AT long last, the time of the year we all look forward to is almost here.

We have seen England reach the final of Euro 2020, bring the country together and be a penalty shoot-out away from ending all those years of hurt.

While we were glued to Harry Kane and co finally beating Germany, closer to home our beloved Colchester United have been chipping away will a fairly big squad overhaul, seeing some key players from previous seasons leaving for pastures new, while at the same time welcoming new (and some not so new) faces.

Yes the jokes about us becoming Ipswich Town's retirement home have resurfaced, but all in all I’m very pleased with our new-look squad.

Alan Judge, Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse and Luke Hannant, along with Frank Nouble and Freddie Sears rejoining after various lengths of time away, can only be for the better.

And as long as all stay fit, their experience and knowledge will blend nicely with the younger players we have in the squad.

All in all, as I have already alluded to, as long as all can stay fit, there is healthy competition in all positions, allowing new permanent manager Hayden Mullins and his newly-appointed assistant Alex Dyer a range of choices in both selection and formation.


The first few pre-season games have been against a set of teams that were picked, not to enable walkover victories, but to really test and stretch the squad, both physically, but also in a tactical football sense.

The 3-0 win over Billericay eased the new-look team into the match environment, the style of play and fresh ideas were there to see by the fans who were finally able to see some football in the flesh after months away.

This run out was followed by a behind-closed-doors game – surely there has been enough of those to last a lifetime after the last 18 months - at Watford.

The details from this are, at the request of the hosts, sketchy but we seem to have played against a fair few of their regular first-team players who proved a stern test, resulting in the U’s ending up the wrong side of a 2-1 and then 2-0 scoreline.

Then we played what will no doubt be the toughest test we face in these pre-season games when Tottenham came to town.

It was a game of importance on two fronts, both for the football action on the pitch, but also the chance for fans to return in numbers for the first time as restrictions ease.

It was a great feeling walking though to get the first glimpse of the pitch, having to pinch ourselves that we really were back.

On the pitch Spurs played a fairly strong side with a front three of Son, Moura and Bergwijn, a line up that would test any defence.

With the likes of Dele Alli and Eric Dier also starting, this was not just a team that had been sent along to fulfil a fixture, but rather a set of players who were looking to impress their new manager and implement his ideas on the pitch.

The scoreline was a 3-0 defeat, but watching from the stands I did feel that the signs from our perspective were promising.

We played some nice flowing football, were not scared to take on the opposing players and changed formation as needed.

Plus the team looked well drilled and as if they had been playing together a lot longer than just this pre-season.

We were unlucky to score at least once in the second half, with a number of chances just a fraction shy of going in.

All in all, although it is very early days, the signs of a good season are there and the seeds are sown. What we need to do now is ensure we carry this on to games that are against more equal sides in Gillingham and Ipswich to complete this pre-season on a high and take it all forward to our first League Two game away against Carlisle and the start of a successful promotion-winning season. Up the U’s.