ROBBIE Cowling admits Colchester United head coach John McGreal and his assistant Steve Ball have a ‘tough balancing act’ to achieve as they embark on a fourth season at the helm.

But the U’s chairman has praised the ‘remarkable’ longevity of his first-team coaching duo – and has taken a swipe at the ‘keyboard warriors’ who accuse him of lacking ambition.

McGreal began his fourth campaign in charge at Colchester with a 1-1 draw at home to Port Vale, with hopes high of another promotion push this season.

Writing in the club’s official matchday programme for the Vale game, U’s chairman Cowling said: “John McGreal and Steve Ball begin their fourth campaign which is remarkable in the modern game.

“The keyboard warriors, who really know nothing about our club’s DNA, suggest that they have the safest jobs in management because I have no ambition and I’m not a trigger happy chairman.

“John and Steve actually have really difficult jobs to fulfil my very ambitious long term plans for Colchester United, they are expected to play an attractive possession-based style of winning football whilst providing opportunities for our young academy products.

“It’s a tough balancing act for them but if they can continue to achieve those objectives for our club it will only bode well for the future.”

It has been a busy summer for Colchester, with plenty of comings and goings at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The U’s have made seven new signings, with Cohen Bramall the latest arrival on a free transfer after leaving Arsenal.

But there have also been a host of departures, with the bulk of them leaving to join higher-placed clubs.

Those to exit include last season’s top scorer Sammie Szmodics and player of the year Frankie Kent, to Bristol City and Peterborough United respectively.

“New players have been signed and we believe they are good signings who can go a long way in the game,” said Cowling.

“However, we should not expect them to be like for like replacements for Frankie and Sammie who were totally ready to move on to much tougher challenges.

“The players we can sign are not quite at that stage yet, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to sign them.

“We also have the next batch of young talent coming from our academy and providing those young players with first team opportunities is imperative if we are going to continue to produce players who will eventually make a major impact for us.”