IF being second in the table and level on points with leaders Charlton constitutes a crisis then Danny Wilson must be a very happy manager indeed.
Sheffield United, four days after suffering their first League One defeat of the season, responded by producing a performance which not only had “little old Colchester,” as his opposite number John Ward described them beforehand, professing respect but also their own players purring with delight.
It wasn’t quite like watching Brazil but, on this evidence, that midweek loss to Huddersfield Town was just a temporary blip in their mission to become known as South Yorkshire’s very own Selecao.
“When I got subbed I’ve got to admit that even I was sat on the bench enjoying watching the lads knock the ball around,” Stephen Quinn, the United midfielder, said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to give me the opportunity to play this way.
“With the number of chances we created I reckon we could have got six, seven or eight goals but you’ve got to be pleased with that.
“To be perfectly honest, the manager’s philosophy has been a breath of fresh air and it’s exactly what the lads want.
“Okay, I know results have got a big part to play.
“But because we’re getting the opportunity to express ourselves means we’re all really enjoying ourselves not on only on the pitch but even in training too.”
Ward had spoken of entering the “lions’ den” ahead of kick-off and his team were mauled by opponents who, having faced some stinging criticism following their loss to Lee Clark’s side, appeared determined to set the record straight.
With Ched Evans and Chris Porter both writing their names on the scoresheet having been paired together in a new-look attack and goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, who had come under particular scrutiny, assured between the posts, it was pretty much the perfect afternoon for Wilson and assistant Frank Barlow.
“What pleased me the most about that was the fact it was a real all-round effort,” said Wilson. “Everyone contributed to that.
“We did ever so well but I still think we can do better. There are still things we need to work on and still plenty more to come.
“It wasn’t easy leaving Cressy (Richard Cresswell), our top scorer, out because he’s been superb for me, and he was disappointed as I’d expect.
“But I thought Ched and Chris did really, really well out there.
“Not only because they scored but in terms of the link-up play as well.”
United carved Colchester apart at will.
Evans, who has now netted twice in three appearances since returning from long-term injury, converted when Porter helped on Kevin McDonald’s chip into the box before his strike partner dispatched a
perfectly-executed finish following some incisive work by Harry Maguire.
“It’s great to have Ched back,” Quinn, who completed the scoring from Evans’ pass, admitted. “He’s been champing at the bit in training and there’s no doubt about it, he’s a class act.”
Evans, who also hit the underside of the crossbar with a glancing header, dominated his marker, Matt Heath, to such an extent that the Colchester defender was withdrawn a quarter of an hour before the interval while his fellow defender, Magnus Okuonghae, fared little better against Porter.
Anthony Wordsworth, the visitors’ in-form attacker, posed the main threat to a United rearguard superbly marshalled by Neill Collins and Maguire.
But, on the rare occasion Colchester found a way through, Simonsen thwarted their ambitions.
“I actually thought Simmo did okay against Huddersfield,” said Wilson. “He made one mistake and everyone jumped on it. That was a little bit uncalled for because nobody notices if one of the other lads misplaces a pass or does something like that.
“But we put our arm around him afterwards because we don’t apportion blame or point fingers in the dressing room.”
With Porter and Matthew Lowton also going close - the latter hitting the crossbar after choosing to shoot rather than pass to his colleague - for long periods it appeared as if complacency rather than Colchester was United’s greatest enemy.
“I thought we played well against Huddersfield and we spoke a lot about starting this game like we ended that one,” said Quinn.
“We did that. We got out of the traps early and took things from there.”
That was the only way to bounce back. I actually thought we played well against Huddersfield in midweek and we simply carried that on into this game. The really pleasing thing for me is that we are creating chances, creating them from across the pitch.