And then there was three…

Exeter City v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – St James Park – Saturday 3pm – Preview

Just three players left at the poker table – the stakes… well, it’s a little more Russian roulette!

Damage report…

Southend United 0-0 Crawley Town

Match: 41 Won: Drawn: 13 Lost: 20 Points: 37 Position: 23rd Nils: 23

Expansive – Energetic – Honest, but ultimately the same old failings in front of goal – No cigar and with Barrow and Walsall doing the business, Blues find themselves in a three-way fracas with Grimsby and Colchester to avoid the drop.

Indeed, defeat at Exeter, coupled with a Colchester win over Walsall… Well, we don’t really want to think about it, do we!

Of course, Mansfield could yet fall into the trap. But I’ve always suggested 46 points would be enough. I can’t see either of the current bottom two reaching that total. A cheery summary isn’t it!

No doubt, Phil Brown’s appointment split opinion. He didn’t exactly ride out of Roots Hall in a blaze of glory three years ago but he certainly arrived back to a club in a far worse state than the one he departed. But amidst the doom and gloom, I’d like to think that the ‘Brown effect’ has provided a positive this past week.

Sure, it was the same players that faced Crawley and a similarly frustrating outcome. But they were deployed differently – playing further up the pitch, playing at a higher tempo. Strangely, and even without the crowd, there was more of a buzz about the place. Brown has a ‘Marmite’ persona, but he’s been there and done it whereas the previous incumbents’ limited experience and know-how was, at times, alarmingly exposed in the ruthless environment that is Sky Bet League Two – Harsh, I know. But results and the table don’t lie. Along with every other Southend United fan, I wanted Mark Molesley to do well. He didn’t – good luck to him in the future but we move on.

Interestingly, following the Blues latest goalless encounter, the incoming manager referred to the one he’d replaced, suggesting he; had a style of play that was completely foreign to me. Personally, style isn’t a word I’d associate with the football churned out this season. Despite Brown’s arrival, I still think Southend will go down (always happy to be proved wrong) but if last Saturday was anything to go by, a few more questions might be asked of the opposition as opposed to the turgid fare we’d become accustomed to over the past… well… three years! Yes, I know it didn’t finish well last time, but I believe Brown’s influence – should he stay beyond the end of the current campaign – can help arrest the slump, which at the moment is the most important thing on the agenda.

Brown staged an in-house fixture during the week. An opportunity to see what he’s got at his disposal – undoubtedly offering an idea of who has the stomach and characteristics for a fight. I’m sure I speak on behalf of every single Southend United supporter when I affirm that this is the minimum requirement from any footballer pulling on the shirt right now, or indeed in the future. Anything less is no good and no longer acceptable to us.

Survival is a tall order. Talk it up as much as you want, it isn’t all about next Tuesday night at the JobServe. It’s all about steadying the ship, admitting mistakes have been made and providing cast iron insurances that the club has a bright, optimistic future. I won’t hold my breath on the latter!

 So in the meantime, what exactly can Phil Brown do with a group of footballers that has won just eight of their forty-one matches today this season? 

The in-house match might have provided Brown with one or two conundrums. Team selection at Exeter on Saturday could be interesting. The likes of Jacob Mellis and Louis Walsh have had little opportunity to impress since Molesley brought them in, while Matt Rush could provide the spark in front of goal with a little youthful exuberance, nurtured by a manager who exhibits such self-confidence in abundance. 

The contest also depends very much on which Exeter turn up? The one that thrashed title-chasing Cambridge United by four goals to one on their own patch last weekend or the Exeter beaten at Barrow on Tuesday and who have recently dropped points against Port Vale and Mansfield? 

Personally, I’m looking at the bigger picture. Of course, while there is an opportunity for Southend to avoid relegation, I want them to explore every avenue to achieve that. But in the meantime, I want change. I want honesty, I want a team and a club to be proud of. The days of limping from one disaster to another, on and off the field, has to end right now!

Jeevesie’s prediction: Exeter City 1-0 Southend United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]