Eyes wide open – Mind in a spin…

Solihull Moors v Southend United – Vanarama National League – SportNation.bet Stadium – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

BE A PART OF IT…

The hoardings surrounding Fossett’s Farm provide us with a warm, welcoming invitation. However, come Saturday at 4:45pm, fifteen days, 1,296,000 seconds, 21,600 minutes or 360 hours will have passed since Southend United provided us with another ‘new low’ at Torquay. I have to say, and having had time to take stock, and assess the situation, I find myself more alienated from the football club I’ve supported all my life than ever before.

I recall Blues fans calling for change under the Rubin’s, Anton Johnson and, of course, Vic Jobson but this feels much worse, simply because we’ve run out of ideas on the pitch and appear to be running out of time off it.

Following a fortnight hiatus, Southend United return to Vanarama National League action at Solihull Moors sitting in nineteenth place. During that particular void, only Barnet tasted victory, while Torquay and Maidenhead picked up another point apiece against high-flying Chesterfield and Grimsby respectively. Damage limitation, of sorts, albeit completely out of our hands.

Unfortunately, following that late defeat at Plainmoor, Phil Brown’s post-match patter offered little consolation, or for that matter hope: “We’ve got to go back to basics and simply running over teams. If the quality is not there in regards to individuals technically, then we’ve got to be able to physically get them past it.” – An acknowledgement, if ever we needed it, from within the club that this group of footballers simply aren’t good enough.

Brown has looked to rectify the situation with the loan signing of striker, Benji Kimpioka from Sunderland. A quick scan of his goal-per-game record certainly raises concerns, as is extending Hamzad Kargbo’s deal with the club. Once again, we appear to be playing a game of chance at a time where positive action is required. 

Recent reports suggested that Josh Wright and Shaq Coulthirst have been around the training ground. Of course, I’m fully aware that this could mean little or nothing. However, it does suggest that we are going over old ground with little in the way of a plan going forward. Another sign of just where we are as a football club – Worrying times indeed!

Nevertheless, while we are reminiscing, let me take you back to September 16, 2020. Blues had just been handed a 4-0 pasting by EFL debutants, Harrogate Town at Roots Hall Stadium. Let’s not pretend, the writing was on the wall long before that uneasy experience. But in responding to the whole harrowing hammering, Chairman, Ron Martin took to the clubs’ official website to say; “I am asked, “what are our ambitions for this year”… 

“Are you happy to remain in League Two? The answer is absolutely not. 

“As Chairman of your club, I shall never be satisfied with mediocrity. We are here to compete and want to be back in League One next year.

As Chairman of your club, I shall never be satisfied with mediocrity .” Blues Chairman, Ron Martin (Sept 2020) (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

No doubt you are all now fully aware – Southend United Football Club will not be returning to the EFL anytime soon. Very few supporters believed what Mr Martin had to say back then, I’d wager that number has increased tenfold.

During one of the early ‘celebrity squares’ meetings, Mr Martin suggested that Southend United supporters should be careful what they wished for, regarding alternative ownership. I firmly believe most fans are now fully prepared to gamble. They want a club without Ron Martin at the helm. Even the promise (yes, I laughed too) of a new stadium is starting to offer little appeal. More and more fans are questioning who and what will benefit from the project? 

No doubt it will be argued that dissenting voices are always heard the loudest. However, in this unique situation, there simply isn’t anything to be positive about.

The Yellow Advertiser, along with one or two other local news outlets, recently ran an article suggesting a decision on the stadium was imminent. Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, explained “Both Ron Martin, me and council officers have bashed heads together and said sort it out. There are a number of reasons to push this forward.

Again, reading through the reactions, I’d say the stadium is not particularly high on the supporter’s list of priorities. Further proof of that alienation towards us – A club, and perhaps a council too, out of touch with a section of the community it should be serving.

I continued to scan the past two weeks, search for a crumb of comfort coming out of Roots Hall. The youngsters made progress in the FA Youth Cup. Well done to Danny Heath – Undoubtable one of the good guys at Southend – and his team. Meanwhile, 17-year-old left-sided defender, Charlie Sayers appears to be grabbing some welcome attention and could feature in the top team soon. But what else? 

We are just seven games into the season and thirteen into Brown’s second tenure with the club. Already he has suggested he fears for his future. One would already question his relationship with the Chairman, and perhaps his Director of Football, during the clubs latest hour of need?

Turning the attention back to football, Blues head to the SportNation.bet Stadium refreshed, but it remains to be seen whether they are revitalised.

Despite a thumping defeat at league leaders Dagenham & Redridge last time out, Solihull Moors have made a reasonably solid start to the campaign and will be fully aware that the pressure and focus is firmly on the visitors.

Personally, I remain unconvinced that Southend has the tools to turn this situation around and with games against Chesterfield and Dagenham just over the horizon, I fear our break-neck hurtle towards nothing shows little sign of subsiding. 

Jeevesie’s prediction: Solihull Moors 2-1 Southend United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]