Colchester United FC meeting the opposition.

Following the midweek Carabao Cup action where Tranmere got beat against Newcastle United after Colchester United got beat against Brentford, Rovers and Colchester will face each other this weekend at Prenton Park.

Micky Mellon’s side have a much better return from their home games in comparison to how they do on the road thus they will be excited heading into this match after losing last time out against Newport County.

Before the game, I caught up with Max Harrington who spoke to me about all things United. 

Last season, Colchester finished 15th in League Two as Freddie Sears finished top goalscorer with eight goals in all competitions. How do you reflect on the 2021-22 campaign as a whole? 

The campaign on a whole was poor, we were battling relegation for most of it under Hayden Mullins. He then went and Wayne Brown took over and we looked like a completely different side. Picking up results and pulling away from the relegation battle to finish 15th, most fans would have ripped your arm off for that half way through the season.

This summer, four players have been brought in as well as one loanee as players such as Brendan Wiredu and Shamal George have moved on to pastures new. Are you happy with the business that the club has done so far? Would you say that there are still some positions to be strengthened? If so, what positions would they be? 

There hasn’t been much business mostly because we have a number of players who are still under contract for this season. I wouldn’t class Huws as a new signing as he was with us last year but Newby and Hornby have been decent so far. Most U’s fans would have been unhappy and worried with the lack of signings and key players leaving but Hornby has stepped up to replace George and Marley Marshall Miranda has come through the academy and been outstanding, can’t say we’re missing Wiredu too much with him in there. I still think we need a winger but apart from that we’re fairly set.

The former Maldon and Tiptree gaffer Wayne Brown was appointed United manager in mid-January, of this year. Is the future bright with Brown at the helm? How would you describe his playing style? Also, is it great seeing him back at the club considering he was the former head coach of the club’s academy sides? 

I still think the jury is out on the future under Brown, but so far it’s looked ok. His play style is fairly direct which is frustrating as we have some really good technical players. Strangely we played our most open football against Premier League side Brentford, I think fans would like to see us play a bit more on the ground. Brown was a fantastic player for us, it’s actually his third stint in charge, the two previous spells didn’t go so well and he didn’t get the job full time. He’s a legend at the club for his playing time and let’s hope he can be one for his managerial time too.

Robbie Cowling is the current club chairman, what are the general fan thoughts on the way that the club is being run? 

There’s been a slow decline at the club for the last 10-15 years, the club will never be in trouble financially under Cowling and is probably close to being self-sufficient. However, I think it’s fair to say there is a lack of ambition from the top or at least they’d rather do things on the cheap. He’s certainly not the worst owner in the world but I think fans would like to see improvements on a number of things.

Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon? Touching on the strengths that your team has, where do you believe they will finish in the league table come next May? 

Our key players I’d say are Noah Chilvers and the full backs Junior Tchamadeu and Al Amin Kazeem, all who have come through the academy. Chilvers is a very technical centre midfielder who is our main creator and has an eye for a goal too. The two full backs are only 18 & 20 but have re-energised the side and are a constant threat going forward. They’re the definition of a modern full back and offer so much energy, they deserve credit for their defensive abilities too, especially Kazeem. As for where we’ll finish I’ve said it will be around 16th, not expecting a great season but don’t think we’ll go down like many other “experts” have predicted.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs met was March 26th, Colchester won 1-0 with Junior Tchamadeu scoring a last-minute winner. 

If our last trip up to the North West is anything to go by, Stockport away, then it’s not going to be a pretty game. We sat back for pretty much all of that match, hopefully we will come out and play a bit more. We’ve been very hit and miss recently so lets hope we’re more hit on Saturday. I’m still going to go for a Tranmere 1-0 victory though.

If you have been keeping up with the Rovers this summer, what are your thoughts on their business and how do you believe that The Whites will do throughout the 2022-23 season? 

I’ll be honest I haven’t been paying too much attention to Tranmere this season. Jon Nolan seems to be a good player at this level, I recognise Charlie Jolley from previous FM saves and he was good there so he must be good in real life too! Tranmere have a good coach and you just expect them to be there or thereabouts.

Colchester United play at The Colchester Community Stadium. The game here, against Tranmere, this season is 25th March 2023.

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