With just six games to preserve their football league status, Southend United have decided to switch managers. Out goes Mark Molesley after less than a year in charge and incomes Phil Brown who’s no stranger to Roots Hall.
Brown is tasked with ensuring Southend remain a football league club. However, he faces a big job in his second spell with the club with Southend sinking towards non-league football.
He inherits a Shrimpers side 23rd in the League Two table, five points off safety. It’s a big ask for Southend to survive, especially with many of their rivals having at least one game in hand. Southend have become the last side in the bottom six to change manager through the course of the season. The Shrimpers are hoping a positive switch can spark their season into life.
Winning football matches has been a problem all season but the big problem is the severe lack of goals. Just 24 goals in their 40 matches – Phil Brown has to inject goals into the side if they are to have any chance of survival.
Phil Brown Returns to Southend United With Six Games to Preserve EFL Status
Brown Must Instil a Winning Formula Fast
The former Hull City manager enjoyed an excellent five years at Roots Hall between 2013 and 2018. In that time, he guided Southend back to League One by winning the League Two play-offs in 2015. However, keeping Southend in the football league will top that achievement.
Southend have struggled all season and have been lumbered to the bottom of the EFL. Mark Molesley inherited a difficult situation in which he couldn’t strengthen his squad until January after a transfer embargo was placed on the club. Eventually, chairman Ron Martin paid off the £493,000 debt but those off-field issues really have reflected on the pitch.
Molesley managed just eight league wins in his 40 matches. While they slowly improved defensively, offensively things just haven’t clicked. The Shrimpers have scored just 24 goals this season – the worst in League Two and EFL. They failed to score in 22 of their 40 league matches and only managed to score more than once just four times.
Their joint top scorers in League Two are Tom Clifford and Timothee Dieng who have just three goals. It’s a major problem Phil Brown must address if he is to drag Southend out of trouble. It will be tough instilling a winning mentality on a team that has struggled consistently all season.
A Poor 2021 Costs Mark Molesley His Job
It was always going to be a difficult season for Southend and in particular Mark Molesley, who had never managed in the football league before. His impressive spell at Weymouth, in which he guided them to the National League, earned him the job. However, he walked into a difficult situation and, ultimately, it was a struggle throughout his reign despite his tireless commitment to the role.
Results just haven’t followed despite the changes to the style of play and personnel over the course of the season. A poor 2021 has yielded just four league wins from 20 matches. The Shrimpers have collected just 19 points in that time which has left them in deep trouble at the bottom of League Two. Molesley did make them harder to beat over the course of his reign but couldn’t secure enough victories to emphasise their gradual improvement.
Following his departure from Roots Hall, a statement on the club’s website read: “We wish to thank Mark for the commitment throughout his tenure. The Board recognise the management team worked tirelessly.
“However, whilst considerable further support was afforded during the January window, results on the pitch remained, unfortunately, inconsistent.”
Time will tell whether Southend United left their decision to change managers too late. Six cup finals loom for the Shrimpers with Phil Brown facing an uphill struggle.
Six Cup Finals Loom for Phil Brown
It’s crunch time for the Southend United players. They have six matches to keep the club in the EFL. Six must-win matches if they are to have any chance of preserving their football league status. With rivals Barrow, Grimsby Town and Walsall all having games in hand, Southend have to win most if not all their matches to have any chance of survival. However, two of their final six games see them face Barrow and fellow strugglers Colchester United.
Phil Brown inherits a team with just one win in their last ten games. His first assignment is a must-win home game against Crawley Town. Town, who will be keen to end their recent bad run of results. Crawley have lost four of their last five and are winless in six matches. This presents a fantastic chance for Phil Brown to get off to a winning start.
That is followed by a trip to Exeter City who themselves are enduring a difficult run of form. However, the Grecians still have plenty to play for with Matt Taylor’s team just three points off the playoffs. Southend need to seize their chance with Exeter also on a poor run having lost four of their last six matches.
Two Crucial Games Against Colchester United and Barrow to Come in Final Four Games
A trip to local rivals Colchester United follows in a must-win Essex derby for both sides. Both are in dire straits at the wrong end of the table. They too have recently changed manager with Hayden Mullins coming in, who has drawn both of his games in charge. Colchester are currently Southend’s closest rivals in the relegation battle – beat them and they will make ground on Colchester and it could be a momentum changer for both sides.
A home game with in-form Leyton Orient follows that with Jobi McAnuff’s men very much in the race for a play-off spot. They will be a tough opponent for the Shrimpers but it’s a game they both must win for their own courses.
Southend’s second six-pointer in their run is a game against Barrow. The Bluebirds have vastly improved since Rob Kelly took over as caretaker manager. They are desperate to preserve their football league status having waited 42 years to return to English league football. Kelly has won six of his eleven games during his second caretaker spell, losing just four times. They have momentum and will pose a difficult test for Southend.
They finish the season at home to Newport County. Again, this could be vital for both sides with Southend fighting for survival and Newport hoping to maintain their spot in the play-offs. Whether either course gets to the final day, only time will tell but, Southend have a run of matches where six wins are imperative if they are to beat the drop.
Phil Brown Has Worked Miracles Before and He Needs to Produce Another
Make no mistake, this is a hugely difficult job for Phil Brown to take on. His new side are in deep trouble and must win every match to have any chance of surviving in the football league.
Brown has worked miracles in the past. Getting Hull City into the Premier League and keeping them there, guiding Southend to promotion in his first spell. Once again, Brown must pull off a serious miracle act in the coming weeks. It a tough challenge but it’s one he will relish and that will rub off on a playing squad severely lacking belief, confidence and momentum.
Wins are imperative and only those will get them the best chance of salvation. Phil Brown is ready to embark on perhaps his toughest challenge in football management with time against him in his mission to save Southend United.
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