) - 52
19) Crewe - (-31) - 52
20) Notts County - (-16) - 50
21) Crawley - (-25) - 50
22) Colchester - (-20) - 49
23) Leyton Orient - (-10) - 48
24) Yeovil - (-35) - 40

Final games include:

1) Crawley vs Coventry (Colchester need a draw or a Crawley loss)
2) Crewe vs Bradford (Bradford win needed)
3) Gillingham vs Notts County (Colchester need a draw or Gillingham win)

Of the above games we will need two to go in our favour, a big ask and one would assume probability is against us. Not only do we have to rely on teams around us losing or drawing, we also have to rely on ourselves winning, in doing so beating Preston who are themselves fighting, this time at the opposite end of the table.

You can see why Sky fancied it, whatever happens there is likely to be elation or despair for both sides. The fans were fantastic on Tuesday night against Swindon and with 7000 tickets already sold I'm banking on a near sell out of around 9000 odd, It would be fantastic if we could maintain that level of support for the future, I'm sure I'll write something on it soon. For now however, I'll go back to biting my fingernails.

Whatever happens, I'll remain U's through and through

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Improved Atmosphere

Whether we are in League 1 or League 2 next season, we as "the fans" can all agree that we would all like to see an improved atmosphere at the WHCS in the near future.

The question is what can we do to improve it ? Here's my views.

1) Less segregation between fans.

Too many times over the seasons, I have seen disparity and segregation between groups of our own fans. an example of this is between S1 and S4. One group starts a song before the other starts a completely different song at the same time (on purpose) to disrupt the other. Why?, its pointless and just increases a further "us vs. them" mentality.

Why not then all come together? Maybe for next season set up a certain zone and alert fans looking to get a season ticket that this area is going to be loud and vocal. lets bump up the number of fans standing together and singing from 50 to 100 and further, this could start a cycle in which positive attendance will perpetually increase.

Where could this zone be? Would it be good to get closer to the away fans ? are all questions we could ask.

2) Less Moaning, More Positive Noise

If asked, does booing and a negative atmosphere have an effect on the team ? the quite obvious answer is Yes!! to what extent I do not know, however in my opinion it is of vital importance we get behind the squad and engage in chants that will spur them on. Rather than slate the team whilst they are playing we should get behind them and let them feel a willing positive presence within the crowd.

Positive crowd = more expansive, confident team
Negative crowd = nervous, jittery side

3) Songs, Goal music ?

This ones only a small little thing but I think could be quite important. I remember being a 14 year old at layer road watching the U's. The "Teams are in the tunnel" music always used to get the crowd going, the tension waiting, why not have that properly now ? (not some useless Katy Perry song or latest 'Pop' hit but a song like 'Right here, right now') Also goal music ? The classic song we had at layer road? or maybe something like Blurs Song 2 ? These are all things that evoke memories of former times, something we remember about the club before the move, why strip that all away ?

These are just a few ideas, Feel free to comment on them and their functionality. what's your thoughts?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

MK Dons - Home - 0-1 - 17/2/15

Another loss at home, the 10th of 15 games played. Just reading that gives me a bitter feeling, one that turns your stomach a little, a bit like those dodgy hot dogs they charge £4 for. 

0-1 was the final score, better than a 6-0 drubbing but still a thoroughly disappointing result, i thought we quashed their attacking prowess brilliantly, reducing them to a few weak shots outside the box, nothing that troubled Walker at all. Neither Grigg nor Alli, Powell, Cole or Carruthers stood out and we should commend our players for that.

I firmly believe we would've been in a very good position going into Half Time at 0-0, we contained well and could of kicked on to potentially sneak a win. 

It was not to be the case though, a defensive lapse opened a space for Alli who slotted home. That was pretty much the only thing the £5 million pound wonder kid did during the game, his didn't get on the ball much, and when he did Lapslie buzzed at his heels, the two argued with each other as the first half came to a close after Lapslie put in a hard tackle on Alli who reacted with a fantastic rolling, twisting gymnastic performance. (Looks like he's already adapted to the Premier League) 

I felt we didn't get at MK Dons enough last night and that was one of the most disappointing things. The crowd willed the U's to push forward yet we lacked ideas. MK sat deep and defended very well crowding out Porter, Smzodics and Massey. 

Gilbey and Moncur gave us a few more options in the middle and as always looked for the ball. However turned straight into an MK wall and so the ball returned back to Eastman or Wynter who both lack distribution, the ball then is played long to Porter who rarely won a header against the experiened MK defense.

