Dunne Looking Forward To The Summer
Having steered the U's to League One safety in his maiden managerial campaign, Joe Dunne will be hoping for a much more comfortable season next term as he continues to mould a Colchester team of his own.
When the Layer Road cult hero took charge at the end of September, the U's were struggling at the foot of the table and continued to find it tough to keep their heads above water as the season went on.
But, with a 2-0 victory at Carlisle last weekend, a relieved Dunne insisted that it was 'mission accomplished' and time to kick on from a fresh start when August comes around.
'We got the job done,' he told BBC Essex. 'I'm so pleased for all of the players and staff who have worked extremely hard, and the supporters who came up. Now the hard work starts.
'It was a life changing day and, gladly, we've come out of it in tact. It's immense to be the manager and keep our league status, but I want to build on that.
'We're delighted to stay up and we should celebrate that we've come through all the stress and pressure, but as a team we want to kick on and see where we can go - we look forward to next season and the planning starts right away.'
U's chairman Robbie Cowling has conceded that the Irishman is the 'hardest working manager I've ever known', and nobody will have been hurting as much as Dunne to sort out the U's poor form at the turn of the year.
With the side on a run of nine successive defeats, it was testing times for the rookie manager and, following the 2-1 home defeat to Scunthorpe, he admitted live on air that he would have to consider his position.
The undoubted stress it caused him throughout that time will have turned to a huge relief, and he admits that he is looking forward to having a break from it all.
'Every day has been intense and I need to give something back to my family,' he reflected. 'It's a lot harder than you think and I made a lot of sacrifices, that's what has to happen.
'I'm a new manager with a young family who come first, but they've had to come second a lot of the time so I want to go home and see them to enjoy the summer. It's been a steep learning curve for me but I'm pleased we got through it and I've learned a lot.
'I will analyse what I've learned for next season. I didn't want to let anybody down and wanted a basis to kick on from next season, and we've achieved that. I took over when were down the bottom and we have finished in a higher position.'
With the summer beginning, a short rest will follow for all, and U's fans as much as anybody will need a break from the stresses of the previous eight months' football!
But, after that short break, the inevitable speculation and rumour-mill will turn towards the U's summer transfer dealings and potential incomings.
The U's boss was involved in seventeen dealings during the January transfer window and, with many of January's arrivals loanees, it is expected that there will be a fresh look to the U's squad come the start of the new campaign.
However, for the moment at least, Dunne doesn't want to start talking about those potential moves.
He finished: 'People can speculate all they like, but let's just be happy that we are still a League One club, and I'll deal with the players and targets I want to bring in.
'The fact that we've stayed up will help me and we're not far off it; we are going in the right direction. We don't want to celebrate being at the bottom, but we'll celebrate our league status and we've earned the break.'
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