A LOT is said about player power in football these days.

The term often has negative connotations but footballers taking more responsibility for how they perform on the pitch can surely only be a positive thing.

That’s why the impromptu meeting amongst Colchester United’s players in the aftermath of their 2-1 defeat at Crawley Town was a healthy development.

For one thing, it showed that the players were hurting as much as everyone else, after a poor second-half display proved their undoing at Broadfield Stadium.

Too often a manager gets the blame for a setback what he or she does or doesn’t do; sometimes fairly, sometimes not.

But once his or her players cross the white line and the whistle goes, there is only a certain amount a boss can do aside from tactical intervention.

“You listen to the manager but the manager can’t go out there and play,” said U’s head coach John McGreal, after seeing his side surrender a one-goal advantage to lose at Broadfield Stadium.

Ultimately, once the preparation is done, the tactics are outlined and the instructions are laid out, it is up to players to perform and take a certain amount of accountability for their actions, on the pitch.

That is partly influenced by experience; it is no coincidence that the more senior members of the current U’s side such as Luke Prosser, Dean Gerken and Frank Nouble are seemingly the most vocal.

But part of the learning curve for younger players is about understanding how to manage matches.

It is about them having the maturity to be able to take charge of certain in-game situations.

McGreal had spent half-time warning his players about the threat that Crawley would pose in the second half.

So the deterioration in the U’s performance after half-time was as frustrating as it was alarming.

What resulted was a defeat which had looked pretty unlikely at half-time, prompting the players’ discussion after the game.

“The gaffer (John McGreal) and Bally (Steve Ball) said their bit but it’s good for the lads to speak our minds as well,” said skipper Prosser, whose first-half goal seemed to have set the U’s on their way to victory.

Colchester’s defeat at Crawley was their first in five league matches.

It has been a productive last couple of months for McGreal’s side, who sit only two points off the play-off places.

But going forward, the ability of the U’s players to manage in-game situations could ultimately prove crucial in determining whether or not their promotion aspirations are fulfilled.