Sunken Pirates are proof that stability is key

THE demise of today’s opponents Bristol Rovers is proof that Colchester United’s new ethos of stability is the right way forward.

THE demise of today’s opponents Bristol Rovers is proof that Colchester United’s new ethos of stability is the right way forward.

That’s the view of U’s boss John Ward who admitted this week that it will be with more than a tinge of sadness that it has fallen upon his shoulders to confirm his former club’s relegation this afternoon.

The south west side arrive at The Weston Homes Community Stadium on the final day of the season all but down due to their poor goal difference.

And it’s now up to Ward – who speaks warmly about his three years at Rovers during their transitional period at Twerton Park between 1993 and 1996 – to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on their drop back to League Two.


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The Pirates have chopped and changed managers this season.

Paul Trollope, who did a good job stabilising the club’s position in the third tier, was sacked after a poor start to the campaign and Darren Patterson took brief caretaker charge.

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Dave Penney was given the job in January, but the ex-Oldham boss was sacked less than two months later after losing nine of his 13 games in charge and 33-year-old midfielder Stuart Campbell was made player-manager until the end-of-the-season.

“They’ve had three managers this season, Swindon have done the same, and it looks like both of those clubs will be relegated,” said U’s boss Ward.

“I’m a big advocate of not changing too quickly and too many times and I think that it’s proof in the pudding that those two clubs have had their problems.”

Colchester have had their own fair share of managerial changes in recent years of course and, after the short stints of Paul Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd, chairman Robbie Cowling is ready to take a more long-term approach with Ward.

“I think I’ll be the first manager since Geraint Williams that’s done two successive pre-seasons here,” said the 60-year-old. “I think if you’ve got stability then you’ve got a better chance.

“Take my three years at Cheltenham. When I arrived we were second bottom of League Two and we finished 14th.

“The next year we finished 14th and I was really disappointed because I wanted to be better than that.

“The next year we finished in the play-offs, so it just shows that sometimes it can take a three year build.

“That group at Cheltenham stayed together, we kept doing the same things and in the third year they blossomed into this group of players that were well drilled in what they were doing. It doesn’t have to take that period of time, but sometimes it does.”

Colchester will check on the fitness of captain Kemi Izzet today after he missed three days of training at the start of the week with a foot injury. David Perkins is pushing for a return to the team after recovering from a hamstring injury, while teenage midfielder Jordan Sanderson has been included in the squad for the first time.

Defender Matt Heath, having missed last weekend’s 4-2 defeat at Yeovil through illness, is available again.

Striker Steven Gillespie had a metal plate inserted into his fractured left arm this week and won’t be able to train for six weeks.

Bristol Rovers have several injury worries with Danny Coles (tendonitis), James Tunnicliffe (foot) and player-manager Campbell (dead leg) all struggling. Jeff Hughes (wrist) is definitely out, while 20-goal striker Will Hoskins could be left out ahead of an expected summer move away.

– For team news, half and full-time reports, plus reaction, keep an eye on www.greenun24.co.uk. For live match updates, follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com.

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