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Colchester rocked: Transfer request by Cureton strikes club in the heart
Life`s pleasure-pain boomerang thumped a heavy bill on the Colchester United doormat this morning in the wake of yesterday evening`s surprise transfer demand by striker Jamie Cureton, who wants out. Just another day in Championship paradise, then, for the Essex outfit.
Those you pity most tap away in the club`s media room. No sooner had last season`s surprise package, who recorded an amazing top-half finish, officially confirmed a glitzy pre-season fixture with Premiership side Bolton than Cureton spontaneously put the boot in, and one foot through the exit.
So grows the causality list. Cureton`s premature curtain call, demanding a swift departure due to a reported “lack of ambition” on Colchester`s part, sees him set to follow Chris Iwelumo – and probably the out-of-contract Aussie Richard Garcia – in a disturbing exodus.
United appear firmly in the red after their median spell on football`s second-most seesaw. Perhaps not in monetary terms (many believe the club`s board sit on a pot of gold totalling some £5 million) but certainly as regards a cut in playing staff.
The squad cull, minus four and counting, resembles more of a blood bath than sound economics. At the very least, it marks a sad crumbling of already the division`s smallest team and with it last season`s legacy, which, until now, was worth more than any winners` medal.
Unfortunately, the sages whisper that the worst is yet to come. Recyclable gossip suggests that promising ‘keeper Dean Gerken could also be off to West Ham before long, for a measly £2.5 million.
If Cureton is to dance his way pied-piper fashion out of the region`s flatlands between now and August, though, he will go humming the same mantra as all those others daring enough to leave a stink-bomb in the departure lounge.
“Talks over a new contract broke down several weeks ago”, said the 31-year old via his written statement last night. His current deal expires in 2008. “I remain very ambitious and it is clear my ambitious are not matched by the club.
Cureton, who individually scored the most goals in the Championship last season, netting 24 in all, added: “The failure to re-sign several key players has convinced me to make this decision.”
It is a decision that comes just 24 hours after his former partner Iwelumo, now at Charlton, angered U`s supporters by taking his own swipe at Colchester`s apparent lack of desirer, claiming that last term`s 42-goal pairing was to “die for.”
There goes another sound bite proving that football is high on both hyperbole and itself. A billing as the world`s most exciting unscripted drama works fine – until you stop getting the happy endings, that is.
Then soccer`s transparency prevails. Only as recently as the FA Cup Final did we hear Chelsea`s Frank Lampard claiming: “I want to spend the rest my career in London,” despite his refusal to sign a new contract on grounds of inadequate pay.
In Cureton`s case, then, try replacing the word “ambition” with money, because he did recently state how happy he was with life in Colchester. It works, although finical greed is perhaps too much of an easy and cheap conclusion to reach. Just as likely is an idea that the U`s number 8 did not fancy slogging it out alone at the top a threadbare side.
With Leeds, Norwich, Southampton and Sheffield United now early candidates for his signature, perhaps the vigilante goal-poacher considered an apparently ‘small` offer from his current employers as a slight on his value to them.
To make that assumption, however, one would need to ignore the commercial reality to which any small football club is nearly always bound. In circumstances like this, fans must be content with the old line that no individual is bigger than the club.
Scant consolation, you might think, when your best remaining player fires a searing parting shot straight through the club`s heart, where it wounds most.
Besides, it is lazy logic that presumes Cureton was offered a pittance to re-sign, even if, by not sticking with the going rate, it looks like the board of directors at ‘Slayer Drome` delight in cutting off the odd nose or two to spite their own face.
The tight pay structure in place breaks for no man. Not even Cureton, who became the first Colchester player since 1985 to score more than 20 goals in a season last term and was so stunningly instrumental in engineering the club`s highest finish of all time.
Yet, while there is no need to begrudge Cureton for seeking a salary at the high end of the market, the passing of World Cup winner and former Colchester coach Alan Ball seems emblematic of the fact that heroism and respect in football are priceless commodities, ones not easily bought or sold.
If, indeed, this latest fiasco is about money above all, then even the neutrals should prey Cureton is not about to sell his soul to the highest bidder. Else, what he is saying is that he would rather not be left out on the graveyard shift when the rest of his team have already given up the ghost.
Perhaps the only person truly earning his pay packet in Essex this week is manager Geraint Williams. As well as the Cureton fallout, the Welshman has had to fend off Iwelumo`s claims, and deny speculation that Colchester`s one remaining committed forward, the still unproven Jamie Guy, had also been thinking of leaving.
They say a week is a long time in football. It`s only Wednesday and already you would have sympathy with Williams if he felt the need to file a complaint against whoever wrote those famous words about summertime and the living being easy.
U’s Rocked By Curo Transfer Request
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