Colchester United season-ticket holder Si Collinson's views on the U's

I FOR one drove down the M4 for our game at Swindon Town with high hopes, last weekend.

The sun was shining and the breakfast stop had set the day up the right way.

Pretty much outside of the County Ground is the Magic Roundabout - sadly, little did we know that in a matter of hours and at full-time, for Colchester that was the limit to the day’s magic.

Some very uncharacteristic individual errors and for a team that clearly needed the heart of their attacking midfield back from injury, it was a an afternoon to forget, learn and move on from.

I attended the annual fans’ forum last week - there was a good turnout as always and I really would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the club or who has any doubts and/or questions on the day-to-day goings on to get involved.

This year, two very interesting points stood out for me.

The first was an issue that we all know about and love to moan about - the exiting from the car park at the end of the games.

The gate that blocks access to where the buses used to turn was brought up.

Although the club are trying through their channels to get this sorted, chairman Robbie Cowling did bring up the point that as a fanbase, there is nothing to stop a group getting together to lobby the local council as another avenue of approach to back up what the U’s are trying.

Secondly, there was a good question put to first-team boss John McGreal about player development, the under-23s and how players make the jump to the first team.

Now this is a strong matter of opinion and lots of people will see it differently, or have a way to go about it.

My take on it is that the sending the player on loan to a non-league club is a better option once they reach 17 or 18 years old and above.

Why is this when we have a very good and strong academy set-up?

Well, anyone that has played football at any level - I know I sure did - will remember that jump from youth football to the adult game.

It suddenly became much more unforgiving and at times, brutal.

At academy level, where the results are not seen as such an important measure of performance there is a more forgiving style of play whereas in the adult game, results mean everything and there really is a sink or swim situation.

So by sending the young players out to get “blooded” can only help - but where does that leave the under-23s as a team?

No matter how much you say the results do not matter, nobody wants to lose and at times when you see the under-23s go behind and lose heart, it’s almost a case of “here we go again”.

At times, we have under-18s playing against other club’s under-23 players who have broken into first-team squads; it is, on one hand, a great learning curve but needs to be managed well.

The most important lesson in football is how to lose but not at the risk of forgetting to win.

It is good how McGreal and Steve Ball give the youth players the chance to train with the first team, become part of the matchday squad and for the right ones, at the right time, make an appearance in the team.

But the rest need to be physiologically managed correctly and for me, almost making Maldon and Tiptree a Col U B team would be an interesting concept.

It would help young players gain experience and then use the under-23 side as more of a fitness vessel for those on the verge of first-team football to maintain match fitness in a safer environment.

I know some may agree, others of you will not but it does go to show how the fans forum was insightful and thought provoking.

Our next two games, both at home to Newport and Forest Green, are must win.

As always, hopefully as many as can be will be there to cheer the team to hopefully a vital six points.