Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughSouthend United 2010-2011 Season Review Part One - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Southend United 2010-2011 Season Review Part One - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Southend United 2010-2011 Season Review Part One

So as the season comes to an end it’s time to look back at what could be described as a defining season in Southend’s recent history.

Back in July 2010 Steve Tilson, Southend’s manager for the previous 6 years and something of a legend in these parts, was unexpectedly put on gardening leave ( ie. sacked ). It had been a tough season previously in League 1, with many problems resulting in relegation back to League 2 after a 5 year absence. Financial problems off the pitch and a revolving door of below-par loan players on it had meant a season of struggle, and with a heavy heart Southend’s chairman Ron Martin first dismissed assistant manager Paul Brush and then, on a glorious summer Sunday, Tilly was given his marching orders. Southend fans were outraged – some congregated outside Chairman Ron’s house demanding answers, others climbed onto the Club Shop’s roof with banners displaying their feelings. Add to this the fact that Southend had only 5 registered players on their books after a mass relegation exodus and things did not look too rosy.

On the following Monday morning it was announced that a new managerial duo would be having a Press Conference later that morning. We feared the worst – a journeyman lower league manager that would keep us treading water in the basement division for years, just like Tilson’s predecessors? Or an unexperienced first-timer that would be all bluster but when push comes to shove would struggle on a Tuesday night away at Accrington Stanley?

When the new guy was announced many Shrimpers, including myself, were pleasantly surprised. Here was a manager that, although you could argue he falls into the former category, had a proven track record of promoting unfashionable, unfancied teams from the lower divisions. His assistant was some lower-League clogger called Tommy Widdrington, who no-one really knew much about, apart from he left his managerial post at Salisbury to be number 2 to Sturrock, briefly played in the Premiership for Southampton, and the Southend statto’s remembered he scored against us during the 90’s whilst playing for Grimsby Town.

Blimey. Paul Sturrock. I’ve still got a Panini sticker album with him in when he was a scrawny kid at Dundee Utd winning the SPFA POTY. And he played at Mexico 86. I was genuinely excited about his appointment at my little club.

Sturrock had a monumental task ahead of him in that he only had 5 players and the season was 4 weeks away. He had to bring in bodies, quick, but with no money. And not only that but build, create and mould a team that would not only avoid a second successive drop into the dreaded Conference, but be able to keep it’s head above water in League 2.

Sturrock quickly assembled a squad of journeymen pros, non-League hopefuls and bizarre foreign imports ( more of which later ). Almost all the new arrivals had already played under Sturrock somewhere in their careers before, and they all had the same thing to say – we came here for him. Glowing praise indeed.

After some encouraging performances in pre-season the new season arrived and results were mixed, with Sturrock tinkering with players and employing bizarre formations which left many Southend fans questioning his actions. Poor home form but surprisingly good away form had the fans scratching their heads, with Sturrock himself proclaiming we were scared of playing at home.

However around this time there were whispers of unrest in the management camp, with un-named players blaming Widdrington’s bully-boy tactics for poor results and to everyone’s surprise he was relived of his duties in December. Sturrock decided he would plough a lone managerial furrow in the dugout for the rest of the season ( although player / reserve team coach and experienced journeyman Graham Coughlan would help out when needed ).

Christmas was coming and the pressure was on. Could Luggy turn things around?

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