Blues boss Phil Brown wants his players to reflect on this season and ask themselves if they could have done any more after Southend United’s relegation from the Football League was confirmed this afternoon.
Despite coming from behind to pick up a 2-1 win at Barrow with goals from John White and Terrell Egbri, Scunthorpe’s 0-0 draw at Bradford was enough to confirm their place in League Two next season and send Blues down to the National League.
And after the full-time whistle had blown at the Progression Solicitors Stadium and the curtain had been drawn on Southend’s 101-year stay in the Football League, the Blues boss spoke to the press to give his thoughts on what had transpired.
On the relegation…
“It’s not a time for tears or anything like that; it’s a time for looking back at the season and asking yourself, first and foremost, could I have done any more – individually and then collectively.
“We all have those dark hours in the morning where you’re staring at the wall or staring at the mirror and you’re thinking to yourself: I’ve let myself down, therefore I’ve let my teammates down, I’ve let my family down and I’ve let the club down. How many of them individuals will do that, I don’t know, but they’re the only ones that I’m interested in.
“We were talking about the likes of Terrell Egbri, talking about how coming into a physical game he wouldn’t any good to us – absolutely not, he’s got the biggest heart I’ve ever seen in my career. These players have got to look at themselves, not dust themselves down and say I’ve done a half-decent job; they’ve got to take responsibility for what this club’s not achieved this year or the reality of this club going into a division which it’s not been in 100 years.
“We’re all responsible, but how many will actually do that, I don’t know.”
On shouldering the responsibility…
“I feel responsible. I honestly thought six games was going to be enough. I set myself a points tally and the Colchester game put paid to that tally. But as long as we could keep it going until the last game of the season I still felt that we could survive, and I really believed that. It’s not like you’re talking to a madman here, I’ve been in football long enough to know that strange things do happen.
“To have to rely on other teams is not ideal. When you’re looking at the teleprinters and the lads were all standing behind me all making reference to it being 0-0, I was asking about minutes left and I really wanted the shots tally to see if Scunthorpe were up against it. I’m not going to blame Bradford, and I’m not going to blame Scunthorpe, I’m blaming us in the changing room and myself.
On where it went wrong…
“You have to ask other people that question, I wasn’t at the football club to be able to judge that.
“All I want the players to do is now take responsibility for it. If they weren’t doing it enough before I arrived then that’s their responsibility; if they were giving their all, and only they will know that, then quite simply we may just not be good enough.
“But having witnessed them for five games, I think they are good enough. And the collective drive and determination that we’ve shown in four and a half of the games out of the five I thought was enough, and enough to get us out of any kind of trouble.”
On his own future…
“I always like to be a part of a challenge, but I have to make it realistic.
“You have to understand about budgets, about contracts, about my situation, which has totally changed since the last time I was at Southend United. The club has totally changed – I left the club knocking on the door to the Championship and now we’re in the fifth tier, which is a sobering thought, to say the least.
“But the realism of it is if we can be competitive from a budget point of view that might just be enough to attract me and enough to attract players to the football club that can compete.”