John McGreal: Colchester United part company with head coach

John McGreal
Liverpool-born John McGreal started his playing career with Tranmere Rovers

Colchester United have parted company with head coach John McGreal after four years in charge.

The U's finished sixth in League Two, but lost to Exeter City in the play-off semi-finals.

Ex-Ipswich, Tranmere and Burnley defender McGreal, 48, was promoted from under-21 coach in 2016 after the club were relegated from League One.

"John should be very proud of his time in charge of the first team," said chairman Robbie Cowling.

Colchester finished eighth, 13th and eighth in McGreal's previous three seasons in charge, but 15 wins and 13 draws in 37 games before coronavirus ended the 2019-20 regular campaign were enough to secure a play-off spot.

However, after winning their home leg of the semi-final 1-0, they went down 3-2 on aggregate after a 3-1 extra-time defeat at Exeter.

"I spoke with John McGreal on Friday, 3 July to explain that the club is going to be implementing a new plan that will see the first team being even more tightly aligned to the academy and that I along with my three other directors, (Tony Humes, Tony Ashby and Jon De Souza), felt a change of first-team head coach was required if our new direction was to be successfully implemented," said Cowling.

"The club is not only facing a number of unprecedented challenges but also some unprecedented opportunities and myself and the other directors believe significant changes are required that will be best served with a new head coach."

Analysis

BBC Essex sports editor Glenn Speller

Having made the play-offs and the quarter-finals of the League Cup under McGreal, who was on a 12-month rolling contract, this will come as a surprise to many.

But Colchester are clearly tightening their belts given the current financial challenges facing football.

It's a club already renowned for utilising academy players and McGreal started his coaching career within that set-up.

Another appointment from within will be expected with Wayne Brown already a frontrunner."

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