Personally i would like to see a higher rate of mental alertness at the back, all defenders should be composed on the ball and should be able to pass to a midfield looking for the ball. If we are to pass the ball out from the back, it should be done quickly, Walker puts the ball down at a goal kick and passes straight away, rather than a few hand gestures, checking the ball is at the right angle, spit on the gloves and then pass... All too slow and allows the opposition to restructure. 

To me, until something changes at the back we will continue to play a long ball style, Ideally I would like to see Kent back (who is currently 4 weeks away with injury) as he can get the ball down, pass out from the back and even command the back 4. Clohessy out, Wynter right back, Kent and Eastman, Briggs and i think we will be much tighter, yet also be able to revert back to a more attractive style of football. 

Onto another tough home game, lets cheer on the boys, Up the U's

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Oldham away 0-1 - 14/02/15

A valuable win, one that will definitely be a huge stepping stone in our attempt to beat the drop.

I for one will commend the faithful supporters who galently made the long journey upto Oldham this weekend. I wasn't one of them as the collosal pressure of Valentine's Day was just far too much. "What's wrong with driving 4 and a half hours upto Oldham on Valentine's..." I said to my Girlfriend on Friday night who gave me one of those expressions that roots you to the spot, fearful that any quick movement would result in an attack. 

I don't blame her, She doesn't understand the passion behind it all, although neither do i. 

I think what I'm beginning to realise more and more this season is how crucial that first goal is, Sammie Szmodics who seemingly develops with every game gambled in the 2nd minute and stuck the ball in the back of the net, his 4th goal of the season. What that goal seemingly does for us is give an inexperienced side that confidence to continue playing, rather than cagily adopt a restrictive style of play, they become free-er, less frightened of the consequence of their actions. 

It was destiny and must've been written in the stars that we would go onto keep a clean sheet and defend excellently after I talked about our leaky defence and lack of quality at the back in my preview of the Oldham game, they showed me right!! And long I hope it continues. 

It is this continual inconsistency that has frustrated many (if not all) U's fans this year, one game we defend and attack brilliantly and show real passion, the next we look jaded, fragile, powerless. 

It is something that needs to be improved upon and I'm sure work is being done at Florence park to ensure this. Let's hope for more of the same on Tuesday against Milton Keynes Dons who still don't sound like a proper proffesional football team to me, more like a church side on a Sunday. 

Keep it tight at the back, yet create chances in exciting attacking football, let's hope we're not in for another 6-0 drubbing, with the U's you never know what's going to happen, it could even be the other way round. Porter hat-trick, Szmodics double before a cross come shot from Clohessy flies into the top corner sounds good to me. 

Up the U's 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Attack, Attack, Attack

Its official, the flood gates have opened, The U's have now conceded 7 goals in the last 2 games and i think most fans know why.

Gorkss leaving in January was a huge disappointment especially since he buggered off to Greece to play for a team fighting relegation, getting an average of 1,736 fans a week in a 26,000 stadium. To top it all off, they've just sacked their manager and so there is no certainty that Gorkss will be favored by the new boss Ioannis Matzourakis. In conclusion i'd imagine Gorkss move was financially motivated, either that or he wanted to get some sunshine.

Whilst Gorkss was with us he had 9 games, in those we conceded 9 goals, not too bad at all. Since his departure we've conceded 8 in 3, it is quite likely then that his departure has had a negative effect on our back 4.

I'm not going to use this piece to slate the defense and goalkeeping performances over the past 3 weeks, we all know as fans who's up-to scratch and who's not, who needs a rest and who doesn't. and who needs to come off his line and collect the ball. What i will say or promote, is the idea that our defense isn't currently up-to scratch and so instead of solely focusing on trying to be tighter at the back and not concede too many, we should shift that focus toward our attack. 

Unfortunately it is of my humble opinion that until an experienced centre back is bought in, we shall continue to leak silly goals, we've tried to be a bit tighter, Gordon at left wing, 2 centre defensive midfielders yet its not working, we don't have the assets, quality or experience defensively. 

I'm not sitting here at my desk on Friday lunchtime saying "let's go gung ho at them on Saturday" rather "let's not sacrifice our attacking prowess in an attempt to patch up the defence" 

Here's some stats/data to aid my point. 

During the 4 games between 27th September and 11th of October we played decent attacking football, Watt, Massey, Sears, Healey all played a big part, we conceded 8 with a defence of similar inexperience to that of today, Walker, Clohessy, Eastman, Kent, Gordon. Yet we scored 10, winning 2 drawing 1 and losing 1. Surely that is better, more exciting, than sacrificing our attacking play in order to attempt to patch the defence? 

