With Southend currently in the bottom three in League One, Daniel Marsh discusses why the club’s next managerial appointment is vital.
Southend United are currently on the lookout for their fourth manager in just over a year-and-a-half after Kevin Bond’s resignation two weeks ago.
Last year’s unprecedented and seemingly never-ending injury list was the foundation for a torrid run of form which would ultimately cost previous incumbent Chris Powell his job, with his predecessor Bond managing to help the Blues limp over the finishing line.
Unfortunately, Bond oversaw a disastrous run of six straight league defeats to start the season. But as attention turns to his replacement, it is the emergence of the iconic Swedish striker Henrik Larsson which has garnered the attention of Southend. But should he really be the type of applicant that should be drawing the club’s attention?
From the outside looking in, the clubs next appointment is vital following a turbulent spell over the last couple of years.
Prior to their triumph in Milton Keynes, Southend have endured a miserable return of just two wins from a staggering 26 matches. Delve a little deeper into the clubs on-field issues, and it makes for further grim reading. Only Bolton, with a team made up of Academy players for the majority of the season, have conceded as many goals as the Shrimpers this season – a staggering 24 times. Saturday’s clean sheet was their first since January – there are clearly serious on-field issues.
Although Larsson may be one of the more glamorous names on the shortlist, it would be a massive leap of faith for the Swede to be entrusted with the role. The past 18 months of turmoil have been a challenging period for the club and appointing someone with no prior managerial knowledge of the EFL at all, let alone League One, is not what anyone would prescribe at present.
Larsson’s name may be synonymous with success, but only so on the pitch. Off of it, his exploits in the dugout have been a far cry from his playing achievements, with little notable success in a number of roles in Sweden. Reports have emerged in the national press at the time of writing distancing Larsson from the role, stating a lack of understanding in regard to English coaching and concerns over the club’s financial state.
Sometimes too much is made for the need to have someone at the helm with knowledge of the league. In this instance however, it should be the minimum requirement. Gary Waddock is a safe pair of hands for now – and may yet be a long-term candidate if he can secure another positive result at the weekend – but the club has been in a steady state of decline for the past 18 months and failure to appoint the correct manager will likely see them slide back into the fourth tier of English football.
Appointing Larsson would probably have a positive spin in terms of publicity and commercially for the Blues, and there’s no denying it would be an appointment which would immediately lift the mood at Roots Hall. But would it really be the correct decision long-term?
League One is arguably the most competitive and unpredictable competition in the entire EFL, and Larsson being tasked with transforming a club on its knees in such a volatile environment would be a recipe for disaster. It’s happened to managers with better track records than Larsson’s, and heroics from his playing days won’t absolve him from a similar fate.
The club currently appear to be at a real crossroads – they have just been issued with a second winding-up petition in a year, a decision on the club’s ambitious new stadium plans at Fossetts Farm have been delayed once again and matters on the pitch are. It really feels like whichever way the club decide to go, there’s no margin for error with this appointment.
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