Things we learned from Fleetwood horror show

Was this the worst performance in more than a decade?

Was this the worst performance in more than a decade?

OPINION is divided on when we last saw a Southend performance as bad as Saturday’s depressing 2-0 reverse to Fleetwood Town. Some say the 2-0 defeat at home to Boston in 2003, when less than 3,000 attended and it genuinely looked as though we could be bound for the Conference. Chris Phillips of the Southend Echo described it as one of the worst he has seen in 27 years. Blues managed just a solitary shot on target against Fleetwood, who could have ended up winning by four or five.

The team was rightly booed off the pitch and Phil Brown is now public enemy number one in the stands after the sloppy start to the season. But if we can learn a few things, perhaps there could be a positive outcome from such a horrible, woeful 90 minutes.

Michael Timlin is sorely missed

Tims did not kick on as hoped last year thanks to injury issues, but his willingness to press the ball high up the pitch and put pressure on opposition defenders has been missed. At one stage on Saturday, a Fleetwood defender was allowed just to stroll across the halfway line as Southend backed off and retreated to the edge of their own box. The score at the time was 1-0 to the visitors. There was no pressure on the ball and no urgency to win it back. The midfield five on Saturday looked weak and unwilling to make a challenge. Timlin’s return will at least make the opposition know they’re in a game.

Nathan Pond is exactly what Southend need

Irritating, aggressive and physical. Fleetwood centre back Nathan Pond is not going to win any awards for subtlety or technique, but he won every single ball that came anywhere near him on Saturday. He absolutely bossed lonely old Simon Cox and Southend did not once attempt to exploit his weakness, pace and ability to deal with swift interplay around him. Meanwhile, as Southend failed time and time again to challenge for any set piece into the box, the 6ft 4ins Cian Bolger watched on from the bench with interest.

Lack of confidence is the issue – not lack of “passion”

Anyone who has played football knows a lack of confidence in a player when he/she sees it. Unfortunately mistaken by people with limited knowledge as showing a lack of “passion”, the main symptom is not wanting the ball for fear of making a mistake. Southend’s entire midfield appeared afflicted at the weekend, with nobody making runs or demanding to receive the ball. Adam King already looks a broken man, Ryan Leonard has gone into his shell and although Jack Bridge did show signs of wanting the ball early on, he found options limited when he did get it and his enthusiasm sapped.

The other symptom is snatching at shots. Blues did have a couple of decent shooting opportunities. At one point in the second half the ball dropped to the feet of McGlashan inside the box, he swiped and miscued. Luke O’Neill found the ball at his feet in space on the edge of the D and thrashed at it, firing over. Ryan Leonard did similar in the first half. Composure disappears when a player is not feeling confident – and the actions of the fans are not helping with David Mooney, already struggling for form and belief, jeered onto the pitch by a mindless few.

Roots Hall is a fortress – for the opposition

When Fleetwood’s first goal beat Mark Oxley, the entire team ran to the South West corner to congratulate each other and stayed there for probably 30 seconds. There was a time when this would not have been a sensible option for visiting players. With fans so close to the pitch there, it would have been a risky move and a volley of foul-mouthed abuse and maybe even the odd coin might have come their way. These days, Southend fans save their wrath for their own team.

It’s hard to fathom the mentality of people who pay £23 to actively help the opposition, but some supporters ironically cheered Oxley when he made a save, booed Mooney onto the pitch and generally the atmosphere was poisonous. Of course it’s hard being a Southend fan right now, we’ve been waiting nearly half a calendar year for a home win and the performances being served up are truly dire, but supporters’ displeasure is causing a vicious circle which is adding to the pressure and contributing to the lack of confidence among the team.

Long throws are insane

According to that clever chap Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If this is true we can only call Ryan Leonard’s long throws totally insane. Time after time Adam Barrett marched up from the back, was marked back and front by the visiting defence, lost the header and was forced into a hasty retreat. Barrett is not tall enough to win those balls when he doesn’t get a run onto the ball. Long throws don’t allow him to do this, and therefore it is totally pointless. Southend’s set pieces at both ends of the pitch have hit new lows this season. Getting a corner almost always results in the opposition having a promising breakaway opportunity, while conceding one pretty much costs us a goal a game at the moment. Whatever Brown is doing on the training ground, it isn’t working at all.

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