This week, Vital Colchester counts down all things U`s. Today, we look at the club`s top five players considered bad value for money.
This being a selling club supreme, the records since formation in 1937 betray a distinct lack of permanent signings, until the club entered the Championship. This is reflective in the list, as all five candidates for the club`s worst investments of all time were signed by previous manager, Geraint Williams.
5) Bela Balough – Defender, loan, with £250,000 by-up option, MTK Hungaria.
The Hungarian international definer singed after a protracted agreement to bring him to England on laon. He had already failed a trail with West Bromwich Albion but eventually joined for a season with a view to a permanent transfer, somewhere in the region of £250,000.
Asked if he was going to sign the player after pre-season ties against Heybridge Swifts and Bromley, ex-manager Geraint Williams famously said he was unsure because he hadn`t seen the him actually do any defending.
After a difficult transfer – his on-off arrival was due to language difficulties according to ex Chief Executive Marie Partner and at one point the deal was deemed dead – Balugh finally agreed the switch following trials.
His time in England didn`t improve however, as Balugh broke his nose twice while with the U`s, also failing to establish himself in United`s squad having waited until October 2007 to make a full debut.
4) Chris Coyne – Defender, £350,000 from Luton Town.
Although Coyne was hailed by Vital Football as a new iron man when he transferred from Luton eighteen months ago for what was then a record fee paid by the U`s, he has since turned out to be very lily-livered indeed.
Despite being made skipper last summer after the departure of Karl Duguid last summer, Coyne`s on-field duties were soon passed over to Dean Hammond.
Coyne`s international rise in Australian colours has been tempered with his decline at Colchester, where the defender has had a dubious injury record and was replaced last season by short-term loanee Neil Trotman from Preston.
The stand-in hadn`t played all season but automatically displaced Coyne at United.
Ever since, Coyne has been linked with a return home, which he himself has admitted is more than likely.
3) Steve Gillespie – Striker, £400,000 from Cheltenham.
Despite a frustrating debut season in Colchester colours, after a record £400,00 fee, it may be too early to write the sticker off totally. He has been remarkably unfit and even picked up a league suspension in the season just ended.
However, Gillespie`s five goals for the U`s so far make his scoring rate one in four, and he netting a spectacular goal in last season`s Carling Cup tie against rivals Ipswich.
Still young, Gillespie had been expected to automatically fill the boots of previously prolific forwards Jamie Cureton, Chris Iwelumo and Kevin Lisbie.
Flop-o-metre: 7/10, (so far…)
2) Teddy Sheringham – Striker, free from West Ham.
Supposedly a mark of the club`s Championship ambition and signed in an attempt to stop United losing so many players after their most successful season of all time, Teddy Sheringham actually turned out to be a relative waste of money.
Although he was a free transfer from West Ham, the now 43-year-old was being paid £6,000 a game, with speculation that new U`s owner, Robbie Cowling had agreed to double that salary by paying it from his own pocket.
Teddy retired after just four goals but will hardly be remembered as a U`s ledged, although it was a real pleasure to have an England legend at the club.
1) Phil Ifil – Defender, from Spurs.
The right-back signed from Tottenham Hotspur has been perhaps the most anonymous Colchester United player since he arrived as what some now call a panic buy.
Soon after Geraint Williams purchased the now 22-year-old, who is still with the club, on a three-year contract, fans could tell he wasn`t going to be the most reliable of players.
One fanzine named him the unluckiest player of the season in 2007/8, for his unfortunate roll in Colchester`s subsequent relegation.
Ifil scored two own goals, got sent-off and gave away a penalty in his first few games.
He is unofficially a club-record signing and told the media when signing that Colchester`s contract offer for him was more financially competitive than a rival bid from Southampton.
In the season just ended, Paul Lambert ignominiously dropped the player and he featured just nine times, with none of those games coming after November 2008.
Ifil has been told he can leave the club after Lambert sent circulars around the Football League saying he is on the market, but nobody has declared an interest.
To read Vital Colchester’s Seven Days Of U’s Top Five, Online Videos click here.
Have we missed any of your U’s flops who transfered for a big fee?
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