Powell appointment can make ailing Southend united again

Chris Powell has been appointed as the new manager of Southend.

Chris Powell has been appointed as the new manager of Southend.

FOR the first time in a long time, there is excitement in the air around a managerial appointment at Southend United. Chris Powell was officially unveiled today as the man to try and keep the club in League One. But he inherits a side with no confidence, on an awful run and with time running out in the transfer window. It may well be his toughest managerial gig to date.

Previously, Powell won plaudits at Charlton, getting the Addicks promoted from League One with 100 points before consolidating in 9th position the following year before problems with the club’s owners became apparent. With Huddersfield, he steered them to Championship safety before being sacked in November 2015 for failing to take the club forward, and was criticised by fans for an apparent negative style of play. More recently, Powell had a stint as assistant manager at Derby, and since leaving that job he has been scouting for Spurs.

A mixed record then, but Powell’s importance to the Roots Hall faithful shouldn’t be understated here. The recent poor run has affected both numbers and atmosphere at Roots Hall. That negativity will be completely lifted at 3pm on Saturday and that could well be the catalyst the players so desperately need.

The ask is a big one. Off a run of eight defeats in nine matches, Powell’s first three games see Southend pitted against sides in the promotion race. So far this season, the Blues have barely even competed with the sides at the top of the table, and this needs to change if they are not to be entrenched in the drop zone come the vital trip to Bury in mid February.

Another tough assignment is improving the squad. While Powell has been in talks over his appointment since last week and will no doubt have identified a few targets while the finer points of his contract were being thrashed out, there are now just eight days of the transfer window remaining. The loss of Ryan Leonard and Nile Ranger are obvious places to start, but Powell needs to identify players who will slot seamlessly into the current side, not easy if you’ve only watched one or two training sessions. Then, you’ve actually got to get them.

Those two positions are the most important, but Powell faces a longer term rebuild. The current Southend United squad is the oldest in League One. While young players like Bwomono, Wabo, Yearwood and Kyprianou have shown promise, it’s arguable that this is a season too early for a couple of them. The squad is injury prone and ageing, some of the key personnel such as Cox and Wordsworth are out of contract in June, and too many have underperformed and cannot be relied upon at this level. Where Phil Brown was lucky enough to inherit a youngish squad that had just fallen short of expectations, the outgoing manager has not allowed his successor the same luxury.

This is the beginning of a new era, and Powell has an opportunity to put his stamp on a new Southend United. He faces three months of struggle, but this is a clever appointment by Ron Martin. He is a chairman who appreciates the past and the goodwill of the supporters towards club legends like Powell. If there is one man who can unite this club for these crucial few months, it is he. Welcome home Chris.