Who'd be a football manager?

The criticism of John McGreal's tactics from some supporters in the aftermath of Colchester United’s 2-2 draw at Port Vale is another illustration, if one were needed, of how difficult a job it can be.

Having led 2-1 at half-time at Vale Park, the U’s spent much of the second half defending their lead; for the most part, they did so very well.

But a momentary lapse in concentration ultimately led to Vale equalising with three minutes remaining, denying Colchester what would have been a vital victory.

It led to some U's fans accusing head coach McGreal of negativity, of inviting unnecessary pressure on his team.

But the reality was that up until they conceded late on, Colchester’s game management had been pretty effective against a side who adopted a more direct approach in the second half.

Aside from a good Sam Walker save from Anton Forrester the U’s had looked relatively untroubled, albeit without nearly as much attacking threat as they had produced in the first half.

Admittedly, the second-half introduction of Brandon Comley and then defender Luke Prosser for the tiring Courtney Senior and Drey Wright indicated a willingness to preserve a lead, rather than add to it.

But is not sometimes natural to want to protect an advantage?

The same criticism has been levelled at one of the best coaches in the world, Jose Mourinho.

In the recent past, U’s sides have been accused of being too gung-ho and naive in the closing stages of games and lacking the necessary nous to see games out.

You cannot have it both ways.

One inescapable fact this season is that Colchester have performed much better in the first half of their games; only Lincoln City have been more effective than the U’s in the opening 45 minutes of matches.

McGreal’s side have only been behind at the break on six occasions so far – and have been in a winning position in ten of their games - but one glance at the table shows that they have failed to capitalise on that as much they would like.

Colchester are four points adrift of the play-off places having played two games more than most of the teams that reside above them, following a miserable January that has yielded three points from a possible 15 and a six-match winless run.

McGreal has impressed during his time in charge of the U’s and is a bright young coach.

His Colchester side were unfortunate to miss out on a play-off place last season has got them into a position where promotion is still very much a possibility, this time around.

But this is arguably his most challenging spell as a manager since Colchester went 13 games without a victory, in the first half of last season.

The addition of at least one new face before tomorrow night's transfer deadline could well have the desired effect in giving them a timely boost, ahead of the visit of Newport County, this weekend.