Gazette sports writer Jon Waldron looks back on Aidy Boothroyd's time as Colchester United manager

IT lasted less than nine months.

But despite its brevity, Aidy Boothroyd's reign as Colchester United boss was pretty action-packed.

It started on September 2, 2009, when the former Watford manager replaced Paul Lambert who had quit for Norwich City in controversial circumstances a few weeks earlier.

U's chairman Robbie Cowling had interviewed four other candidates, with the likes of Colin Calderwood and Ronnie Moore linked, before ending Boothroyd's ten-month absence from management.

In that time, Boothroyd had enjoyed what he described as a 'sabbatical' from the game which saw him spend time with some of the game's leading managers and clubs.

Upon his appointment as Colchester manager, he vowed to bring the feel-good factor back to the League One club.

"We can galvanise everyone and we can make this place a difficult place to come to," he told the assembled media when he was unveiled as the U's new boss at the Community Stadium.

"I want to get this ground bouncing and get it full. We will get this place rolling again.

"I've not been this excited about something for a long time.

"There's been a lot of change here but it's time to put some markers down and make sure that we can be the best that we can be.

"The Garrison here has lost a lot of soldiers and there's been a lot of sadness.

"We have our own little part to play to make it a feel-good town."

Cowling was certainly glad to get his man.

"There are many, many things about Aidy that we liked," said the U's supremo.

"We talked initially and that went extremely well but we still had to go through an interview process.

"Sometimes things come together and we're in the right place at the right time.

"We have always seen an opportunity within any problem and it has worked out like that."

Boothroyd had to wait three days for his first game in charge of Colchester, which came at Southampton.

Colchester battled against adversity following Kem Izzet's red card and captain Pat Baldwin being stretchered off, both in the first half, to secure a 0-0 draw at St Mary's.

"When the whistle went, I had this feeling that it was the start of something really good," said Boothroyd afterwards.

"There are a lot of positives to take."

The draw at Southampton proved the foundation for Boothroyd to make a good start to life as Colchester manager.

He won five of his first nine games in charge; a 2-1 defeat at eventual play-off finalists Millwall was Boothroyd's first loss as Colchester manager but the U's were in the top six for more than half of the campaign.

In late November - and with his side sitting third in League One - Boothroyd responded to criticism from some quarters over his team's style of play.

Some U's fans were critical of their winning display in a 2-0 win over Stockport County.

"Football is all about winning, first and foremost," said Boothroyd.

"There are lots of intellectual derelicts professing to play a wonderful continental style passing game but we are all different."

Colchester ended 2009 fourth in the table but what happened after that arguably impacted on the remainder of their season

The U's were thrashed 7-0 at Preston North End in the FA Cup third round, to crash to their heaviest-ever away defeat

And the following game, they crashed to a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Lambert's Norwich City.

"With a team like ours that has done as well as it has, it's important not to rant and rave and go over the top," said Boothroyd.

"But it was totally unacceptable - we made a very beatable team look very, very good."

Boothroyd made reinforcements in the January transfer window, completing permanent deals for the likes of Kayode Odejayi, John-Joe O'Toole and Ian Henderson and bringing in David Prutton.

Results picked up again after that and by the time Boothroyd reached his six-month anniversary as U's boss, he was still feeling very upbeat, with his side very much in the promotion hunt.

"For me, it's a case of so far, so good," Boothroyd told the Gazette, after leading his side to 15 wins, eight draws and five defeats in his 28 league games in charge.

"Everyone has been very supportive and the players have responded to what we've brought in - they're the ones who implement it."

A couple of weeks later, Boothroyd sprung a surprise by drafting in former Premier League star Franck Queudrue to bolster his squad.

After completing his move, the 31-year-old former Middlesbrough and Birmingham City defender told the Gazette: "Something is going on at Colchester and you can feel it.

"I hope I can play a part in something special here - there's a challenge here to be taken."

Nobby Solano was also linked with the U's, although a transfer did not materialise.

Neither did a promotion, for Colchester.

In the end, the U's won only two of their last 14 games and finished eighth.

Boothroyd spoke of rebuilding his squad in readiness for his first pre-season as Colchester boss.

But it did not happen; he left Colchester on May 20, 2010 to take over as manager of Championship side Coventry City.

In the 44 games he presided over as U's boss, he won 19, drew 13 and lost 12.

"I want to say thank you to the Colchester fans," said Boothroyd, speaking exclusively to the Gazette following his departure.

"I hope they understand my decision and I respect those who don't. Colchester United is a work in progress."

Boothroyd's reign as Coventry manager was almost as brief as his time in charge of the U's.

He was at the Ricoh Arena for just ten months; eight months after his departure from the Sky Blues, was appointed as Northampton Town manager.

Boothroyd spend just over two years with the Cobblers before leaving on December 21, 2013.

Two months later, he was named as England under-20s manager.

He has remained in the national team set-up ever since and is currently in charge of England's under-21 side, whom he led to success in the 2018 Toulon tournament.