Ben Garner was relieved of his duties following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Harrogate Town after arriving at the JobServe Community Stadium in March to replace now Wycombe Wanderers boss Matt Bloomfield. Matty Etherington will now take charge on an interim basis.

With the U’s sitting in 23rd place with only three league victories, the Colchester board have opted for a change in the dugout with the hope of avoiding another relegation battle.

But who could take over at Colchester?

Luke Garrard

The job that Luke Garrard has done at Boreham Wood in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable.

He joined the Wood as manager in 2015 following a five-year stint as a player where he made 140 appearances.

In his first full season as Boreham Wood boss, Garrard guided them to 11th place in the Vanarama National League before finishing in fourth place the following campaign but were unable to progress in the play-offs.

 

After finishing in 20th place in the 2018/19 season, the Hertfordshire-based side defied the odds once more and finished in fifth place before 14th and ninth-place finishes.

The latter was one of Boreham Wood’s most historic seasons as they made it to the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round and were eventually beaten by Everton.

Garrard’s side finished in sixth place last season, the third time they have finished in a play-off spot, but were unable to earn promotion to the Football League.

The 38-year-old has been linked to EFL jobs in the past but they haven’t come to fruition – perhaps this could be where he makes the step up.

Neil Harris

Considered to be one of the harshest sackings in the EFL this term, Neil Harris saved Gillingham from relegation last season but was shown the exit a few weeks ago.

The Gills had their sights set on promotion and it looked like they would be in contention but chose to do it without Harris, even though they were sitting in the higher echelons of the table.

Harris took over then League One side Gillingham following a spell with Cardiff City but he was unable to save them from relegation to League Two.

 

A sinking ship appeared to be heading for the fifth tier before the investment of American businessman Brad Galinson.

With much-needed investment, Harris steered the Gills out of trouble and into 17th place.

Gillingham had started the season well and won their first three League Two outings as well as beating Southampton in the Carabao Cup First Round.  

Two consecutive defeats to Colchester and Grimsby Town followed before Galinson felt the need for a freshen-up but they are yet to appoint his successor.

Harris will be eager to prove his doubters wrong and could do just that with the U’s.

Danny Cowley

Perhaps a slightly ambitious candidate for a role at a struggling League Two side, Danny Cowley is an expert at this level and has previously managed in the area.

He began his managerial career at fellow Essex outfits Concord Rangers and Braintree Town before making the move to Lincoln City where he made a name for himself.

In his first season in charge at Sincil Bank, Cowley guided the Imps back to the fourth tier and did so by also reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

 

They became the first non-league team to reach this stage of the competition after beating Premier League Burnley before falling to a 5-0 defeat at Arsenal.

In their return to League Two, they finished in seventh place before sealing promotion to League One as champions ahead of the 2019/20 season.

This success understandably caught the eye of teams in higher divisions and he joined Huddersfield Town. Following an unsuccessful time in charge in Yorkshire, Cowley arrived at Portsmouth but departed at the end of last season.

Cowley's appointment would be a statement of intent for Colchester but whether that will happen is another matter.

Andy Woodman

Another National League manager on this list, very similar to Garrard, who is supposing expectations is Bromley boss Andy Woodman.

Having arrived at Hayes Lane in 2021, the Ravens have gone from strength to strength under the ex-Arsenal Head of Goalkeeping.

In his first season, Woodman guided Bromley to the play-offs with the subsequent season seeing them finishing in tenth place.

That season saw them go on to lift the Isuzu FA Trophy with a 1-0 victory over Wrexham at Wembley Stadium.

 

This acted as a symbol for Woodman’s excellent work in Greater London and this momentum carried on into last season as the Ravens finished in seventh place.

However, they were unable to seal promotion after being knocked out by Chesterfield in the semi-final.

Currently sitting in fourth place, Woodman continues to work wonders with this Bromley side and it is when and not if about when he lands an EFL job.

Woodman has previously been approached by Gillingham and it would be an astute appointment if the U’s are to secure his signature.

Karl Robinson

The fifth and final candidate for the vacant Colchester job is Karl Robinson, known for his spell in charge at Oxford United.

The 43-year-old was most recently the assistant to Sam Allardyce as the latter attempted to save Leeds United from Premier League relegation last season.

Following a six-year spell in the MK Dons dugout, Robinson joined Charlton Athletic for two years before arriving at Oxford in 2018.

He guided them to the League One play-off final in 2020 but fell to a 2-1 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers

 

Play-off agony happened again a season later as the U’s finished in sixth but lost to eventual winners Blackpool in the semi-final.

The 2022/23 season didn’t bring around the same fortunes as Robinson was sacked after an eight-game winless run.

He may have had the majority of his success in League One but Robinson may be looking to start a new chapter following a disappointing final season at the Kassam Stadium.

Robinson was also recently linked with fellow League Two side Bradford City.

 

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