Joe's an uptown man

COLCHESTER United caretaker manager, Joe Dunne, knows all about the battling spirit and siege mentality of the unfashionable Essex club.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United caretaker manager, Joe Dunne, knows all about the battling spirit and siege mentality of the unfashionable Essex club.

And Dunne believes that the U's have to rediscover their identity, which was lost for a while following the club's move from Layer Road (in the heart of the town) to the Weston Homes Community Stadium (on the edge of town) "From my point of view, I want this club to become a town again. I believe we've been missing this for a while," insisted Dunne, on the eve of today's game at MK Dons.

"We have a great new stadium here, and everyone is focusing on trying to fill it.

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"To me, it seemed like it was back to the old days (2-1 win against Gillingham on Tuesday evening) with some tremendous support from the crowd.

"It is the fans who are the heart-beat of the club. The players and coaches are only the muscles and limbs," added Dunne.

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Having originally arrived at Layer Road as a player in 1996, tenacious full-back Dunne has been almost a permanent fixture with the U's, with the exception of a few months at Dartford in 1999.

And after spells of coaching the youth team, reserves and first team, the Irishman is now looking forward to his second game at the helm, as caretaker, at the Dons.

He has not been shy to seek assistance from other quarters, bringing in ex-Southend defender Paul Clark in an advisory capacity, as well as speaking to a number of other managers.

"I have spoken to a couple of managers over the last few days, including Geraint Williams (former U's manager) who phoned me,"

revealed Dunne.

"I've also spoken to one or two others from higher up the leagues.

They have all told me to just try and enjoy it.

"That's why I am not going to chase things and I'm not going to grasp things.

"Paul Clark is someone that I trust. I never look a gift horse in the mouth, and Paul was available.

"He's just someone that I wanted to bring in to bounce things off, along with Gary Holt (player-coach).

"It's only been a few days, but it's going well at the moment. We are keeping the players ticking over.

"We'll be looking at MK Dons as a team. They are unbeaten in the league, and they don't give much away. They are quick up front and have pace in the right areas. Paul Ince (manager) is a vastly experienced guy. His reputation goes before him.

"But we will just worry about ourselves because that sets the tempo.

We can cause them one or two problems, and it's a great stadium to go to."

Amid all the turmoil of the last week, with the loss of the manager (Paul Lambert), assistant manager (Ian Culverhouse) and football operations manager (Gary Karsa), all to Norwich, and skipper Dean Hammond's move to Swindon, Dunne knows the importance of the U's more established players.

He continued: "Our spine of the team is Pat Baldwin, Kem Izzet and Scott Vernon. They were all involved in our promotion season (three years ago).

"I like them because they are the sort of players who galvanise the fans, a bit like Karl Duguid used to do during his long stay here.

"I had no hesitation in making Pat (Baldwin) the captain. He's got great leadership qualities. But if I had three or four arm-bands, I'd be happy to give them out," added Dunne.

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