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History

Southend Managers From Yesteryear – Ronnie Whelan

12 July 2018

Ronnie Whelan had a glittering playing career which saw him win numerous domestic and European honours as part of the famous Liverpool side of the 1980’s.

The Irishman won the European Cup once, six First Division championships, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one European Super Cup and five Charity Shields in a golden era for Liverpool FC.   
 
Over his 15-year spell with the Reds, Whelan also represented his country 53 times and would appear in one European Championship and two World Cups for the Republic of Ireland. 
 
Towards the end of his playing days, Whelan would join Southend United in a bid to get more first-team football but within a year of his arrival, he would become Blues’ player-manager in 1995.  
 
The midfielder replaced Steve Thompson to become Southend’s sixth manager in just four seasons, but at the age of 34, Whelan had no intention of hanging up his boots. 
 
As part of an interview in The Independent, regular Roots Hall goers described Blues as “different class” when Whelan was in it, the only difference now was that he was the one picking the team. 
 
In his first season, Whelan would guide Blues to 14th in the First Division, taking some notable scalps including a league double against Leicester who would end the season being promoted.
 
But there were a few warning signs as the season came to a close, with Whelan only seeing Blues win three of their last 18 league games, including a final day defeat to Stoke City. 
 
That form would seep into the following season as Southend picked up just one point from their opening five games, scoring just two goals in the process. 
 
Back-to-back wins against Fulham in the League Cup and Bolton in the league looked to have turned the tide somewhat but Southend would end the season bottom with just eight league wins. 
 
Blues would finish nine points adrift of safety and with it came the end of Whelan’s short reign as Southend United manager as he was let go two games short of overseeing 100 games in charge. 
 
Whelan would continue in management, managing Panionios, Olympiakos Nicosia and Apollon Limassol in Greece but as a manager, he was never able to replicate the success he had as a player. 
 
Factfile 
 
Date of Birth: 25th September 1961 
Place of Birth: Dublin, Ireland
Managed Southend: 1995-1997
Playing Honours: First Division Title 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88, 1898-90, FA Cup 1985-86, 1988-89, League Cup 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, UEFA Super Cup 1986-87, Charity Shield 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, UEFA European Cup 1983-84
Managerial Honours: None

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