Southend United were promoted last season in the most dramatic way possible, if a 120th minute equaliser wasn’t exciting enough, a thrilling win on penalties saw Phil Brown’s men go up to League One, whilst Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe were left broken.
Last Season: League Two (5th)
Manager: Phil Brown
GKs: Daniel Bentley, Paul Smith, Ted Smith
DFs: John White, Ben Coker, Adam Thompson, Luke Prosser, Cian Bolger, Adam Barrett
MFs: David Worrall, Michael Timlin, Myles Weston, Will Atkinson, Kevan Hurst, Jack Payne, Gary Deegan, Jack Bridge, Ryan Leonard
FWs: Jason Williams, David Mooney
In: David Mooney (Leyton Orient), Anthony Wordsworth (Ipswich Town)
Out: Josh Banton (Released), Lee Barnard (Released), Ellis Brown (Released), Conor Clifford (Released), Barry Corr (Cambridge United), Kane Farrell (Released), Mads Ibenfeldt (Released), Paul Smith (Released)
First Six: Fleetwood Town (A), Walsall (H), Doncaster Rovers (H), Swindon Town (H), Coventry City (A), Peterborough United (H)
Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Bentley – White, Bolger, Barrett, Coker – Wordsworth, Leonard, Payne, Timlin, Weston – Mooney
A word from…Spencer Prior
On arriving at Southend I look back at my time with Southend with really fond memories. All I ever wanted to do was play football. Of course I had mixed emotions during that spell, firstly with a relegation and then breaking my tibia. The success that followed was fantastic and the players showed that there really wasn’t a great deal of difference between the divisions.
I believe I left at the right time to further my career and had numerous offers, however the opportunity to join Norwich City who were playing in Europe was one I really wanted to experience.
The big return There really wasn’t a great deal of difference when I returned to the club. The ground had been given a fresh coat of paint, we even got lunch as a squad! In all honesty the environment was very different. We had our own training ground rather than training at Gloucester Park in Basildon, and the new South stand had been built.
My time at Cardiff was well documented and I nearly walked away from the game. I owe a lot to not just Southend for the opportunity, but also Phil Parkinson who spent hours encouraging me to keep playing. If the deal had been right at Colchester I might have finished up there!
The following seasons with Southend were among the best of my career. Not from a football perspective, but a personal one, having fallen back in love with the game. I’m very privileged to have represented Southend, and I’m very proud of the achievements we had during my spells at the club.
Relegation happened because the club wasn’t ready for promotion. There were some signings that were paid way above the market value that didn’t fit into the clubs culture. It’s always a challenge to get the balance between giving the opportunity to those that gained promotion, and bringing in fresh faces. I think there was some poor recruitment in that summer.
The Manchester United game was a fantastic night at Roots Hall and will live with me forever. If that atmosphere could be bottled and brought out every week, then Roots Hall will be a very difficult place for clubs to come and play at in 2015/16 season. I did follow the results last season and it was a fantastic run-in at the end of the campaign. To miss out on promotion on the last day of the season and bounce back in the play offs showed great resolve amongst the players.
On the current Shrimpers side Phil Brown has worked really hard to put his mark on the squad. Without knowing the budget for next season it’s difficult to comment on how successful he’ll be in that division. Hopefully there are some resources for players, but the money needs to be spent wisely on players that will not just help the club retain its position in League 1, but also be players for the future.
On what it takes after promotion Lucky signings, that’s what it takes. Again, I don’t think there should be panic buys, and just because the club;s been promoted it shouldn’t feel it has to go out and bring players in for the sake of it. Barry Corr leaving isn’t good. You need a consistent goalscorer in your squad, so to lose a player because of a better financial offer in the division below is either dumb from the other club spending beyond their means, or worrying that Southend couldn’t afford to keep him.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Have they got the team to push on? Maybe just not yet, but we don’t think they’ll go straight back down
Key Player: Daniel Bentley – The 21-year-old is just getting better and better and was excellent in the play-off final. If Southend can keep him, he’ll earn them a few crucial points on his own.
One to Watch: Anthony Wordsworth – Very experienced at this level and at 26 he should be in the best years of his career. Could be a very good signing from Phil Brown.