To do this on Saturday my team would be as so; Walker, Hewitt, Wynter, Eastman, Briggs, Lapslie, Fox, Szmodics,  Massey, Watt, Porter... 

If we go 1 down then bring on Sembie Ferris or Marriott for Fox at half time and play 2 Wingers, drop Massey Into the hole and szmodics can drop back into centre midfield. 

These are my views and I'm sure yours will all differ, I just feel with the current situation we are in, you might aswell go out and have a right go at teams.

Up the U's  

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sheffield away - 4-1- 10th February 2015

The atmosphere was one of despair, bereavement, hurt among the tiny group of 50+ brave U's fans who had ventured up north on a cold Tuesday night, again calls for both Humes and his players heads were being sung from a few agitated fans although I highly doubt they could be heard. 

The U's started brightly opening Sheffield up within the first couple of minutes, the Sheffield keeper making a good save from a Smzodics low drive, before tipping a strike from former blade Porter round the post. 

It wasn't long however until our defence was tested, Campbell-Ryce who had a quiet game (due to Briggs' defensive quality) won a foul down the left hand side. A simple floated free kick into the box saw Walker firmly rooted to his line allowing Baxter to climb above Clohessy within the six yard box, Walker saved the header but the follow up was scrambled in. 1-0.. The defence looked immobile, rigid, unresponsive. 

20 minutes went by and we created very little in terms of clear chances. Gordon was on the left wing and was doing his job as a defensive winger, Massey looked jaded, Smzodics and Lapslie worked hard but the ball was passed around them. We had a fair bit of possession but have reverted back to a slightly more direct approach since Porters arrival, Szmodics or Lapslie buzz off him but we're being crowded out by 3 in the Sheffield midfield. Doesn't help when only 1/2 the balls knocked up give him a chance, the rest too long, or too short. Our build up play was far to slow, we would get the ball and either pump it up to and isolated porter or slowly manoeuvre the ball out wide, both far too slowly allowing for the Sheffield defenders and midfielders to get back in position. It was quite evident we needed change. 

37 minutes in and it was 2-0, we had worked our way forward slowly and won a corner.. Fox floated in a poor delivery (1 of the 12 poor crosses from corners we had) to the back post and the Sheffield defence headed clear comfortably. Harris controlled brilliantly just outside his box and sprayed a lovely through ball forward splitting open a retreating U's defence. Sheffield broke with men in support, Done running down the right side against Clohessy who had stayed back, Baxter made a run into the box but Gordon got back well decreasing the angle for the pass. Didn't matter though, Done continued toward the box, Clohessy  opened his body up allowing the angle and Done slotted home, a nice finish but made far too easy by a player who is increasingly finding himself out of his depth. 

Half time came and we all trudged to get our pints of fizzy urine from the bar. (Sheffield only offer Carlsberg) Fans didn't know what to think, "Humes your a genius" was being shouted. "Gordon's rubbish, Szmodics rubbish, Clohessy's rubbish" no praise for an under-performing side. I tried to remain positive,  "we'll make a change at half time, Watt on, Gordon off, Sembie ferris on for Fox and shift Massey into CAM with Szmodics buzzing around in the centre, let's take it too them, nothing to lose".

The players returned onto the pitch for kick off and we made our way out onto the terraces only to find no changes made.. 

5 minutes in, Sembie Ferris came on for Gordon, an exciting player certainly but still slightly raw, no changes tactically, no attacking prowess, slow getting forward, Sembie ferris didn't get on the ball for the first 20 mins at least. 

59 minutes in... 3-0.. Sheffield's centre back collected the ball, pushed forward, Fainted past lapslie before rifling a Shot into the corner.. Good goal but Sam will be upset. 

Down and out at 3-0, the team looked disconnected. 70 minutes gone by and still no changes, Eastman wins the ball in the air nodding it forward to Sembie Ferris, he challenges in the air potentially fouling his opponent, ref doesn't give it though and he nods onto Porter who flicks through Ferris once more, Ferris cuts the ball back to Smzodics who beats his man easily and curls it into the top corner. cracking goal, a light showing the quality of our upcoming youth. To late for today though. 

Still no changes and it wasn't long before we conceded again, this time it was Briggs fault, caught not clearing his lines and giving away a penalty... 4-1

Only other change we made was Mcevoy on for Massey, a like for like in the 88th minute. The boy should've scored with pretty much his first touch after an amazing volleyed cross from Sembie ferris, the ball fell to McEvoy with just the keeper to beat but he lacked composure and hit It straight at him. 

