The tale of Colchester United’s decline from the top eight to rock bottom
11:14 11 February 2016
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Remember Colchester United’s win over Bradford City, at the end of September? It feels like a life-time ago!
The U’s, with Tony Humes in the hot-seat, coasted to a 2-0 home victory over Phil Parkinson’s Bantams, on a Tuesday evening on September 29.
It was the U’s fourth win on the bounce, following previous successes over Gillingham and away at Sheffield United and Swindon, the first time they had achieved that feat in six years.
The Essex high-fliers were up to eighth in the table, just one point adrift of the play-offs, and only six points beind league leaders Burton Albion.
On-fire Callum Harriott and Marvin Sordell were on target with first-half strikes to sink Bradford, while midfielder George Moncur, who always oozes confidence, was convinced that the U’s would go on to win promotion.
But that was then. Fast-forward to now and the picture has changed beyond recognition.
Loanee winger Harriott returned to Charlton, before the turn of the year, striker Sordell is currently nursing an ankle injury, and Moncur no longer talks about promotion.
Instead, the U’s find themselves rock bottom of League One and odds-on favourites to begin playing next season back in the fourth tier, for the first time in 18 years.
It has been one of the worst runs in the history of the football club.
Since that win over Bradford, four-and-a-half-months ago, the U’s have won just one more league game, in 19 attempts.
The dismal record reads as follows: played 19, won one, drawn three, lost 15, conceded 51 goals, scored 19 goals.
As a result, the U’s are now eight points adrift of safety, at the foot of the table (effectively nine points, due to a dreadful goal difference), and are facing the daunting task of having somehow to amass 29 or 30 points during their last 17 matches, to stay up.
That, I’m afraid, is a very unlikely scenario.
A haul of 30 points from a possible 51 is promotion form, and the mere fact that they have only won five games all season, tells a sorry tale.
So what has happened to cause such a fall from grace?
It is difficult to explain, and even more difficult to pinpoint.
Obviously there has been a change of manager, but the U’s were already in free-fall before Humes left, and new manager Kevin Keen took the reins.
And there haven’t been any dramatic changes to the playing staff.
In fact, 12 of the 18-man squad that featured in the win over Bradford, at the end of September, were in the 18-man squad which succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Essex rivals Southend United in their last outing, last Saturday.
Only goalkeeper Jamie Jones and winger Harriott, both loan players, are no longer at the club.
It is a mystery, then, how a team so full of confidence and ambition, eying up a top-half-of-the-table finish, at the very least, should decline so rapidly.
The U’s have forgotten how to win a league game.
They concede goals in batches, while goals have now dried up at the other end.
Time is running out.