Phil Brown has only been back in the Roots Hall hot seat for a week, but the South Shield-born boss already appears to have separated the wheat from the chaff as he looks to pull off the greatest escape in Southend United’s history.
Blues head to play-off hopefuls, Exeter City on Saturday. Retaining their 100-year membership of the Football League remains a tall order, nevertheless, the 61-year-old has accepted the challenge and is hoping his squad – lacking in confidence – can unlock qualities that have otherwise been in short supply at the club over the past three seasons: “I like a clean sheet mentality which we had against Crawley Town and I’ve got to make the decision of whether to bring a couple of seniors back into the fray or stick with the same team,” Brown explained.
“I’ve also got to bring my A-game to the party, and what I mean by that is from a coaching perspective with a team that have scored 24 goals in 40 games, now 41 games.
“I’ve got to try and find some way of unlocking the potential and unlocking the door with regards to how we play, how we flow, how we get into the final third with quality and how we get into the opposition’s penalty box with a bit of quality.”
Brown admitted that spirit was low in the dressing room on his arrival: “There’s a serious lack of confidence, borne out of the fact of where we are in the division and it’s my job to get that confidence, belief and that ability on show on a Saturday.
“It’s a waste of time on a Monday to Friday We need to have it on show in the final third on Saturday.
“Couple that with the clean sheet mentality, yes you’ve got an opportunity but it’s not an overnight success by any stretch of the imagination.”
Brown has penned a deal until the end of the current campaign but appeared to suggest the job in hand will take a little longer, with the player’s mindset at the foreground of his attention: “It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process of anguish and hard work, listening and all the horrible side of the game. The boring side of the game. But if I’ve got to bore them to get a result on Saturday, then I’m going to bore them because I know how to get results.
“But I’ve got a new group of players with only four or five that have worked with me before and I want them to go to war with Exeter on Saturday in a similar fashion to the way Barrow did. I think Barrow addressed a game of football on Tuesday night like it was last chance saloon. Like it was the end of their careers if they lost the game.
“We’ve got to address the game in the same way. I know Exeter try to play football and they did in the opening exchanges at Barrow, but then they got swamped by an absolute deluge of channel balls, of high balls into the penalty box, of physical activity, appealing for everything. All of the things that gets you results in the second division. They were swamped by it.
“We have to have a little bit more of that on Saturday, coupled with a little bit more quality.”
(Quotes courtesy of Southend United Football Club)