U's target a number two as new boss

THE search continues for the new Colchester United manager, although it is unlikely that Phil Parkinson's successor will be installed before the end of next week.

By Carl Marston

THE search continues for the new Colchester United manager, although it is unlikely that Phil Parkinson's successor will be installed before the end of next week.

Chairman Peter Heard has been wading through the applications and pursing possible candidates, with the favourites appearing to fit the description of “respected No. 2s” at other clubs.

Tottenham coach Chris Hughton and former Charlton Athletic assistant Mervyn Day are heading the list at the moment although other names have also been mentioned, including current caretaker boss Geraint Williams, ex-Scunthorpe United player-coach Peter Beagrie and former Gillingham player-manager Andy Hessenthaler.

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U's Chief Executive Marie Partner believes that a short-list could be drawn up soon, with second interviews then taking place next week.

For the moment, Williams is masterminding the U's pre-season campaign. The squad have been back training for the last 10 days and their first pre-season fixture is at Heybridge Swifts on Saturday (3pm).

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Mrs Partner explained: “It's a strange one at the moment because we don't want to put a time limit on naming the new manager.

“Mr Heard is still going through the first stage of interviews. There are those who have applied and also those that have been approached, through the correct channels to get permission if they are at other clubs.

“Most managers at other clubs are now in place, so it could be that we go for a No. 2 at another club. We want quality rather than quantity on our final list.

“Of course, we would like to get matters sorted soon, for the benefit of everyone, especially George (Geraint Williams). He is happy to continue as caretaker, presiding over the fitness of players.

“We are conscious that we need to strengthen the squad with a couple of new players. George knows this and he is looking at possibilities,” added Mrs Partner.

Parkinson resigned as Colchester manager on June 14, just over a month after guiding the Essex club into the Championship for the first time in their history.

U's chairman Mr Heard initially rejected the resignation but a compensation package was finally thrashed out with Hull City, to the tune of £400,000, so paving the way for Parkinson's move to the KC Stadium.

There is a clause in the settlement preventing Parkinson from signing anyone from Colchester United for the next 12 months. That means the likes of Greg Halford, Chris Iwelumo and Dean Gerken are off limits.

Williams confirmed that he has already put his name in the hat to become the new U's boss. This is his second spell as caretaker, after presiding over a successful, unbeaten month in charge between the Steve Whitton and Parkinson eras in February, 2003.

“I have officially applied for the job. I have put in my CV and application form as requested,” said Williams.

“But, whatever happens, the most important thing is that the players keep pulling together. They have been absolutely fantastic in pre-season and they remain very positive.

“Whoever gets the job, we must make sure that Colchester United as a club keep moving forward. Personally, I cannot ask for anymore from people at the club.

“I believe that we have the nucleus of a very good side and one that can do very well in the Championship,” added Williams.

Much-respected Tottenham coach Hughton emerged as an early contender for the vacant manager's post and he has the experience as a No. 2 to make the successful step up to the top job.

Former West Ham keeper Day also has bags of experience as an assistant at a Premiership club following his work with Charlton boss Alan Curbishley. He is currently a free agent after the duo left the Valley at the end of last season.

Williams has been at Layer Road since 1998, initially as a player but then as an assistant to both Whitton and Parkinson, while Beagrie and Hessenthaler are both further examples of young men keen to enhance their reputation in the game.

Tenacious midfielder Hessenthaler, who celebrates his 41st birthday next month, has a one-year contract as a player at Barnet, although there is a clause in the deal which would enable him to be released to manage another club.

Hessenthaler said: “If the opportunity with Colchester came along, then I would be interested.”

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