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Floundering fortunes on the pitch and some might say an uncertain future off it. Yes, it must be said that Mark Molesley has taken on arguably the most unappealing job in English football. Nevertheless, the new Southend United manager came across upbeat and ready to meet the daunting challenge of turning a club around which has seemingly adopted a losing mentality over the past couple of seasons.
“I think that word mentality, you used there, is the word,” the former Weymouth boss tells me.
“We’ve got to change this mentality. To change that mentality you’ve got to work with people – you’ve got to create an environment to make players perform to the best they can.
“There’s no set formula for that. You need to understand the players and know the players – I’m really excited to get to do that.
As a player, Molesley plied his trade in the engine room, most notably making more than 50 appearances in AFC Bournemouth’s midfield during times when their recent Premier League adventures were little more than a pipe dream.
However, that work ethic gleaned on the less glamorous greenery around the country appears to have served him well. Back-to-back promotions in the Weymouth hot seat, coupled with further experience working with Bournemouth’s younger generation has given him the confidence to take up the Roots Hall mantle, although the 39-year-old is fully aware that the club must surround itself will equally enthusiastic employees.
“Yes, we’ve definitely got to change the mentality but to do that you’ve got to create an environment to make them characters,” he explained.
“In terms of recruitment, you’ve got to try and get the right people, the right characters with the right attitude, with the same work ethic, the same aims and goals as yourself.”
Southend’s young squad found the going particularly tough during the 2019/20 season and despite displaying battling qualities the Blues were relegated, finishing sixteen points from safety when the campaign was curtained due to the pandemic.
Molesley focused on the positives: “They had some good results at the end,” he said.
“Obviously, shown that they’ve got good potential and it’s about getting that blend. But what I can say, those young players have grown up very quickly. It is only through hardships that you really grow as a person and Southend has gone through its fair share of hardships the last couple of years and they need to draw on that experience and use it as a positive. They’ve got to use that and turn it into a strength.”
The new Blues chief has wasted little time getting down to work with his new charges: “But what I can say, I’ve been on the training ground today and the attitude was fantastic.
“But, it’s got to be the same, if not better tomorrow and that is the mentality we’ve got to have. We’ve got to constantly want to keep improving, we’ve got to constantly look at ways – how do we be better? And I think that’s our motto ‘how can we be better?’ Every day we’ve got to ask ourself that question and we’ve got to help give that environment to thrive in.
“We are under no illusions of what we have come into, but also very excited by the challenge ahead.”
There is little doubt, Molesley faces a titanic task to bring the good times back to Southend. But if his extraordinary vigour is anything to go by, the Blues might just be about to turn the corner.