The final whistle went and a few of the young fans began moaning, calling Humes and the players every name under the sun. There will always be plonkers supporting every club, I know that and I don't blame them, we're not giving them much to sing about. They're young and will learn to get behind the team with time. 

The loss last night wasn't disappointing, the way we lost was. Humes set the squad up to draw and didn't change it even though we were losing. Clohessy and Eastman were a cause of defensive frailty again, Fox struggled to lead the side and was the worst of the 3 midfielders. All these players are experienced yet consistently make mistakes.  

Unfortunately this puts us in a more ominous position now, 4 points from safety albeit with a game in hand and 3 tough games coming up. Oldham away is a big game, we need something out of it because you wouldn't expect to get a thing from Bristol or MK. 

As always the only thing we can do as fans is get behind the team, take a decent crowd upto Oldham and rally behind the  team in the big game vs MK. We are all in this together, C'mon Tony lets go out and attack teams, 

Up the U's 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Crewe Home - 2-3 - 07/02/15

Tough times are ahead for the U's as we fall back into relegation worry after a shattering 3-2 loss to fellow drop zone rivals Crewe.

It just shows you what a few weeks can do, 2-0 win at home to Leyton Orient and a decent point away Bradford and fans were looking up, I even heard a few "you know we're only 10 points off the playoffs"

What a stark contrast then to some of the actions taken at the game on Saturday. "Humes Out" and "Your getting sacked in the morning" could be heard coming from the South stand along with many a Boo come the final whistle. I remember myself thinking "Yeah that's great, really going to inspire the players to confidence next time we play at home".

You see I understand the frustration, i really do, because continual relegation battles aren't good enough, the performances have been so inconsistent they could quite easily be labelled Jekyll and Hyde. One week we out play Peterborough or compete with Swindon, the next we get turned over by Gillingham or Coventry (who were both bloody useless)

Its no wonder then that the Yo Yoing effect of the teams performance has leaked through to the fans, one week we rally and cheer, the next we boo and agitate. We don't know what to think, were being strung along on a U's roller coaster not knowing which way we'll be flung next, Up? Down? Round and round? No consistency.

The point i'm trying to come too is that booing and moaning at the players, management even cowling will bring about no good at this current time. The team is young, inexperienced not as battle hardened as some of the older teams about. I get that we all have the primal urge, that instinct within us to get aggressive and aggrieved but we have to think, engage cognitively and ponder what good will all that do ?

What are the consequences of ripping into the team? Lets see:

1. The team is young, and most have never felt the backlash of an agitated fan base, could it be that the team don't like playing at home due to the hostile environment? some would say "its part of the job" or "well they shouldn't of got in that position in the first place" fair enough, but now we are there shouldn't we get behind them, spur them onto perform better rather than tell them they're shite and to get another manager in.

2. Negativity is like a weight, each time we lose the pressure increases on the players and management, shouldn't we attempt to alleviate that pressure by getting behind the team, backing them, reinforcing them instead of lumping further pressure onto them by berating and harranging them ?

3. You never hear anything good about Gloom and Pessimism, "God i feel so good about that now ive said we are shite and we're going down, i'm all negative and it feels great" could it be possible then that there is a correlation between a negative, poisonous atmosphere and a decreasing support base? similarly to all those movies when animals get that sense of peril and do a runner into the country, the floating fans do to. They see, hear and feel the toxicity and think "Yeah don't fancy being near that every week".

A counter arguement could be "well if the teams playing well and winning then we will get behind them".. Unfortunately that's part and parcel of football, we will lose games, we're not a big team with the funds like Bristol City or Preston and so we cant bring in the same quality of player, and with a youthful team more is likely to go wrong.

All of the above to me indicates we have to remain calm, positive, get behind the team/club or whatever you've connected to at Colchester united and create a loud, positive atmosphere at home. If were playing poorly or losing we rally behind them further, take the mickey with songs "we're drawing at home, were drawing at home, how shite must you be, were drawing at home" or "we love you when your winning and even when your shite".

The club isn't helping itself and Cowling has to do more to connect the club to the fans once more, but in hard times WE as the fans must do all that is in our power to help the team and pick them up rather than stick the knife in and twist when their at their weakest.

We must make sure not to get separated from the team, like we must also make sure we do not get seperated from those teams above us.

Up the U's