U's can get promotion, without Yeates
COLCHESTR United correspondent CARL MARSTON argues that the U's can still win promotion, despite the sale of their star player Mark Yeates to MiddlesbroughTHERE is life after Mark Yeates.
COLCHESTR United correspondent CARL MARSTON argues that the U's can still win promotion, despite the sale of their star player Mark Yeates to Middlesbrough
THERE is life after Mark Yeates. Honest!
Colchester United yesterday bade farewell to their best player, when star winger Yeates completed his �500,000 move to Middlesbrough.
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In a team of hard-workers, Yeates stood out as the man who could unlock an opposing defence. He had a bag of tricks to wrong-foot any full-back, and could shrug his way past most centre-halves in League One.
The 24-year-old, despite operating on the flanks for the bulk of the last campaign, also ended the season as the U's leading goalscorer with 12 goals.
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In short, the likeable Dubliner will be missed.
But can the U's cope with his departure? I think they can, especially if you harp back a few years to trace the examples of Mark Kinsella and Lomana Lua Lua, who were star turns of the Layer Road scene during their respective eras.
Central midfielder Kinsella, like Yeates, was on the verge of leaving the U's several times before Charlton Athletic eventually took the plunge and snapped him up for a down payment of �150,000 in 1996.
At the time, Kinsella's departure felt like a body-blow from which United might take several years to recover, not least because the Irishman, who went on to enjoy international recognition (48 caps) later in his career, had played such a key role in guiding Steve Wignall's men to the Division Three play-offs of 1995-96.
Kinsella actually scored, with thumping long-range shots, in both the semi-final ties against Plymouth, although his two goals could not prevent the U's from losing 3-2 on aggregate to the Pilgrims.
However, rather than take a backward step, the U's actually made rapid progress following Kinsella's switch to Charlton. The deal worked well for both sides, because over the next two years Wignall's men enjoyed two trips to Wembley, and eventual promotion via the play-offs in 1998.
Similarly, U's supporters were wondering how their team would fare following Lua Lua's big-money move to Newcastle United (�2.25m) in 2000.
Lua Lua was the crowd entertainer, and again the tricky customer who could win a game with one piece of magic. He was irreplaceable.
And yet United, under Steve Whitton and later Phil Parkinson, did not lose ground just because Lua Lua had left. Instead, the club continued to improve their league positions, as well as benefiting from the financial security afforded them by Lua Lua's transfer.
And of course in 2005-06, the U's won promotion again to the Championship,
Yeates, therefore, is just the latest in a line of key men to have packed their bags and left Colchester, in search of greater success at a “more glamorous” club.
We wish him well at Middlesbrough, and there is no doubt that he has given terrific service to the U's, both during his season-long loan spell (that coincided with promotion to the Championship), and the last two years.
But manager Paul Lambert, following Yeates' transfer, now has more scope to reshape his own squad for the coming season.
The Scotsman was always of the opinion that although Yeates was a class act, he was also frustratingly inconsistent. That was certainly the case at home last season.
Lambert is a manager who believes in teams, not individuals.
There was life after Kinsella, and after Lua Lua. And there will be after Yeates!