MAKE no mistake: Matty Etherington loves coaching.

“It’s the closest thing I get to playing and that’s the real joy that this job brings,” enthuses the newly-appointed Colchester United head coach, as he prepares his side to face League Two leaders Stockport County, this weekend.

But despite Etherington’s passion for his profession, it was not always his intention to enter the world of football management once he had brought the curtain down on his successful playing career due to a troublesome back injury, in 2014.

“I retired pretty instantly, because I had problems with my lower back, a microfracture in one of my vertebrae, which was really getting me down,” said the former Spurs and West Ham United midfielder.

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“If you spoke to my wife, she’d tell you that I made the decision very hastily and I wasn’t really sure of what was next.

“Luckily, my youngest daughter was born and she’s now nine years old – she kind of gave me a little bit more focus, because I was struggling at the time.

“There was an opportunity at Norwich to work within the youth development phase and do a bit of scouting.

“I wanted to get back into football, because I genuinely didn’t know anything else to be honest.

“I enjoyed the coaching and going out and watching games and I thought ‘this might be for me’.


“Then I got the Peterborough job and it snowballed from there.

“I worked through my A Licence, my Pro Licence and here I am.”

Etherington enjoyed an impressive playing career, much of which was played out in the Premier League.

The 42-year-old played under a host of different managers, all with varying styles and philosophies – so who had the most influence on him?

“Glenn Hoddle when I was at Spurs was tactically a brilliant, brilliant manager with a really, really bright mind,” said Etherington, who joined Spurs from Peterborough United in December, 1999.

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“But the two most influential managers on me would probably be Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew, for different reasons.

“Alan for the man management side of things, the way he was, the way he dealt with you; I was a confidence player so the way he made you feel as a person.

“Tony Pulis, for the tactical detail that he went into, especially out of possession.

“The teams that he managed at Stoke for five years that I was in were drilled to within an inch of our lives; we knew exactly what we were doing and we were tough to play against and I took loads from that as well.


“They would probably be the main two but I’ve also played under some other really good managers, over the years.”

Etherington has impressed as Colchester’s interim boss over recent weeks, leading them to three wins and a draw in the four League Two games he has taken charge of.

He wants his side to have a definite identity but appreciates that can take time and knows that his players will need to be flexible, in order to move further up the table.

“Adaptability is key,” added Etherington, who featured in two FA Cup Finals as a player.

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“Every given fixture is different and I think you have to be adaptable.

“When you’re coming up against certain teams in this league that can cause you problems in different areas, we’re going to have to adapt to that within our formation.

“Hopefully, it won’t make the team look too different in terms of the way we are and our energy and out of possession work and those kinds of things but they may be adaptability, in terms of formation tweaks especially away from home against the top teams, in this league – it’s really important.

Gazette: Matty Etherington

“I do like a definite identity to the way my teams look and that takes time – I know you don’t have time, at first team level.

“I want us to be on the front foot, getting up to the ball, I want us to have loads of energy, I want us to counter quick and play good football at times but not be predictable.

“But the biggest thing to me is developing the player to be the best version of themselves.

“I think that’s really important, at any level of football and making them have the tools available to themselves, which is through the coaching staff, to go out and perform week in, week out no matter what age they are.”