WHILE much of this season will see me covering Ipswich Town, Norwich City, West Ham and Peterborough United, I do hope to cover some COLCHESTER UNITED games, because if I am it means they are doing well. But unlike many U’s fans I don’t let my heart rule my head and my expectation levels will be somewhat lower than theirs.


As unpalatable as it may be for many Col U fans promotion, or even the play-off places, is probably beyond them.

Given the resources, and let us be brutally honest here, their poor attendances and owner Robbie Cowling’s prudent approach to budgeting, means the harsh reality is a top 10 finish would represent a decent season for John Ward’s men.

Manager Ward, ably assisted by Joe Dunne (surely destined to be a manager in his own right soon) and the rest of his small but efficient backroom staff, have done wonders to keep the Mighty U’s in a position where expectations are so high among the fan base but the bookies are not ruled by the heart and many see them as bottom half finishers even after decent close season results.

While an unbeaten pre-season has many positives, losing is habit-forming so better to go into a new campaign with a winning mentality, or at least the very least knowing how hard you are to beat as a team, it can also bring a false sense of security and raise hopes so easily dashed.  

No – better the U’s go into the campaign as underdogs looking to punch above their weight and proving the likes of me and the bookies wrong.

I would love to be more optimistic but my fears for the U’s lay mainly in the size, or rather lack of, their squad.

Ward and co have added to a smallish outfit with players they pretty much already know. Karl Duguid is a U’s legend in his own right, he goes back to the old fourth division days, winning and losing at Wembley with the U’s and has proven to be Championship class with Colchester and more latterly Plymouth Argyle, although that didn’t go too well either.

Defender Tom Eastman enjoyed his loan spell with the U’s from Ipswich so much he jumped at the chance to join his boyhood club on a permanent basis, and the commute from his Clacton home is no hardship.

Eastman is a centre half, and not really a full back despite Roy Keane’s insistence that he is (oh how I got the glare when I told Roy that when he was Ipswich boss) and is a player who I believe will thrive at this level and grow to be a formidable presence at the back with the ability to bring the ball out of defence given the chance.

And the U’s are built on pretty solid foundations, with the addition of Michael Rose from Swindon another solid signing. Clearly they would welcome Ben Williams back from his viral infection as soon as possible but Mark Cousins has proved a reliable keeper, which the team trust, (Even Andy Bond who bears the scars from their unfortunate coming together.)

That incident took the gloss off a night where, and I appreciate it was just a friendly, Colchester looked a better organised side and had the better of Ipswich in midfield where they stifled the Blues and allowed few opportunities.

Conversely, the U’s didn’t really look to threaten, despite the best efforts of John-Joe O’Toole, who can be a real presence in League One if he can find consistency to go with his talent. 

With Kem Izzet and Anthony Wordsworth capable of supplying the ammunition for Ashley Vincent and Steven Gillespie, and Kayode Odejayi in particular, the U’s  do possess a goal threat but all too often lapses of concentration prove costly and they end up playing catch up.

To be serious contenders the U’s need to add at the right time and their ability to trade in the loan market, especially in the second half of the campaign, could prove to be a vital factor.

More importantly though will be the ability to handle the expectation, which as expected, will be just what we have come to expect.   

Let’s hope I’m wrong and I should have listened to my heart.

Let me know how do you think the U's will are this season and comment below?