They came, the saw, they moved on

Colchester United correspondent CARL MARSTON covered the shock resignations of George Burley in 1994 and Phil Parkinson in 2006. He finds a similar pattern to yesterday's departure of Paul LambertSO it's happened all over again! First George Burley, then Phil Parkinson, and now Paul Lambert.

Carl Marston

Colchester United correspondent CARL MARSTON covered the shock resignations of George Burley in 1994 and Phil Parkinson in 2006. He finds a similar pattern to yesterday's departure of Paul Lambert

SO it's happened all over again! First George Burley, then Phil Parkinson, and now Paul Lambert.

Colchester United have recovered from the shock departure of a successful manager in the past, and they will do so again, but Lambert's sudden exit yesterday still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

The Scotsman has been tempted away by the prize of managing a “bigger” club, just as Burley was when he switched allegiance to Ipswich Town, and just as Parkinson was when he opted for Hull City.

The unfashionable U's are not admitting it, but they must be getting fed up of being walked-all-over by other clubs, with a bigger income and a bigger fan-base, bull-dozing in to steal their manager.

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Of course such examples litter the footballing world, but it's uncanny that the same thing has happened to the U's three times in the space of 15 years.

It was Colchester who gave Burley his first big chance in management during the summer of 1994, when the former Ipswich full-back came down from Motherwell (player-coach) to succeed Roy McDonough as the new U's boss.

Burley's regime began in disastrous fashion - the first six and league and cup games were all lost - but the Scotsman soon changed the U's fortunes around in dramatic fashion, to such an extent that they were sitting in the play-off zone when Burley suddenly resigned on Christmas Eve.

Less than a fortnight later, he was installed as the manager at Ipswich, having held talks with the Suffolk club without the U's permission. The fall-out was big. The clubs could not agree on a compensation package, with the respective chairmen, David Sheepshanks and Peter Heard, sticking to their guns, although it was the U's who fared better at Tribunal.

Another U's manager, Mick Wadsworth, announced his resignation in mysterious circumstances on August 25, 1999, citing his wish to move back nearer his home in the north, only to then take on a temporary coaching job at Crystal Palace! He later became the assistant to Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle.

However, there was neither the same controversy nor the same aftermath associated with Wadsworth's departure. But there were to be echoes of the Burley saga in 2006, when Parkinson decided to leave Layer Road just a few weeks after guiding the U's into the Championship.

Parkinson resigned in early June, although the U's did not accept his resignation. Hull finally agreed to pay �400,000 in compensation and Parkinson's ill-fated tenure at the KC Stadium began later that month.

And now history has repeated itself all over again.

Lambert was appointed the new Colchester boss just 10 months ago, in October, 2008, with the Essex club floundering in the League One relegation zone.

The former Wycombe manager guided the U's out of trouble and into the top half of the table (finishing position of 12th), before setting a blazing trail at the start of this season, ironically with that opening day 7-1 win at Norwich.

Burley left Colchester in the play-off zone; Parkinson left the U's following promotion; and now Lambert has left with the team on top of League One!

The 40-year-old believes that he has made the right decision. For Burley, his Layer Road exit helped his managerial career. He had considerable success at Ipswich, and is the current manager of his native Scotland following spells at Derby, Hearts and Southampton.

By contrast, it didn't work out for Parkinson at Hull, although he is now trying to mastermind Charlton's return to the Championship.

And what does the future hold for Lambert? He has his work cut out at Carrow Road, but he is a very ambitious man who must be confident of success.

And U's fans have no need to despair. The club survived the loss of both Burley and Parkinson, and came back strongly on each occasion.

United did not win promotion the season that Burley left, but his successor Steve Wignall did finally achieve that feat in 1998. Similarly, Parkinson's successor, Geraint Williams, went on to mastermind the club's highest ever finish in their history - 10th in the Championship.

Lambert's successor will find a club in good hands.

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