United can heed Colchester lessons

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Sheffield United renew hostilities with Colchester on Saturday anxious not to become a mirror image of their Essex rivals.

It was four seasons ago that Colchester last met the Blades, in the Championship. The Essex outfit finished bottom that season and were relegated.

They were tipped for an immediate return, but that never materialised. This is now their fourth season in League One, a period which has coincided with cost-cutting and player sales. It may be a lesson for United as the club looks to get over the 3-0 derby defeat to Huddersfield.

Being in the third tier has seen Colchester sell the majority of their better players. Names to have left in the past few seasons include Marc Tierney, Clive Platt and Dean Hammond and in 2009 they saw their manager Paul Lambert poached by Norwich, with the Scot going on to guide City to successive promotions into the Premier Leag.

Experienced manager John Ward was appointed at the back end of the 2009-10 season, and was seen by many fans as a cheap option.

This summer the club’s owner Robbie Cowling, revealed the playing budget at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was £1.4 million.

Many Colchester sources have blamed this budget on a failure to attain top player targets this summer. As a result, Ward was only able to bring in free agents.