Date: 2nd September 2008 at 3:58pm
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Sack Race The Soaps Won`t Match

EastEnders has nothing on the East Anglian sack-race plot. An alternative soap opera scenario has good neighbours Geraint Williams and Jim Magilton side-by-side in the dole queue at Christmas if both Colchester United and Ipswich Town have not hit promotion-winning form. Now get off the hustings, because that infectious matchday barb comes to mind: sit down, shut up.

It seems totally absurd that the most gifted managers of the region should have to fret over job security so soon into the 2008/9 season. After four league games, in fact. Read it again: Four. Yesterday`s EADT recounted that Jim Magilton might have to pay for Town`s worst start to a season in five years with his job, while Geraint Williams apparently treads rocky ground after last term`s relegation.

Yes, we are talking about the tracksuit talents often mentioned as future bosses for either Wales or Northern Ireland, so feel free to admit confusion if you are puzzled by paper and terrace talk of itchy trigger-fingers and fire-happy Chairmen. It is not hard to imagine how fretting fence-talk between these two might go right now, said to be at the mercy of respective club owners Robbie Cowling and Marcus Evans.

So sways the hire-wire balance between vilification and being victorious. “All the vibes from Portman Road since the end of last year`s close call was that the Blues have never been in better shape to be promoted,” said the EADT reporter Derek Davis on Monday. He reminded audiences that while only a quarter of games won so far represents a poor return on expectations and £6 million of investment in the squad since January, jolly Jim nearly took them back to the Premiership.

The new Championship campaign has seen Ipswich endure a stuttering start, with their rivals Colchester also hovering in League One`s mid-table, in a competition they are expected to rise from come May. Still, although good teams can become bad over night, especially during the summer when an XI`s make-up is worked into a new complexion in search of success, managers are not quite the same.

You cannot unlearn good technique, even if the mercenary types portray Colchester`s Williams as a “Mr. Softie.” This time twelve months ago, as his side was shedding so many players from the club`s most successful squad ever, the joke image had him in an ice-cream-parlour hat: “Stop me and buy one.”

Williams even felt the need to came out in defence of his own character as the pressure mounted in April when the side suffered a first divisional drop in nearly two decades. “As always, the buck stops with me the manager. For some people who don`t know me and think my calm demeanour means I have no passion, it may have been a little insight into my true personality and the hurt I have felt having lost so many games.”

The facts are these: both Williams and Magilton have benefited from most aggressive boardroom backing policies in recent times, which for Colchester`s boss reportedly included Robbie Cowling personally part-funding half Teddy Sheringham`s exorbitant salary. So far, the net recovery from in excess of £3 million invested in signings over nine months and two transfer windows in 2008 is a regressive relegation.

Fine, any manager must accept responsibility his team`s performance on the pitch, his actual selections and pick of tactics. However, if there is one thing Team GB`s Olympic golden haul in Beijing should teach, it is that consistent achievement in sport takes time to mastermind.

Perceived wisdom has it that, unless impressive results follow, both Williams and Magilton will have to rebuff talk of numbered days, the first until December, the second getting even less time than that to get great results.

Forget castigating some stupidly addictive reality TV show. You are compelled to watch the area sack race, one title that neither of the under-fire bosses at Colchester United and Ipswich Town will want to win.

Lisbie Photos Cause Red-eye

Sex sells. Apparently so do pictures of Kevin Lisbie. The East Anglian Daily Times in their new supplement EA Pitch have run huge front-page photos of the Ipswich striker on two weekends following Colchester`s first home games of the season, against Huddersfield and Oldham.

This column is on record as being grudge-fee about the Lisbie affair after his controversial transfer, but his routine appearance is bound to accentuate the inferiority complex that already exists between the two teams.

It feels like this new pullout will irritate as much as the local news, Look East. You tune in with the hope of hearing news about Colchester and are fed material on Norwich almost by rote.

The town`s Evening Gazette seemed to have the right idea, yesterday plastering an emotional Mark Yeates on the back page. The man had just made history, after all, becoming the first goal-scorer at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Following questions over his future and commitment to the cause, the picture perfectly articulated the position of the player`s loyalty.

As for Lisbie, EADT be warned: there are only two uses to Colchester fans for pictures of the former forward, one being a paper aeroplane. The other is kindling.

Zealots Not A Fixture

You would think the fixture-congestion zealots would have done away with the Johnson’s Paint Trophy, where Colchester United play Millwall tonight.

Let`s hope the match which offers a rare instance of letting the players play their game regardless turns out to be more fun than watching paint dry.

Patchwork Cult

In Nick Hornby`s 1998 chick-lit novel About a boy, a famous written foray away from his football cult classic Fever Pitch, he jokes that the difference between a casual music fan and an ardent anorak is singing with closed eyes. He means really feeling the music, living in it.

What, though, it is the footballing equivalent? Weaving a patchwork quilt out of used ticket stubs, instead of throwing them away, perhaps.

Answers on a postcard, or a mouse mat, please.


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