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Jon Waldron: My views on the U's
Prizes aren’t generally given out for top-ten finishes.
But in the absence of any fanfare or fireworks, Colchester United’s players and management can feel quietly satisfied about their achievements this season.
The colourful sight of Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday players, staff and supporters celebrating their respective League One promotions on the final day was one to behold.
Both clubs fully deserve their success but Colchester have their own reasons to be cheerful.
Indeed, despite there being a considerable gulf in resources, the results the U’s achieved against those two promoted clubs over recent months were impressive.
Such performances ensured that for a while, the play-offs looked like they could be a realistic target for John Ward’s side.
But too many draws put paid to any slim hopes of finishing in the top-six and Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, MK Dons and Stevenage have been more clinical when they have needed to be.
Colchester ended up finishing 14 points off the top-six on 59 points, three short of the tally they reached last season.
But it was revealing that of the three teams that finished immediately above them last year, Exeter City and Rochdale were both relegated and Leyton Orient finished just above the drop-zone.
With that in mind, U’s manager Ward has always stressed the need to keep improving.
And while his side may not quite have achieved that in terms of league position he will feel they have made progress in certain other areas this season, particularly on the road.
Ward has stressed it is imperative that he keeps the nucleus of his squad together if they are to continue that enhancement, no mean feat when there are around a dozen players out of contract at any one time and the budget has been reduced.
The initial signs coming out of the club are promising though, with key players such as Anthony Wordsworth, Magnus Okuonghae and Ben Williams declaring their desire to remain at the club.
But it will still be a long summer and what happens over the next few months will play a big part in whether or not the U’s are able to clinch another top-ten finish next season and look upwards, rather than down.