‘The last two years have been a battle’ – admits Colchester United boss Joe Dunne

Colchester United boss Joe Dunne

Colchester United boss Joe Dunne - Credit: Archant

Colchester United boss Joe Dunne can cope with the pressure, but can his players?

The U’s have just five games left, in which to save themselves from relegation.

The Essex remain outside the bottom four, due to a superior goal difference, but Dunne admits that the signs are not that encouraging.

Four straight defeats have left the U’s staring into the abyss, namely League Two, but there is still time to reverse the slump.

“The last two years have just been a battle,” admitted Dunne.

“It has been a battle as a manager. It’s been a constant battle to try and bring the best out of people, and a constant battle to try and avoid relegation.

“The pressure is on me. Blame me, it’s my fault.

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“Any angst should be towards me, because I pick the team and I am responsible for how we play, with tactics and so-on.

“As the manager, I take full responsibility.

“You have got to be mentally tough to be a manager, and I just feel you have to carry on.”

The Dubliner believes that the last three weeks of the season, encompassing five games, will come down to a ‘mental’ challenge, rather than a physical one.

The U’s were involved in a similar situation last year, with a struggle to retain their League One status, but the circumstances are slightly different this time around.

Rather than having been embroiled in a relegation battle for months, as was the case last year, Dunne’s men have only nose-dived back into trouble over the last few weeks.

“Last year we had a more positive mindset,” admitted Dunne.

“But this year we just seem to be free-falling, which is very hard.

“You have to put the handbrake on somewhere, and we are finding it difficult to stop this freefall, which is vital. We have to keep believing we can.

“But I think it’s going to take an absolutely humongous effort now, because of the backs-to-the-wall (situation) we are in, especially as other teams around us are winning.

“If it doesn’t change, we are going to be facing another league next year.”

The U’s face three of their relegation rivals in their next three games, starting with a trip to basement dwellers Stevenage on Saturday.

“I just think it’s mental now,” added Dunne.

“There’s tons of pressure on me as the manager, and I can cope.

“Last Saturday (2-1 home defeat to Tranmere) was a missed opportunity, so it doesn’t make life any easier.

“If anything, it creates a harder environment for us, but it’s down to the mental state that the players will be in.

“Ability-wise, I know they have that. We have to take our chances and cut out our mistakes, but I’ve been saying that for a long time now.

“For me, the rest of the season now is played in the head.

“If anyone feels the pressure then they need to tell me because we can fix it.”

Following this weekend’s trip to Stevenage, the U’s play host to Oldham Athletic and then travel to Crewe Alexandra.

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