Who will be the next U’s boss?

Colchester United fans are already beginning to speculate as to who their seventh manager this decade will be after Aidy Boothroyd was unveiled by Coventry City yesterday. STUART WATSON looks at the runners and riders.

Appoint from within

JOHN WARD

The 59-year-old is the most experienced member of Colchester’s coaching staff. Assistant manager to Graham Taylor at both Watford and Aston Villa in the late ‘80s, Ward went on to manage both Bristol clubs, Cheltenham and Carlisle. Appointed by Aidy Boothroyd as his assistant last September, Ward has been an influential figure at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this season, taking charge of coaching sessions, press conferences and reserve team matches. Could well follow Boothroyd to Coventry.

Odds: 10/1

JOE DUNNE

Would be a hugely a hugely popular choice amongst U’s fans. The 36-year-old Irishman played over 150 games in defence for the Essex club during two spells in the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. Stayed on at Colchester as a coach after hanging up his boots in 2003 and quickly progressed from youth team coach to reserve team manager. Appointed caretaker boss for four games following Paul Lambert’s departure to Norwich and has effectively been a second assistant manager to Aidy Boothroyd this season. Could well form a partnership with either Ward, if he stays, or someone like Steve Foley (see below).

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Odds: 22/1

Up-and-comers

EDDIE HOWE

The 32-year-old Bournemouth boss is the youngest manager in the Football League. The Cherries defender retired from playing with a knee injury at the age of 29 and, after dedicating himself to coaching, was surprisingly handed the manager’s job in January 2009. Saved the club from League Two relegation in his first five months in the job and then incredibly led them to second-place and promotion in his first full season. Born and bred in Dorset, Howe turned down the chance to replace Darren Ferguson at Peterborough last November and is likely to want to give League One a try with his hometown club.

Odds: Unavailable

PAUL TISDALE

Exeter’s 37-year-old manager is another regarded as one of the best young managerial prospects in the English game. Following an unspectacular career as a player, injury forced him into coaching in his late 20s. Led university side Team Bath to the FA Cup first round in 2000 before joining Conference side Exeter. Led the Grecians to the Football League in 2008 and then straight up to League One the very following season. Renowned for playing the passing game, Tisdale could be the antithesis of the departing Aidy Boothroyd. Exeter finished a point above relegation this season, so now could be the time that Tisdale looks to further his personal career.

Odds: Unavailable

Untested

JIMMY FLOYD HASSELBAINK

The inclusion of the former Dutch and Chelsea striker as a candidate might raise some eyebrows, but it’s not as silly as first sounds. The 38-year-old is understood to be very keen on a move into management, while insiders in the game say they have been impressed by his potential. Although a risk, Hasselbaink would provide the club with a the kudos of a household name, a larger than life character and some great contacts both at home and abroad.

Odds: Unavailable

GARY SPEED

The former Welsh international only officially hung up his boots earlier this month at the age of 41. Turned down Swansea following the departure of Roberto Martinez in 2009 and has agreed to stay on at Sheffield United as a coach for one more year. However, he may now feel Colchester could provide the perfect launching pad for a managerial career. Wales’ second most capped player of all time, Speed played in the top-flight for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton. Always comes across well as a pundit.

Odds: Unavailable

KEVIN WATSON

Loved by Colchester fans following his key midfield role in the U’s promotion season of 2005/6 and their subsequent 10th place finish in the Championship. Released by the Essex club in 2008, Watson signed for Luton Town before a knee injury quickly forced him to swap playing for coaching. Left the Hatters at the end of the season following a backroom reshuffle.

Odds: 20/1

Experience

JIM MAGILTON

The former Ipswich Town boss, 41, is desperate to get back into management as soon as possible having left QPR by ‘mutual consent’ in December last year. Following managerial failures at two Championship clubs, the Northern Irishman could see ambitious League One club Colchester as the ideal place to relaunch himself. Geographically it would allow him to move back to the area where he spent 10 years of his life, while he could also potentially link up with his former trusted Ipswich coach Steve Foley again. The only stumbling block would be his on-running court battle with Ipswich over his 2009 sacking.

Odds: 7/1

GEORGE BURLEY

The 53-year-old has been out of work since being sacked as Scotland manager last November. Player-managed Colchester for just 20 matches in 1994 before leaving for Ipswich Town – the U’s receiving compensation. During an eight-year reign, Burley eventually led the Suffolk club to promotion in his third play-off final attempt and then finished fifth in a superb first Premier League season. Spells at Derby, Hearts and Southampton followed.

Odds: 9/1

BRENDAN RODGERS

The Northern Irishman has been installed as the early favourite by some bookmakers. The 37-year-old left Reading by mutual consent last December after just half a season in charge and is currently out of work. A former Chelsea youth team coach under Jose Mourinho, Rodgers succeeded Aidy Boothroyd at Watford.

Odds: 4/1

CHRIS COLEMAN

Sacked by Coventry at the start of the month, could Coleman be a straight swap for Aidy Boothroyd? After making over 500 appearances in the Football League as a player, the Welshman started his managerial career by leading relegation-tipped Fulham to a surprise ninth place finish in the Premier League. A brief but successful spell at Spanish second division side Real Sociedad ended following a disagreement with the club’s new president, before Coleman took over at Coventry. End of season slumps have seen the Sky Blues finish 21st, 17th and 19th in the last three seasons meaning the 39-year-old might drop down a level.

Odds: 14/1

Geographical links

STEVE FOLEY

The Clacton-born 56-year-old has just been released from the coaching staff by Roy Keane at Ipswich. Foley made nearly 300 appearances for the U’s in the ‘70s and ‘80s and went on to become a coach at the club. Following various caretaker stints at Layer Road, he spent a decade as a coach at Norwich (96-06) before joining rivals Ipswich. Immensely popular in East Anglian circles, Foley could well be appointed alongside another candidate.

Odds: 12/1

STEVE TILSON

The Essex-born manager has spent sevens as manager of Southend, leading the Shrimpers from the Conference to the Championship and back down to League Two. Has previously turned down overtures from Norwich and West Brom, but is now said to be disenchanted with the club’s current predicament. Having just narrowly avoided administration, Tilson finished the season with just 12 fit professionals as his side were relegated from League One. Despite his loyalties to Southend, could find a move to Colchester too good to turn down if offered.

Odds: Unavailable

PAUL INCE

The former England international midfielder has just walked away from his second stint at MK Dons due to budget cuts. Could be persuaded to come to Colchester if chairman Robbie Cowling promises transfer funds. Born in Ilford and a boyhood West Ham fan, a move to Essex could suit the 42-year-old. The former Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool player started his managerial career by saving Macclesfield from League Two relegation before getting the MK Dons promoted to League One. An unsuccessful six-month spell in charge of Premier League side Blackburn ifollowed before his return to MK Dons who, like Colchester, just came up short of the play-offs this season.

Odds: 7/1

*Odds supplied by Victor Chandler and correct at time of publication.

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