Williams was a victim of success

Colchester United correspondent CARL MARSTON cast his eye over the Geraint Williams' Years, in the wake of yesterday's departure

Carl Marston

Colchester United correspondent CARL MARSTON cast his eye over the Geraint Williams' Years, in the wake of yesterday's departure

NOT many managers could have coped with the number of departures that Geraint Williams had to contend with during his time on the Colchester United hot-seat.

Williams was powerless to prevent a steady stream of influential players from leaving the club, and it's no coincidence that most of them are now either gracing the Premier League or Championship stage.

That's what makes Williams' sad departure all the more galling. He worked wonders to establish the U's as a Championship force in a glorious first year, but was fighting a losing battle when the mass exodus began.

Chairman Robbie Cowling issued a frank and honest assessment of Williams' achievements following yesterday's announcement. In fact, it read more like a glowing endorsement of a successful manager than an explanation for his departure.

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Cowling admitted: “He (Williams) proved without a doubt, during the one season where he did have a team capable of competing at that level (Championship), that he could manage very successfully at that level of football and, probably given the right tools, even higher.”

So where does Williams rank amongst the Colchester United managers' Hall of Fame?

In terms of league position, the 46-year-old can rightly claim to be the most successful manager in the Essex club's history.

He guided United to a final position of 10th in the Championship in his first season in charge, after succeeding Phil Parkinson during the summer of 2006. That equates to 30th in the Football League pyramid.

His detractors will point out that he could not fail but achieve this landmark, because the U's had never before been in the second tier of the League. But few could have dreamt how successful the U's would be in that 2006-07 season, especially the glorious 11-game winning streak at home, when the likes of Derby, Ipswich, Southampton, Stoke and Wolves were all toppled.

At the other end of the scale, and in terms of actual results, Williams' record is amongst the poorest of all the U's managers. Just 30 wins in 102 league matches.

But again, no other manager had to operate so high as the second tier of the league - and 92 of his 102 matches in charge were at Championship level.

The last year has not been good, with relegation from the Championship and now a current lowly position of second-from-bottom in League One, culminating in a depressing 3-0 home defeat by MK Dons on Saturday.

Meanwhile, ex-Colchester favourites have been making hay elsewhere, like Wayne Brown and Richard Garcia in the Premier League with Hull, Chris Iwelumo at table-topping Wolves, and fellow Championship regulars Karl Duguid (Plymouth), Jamie Cureton (Norwich) and Kevin Lisbie (Ipswich).

Money has been spent on replacing them, but as yet a winning formula has not been found. Furthermore, the last two defeats at Crewe and by MK Dons have offered little hope of a quickfire remedy.

The current squad is packed with talented individuals, but as yet there is something missing on the pitch - the team seems to lack the unity and togetherness that so characterised the Layer Road years, the spirit of the underdog upsetting the odds.

Maybe that has got something to do with the long-awaited move to the new Weston Homes Community Stadium. The U's are still finding their feet in a strange place.

The potential is there, but it's just a shame that time has run out on Williams, following 10 distinguished years as a player, coach, assistant manager and manager.

Few have given such loyal service to the U's. He was as honest as a manager as he was as a defensive midfielder. The club was in safe hands during his tenure.

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