Tale of too many winless runs at Colchester United

Colchester United boss, John McGreal

Colchester United boss, John McGreal - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United’s current winless run is nothing unusual. In fact, alas, it has become the norm of the last five or six seasons at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Every club can endure a bad run, but it seems that the U’s have suffered far too many in recent times, sometimes stretching to a few months rather than just a few weeks.

Mentally, the U’s do appear to have a problem. That inability to escape from a rut, or bounce back from a few defeats, is glaring.

Perhaps that can be put down to the number of young players in the squad, and the over-riding plan to blood graduates from the Academy?

Or perhaps the new management team of John McGreal and Steve Ball are struggling to get a foothold in their first roles at senior level?

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Perhaps, instead, the U’s current plight can be put down to just the number of injuries, combined with a lack of good fortune?

There are reasons, obviously, and they have to be rectified before the U’s start flirting with a second successive relegation, which would mean dropping out of the Football League altogether.

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I think we can dismiss the notion that injuries and bad luck are a main factor for the U’s present-day winless run, which will have stretched to 10 weeks by the time that they take the field at Yeovil’s Huish Park on Saturday.

Every club has their share of injuries, and that is no excuse for a run which currently stands at 12 games without a win, nine of those in the league. The U’s have also been unlucky at times, not least last month’s narrow away defeats at Doncaster and Plymouth, but there was nothing unlucky about their dismal 3-0 home defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Leyton Orient last Saturday. No supporter will be fooled by a hard-luck story.

McGreal’s men started the season with a bang, and were regulars in the top six for the first six weeks of the season, so the talent in the squad is unquestioned.

McGreal and his assistant Ball also found their feet quickly, in this new environment, so I would not suggest that a change of manager is required – the U’s have parted company with managers too often in recent times.

But work needs to be done on stiffening the backbone of the club. The U’s are fast becoming easy touches, vulnerable to any setback. They struggle to cope with knock-backs.

Last season, the U’s endured a dreadful winless run stretching to 19 league matches, stretching from the end of Tony Humes’ reign through various caretakers and well into Kevin Keen’s disastrous regime.

That ended in relegation.

In previous years, starting from the closing weeks of John Ward’s last full season (2011-12), the U’s have had similar woeful runs, highlighted by nine league defeats on the trot with Joe Dunne in charge (2012-13).

Try as they might, the U’s have been unable to shake off this bad habit.

Some fans are pointing the finger at owner and chairman, Robbie Cowling, but I believe that to be unfair. In truth, there is no one, easy solution. The U’s need to get tougher, mentally, that is clear, and that comes down to the players. No one else. It is time to dig in.

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