John McGreal becomes the first U’s manager-of-the-month winner for nearly eight years

John McGreal with his manager-of-the-month award for December

John McGreal with his manager-of-the-month award for December - Credit: Archant

John McGreal has become the first Colchester United boss for nearly eight years to win a manager-of-the-month award.

Paul Lambert with his manager-of-the-month award for January, 2009, when he was the Colchester Unite

Paul Lambert with his manager-of-the-month award for January, 2009, when he was the Colchester United boss - Credit: Action Images

U’s boss McGreal has been officially named the Sky Bet League Two manager-of-the-month for December.

Paul Lambert was the last U’s manager to win such an award, when he was voted the League One manager-of-the-month for January, 2009.

“The award is all down to a massive team effort,” enthused McGreal, who took over the managerial reins after the end of last season.

“I have to give a big credit to the players for the run that they have been on in December, and throughout the festive period.

“They have had to adjust to new formations and different personnel coming in, although we’ve managed to keep a largely settled side.

“Now I hope that they can retain their hunger and their desire to carry it on, because although it’s great to receive such an award, it only represents a small portion of the season.”

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With his side sliding down the table, McGreal demonstrated his bravery in December, switching to three at the back and making positive, early substitutions when needed.

Ten points from four games are proof that both ploys worked.

McGreal said: “It’s very flattering to receive the award, Steve Ball and I are obviously delighted, but the credit must go to the players for the way they’ve adapted to what we’ve asked them to do.

“We’ve changed the system, had players come back from injury and the whole squad has had the belief and talent to go out there and perform.

“Even during the run without winning, they believed in themselves and the results in December were a reward for their hard work and application.

“They’ve shown what they are capable of and we all want to continue December’s form into the New Year and the second half of the season.”

George Burley, a former Colchester boss (in 1994), chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.

Burley said: “It is great to see a young manager doing well in his first job and John is certainly doing that at Colchester United.

“After having a difficult spell he changed his formation round to bring the best out of his players and that has worked very impressively as they gained three wins and a draw in December.

“Colchester United are a club committed to bringing young players through and John is showing that he is the ideal person to do that.”