The Turning Point In Our Season?! | TBV Bulletin January 2020

posted 7 Feb 2020, 12:19 by Dan McEvoy   [ updated 17 Feb 2020, 06:11 ]

Following on from the success of last season's bulletins, a member of TBV will be continuing to publish their thoughts and comments from previous games, and previewing games ahead of us. These bulletin's are to be published once a month, and the day/date these bulletins are posted will vary from month to month. As always, please be aware that this bulletin may contain some controversial views, and are the views of those involved with TBV, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the club. 

We would like to start this month's bulletin off with a quick apology, as in the December edition, we promised that this month's edition of the bulletin would feature a large section dedicated to some of our greatest moments over the past decade. Unfortunately, we will be delaying this feature until February's bulletin, as we have a few bigger, and much more serious talking points to give our thoughts on this month. If you still wish to contribute to the above feature, please refer to last month's bulletin, which you can read here.

But before we begin this bulletin, everyone involved with TBV would like to extend our thoughts to the family and friends of Chris Barker, who sadly passed away just a couple of days into the New Year. Chris Barker was a top bloke both on the pitch, and off it too, constantly interacting with fans, taking time out of his day to make someone else's day, and on top of all of this, he was a top player, and a fantastic role model and captain for the club. When us fans utter the phrase "play for the name on the front of the shirt and we'll forever remember the name on the back", it isn't just a saying. I think we speak on behalf of all Southend fans when we say we will forever remember Chris Barker as a fantastic role model for the club, and a truly phenomenal gent and player. The tribute to him before the Tranmere game to remember him was impeccable and very emotional for a lot of people to watch, and that tells me that he truly was respected by everyone in attendance. We send our condolences to everyone close to Chris, including his family and friends. 

Rest In Peace Chris Barker - 1980-2020

January Sales...

Well, it's not all been bad news... we've started off our January with a huge positive and picked up a grand total of 5 points, losing only once and winning our 2nd game of the season! For those who missed it, Accrington away is always a great away day, and the players didn't disappoint us, with Southend walking away with a well deserved and a hard fought for 3 points. The fans were fantastic, and the players rightly deserved the response they got from the fans. Unfortunately, we weren't able to keep up our winning start to the new decade at Doncaster, falling to a 3-1 defeat, however I see a good number of positives on the pitch from our most recent games, and hopefully performances will continue to improve over the next few weeks, despite our off-field troubles.

Where oh where do we begin with the transfer window then... so, it's been a busy few weeks at Roots Hall when it comes down to the transfer market... unfortunately, the only movement we've seen in this transfer window has been players going out of the club, moving on to pastures new. So, very quickly before we get onto the main talking point of this transfer window, let me give you my personal opinions on these moves;

Ethan Hamilton and Nathan Ndukwu - Whilst they may individually be good players, unfortunately, they just didn't fit into the side, for whatever reason, and to terminate their loan deals was absolutely 100% the right decision.

Simon Cox - In my opinion, and as sad as it is to see someone depart from the club having been here for many years, it was ultimately the right decision. Coxy was a fantastic striker for us, and provided us with many, many memories over his time at the club, but with him being in the latter stage of his career, and with the offer of a move to the Australian league, I think you can totally understand why he wanted to move on.

Tom Hopper - One of the players who, since returning from injury, has given us 100% every single game, and has made a huge difference for us, so to see him depart for Lincoln City was absolutely gutting. Having said that, if Hopper did indeed have a relegation release clause in his contract, accepting 150k for him over the risk of losing him at the end of the season is definitely the right decision, sadly. 

Rob Kiernan - Once described to us by a certain former manager as our "wow" signing of that season's transfer market, Kiernan has been desperately unlucky at Southend, being riddled with injuries. For me, I feel like it's the right decision to let him go, it certainly helps reduce our wage budget, but it does create a big defender shortage problem (more on that in a minute).

Nathan Bishop - A player who has came through our youth team, and began the transition to the first team, he certainly has a big future ahead of him if he continues to work on his game. When it comes to his move, it's hard to argue against it... when a club like Manchester United show interest and belief in your abilities, who can blame him for jumping at the opportunity to join them?! All the best to him, and I hope to see him making a name for himself in the future.

With all the players who have departed from us this transfer window, I wish them all the best of luck in their new ventures, apart from when they play Southend, of course!

Now, with the departures out of the way, let's talk about the lack of movement on the other side of the transfer window... 

