Colchester United have confirmed the appointment of Hayden Mullins as the club’s new head coach on a deal until the end of the season.
Mullins replaces caretaker manager Wayne Brown and is the official replacement for Steve Ball, who lost his job in February. Mullins inherits a difficult challenge with Colchester fighting to preserve their Football League status.
The U’s have won just once in their last 22 league games. They have also set unwanted records for goalscoring and winless streaks this season.
Hayden Mullins Takes Over at Colchester United
Mullins is Tasked With Preserving Colchester’s Football League Status
The former Portsmouth and West Ham United player steps up from his role as assistant manager to take the Colchester hot seat. Mullins was part of the coaching set up at Watford from 2016 to 2020 before joining Colchester, initially as Steve Ball’s assistant.
Mullins has some first-team managerial experience, having twice taken caretaker charge of the Hornets. His most recent spell was the final three games of the 2020/21 season but Mullins couldn’t prevent Watford from being relegated to the Championship.
He faces a similar challenge with the U’s. Colchester are in dire straits, fighting for their lives at the bottom of League Two. They sit 21st, four points clear of the relegation zone but have been on a rotten run for some time. Colchester have collected just three wins in their last 24 league games. They managed just one win under previous manager Wayne Brown but have since gone seven league games without victory.
It’s a huge contrast from last season in which Colchester secured a spot in the League Two play-offs. It’s been a tough season in more ways than one but they have a hugely talented squad who desperately need a morale boost and fast.
They have plenty of experience with the likes of Harry Pell and Callum Harriott in their ranks. Goal scoring is proving the biggest problem for the U’s – only three teams have scored fewer, including bottom two sides Grimsby Town and Southend United.
Despite having the likes of Frank Nouble in their ranks, goals just haven’t flowed. Mullins needs to reinvigorate the Colchester attack and fast. The U’s have drawn a blank in seven of their last 11 league games, managing just five goals in that run.
It’s a big job for Mullins but certainly one he will relish. He has plenty to sort with little time on his hands but will believe he can keep Colchester in the Football League.
Chairman Robbie Cowling Felt He Needed to Act and Offers Full Support to the New Head Coach
Following Mullins’ appointment as the U’s new head coach, chairman Robbie Cowling released a statement: “With just eight games of the season remaining and Colchester United still embroiled in a battle to steer clear of the relegation zone, I have decided to make a very tough decision to change the first team Head Coach for the second time this season
“Wayne Brown has given his all to lift the club away from danger but his hard work, positivity and enthusiasm have not been rewarded with the results he deserved and the club needed. I can’t allow those poor results to eat away at the team’s confidence to beat the drop, which despite our position remains high.
“I would like to thank Wayne personally for all of his hard work. He jumped in to help me out when I needed him to and I’m very disappointed that things have not worked out.
“I have asked Hayden Mullins to take over the reins until the end of the season and I am pleased to say that he has accepted the challenge.
“I will provide a further update on who will be assisting him once that has been determined but I will be looking for someone with good managerial experience to not only assist Hayden but to also mentor him over those eight games. I feel this combination will give us the best chance of achieving all of our aims.
“I would like to make it very clear though that this is Hayden’s gig. He will be the first team Head Coach and it will be him that makes the final decisions regarding the team selection and tactics.”
Cowling Admits His Part in Colchester’s Struggles This Season
As well as confirming Mullins’ appointment, Cowling also went on to talk about his role in Colchester’s struggles this season.
His statement continues: “I would like to go on record once again to say that I take full responsibility for this season’s predicament. I made a number of financial decisions that I believed were needed during the pandemic and those decisions have had a negative impact on results. Had there not been a pandemic, I’m sure we would have been battling at the other end of the table.
“We are where we are. There is a pandemic and I have handled it the way I have. If we stay up, then the decisions I have made will set us up very well for the future and would be viewed as very sensible. If we go down, then they will be deemed as foolish.
“One thing’s for sure though? We will be fighting for every one of the twenty-four points that remain available to us.”
Hayden Mullins Has Eight Games to Save The U’s from Relegation
It’s the old cliché but Colchester United have eight cup finals between now and the end of the season. Survival is imperative and Mullins will be determined to deliver the goods.
However, he faces a very difficult trip to in-form Bolton Wanderers in his first game in charge. Bolton are currently on the longest unbeaten streak in English football. That currently stands at 13 and impressively, Ian Evatt’s side have won 11 of those. It’s a daunting task but any positive result could be the perfect morale boost for a squad desperately short on confidence.
Their Football League status could hinge on the four games to follow. Their trip to Bolton is followed by a must-win six-pointer against fellow strugglers Barrow. Both sides are hovering dangerously close to the bottom two and victory in that match could see one pull further away from danger.
That is followed by a trip to Oldham Athletic before a doubleheader against fellow strugglers Walsall and Southend – three further fixtures which will be crucial to their chances of survival. You would argue if they win these fixtures, they will preserve their Football League status.
Their next games will be vital with Colchester facing promotion chasers Cheltenham Town, Salford City and Tranmere Rovers in their final three league matches.
There are 24 points available and certainly, there are winnable games left for Colchester. Hayden Mullins knows all about relegation battles and will be motivated further following his experience at Watford last season. He will not want a second relegation added to his managerial CV.