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Joe's First Year

27 September 2013

Boss celebrates twelve months in charge.

Ahead of this Saturday's game against Bristol City, Joe Dunne celebrates his first year in charge of the U's.

Joe took the managerial hotseat after the departure of John Ward from the job in September 2012, with the U's having endured a tough start to the 2012/13 season.

His arrival as manager heralded a swift upturn in form, with five wins in his first six league games lifting the U's up the table and getting his managerial career off to a flying start.

Yet football is rarely a simple game and, after an FA Cup defeat to Chelmsford, the U's experienced a tough run of form in the league, including nine consecutive defeats that had Joe considering his position as U's boss.

However, the Irishman had enjoyed a playing career that had been based on being made of stern stuff. He took that into his managerial reign as he faced the challenge ahead of keeping the U's away from trouble in League One.

That losing streak was ended by a battling 2-0 win over Walsall in what felt like a massive victory for all concerned.

Then a busy January transfer window gave him the first opportunity to reshape his Colchester squad with the arrival of some top flight loanees including Sam Walker, Billy Clifford and Bradley Garmston - all of whom were to play an integral role in the U's quest for survival.

The second half of the season saw some truly incredible U's performances. It was not always possible, of course, to play the free flowing football that Joe has in mind for his side in the coming years, but the grit and determination shown by the young U's side was crucial in the last four months of 2012/13.

Heroic performances at Hartlepool (0-0), Bury (2-1) and at home to Leyton Orient (2-1) will live long in the memory and proved crucial come the final reckoning. 

However, there was still all to play for come the final day of the season at Carlisle, with the U's needing to better Scunthorpe's result to guarantee League One football.

An outstanding away performance ensured that the U's got over the line on an emotional day at Brunton Park and the long journey home soon whizzed by as fans reflected on a rollercoaster final afternoon of the season.

Survival guaranteed and Joe continued the rebuilding of the squad to make it one in his own mould.

From the very first day of his twelve months in charge, Joe has not been averse to dipping into the transfer market and he has brought an amazing 24 new players to the club in the first year in the hotseat.

His homework in scouting players throughout his time in charge, regularly attending U21s and reserve games across the country, has led to him having plenty of success with the players that he has brought to the club, as well as establishing relationships with a host of Premier League clubs.

And he has also been keen to give the U's own talents their opportunity in the first team.

Alex Gilbey and Drey Wright have become mainstays of the first team squad, whilst Tosin Olufemi and Freddie Ladapo have also enjoyed time with the squad over the last twelve months.

The new season has seen further challenges with the injuries that the U's have endured, but they're well placed after eight games to remain in the top half of the table this season.

The first year has been eventful one for Joe, but the U's manager, his players and the fans are more united than ever in their quest for progress on and off the pitch.

Roll on year two!

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