2017/18 League Two Preview: John McGreal and Colchester

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 13 July 2017, 09:15

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews John McGreal and Colchester ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.

Background

The reaction to John McGreal’s first season in management was unanimously positive with Colchester finishing eighth on the back of relegation, in spite of an horrendous injury crisis that reached its nadir in mid-February when a dozen first-teamers were sidelined at the same time. It broke a cycle of negativity following four years of relentless struggle towards the bottom of League One and it was quite a turnaround, too - the U’s had been languishing in the drop zone after 17 matches.

Personality

A quiet leader who commands respect through deeds more than words, there’s a mysterious quality to the former centre back that enables him to convey the right message without screaming and bawling. Former colleagues - including Gary Cahill - talk enthusiastically about what a pleasure he was to play alongside because of how well he read the game and the calming effect he had on everyone around him. It would imply that he’s highly intuitive and anticipates potential danger before it unfolds - a very handy skill to bring into management.

Quote

"My first season in management threw everything at me. We had three or four different teams throughout the season because of injuries and we only missed out on the play-offs by a point, so there’s a lot to build on. There’s a lot of players that have connected with the fans now. There’s a real buzz about certain players among the supporters and it’s not just one big-name player they all like. There are five or six different players getting them excited, which is great."

Verdict

Impressive though McGreal’s first season was in the end, Colchester were well off the pace for the first three months and that, combined with their awful injury record, raises questions about the quality of their strength and conditioning work. Fast starts on home soil were key to their revival, with 14 half-time leads at the Community Stadium accounting for a sizeable chunk of their final points total. Opponents will surely be wiser to that threat this time around. A slight regression seems likely.

Prediction: mid-table

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