New boss wants U's to pick up tempo

COLCHESTER United defender Matt Heath believes that the U's will play at a higher tempo under new manager Paul Lambert.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United defender Matt Heath believes that the U's will play at a higher tempo under new manager Paul Lambert.

The Lambert era begins with a trip to Stockport County tomorrow, and Heath is looking forward to playing under the new boss, and dragging the Essex club out of the relegation zone.

“The manager has his own ideas that he has brought across, and the lads have really bought into it,” enthused Heath yesterday.

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“Training has been really good this week, and the reserves put in a good performance (4-0 win over Northampton) on Tuesday. The tempo in training has been very high, and I'm quite looking forward to seeing how we react at Stockport.

“He (Lambert) has laid down what he wants from us. He wants us to close people down quickly, and to generally play at a higher tempo,” added Heath.

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The U's slumped to their third successive league defeat, by conceding a last-gasp goal in a 4-3 defeat at Cheltenham Town last weekend. As a result, the U's slipped into the bottom four.

Lambert officially took over the managerial reins on Monday, and will now be plotting the club's rise up the League One table.

Heath continued: “We are where we are in the league, and we have got to believe it. There's no kidding. We have to do something about it.

“It is up to us, the players, to turn it around. We have the players to start climbing the league.

“We didn't do too badly under Kit Symons (former caretaker manager). We won at Tranmere and at Gillingham, and although we lost a few as well, we all wanted to play for him. We are grateful to him, but now is the time to start afresh.

“I've been in this position before at other clubs, where managers have come and gone. I have a few friends who support Celtic, and they've told me a lot about how successful the gaffer (Lambert) was as a player up there.

“He's won the biggest club competition there is (UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich), so he has a lot of experience that he can bring to us,” added Heath.

The U's are lumbered with the third-worst defensive record in League One, having leaked 24 goals in their first 10 games. And that is on the back of conceding more goals than any other club in the Championship last season.

However, ex-Leicester, Coventry and Leeds centre-half Heath believes that the onus is on the whole team to step up their performance, not just the back four.

“The whole team needs to improve defensively, starting from the centre-forward down,” explained Heath, who actually played 10 games for Stockport during a loan spell at Edgeley Park earlier on in his career.

“We have struggled to score in some games, while in others we have conceded too many. So we need to improve all over the pitch.

“There is a healthy competition for places, and that should keep us all on our toes.

“Our away form has been better than our home form, and we need to sort out our home record at the new ground (Community Stadium) to climb the table.

“No one liked Layer Road. It was a horrible place to go, but now we have a nice stadium and a nice pitch. It means we have to start putting fear into our opponents.”

Heath has partnered Paul Reid in the heart of defence in recent matches. But Pat Baldwin is knocking on the door again, after a nightmarish run of injuries, and fellow centre-half Chris Coyne is also pushing for a return to the team.

Coyne has been back in his native Australia over the last 10 days, although he was not required for the Socceroos' 4-0 win over Qatar in a World Cup Qualifier in Brisbane on Wednesday evening. Coyne was an unused substitute.

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