Monday 31 December 2007

U's preview

The visit of Colchester United on New Year's Day brings the opportunity to welcome back Kevin Lisbie to The Valley. Admittedly in the U's last match at Blackpool, he only came on in the 67th minute to replace Teddy Sherringham who had been preferred in the starting line up.

I was looking at the excellent best Premiership matches DVD over the holiday break. Rick Everitt and his elves have done an excellent job and it was a tonic to see us playing fluent football and winning matches.

The win over Liverpool including the Lisbie hattrick was one of the games included and his third goal, when he ran from deep inside the Charlton half, was brilliant. But I also noticed that earlier in the game he made misses from a few yards out. It was ever thus.

And it still is. A local newspaper report on one of the U's holiday games states, 'Earlier, fellow striker Kevin Lisbie had spurned a good chance to chalk up his own seventh goal of the campaign. There were just eight minutes on the clock when Lisbie burst onto Luke Guttridge's excellent through ball, only to hook his shot wide of target with just keeper Davis to beat.'

There is a lot of criticism on the lists of Iwelumo in the lone striker role. It is said that he cannot hold up the ball and that it encourages long balls to him (particularly from goal kicks) which he cannot connect with effectively. There is no doubt that Todorov would be better in this kind of role as he can hold the ball up and losing him was one of the blows of the season.

There is actually nothing wrong with a good long ball. Interestingly, after they went behind at Everton, Arsenal switched to a long ball game and very effective it was. But we are not Arsenal.

Iwelumo's critics say that Varney would have scored as many goals as him. Of course, one cannot prove that one way or another. But I have not been that impressed by Varney. He has pace, but does he have accuracy? Remember that a few years ago he was at Level 5 of the non-league. He was certainly better than that and his spell at Crewe helped him to develop. But, as in the case of McLeod, there is still quite a big gap between the Championship and the leagues below it.

Nevertheless, I would give Chris Dickson a chance. Admittedly, last year he was playing at the same level as Leamington (in a less successful side). His record in League 1 for the Gills as excellent, but there is a difference between League 1 and the Championship. Even so, if I was the manager (which fortunately I am not) I would start him in a 4-4-2 with Iwelumo against the U's.

Colchester are not playing well. Geraint Williams, the Colchester manager, has admitted his side have confronted a new low after their abject performance against Blackpool. 'That's as bad as we've been this season,' he said. 'The 2-0 result didn't tell the story of how badly we played.'

I am always very cautious about reading results off the table. Our poor home record will give Colchester some confidence. Nevertheless, I am going for a 2-0 win for the Addicks.

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