FINALLY U’s fans we can officially say it is over. The 2020-21 season, one that although we may all wish to forget, will be one that will live on in the memories for all the ups and downs on and off the pitch.

In a season where fans got to see only a minuscule amount of live football, having to make do with iFollow and the sofa, rather than early starts, long car journeys and lukewarm cups of coffee in the far flung corners of the country.

Covid has played a massive part in disrupting so much of our daily lives, it will be refreshing (all being well) next season to have just the football side of things to worry about next year with Colchester United.

We finished the season strongly all things considered. Signing off with another clean sheet on our trip up to Tranmere where the hosts were hoping for – and secured – play-off football.

We could have turned up and played as if we were already on the beach with the season effectively over for us with nothing left to play for after securing our safety, last weekend.

But full credit to the players and staff who travelled; they went there to play football and finish on a high.

Although we didn't get the win, we stopped them playing their game and created chances of our own as the game went on.

It was also good to see the two youngsters, Tom Stagg and Harvey Sayer, come off the bench and play their part.

When the full-time whistle went, the hosts celebrated their play-off spot and I’m sure I was not alone in letting out a long breath and cheering that it was finally done for this year.

So now even before the dust has settled and the coach engine has cooled from the trip back to North Essex from Birkenhead, the thoughts and planning will be on the 2021-22 season, one which must be better than this term.

We can't become a relegation-battling club as the norm. We must look to learn our lessons and ensure improvements are made at all levels so we can welcome back the team on to the pitch in person again looking forwards and upwards.

Now there are many thoughts on how this should happen, what players should we look to retain, who should manage the team and frankly which players should never be seen in a Colchester shirt ever again.

The big talking point is Harry Pell; there's been a lot said about his absence over the last two games for personal reasons.

Until the club or the player come out and explain what is going on, I don’t think we should jump to conclusions.

One thing I do think is that a player like Harry is not the sort to down tools just because he is not getting another contract or to refuse to play in case of sustaining an injury that could scupper a move.

In my view, something else is going on and all will hopefully come out in the wash, including the reasons and hopefully announcing that he is staying at the same time.

A lot of other players are out of contact and while I’m not going to bore everyone by going through them all one by one and saying if I think they should stay or go, a few players are worth a mention.

Now player salaries are always open to discussion and who gets paid what - some are overpaid and some do not get paid enough.

I think Ryan Clampin is one of those who we must look to keep and improve his offer. Ben Stevenson is a player I really rate and want the club to keep and Tom Eastman is a no brainer for retaining, offer him a good deal and a all we can to keep him.

He's a player who always plays his heart out for the club and one who deserves all we can give him, again keeping it realistic and manageable.

There will be a number of comings and goings, a summer that will be as frantic as always for us fans as to just what squad we are going to settle on.

But before all that we need to ensure the correct manager is in place, one who the players, current and new, respect, but also one who has the drive and determination to get us on the front foot from the off.

Hayden Mullins has put a good case forward and if the set-up that is currently in place in the dugout can be cemented and built upon, we will be in a good place.

If not, then a manager who knows League Two and has a proven record of success is a must.

I was gutted for Steve Ball that things did not work out as I respect him massively as a person.

But football is a cut-throat business and now is the time to look wide and far if it is a new managerial team that we end up with.

One thing that is for sure - and my wife will no doubt roll her eyes at this - is that I will be counting down the days until the new fixtures are released, scrolling through social media for any news on the new shirts and be one of the first in line to renew my season tickets for next season.

I have missed live football, living and breathing every moment, as I’m sure you all have. I hope you all have a great summer and till next season, Up the U’s.