Ward admits Boothroyd’s style became predictable
Colchester United boss John Ward admits the dramatic slump which cost the club a play-off place at the end of last season was because the side became too predictable.
Having been firmly entrenched in the top four for the majority of the season, just two wins from their last 13 games saw the U’s plummet to an eighth place finish.
Suddenly, the ‘direct’ tactics which had delivered so much for Aidy Boothroyd early on his regime began to be criticised as being one-dimensional.
“I can see where people came from last year and I was involved with that,” said Ward, who was promoted from the role of assistant manager to manager this summer following Boothroyd’s departure to Coventry.
“I think towards the end of the season we just ran out of the energy we started off with. We got found out a little bit by the opposition and we weren’t able to adjust to that.
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“There was always a huge amount of effort, but maybe we lost that little spark that can change games – that’s why I want variation to our play this year.
“We did play slightly differently at Exeter and Huddersfield towards the end of the season, so it was something Aidy and I were already working on.”
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On his appointment this summer, Ward immediately declared that he would look to play a more easier on the eye style of football than his predecessor. And he has stayed true to his word in pre-season by employing a 4-3-3 formation and bringing in the likes of playmaker Lloyd James and attack-minded right-back Brain Wilson.
Wanting to have a plan B, C and D up his sleeve, a theme of Ward’s signings has been versatility, with virtually all of his new additions able to play in a number of positions.
“I have asked them to play a little bit differently, but that’s not because of what happened under Aidy last year,” said Ward.
“I was part of last season and I supported Aidy because he was the manager. If I change anything it’s because I want to try things with the team that I am in charge of.
“I want the team to put lots of crosses into the penalty box because that’s what I enjoy when I watch football, but there will still be times when have to grind out results when not playing well.
“I think when you are not winning then people grumble about whatever shape you play. If you play 4-3-3 then people will say you’re only playing with one striker.
“I’ve played 4-3-3 in pre-season, I know the team can play 4-4-2, but for me they are just numbers. Ultimately the style of play that people enjoy watching is the one where their team wins.”