Blues boss Phil Brown suggested that his future is likely to be decided in the coming days after already relegated Southend ended their stay in League Two with a 1-1 draw against play-off bound Newport County this afternoon.
Shaun Hobson’s early strike was cancelled out by Mickey Demetriou’s looping header in the second-half, with the point enough to secure the Exiles their spot in the top seven, although Blues did have the chance to win it with a Matt Rush penalty that was saved by Tom King.
Brown understandably fielded questions about his future after the full-time whistle had been blown at a blustery Roots Hall, with the next few days being key to deciding where his future lies as Southend begin preparations for the National League next season.
On the dressing room and his future…
“Just a few home truths were delivered after the game. I certainly believe that as a manager of any team or any changing room, you’ve got to go in there and be honest with the players. Those honest conversations will spill into next week with regards to individuals that I want out of the club if I take the reigns myself.
“That’s the main conversation I’ve got to have with the chairman tonight, tomorrow and let’s see what happens. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday are important days for any manager regardless of whether you’re preparing for a play-off semi-final and final as Michael Flynn is next – and congratulations to Newport.
“But that’s the kind of mentality that you need for a 46-game campaign. I don’t think we’ve had enough strong characters in the changing room to be able to deal with adversity. Regardless of whether there’s a pandemic, when you cross that white line there you’ve got a game of football on your hands and it’s 11 vs 11.
“Yes, you can be embarrassed by the qualities of the rich teams and the teams above you in the leagues, but everybody can perform to the best of their ability 46 times a season and come out where you deserve to be. I’ve just said to them in there that we’re second bottom and that’s the reason why we’ve got relegated: because we haven’t got enough points, we haven’t got enough character, enough fight, we haven’t got enough quality and we haven’t got enough drive in that changing room. That’s one thing that, if I am still here next year, we will have in abundance.”
On the coming days…
“If I’m going to have conversations with players, I’m not going to talk to them unless I’m the manager, so I’ve said to the players that I’ll send round on this WhatsApp group times and schedules for the next three or four days.
“Sunday is a day of rest, a time to think, time to negotiate, time to get his [Ron Martin’s] deal on the table, my deal on the table and see where it takes us. If that doesn’t take us into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday then I won’t be talking to the players, that’s for sure.”
“I think there are quite a few that I would stay with and that’s not just contractually based, that doesn’t mean to say just because they’ve got a contract at the club that I’ll stay with them. There will be contracts that will be teared up; there will be contracts that will be offered; there will be contracts that’ll be renewed, but only because they’ve got the right character for next year’s challenge.
“It’s a horrible time for the players, but you can always build a platform for success, and it’s no use licking your wounds and starting to feel sorry for yourself. You’ve got to get out there and stand up to the challenge and that’s what we’ll do.”
On what’s needed to turn things around…
“Strength of character more than anything else. We’ve shown that resilience, in that performance and ability that they gave collectively today.
“There were one or two young players out there that know absolutely nothing about the game, and you’re there as a father figure, a coach, a leader trying to give them simple key factors to try and win a game of football. There were one or two performances today that I could eulogise about individually, but I don’t want to do that as it’s not that time for that.
“Collectively we’ve gone toe-to-toe with a team in the play-off places and more than matched them. They only needed a point, so that might have been the difference between the two teams; if we just needed a point there might have been a difference in terms of how far we go and press them and play football in their half.
“I can’t wait, if I’m in charge, to get my teeth into the group of players with pre-season preparation for a campaign in the National League because they’ll know in no uncertain terms exactly how difficult it will be to play for a Phil Brown team.”