The final whistle blew – The curtain brought down, quite literally, upon an instantly forgettable campaign for Southend United. Unfortunately, I don’t for one minute believe we will ever be allowed to let the gloomy impression of the 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two campaign slip our minds.
Yes, I’m a bit late with my weekly damage report. In truth, I thought Southend played quite well against a Newport County side gunning for the play-offs. Blues bossed the first half and despite Mickey Demetriou cancelling out Shaun Hobson’s early goal, it was the already-relegated host’s who continued to look the more likely, despite playing out the final minutes of more than a century in the Football League – who knows, perhaps never to return.
Anyway, that was a couple of weeks ago. Blues fans protested – Some took to the nation’s media to air their frustrations – Ron Martin appeared unaware as to why – Stan Collymore resolutely urged us to remain strong.
I thought I’d let the dust settle before dispatching my thoughts. However, it hasn’t and shows no sign of doing so either. Of course, tying Phil Brown to a longer stint at the club has been viewed by many – including me – as a positive amidst a relentless tide of negatives.
But without intentionally looking to pick fault, I also shared the fans views that announcing Brown’s two year deal on TalkSport as opposed to the clubs’ social media channels, and ahead of a debate involving Jim White, Simon Jordan and Scott Peters from the ‘Save Our Southend’ group came across as ‘one upmanship’ and a little uncomfortable, even if the appointment itself was a step in the right direction.
Earlier today, the Blues boss sorted the wheat from the chaff amongst the group he inherited. Although performances improved on the 61-year-old’s return, one wonders how much of that was simply the impact of a new voice in the dressing room?
Southend played a little more expansively and high up the pitch during the final six matches, but the long and the short of it is that the vast majority of the group had provided sufficient evidence during the first forty matches to suggest we are better off clearing the decks and starting again. Although I agree wholeheartedly with those Brown has released, I remain concerned with a number of those under contract, who have brought little or nothing to the table and we appear stuck with.
Local rivals, Colchester and Orient wasted little time in turning the page, Brown must be aware that the likes of Joe Widdowson and Tom Lapslie, experienced footballers at this level and to name but a few, are on the lookout for new employers. We hold our breath with interest as to the clubs’ ambitions. Personally, I still believe we need to be stopping the considerable rot before even contemplating a push for promotion. Time will tell, but the pre-season clock is already ticking – fans have had their fingers burnt in recent seasons and want to see action before they consider investing in season cards ahead of the new season.
Ah yes, season cards. Any news? As we speak, nothing. Hardly a step in the right direction, especially when you are looking to build bridges with a fan base largely hacked off, and rightly so, following three turgid campaigns.
With the situation the way it is, one would have thought the club would be bending over backwards to offer the supporters a deal – an olive branch – anything to acknowledge their misplaced loyalty to an organisation that has offered little or no return. I still believe Southend supporters will largely vote with their feet next season. The papering over of huge cracks is no longer acceptable. The fans want to see change – As the title says, If nothing changes it’ll stay exactly the same – who in their right mind is going to shell out for more of that?
Anyway, what’s next. Ah yes, Collymore and confusion. Stan has stepped away again. His statement on Shrimperzone suggested his involvement has now concluded. Reading into his post, I sense frustration, anguish and anger. Welcome to our world, Stanley.
Stan had no obligation to offer his support. I one hundred per cent believe that the former frontman’s intentions are honourable and with the club and fans at heart. His involvement has highlighted the clubs’ fragile circumstances further within the media. I’d like to think this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. But one wonders whether Mr Martin ever had any intention of taking on board his help? Blues have been silent over the appointment of a desperately-needed CEO. I guess only Ron can answer that question, but even if he did, whether the supporters believe him is another matter. Once again, why should they display patients any longer? Hasn’t their loyalty been tested enough? Perhaps another reason why 300 of them congregated ahead of the Newport game to let their feelings know. Dialect with your customers Ron (whom the saying goes, are always right), dialect!
Other news; Heading out of Roots Hall is young striker, Kenny Coker, who has joined Premier League newcomers, Norwich City for an undisclosed fee.
Firstly, good luck to the lad, although I must say if he is that highly rated, why was he used so sparingly during Southend’s hour… sorry, hours of need?
Also, an undisclosed fee? Hardly transparent is it? The supporter wants to know exactly what has been received and how it will be invested. After all, recruitment, whether coming through the Academy or incoming transfers, has been a little short of shocking. I’m sure people at the club will argue their corner, but the bottom line is that fans are only really interested in what happens with the first team. Southend has been outside the relegation zone, whatever division they have been in, for a matter of days over the past three years. Don’t try to fob fans off with talk of ‘potential’ and ‘one for the future‘ because football is all about now and to be honest, most of us are too long in the tooth and really don’t care!
So there you have it. In the nine days since Newport, we’ve appointed a new manager who was already here, he has announced a backroom team who were already here and between them, Southend has released a small percentage of the worst squad in the clubs’ history. Fans have no clues on how much they will be asked to pay to watch non-league football and remain very much in the dark as to how exactly, with or without a new stadium, Southend United Football Club will be able to sustain itself on an even keel.
As I said, If nothing changes…