HAYDEN Mullins will have 'complete and final say' on team selection and formation as he embarks on his first season as Colchester United’s new permanent boss.

That is the view of U’s performance director Jon De Souza, who has reiterated chairman Robbie Cowling’s stance that there is and has never been interference in the head coach's decision making.

Colchester have in the main stuck to the same system over recent years, influenced by the club’s desire to provide a pathway for their academy players to prosper at senior level.

The U’s have in the past received criticism in some quarters for lacking tactical flexibility in games, due to their desire to adhere to a specific way of playing.

Cowling last month stated that Mullins will be free to choose the way he approaches each specific game with no interference from above - and De Souza has reiterated that stance.

He said: “It’s been a point of discussion.

“The head coach has never been dictated to in terms of the shape that they play.

“Wayne Brown played 4-4-2 a couple of times; Steve Ball played 4-4-2 a couple of times – I think his second last game against Crawley was 4-4-2.

“All of the coaches have been able to play the shape they want as long as they try and fit within what the club is trying to achieve, which is trying to get young players through, trying to play an attractive style of play and win games of football.

“We do have some key principles that we believe in and I think a lot of clubs have got principles now, otherwise you end up having to change your squad, your staff all of the time.

“Of course, we’ve got key principles but the head coach has got complete autonomy on who he picks in the team and how he picks the team.

“I’m sure if you spoke to Steve Ball, Wayne Brown and Hayden Mullins, they would tell you that they’ve had complete and final say over the team shape and the players that are picked within that.

“Of course, there’s conversations before that and my job is to question and challenge all parts of the club, from the under-nine team selection to the first-team selection – but I will never get involved in the actual team selection.”


De Souza’s role as Colchester’s Director of Performance is a wide ranging one.

He oversees a range of different areas connected to team and player development and also coaches from first-team right down to the youngest age groups, at Florence Park.

He said: “My role is hands on and involved basically everything that can help the team and our individuals develop, from our under-nines to first team.

“That includes coaching, it includes sports science, it includes the gym, it includes analysis; I coach as much as I work in the gym with the players.

“I don’t feel as though my qualifications are going to waste; it’s just not being thrown into coaching every single day.

“With Paul Tisdale coming in, he’s very unique on matchdays as I’m sure fans will have noticed with his attire and casual gear!

“So with him not particularly doing warm ups and with Hayden obviously having a lot on, I just took the warm ups because we thought it was important that players had someone taking them who they’d been exposed to all season.

“It’s not something that I pushed for or that we’re doing in the long term; it was just while Paul came in to work with Hayden.”