Last season was definitely not what Colchester United fans were hoping for at the start if the season, a relegation dogfight to the final day. Joe Dunne was dismissed before being replaced by caretaker Tony Humes, who would later become a permanent fixture, in September. The U’s failed to score goals throughout the season, bar their one shinning light, Freddie Sears, who departed for Championship football with Ipswich Town in the winter. From then on Humes an his side would suffer from a severe goal drought, in fact hadn’t Chris Porter been brought in on what really was an emergency loan, they may not been where they are today. The Sheffield United loanee, who has now signed a permanent deal until 2018, grabbed 7 goals in his short stall in Essex, but will forever be remembered by the supporters of the club as the man who saved them for relegation that season.
Sam Walker provides safe hands at the back, but It Is a surprise to me that there has not been a wave of offered received for the giant goalkeeper having kept 11 clean sheets and clocking up over 4000 minutes last season. Tom Eastman will again marshal the backline but a huge hole has been left with the departure of the sizeable Magnus Okauhongae. Without their influential captain they may lack the leadership and physicality needed to survive. Step in George Elokobi. The former Wolves Defender has mountains of experience and will add an abundance of firmness and fortitude to the error prone defence. His physical stature will be enough to daunt many League One strikers, but those who do stand up to him will be shadowed away from goal
The U’s are known for putting their youth first, and letting them spring into life at an early age in the first team. Midfielders Alex Gilbey and Sammie Szmodics are just two of the names that appeared regularly at the Western Homes Community Stadium last term. The 19-year-old Szmodics grabbed 5 goals in the final 2 and a half months of the season, including a scintillating volley against fellow relegation rivals Crawley Town. To cap off a fantastic season for the youngster, he would win the young player of the year award
For me this will be anther slog of a season for the U’s, excluding Elokobi, who has had many injury problems over the years, the defence still looks shaky. The squad average age of 23 will not increase and may even decline with the additions of the customary Premier League loans. A creative touch in midfield would not go unnoticed and a proven partner for Chris Porter is a necessity.