With all of the players who have moved on during this transfer window, the club had to be looking at replacing these players, and unfortunately, the club haven't done so. In fact, our own chairman has released a statement to the fans via the Echo, to tell us that he doesn't foresee us making any signings in the January window at all, and praises Sol for his "initiative" to place his faith into the youth. Now, I have a number of problems with this statement personally, firstly stating that we wanted to bring in 5-6 players on a permanent, and then turning round a couple of weeks later saying it was "notoriously difficult to attract the right players" quite frankly, isn't good enough. There is such a thing as bringing in players on a 6 month contract, or on loan deals... and if you're worried about "not attracting the right players", give them incentives to do well and make them work for a contract. I would rather sign 6-7 hard-working "standard level" players working for a future deal, than 1-2 big, established big player signings, because in my opinion, that is where we have gone wrong in the past. On the subject of where things have gone wrong with player signings in the past, personally speaking, I think Spencer Prior summed it up for us all on Twitter; the club desperately needs a CEO or a Technical Director - someone to deal with the player situation and ensure what happened in the past, doesn't happen to us again. With Ron desperately working with the council (apparently) to figure out plans for our future stadium, appointing someone to oversee the day to day running of the club would make a lot of sense.

**EDIT** Since writing this section of the bulletin, it has been noted that we are in lengthly talks with 2 ex Macclesfield players who have only recently been released from their contract, both of which have been on Sol's radar for a while, according to Ron. This is obviously good news, however could it be seen as too little too late? The players released include a midfielder, and two defenders, the two positions we are currently struggling with. This will come as a welcome boost if we are able to agree a contract with them, and as free agents as of before the close of the transfer window, it will mean they are able to complete their transfers to us outside the transfer window. It was also noted that former Southend goalkeeper, Ted Smith, is still training with the squad, and could also be an option, should we wish to take it.

Southend United vs Lincoln

So, with the transfer window slamming shut on Friday evening, just 6 senior pros (players who have a good few years of professional experience) available, and a whole load of youngsters (including players without too much first team experience) readying themselves for the step up to the first team, we headed into Saturday's game not really knowing just what to expect. Whilst this situation was far from ideal, a huge positive coming out of all of this, is that the club are continuing to bring players through the youth system, which is only testament to the fantastic work Ricky Duncan and his team are doing with the youth academy. We saw a fantastic performance from youngster Harry Phillips on Tuesday night in Doncaster, with a goal to cap it all off, and it's fantastic to see players like himself continue to progress and impress both the fans and management, even when results aren't going our way. For me, it's fantastic to see that the youth system will get a huge chance to shine, albeit in very difficult circumstances, and I really hope it works out well for them. I do worry that we are throwing our youngsters straight into the deep end, but I believe that with the senior pros we have at the club, combined with the management team, they have the right support around them to step up, and be able to cope with the pressures.

Having said that, I thought that the youngsters that stepped up on Saturday were absolutely fantastic, with Tom Clifford impressing me, and many others in a big way. For a youngster to step up to play in the first team, and to play with so much composure and class, under huge amounts of pressure, is very impressive. I thought everyone really stepped up on Saturday, and, in reflection, the best team won at full time, and it was well deserved. Huge shout to Elvis Bwomono, who has been, by far, our most consistent player in recent weeks... if ever there was a player to fully deserve the glory of a 96th minute winner, it was Elvis. Seeing his passion celebrating the goal, and at full time is only testament to his character and how much he cares about the club he plays for. He walked off that pitch and went home with a beaming smile on his face, and he fully deserved to have one, because he was immense on Saturday, and long may it continue!

Final Thoughts

As fans, I get that it can get frustrating at times, but let's all remember how good moments like Sunderland felt... where the odds were stacked against us, and we came back fighting with everything we had got. But moments like celebrating survival last season is moments that make it all worthwhile in the long run, and, should the impossible become reality again this season, I can promise you that being there every step of the way, experiencing all of the highs and lows, makes these moments even more memorable for fans. On the flip side of things, should we end up going down, at least we cannot turn round, as fans, and say "we gave it our best shot". This is a team that I am sure many of us have followed now for years upon years, and to see us in such a dire situation breaks my heart... but this season is not over yet. It's not over until the final game of the season. Our next game is Blackpool away, and I would urge any fans who are considering whether or not to have a day out in Blackpool next Saturday to watch Southend, to book onto a coach, and join us in supporting the team. 

It could potentially be a tough couple of weeks/months for us, but as long as we continue to put in good performances like the ones against Lincoln, I'm sure we will continue to give ourselves every possible opportunity to claw our way out of this mess. The youth have a chance to shine, the players seem to be playing for each other again, and the passion seems to be back again amongst the group. Our season has got off to a horrific start, but we are only half way through the season, and anything can still happen. This bunch of players deserve an opportunity for the fans to get behind them, and I think, as fans, we all need to give them as much support as physically possible. We can't change our situation, but we can do our absolute best to adapt to it, and try to make it work; it's far from ideal, but no-one said things would come easy to us. For me, we can either go out with a whimper, showing no fight or passion to win our remaining fixtures... or we can bust our arses trying to avoid the drop, and gain the respect of the fans in the process... I think I know what I'd prefer out of that.

Up The Blues!

The Blue Voice