A City manager who knows the score

Unpredictability. That's the great thing about sport. By and large you never really know what's going to happen next. Unless you're a Chelsea fan, perhaps.

Unpredictability. That's the great thing about sport. By and large you never really know what's going to happen next. Unless you're a Chelsea fan, perhaps.

A couple of years ago, if you'd suggested Colchester United would be the pre-eminent football club in East Anglia they would have locked you up and thrown away the key.

Yet here we are with the U's sitting comfortably in the top half of the Championship, a veritable country mile ahead of their so-called more illustrious regional rivals Norwich City and Ipswich Town.

In terms of league status right now, Colchester are very much the pride of Anglia. That's what you call unpredictable.

I bumped into Norwich manager Peter Grant this week. He was at a loss to explain how, or why, his team performed so poorly at Layer Road last weekend, particularly on the back of City's recent encouraging displays.

I put it to him that the Canaries were in good company, given Colchester's outstanding record at Layer Road this season.

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The Scot was having none of it. He was in no mood for excuses. The display at Colchester was simply not good enough.

I might be wrong, but I detected more than a hint that we might see some significant changes in personnel come the summer, which is perhaps no bad thing given the relative turmoil of the past couple of seasons at Carrow Road.

One thing's for sure, you only have to be in Grant's company for a few minutes to appreciate just how passionate he is about the Norwich City cause.

The Scot is patently desperate to succeed; his enthusiasm is hugely infectious.

I appreciate passion will only get you so far, but I can't help thinking Grant's determination bodes well for the Canaries' future.

But back to my original point about the unpredictable nature of sport, in particular football.

This time last year, England fans among us were looking forward with eager anticipation to the World Cup. After all, we were among the favourites to lift the trophy, given the huge talent at Sven Goran Ericsson's disposal.

Fast forward a few short months and England are in danger of becoming a laughing stock, with qualification for the European Championships now far from certain.

Steve McClaren is a man under fire, to put it mildly, but I don't think he should take all the flak for the current sorry state of affairs.

It's obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the game that McClaren was not the right man to succeed the outrageously well-rewarded Ericsson. In other words the FA have got it wrong. Again.

Sir Bobby Charlton was among those who made a qualified attempt to support McClaren this week, suggesting we should at least give the man a chance to prove his critics wrong.

That was all well and good, but moments later we were treated to another unpredictable nugget as the living legend turned his attentions to domestic matters, blasting Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for having the audacity to show a public interest in signing United's prized asset Ronaldo.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black; small wonder Sir Bobby was duly slaughtered by radio listeners for his comments.

But arguably the most unpredictable, and cherished, event of the past few days came courtesy of Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn.

Here's a man who apparently stumped up some £8,000 from his own pocket to pay for a group of the club's fans to take a taxi back home to the North East after they'd been booted off a plane for a touch of boisterous behaviour.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of what happened as the plane prepared to take off after Sunderland's win at Cardiff, we should salute Quinn for his generosity.

Then again, I seem to recall the likeable Irishman donated most, if not all, the proceeds from his testimonial to charity - an unpredictable gesture from a true gent of a man and I for one hope Sunderland win promotion this season.