From the Ritz to the rubble…

Southend United v Stevenage – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview

Damage report…

Southend United 0-2 Tranmere Rovers

Match: 34 Won: 7 Drawn: 8 Lost: 19 Points: 29 Position: 23rd Nils: 19

A quick question or two…

Is there anyone out there who still thinks Southend United will avoid relegation?

Are you satisfied that everyone at Southend United are doing everything in their power for the good of the football club?

Judging by the reaction on social media to Tuesday’s toothless escapade, I’d say not too many. Chairman Ron Martin and manager, Mark Molesley again bore the brunt. Rightly so – they make the decision, the blame rests squarely at their feet.

I’ve seen plenty of posts suggesting Molesley sounds like a broken record in his post-match interviews and at the risk of drawing similar criticism myself, surely he can see that the team he has assembled is not good enough to consistently compete in Sky Bet League Two.

Admittedly, Southend has shown glimpses during this latest turgid campaign – none of which appeared during Tuesday, limp, lifeless and altogether uninspiring display against Tranmere.

Rovers scored their goals early, then orchestrated a training match – keeping Blues comfortably at arm’s length, highlighting the home sides’ glaring inadequacies and begging the question of how the majority of this group are playing league football?

Molesley was quick to point out post-match that Tranmere are a good side. Yes, they are towards the top of the table, have a Wembley final to look forward to and won without the services of a striker who has netted almost as many goals as the entire Blues team put together this season. Unfortunately, the truth is, nobody of a Southend persuasion really cares!

On the pitch, Southend supporters are only interested in what their team can do, and indeed, have done. If they haven’t done it, they want to know why?

The fans want solid reassurances on how it can be rectified? For the best part of three seasons, through umpteen managers and a plethora of substandard players, the silence coming out of Roots Hall on why a corner cannot be turned has been deafening.

What is the recruitment process? Who decides on the appointment of these managers and their staff? Is it discussed amongst the board and unanimously agreed, because if that is the case, the club is making the same mistakes over and over.

I’m led to believe that Molesley’s position at Roots Hall remains safe. Nevertheless, post-match, he spoke about the pressure to pick up results: “Pressure has always been here since day one, nothing’s changed there. We feel pressure every day in everyday life. The job never changes, we’ve got to analyse, improve and get better.

Of course, the Blues boss is right. Outside of football, there is pressure on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, particularly in recent times. However, football to them is a pastime, a release at the end of the working week, an opportunity to briefly lift those pressures.

But for far too long that hasn’t been the case. Football is a part of the entertainment industry – Southend United are not in any way entertaining to watch and haven’t been for some time. It would be hugely arrogant of the club to play on the supporter’s emotions and suggest otherwise.
Money is tight – why should fans pay to watch a team which has displayed nothing but an alarming decline over a relatively short period with little sign of upward momentum?

I get the ‘thick and thin’ mentality, really I do. But to continually serve up poor, uninspiring, dull football and expecting fans to pay for it is daylight robbery!

Anyway, sorry, I’m sounding like a broken… well, you get the picture… what’s next? Stevenage. They received a ‘Royal Pardon’ at the end of the last campaign, but despite surviving relegation by default, they were expected to struggle again this time around.

There have been teething problems, but Boro boss – and former Blues striker, Alex Revell – has seemingly found a formula that works.

The midweek draw at Leyton Orient extended their unbeaten sequence to nine matches. When they played out a goalless draw with Southend at the Broadwood Stadium back in early December, the pair occupied the bottom two places in League Two. Incredibly, the Hertfordshire club is now a point closer to the play-offs than they are the dropzone.

Once again, I’m sure Blues fans care very little about the progress of Stevenage. But there’s the proof, if anyone needed it, that the right recruitment and input, both on and off the field, makes all the difference.

Now for the tough love, I’m afraid. In all honesty, I don’t believe Southend United will avoid relegation. I don’t believe the team is good enough, although I’m more than happy to be proved wrong.

I still think Blues need the equivalent of six wins to stand a chance, although with Grimsby, Barrow and Colchester all having played fewer games, the task is a little out of Southend’s hands.

But let’s just say Southend does pull off the great escape – celebrations, relief, hangover, what’s next? Are you comfortable that those currently at the helm have the contacts and capabilities to draw a line under the last three years and nudge the club further up the league? Hope is the word fans are looking for. Sadly, I don’t see that precious commodity arriving at the Roots Hall table anytime soon.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-2 Stevenage

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]