In a network exclusive, amid grapevine gossip and news about Paul Lambert`s possible successor, comes a word from previous incumbent, Geraint Williams.
There. Happy now? Ex-boss Geraint Williams has effectively admits blame for his part in Colchester`s quick demise from Premiership play-off pushers in 2006 to relegated renegades upon Layer Road`s curtain-call, eighteen months later. But is Williams a worthy scapegoat of that boom-bust era?
Reflecting on a topsy-turvy tenure, the man himself concedes: “It was the wrong way to go about it, at Colchester. We sold a team of players! We sold the ones that were at the top, which meant that the ones below were now playing in the first team. Ten were playing in the Championship or Premier League who had been with us in the previous two years. They`d either been sold or had run out of contract. We had a massive turnover.”
Some called Williams soft-spined when the going got tough during the U`s Championship year; other fans went altogether further, saying an amiable nature betrayed him as an invertebrate in high-pressure times. The question following the 2007-8 demotion, to which just two wins and a host of fatal defeats provided an early-doors answer, was: did the U`s boss have backbone enough to guide Colchester back from their plummet and onto League One`s summit? Mustering three points in six weeks proved a sackable offence.
A drained Welshman, unable to shake the jaded feeling accumulated after a miserable run of form in the second half of his Colchester reign, was persuaded to fall on his sword in a mutually-consented parting. He went from most-successful figure of all-time, hero, to a very wet-lettuce villain. Now, having saved his new charges Orient from possible relegation in the same division as the club he left behind, Williams attempts at reasoning behind demise in results, pinpointing mass transfer turnaround as a key factor.
“It had to happen because we couldn`t sustain the wages on our crowds – and out of contract players were being offered three times as much elsewhere. Players were sold to build up the club as a [future] whole; they now have their own forty-acre training ground, which they`ve never had before; they had to pay for the fitting-out of a new stadium.
“So there was always going to be a time when the money was used for that, rather than building up the team. The Chairman and I decided that a change was best for everyone, but we still talk and are still friends now.’
Although Williams doesn`t mention much more on his time at United – that`s past now and anyway, since his largely unpublished interview was conducted in the off-season, Orient have beaten Colchester in the League Cup – he mentions a truism in relation to his work alongside another one-time U`s manager. “When I was assistant at Colchester, Phil Parkinson was very organised and I learnt a lot from him, as I`d started coaching so late. Phil was more about bringing players in, so I did more of the coaching side. But the success we had there was all about getting good players in. It doesn`t matter how good a coach you are – if you`ve got bad players, you won`t win games.”
Williams goes on to acknowledge in this largely unaired interview that he finds his own attack-minted bent permissible only in an environment when it generates victories, so even he must have seen the axe coming at Colchester, albeit as scant reward for a decade of distinguished service.
“I`ve got a philosophy on football; I fell in love with the Brazilian 1970 World Cup side and I like fast, attacking, flowing football? but it`s got to be winning football, as well. I have a passing ethos and like skilled footballers in my side, but it`s got to be results-based.”
Other jems Colchester were not aware of – like how Williams nearly took up computer-programming as opposed to coaching, “because everything had to run out to a conclusion,” – come out during the course of his chat to Layton Orient Ear. They portray a side of him long since forgotten in Essex and all, presumably, because nobody thought to ask.
So it is, after the moderate success of guiding his O`s from the same lowly mire in which he nearly left the U`s last season, that a careful consideration of some quotes, facts and an added sprinkling of humility, redresses the balance. (Yes, even as it transpires the man first responsible for Williams` coaching career is a much-maligned Mick Wadsworth.)
Overall, on this evidence, Colchester fans might now concede Geraint Williams a far more three-dimensional manager than they assumed after his exit almost exactly a year ago.
Excerpts from the interview, conducted for the Leyton Orient Ear fanzine during summer, 2009, also appeared, in full, on sister site, Vital Leyton Orient on Friday August, 29.
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