The pre-game ramble: Colchester United

Welcome to the end times. Or eighth place in October. You decide.

Yes, we were shit the other night. As a person who aspires to see this club return to the Premier League at some point, you’d think I’d be livid about losing to Forest Green in League Two. And I was, but within reason.

Was it really “run-on-the-pitch” worthy? I’d posit that 85% of the season so far has been positive, and even when we’ve dropped points, we’ve looked the dominant team and primed for something decent, without quite finding the golden touch.

Obviously there’s an underlying anger about Sisu – but is it right to pick and choose when we’re going to invoke that? After the rotten levels of competitiveness we’ve had to suffer over the last five years, can we really say we’ve already come to the end of our tether with this season’s performance? Because we’ve lost an embarrassing game that we absolutely should have won? I really do understand being angry. I get hating being in this league. But is it really time to go nuclear with our response?

I’ll try to be clear about this because it’s a really nuanced point. I know there’s a chance this could be the start of a decline. We’ve struggled to score just lately and who really knows how this bunch of human beings is going to react to the pressure of losing to the worst team in the league. But conversely… if we beat Colchester 3-0, things are immediately pretty much back on track.

Call me simplistic, but if you’re one win away from being OK about how things are looking, I’d suggest that some restraint is needed if you lose a game too. Raw emotion is fine and wanting Sisu out is logical, but from a football perspective, surely we’re not at the point of believing this season is already a dud?

On that confusingly self-righteous note, I firstly apologise – and secondly introduce you to Colchester; a team that may or may not ruin our day and/or ability to watch the Sky Blues ever again.

How are they getting on?

Here’s the deal. I tell you Colchester United’s recent form and how that fits into the context of their season thus far… then later they subvert that entirely and select from League Two football’s random performance generator. Agreed?

They’ve lost one league game in a month. Sound familiar? That was us on Monday! They’ve also won three out of five… oh yeah, that’s right, US ON MONDAY! But the difference here is that they won their last game and we lost ours to bottom of the league. Ergo, they’re happy about how things are going and we’re not.

Football is basically nuts most of the time. It’s funny how we don’t see it.

Who could cause us trouble?

Right, enough questioning of everything we’ve ever believed in. *Paul Merson Mode engaged*.

The following couple of paragraphs are about Kyel Reid, where I talk about him as if he can play, when he’s not allowed. I do this because I’m a fucking idiot who can’t be bothered to click a link to find out for sure. Paul Merson Mode indeed…

It’s the return of Kyel Reid. One of last season’s Checkatrade heroes and a man who quite literally has a car (to the ire of the Coventry Telegraph). We’re technically his parent club so I’m not entirely sure why we’re allowing him play against us, but he is, and will probably get a pretty frosty reception from the Ricoh crowd for choosing to move to another club in the same league.

My guess is his treatment will fall somewhere between Lee Burge and Leon Best. He’s got three goals so far this year which for a winger who’s managed less than half the available time on the pitch in the league is actually pretty good. It’s a goal every 168 minutes so far. Mind you, he hasn’t played much over the last couple of games, so may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Mikael Mandron and Sean Murray are the two players in form, notching a decent percentage of the goals during the last month. French striker Mandron draws the attention as their top scorer with four, and having snatched a reasonably late winner the other night away to Newport. He’s going to be feeling pretty pleased with himself.

Sky Blues team news

Defeat on Tuesday has confused me. The stats say we’re good (for the most part), and as hard as it is to admit, the performances also back that up (for the most part). Even against Forest Green the narrative from Robins was that we had a bunch of chances and the only problem was that we didn’t take them. I’m not sure I saw these clear cut chances that were being spoke of, but I’ll buy the notion that we need to start being ruthless.

But is it that we’re not creating chances, or that we’re not taking them when they come along? However Robins interprets the situation is going to drive that selection process.

If you ask me, we’re two players short from having a really trustworthy team. While I think Biamou has proven himself a useful option in recent games, he is also becoming a hindrance as the majority of chances are falling to him and his inability to put them away. There’s also a gap on the wing which Robins is desperately trying to find a solution to. Unfortunately, he defaulted back to throwing The Duck out there on Tuesday which has yet to work. Sure, Nazon still looks good by himself – but who wants Nazon looking good 50 yards from goal? He is our clearest goalscoring threat and during this period of impotency, we need him as close to goal as possible.

There are calls for Ryan Haynes to get back in the team, but I sense that’s a week or two off. My feeling is that Robins will be eyeing up two options: either reverting back to the team that won three in a row, or go back in time even further and reintroduce the likes of Vincenti, McNulty et al to see if his original first choice line up is finally ready to start throwing its weight around.

Prediction

Can we keep our rage to a minimum? Are we going to throw a wobbly if Jack Grimmer passes the ball back to Burge in the tenth minute? Are we going to draw attention to the fact that League Two Goalkeeper of the Year-elect Lee Burge made a mistake in the last game?

Conversely, will the players be pumped up to put things right?

I want to be flying as much as anyone, but we probably need to relax just a little bit. We can’t bring in any new players so have to work with what we’ve got. That means trying to give them a positive atmosphere to work in. We know Jodi Jones revels in thinking he’s brilliant, and Nazon is clearly a class above. My hope is that we start brightly today, and that liveliness inexplicably perks us lot up, and the dynamic of the game is one of anticipation and belief.

Not that our performance is all about what the fans do. Heaven forbid. The players need to get a grip of themselves and trust themselves in front of goal. Defence is lovely, but they’ve had a taste of the impatience the other night. We’re still waiting for blitzathon. It’s time to make it so.

There’s no score prediction this week. I only ever say we’re going to win.

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  1. Good man Neil, words of wisdom as always. By Jaysus was I annoyed on Tuesday, too! Frustration borne of a team that is not fulfilling its promise. But come Friday we forgive them in the anticipation of Saturday, no? In general play they are showing they are good enough for automatic promotion… except for that pesky requirement to score goals. The hope of a spark to change all that lingers, but after Tuesday there is anxiety. Not sure if throwing JP in from the start is an answer, but giving him 30+ mins is something I’d like to see. And I’ve rarely seen a team punished as severely as this team for goalkeeping errors. Three mistakes, three goals, three defeats, against teams that did not otherwise threaten. That is tough. If they had even drawn 0-0 on each occasion they would be breathing down on the automatic places. But thems are the margins, I suppose. Anyway keep up the good work, here and with the boyos. Off to listen to ep161 and expecting Paul to go off on one!!

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