Has Christmas come early for troubled Blues?

Altrincham v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Moss Lane – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

He’s making a list – He’s checking it twice…

Yes, T’is the season to be jolly… Well, almost!

Nevertheless, for those of us of a Southend United persuasion, Christmas might well have come early in the shape of John Still’s arrival at the club as head of football.

What with the late call-off of Tuesday’s Vanarama National League clash with Maidenhead, I was wondering exactly what we could chew the fat over without going over old ground? But in this case, the club has come up trumps, hiring a man with a wealth of experience at this level, winning the title on three occasions as a manager as well as unearthing a whole host of rough diamonds such as Marlon King, Craig Mackail-Smith, Paul Benson, Sam Saunders, Danny Green and Dwight Gayle.

Still’s involvement in football stretches almost six decades. His achievements and Dagenham & Redbridge and Luton Town deserve particular merit, juggling a tight budget at Victoria Road, while undoubtedly laying the foundations for the Hatters rise from non-league football to the Championship.

I’ve no doubt, Still would have provided Kevin Maher with a carefully selected list of potential signings. It is now up to the Roots Hall hierarchy to trust his influence and find the resources to back an overhaul and rebuild of the squad.

Okay, admittedly it is important not to heap undue pressure on Still, viewing him as our immediate saviour, after all, Southend United remain on the critical list. But I believe his appointment is probably the biggest statement of intent the club has made in five years.

John Still’s appointment has come as a huge boost to Southend United (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

In other news…

Ron Martin, along with Geoffrey King, were present at Southwark Crown Court during the week, the pair are charged with two counts of cheating the public revenue, having failed to pay more than £5million in tax following two land deals.

It now appears they are unlikely to stand trial until 2023. Of course, innocent until proven otherwise as well as the fact the land deals had nothing to do with the football club, taken into account. But it must be said, the leisurely paced wheels of justice indirectly hinder the club. Mr Martin’s name remains synonymous with the Blues. Ask yourself, as a potential investor, would you be a little more cautious, even with the limited information at hand in mind?

Blues chairman, Ron Martin (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Anyway, back to football. Altrincham. What do we know? Well, the Moss Lane outfit appears to be one of the leagues great entertainers with 54 goals coming in their opening 16 league outings.

Dan Mooney and Josh Hancock lead the way with five apiece, although goals have been spread throughout the team. Matthew Kosylo, Ryan Colclough and Jake Moult notably chipped in with four each.

Alty recovered a two-goal deficit to earn a share of the spoils at high-flying Chesterfield during the week, displaying their undoubted credentials. However, the results have been inconsistent. Whilst play-off contenders, Notts County and Dagenham & Redbridge are numbered amongst those knocked over, six subsequent defeats have left them floundering in midtable.

Despite their Moss Lane home undergoing extensive ground repairs, stringent safety rules have limited the capacity for Saturday’s clash to just 1,400 – Southend fans snapping up 250 tickets before the game was taken off-sale. Both sets of support have been left frustrated by the decision.

But the match itself. Let’s be perfectly honest. As things stand, this remains a hugely difficult test for Southend, who find themselves back in the dropzone after Aldershot found a late winner against Torquay during the week.

I’d imagine Maher and his staff already know which players they want to move on as quickly as possible. In the meantime, limiting the damage remains a priority, although again, I think this one might be a bit beyond us.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Altrincham 2-1 Southend United

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk