Date: 9th June 2010 at 1:22pm
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John Ward as Colchester manager – yes, I`m happy! What do you mean, you don`t believe me? Oh, you`ve read the paper and seen this shocker of a quote.

Graham Taylor is the biggest influence on me,” Ward has told the Evening Gazette and it was printed yesterday, reserved one assumes for topicality.

Give the new man a chance? I`m sorry, can`t help it – the last person to admit an alignment with Taylor`s past was Aidy Boothroyd upon arrival in September. Nine months later he`s out the door, his U`s team having supposedly morphed into direct-footballing bandits. So you can forgive the phobic response.

Anti-football some called it, even on occasions when pretty passing and creative ball-carrying outweighed the ugly stuff. Pressure mounts – Boothroyd picked up sod-all points at the back end of the season, after all.

Next thing you know, the moaners are given credence in the press and Aidy`s beginning-of-the-end is spelt out in some apocalyptic, although very well-written, article headed with his words: “I`m here until I`m told any different.”

Not long after what I`d gladly call Robbie Cowling`s Thomas Beckett situation, along come Coventry and very little sentiment is shed as Boothroyd packs his bags.

Now – on to a new era! Or so we thought.

Looks like Ward`s schooling alongside Taylor at Watford means the old long-ball chestnut won`t drop.

Point is, I`m sick of hearing about direct play, if not necessarily the tactic itself.

I`m sick of the phrase, sick of people moaning at the mention of playing-styles and sick of needless criticism about big men up-top and aimless lumped passes.

Yes, we`d all like the side to play carpet football. But it`s myopic of anyone to believe that Colchester United will not have to deploy at least some long-balls next season in a division deficient sometimes on skill but not guts and a perverse sort of guile.

Unhappily for me, then, Ward`s comment raises the spectre of last season`s conversations happening all over again, when those more mercurial U`s fans who enjoy airing off about the possibility of not renewing their season ticket seem to hide a lack of loyalty conveniently behind the route-one football.

Some people will say this limp defence of rough-house play means I wasn`t watching matches myself last season. I was, but believe Boothroyd was unfairly chastised over his links with Taylor`s infamous Watford teams.

So before the naysayers get all steamy about Ward`s comment along similar lines – at I`m bound next season to be one of them, if last season`s style continues – let`s just give him a fighting chance.

Frankly, I`m just as scared as you are.

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