COLCHESTER United are on the hunt for a new head coach after they parted company with John McGreal.

U's chairman Robbie Cowling has said the club felt a change of first-team manager was needed, as they look to embark on a 'new direction' which will see the senior team even more tightly aligned to the Academy.

McGreal has departed after just over four years in charge of the U's, where he has presided over 200 matches.

He led the U's to a sixth-place finish in League Two this season and a quarter-final spot, in the Carabao Cup.

McGreal succeeded Kevin Keen in the JobServe Community Stadium hot seat on May 4, 2016.

McGreal had worked at Colchester since 2009 in the U's academy set-up, prior to landing the top job.

He previously had success with the club’s under-18s, leading them to a league and cup double in 2014.

He then served as their under-21 boss and was interim manager for one game - a heavy defeat at Burton Albion, in November 2015.

The former Ipswich defender then followed in the footsteps of the likes of Joe Dunne and Tony Humes in making the step up from the club's academy coaching ranks, to become first-team manager.

McGreal's first game in charge was a 1-1 draw at Hartlepool United, on the opening day of the 2016-17 League Two campaign.

He has overseen nearly four seasons in the managerial hotseat since then - twice missing out on the play-offs by a single point on the last day of the campaign.

McGreal led Colchester to sixth spot in League Two with nine games of the current season remaining, prior to the campaign being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That secured the U's place in the play-offs, where they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Exeter City, over two legs.

Colchester also reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for only the second time in their history this season, beating Spurs and Crystal Palace on their way to bowing out at Manchester United.

Speaking after the Exeter defeat last month, McGreal said: “We were desperate for it and that’s why it now hurts so much, in a way.

“We’ll have to try and pick ourselves up and try and learn from it.

“Now that’s the platform for the football club and where we want to go.

“We’ve had the cup runs this year and we’ve been able to back that up with the league.

"When you have a good cup run, the league form tends to tail away but we’ve been able to fight on both fronts.”