Former Tottenham, Stoke and West Ham winger and Crawley Town boss named new Colchester head coach
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In that spell, the U's have picked up ten points from four league fixtures, and were narrowly beaten 3-2 in the FA Cup at League One side Shrewsbury Town.
Etherington, who was in charge at Crawley Town for just 34 days before walking out on the club, has been with the U's as under-21s lead coach since the summer and steps up to take charge of the first team following Ben Garner's departure.
He said: “I'm extremely pleased, and obviously grateful to the chairman [Robbie Cowling] and Dmitri [Halajko, Colchester sporting director] for giving me this opportunity, and I'll give everything I can to make sure this club is successful.
“It's been a decent start in terms of the league form, but we need to make sure we maintain that going forwards.
“I'm a big believer in 'what will be will be' and here we are. I'm really looking forward to it and I'll give it everything I've got.”
Halajko added: “Matty has had a good response from the players and his league points' return has been excellent as interim head coach.
“He's a Pro Licence coach who has had experiences of first team coaching at other clubs, along with a playing career at the highest level.
“These experiences will put Matty in a great position to be a successful at Colchester United.
“He will now have the opportunity on a full-time basis and will have the full support at everybody at the club as we look to continue climbing up the league table.”