COLUMN: Players owe Caldwell after horror show undermines his position
Gary Caldwell said he would carry the can for Saturday's horrow show at Crewe but his players bear a huge responsibility for seriously undermining his position.
After earning a point, even with 10 men, at home against Coventry, all the Spireites had to do was keep the ball out of their net for 90 minutes at Gresty Road, pick up another draw and move on to Colchester having presented their gaffer with some breathing space.
What they did, instead, was hang out to dry the man they publicly profess to enjoy working under.
It’s all very well saying they back him, insisting to the media that he’s a good boss, stating their belief that he’ll turn things around.
That’s not what they showed on Saturday with what can only be described as a pathetic display.
Carelessness and poor decision making reared their ugly heads again inside the first 10 minutes and were rarely absent from Chesterfield’s performance.
Crewe did play some nice stuff, their movement up top was good and they shifted the ball quickly from back to front – on the deck a lot of the time – but it was so easy for them.
Misplaced passes, missed tackles, players failing to react – it spread through the Town team like wildfire with only one or two coming out with any credit.
Arguing amongst themselves, being split open at will by the rampant hosts, they looked hapless.
There was no midfield to speak of, Chris O’Grady was completely unsupported up top and the defence put under pressure they simply couldn’t cope with.
Some of that, of course, lands at the feet of the manager, and some of it rests with individuals who didn’t earn their wages.
After the game Caldwell was as dejected as I’ve seen him since his January arrival and during it on the touchline his body language at times reflected the mood of a man who could barely watch.
Since the full-time whistle there has been an overwhelming barrage of criticism and calls for his head from the fanbase.
Callers to Peak FM, followers of the club’s official Twitter account, commenters on the Derbyshire Times Facebook page, message board posters - the vast majority are calling for a change in manager.
Forget last season, it’s this season’s record that is becoming so hard to defend – but it’s the manner of the defeat, the sheer gulf between the two sides on Saturday that has brought Caldwell’s future so sharply and so quickly into focus.
They are his players, recruited on his watch and playing in his system – he picked the team and sent them out on Saturday.
Surely not even the most fervent Caldwell critic could have predicted the abject misery that followed, however.
So now they make the long trip to Essex in the knowledge that Saturday cannot be repeated. The consequences are so obvious they don’t need to be written in black and white.
It’s not a must win game but it is a must not lose badly game.
Expect changes because some of the performances warranted long spells on the bench.
Time will tell, perhaps sooner rather than later, if Caldwell is the right man for this job – football has a way of sorting these things out.
Regardless of whether he is or he isn’t, whether his tactics are spot on or miles off, he deserves better than what he got at the weekend when the players run out at the Colchester Community Stadium tomorrow night.
Whoever gets on the pitch owe him big time and it rests in their own hands to prove their feelings of loyalty and respect towards him.