Blues boss Kevin Maher said that he was delighted to walk out as Southend manager for the first time this afternoon, but that the 3-0 defeat to Dagenham that followed ‘hurt’.
A second-half blitz from the home side with goals from Mo Sagaf and a double from Sam Ling coming in a six-minute spell earned the Daggers their first win in four league games.
The defeat leaves Blues inside the relegation zone in the National League but Maher, who was only appointed on Wednesday, was under no illusions of how tough a task he faces turning Southend’s fortunes around.
“We knew coming in how hard it was going to be,” said the Blues Head Coach following the full-time whistle at the Chigwell Construction Stadium
“The players give everything and that’s the one thing I can’t complain about.
“We knew the process and we knew how long it was going to take. It’s a tough job and we’ve only been in two days. We know it’s going to take time and we wanted to get a positive result for the fans that we brought today.
“I get that they’re going to be frustrated but it’s going to take time. We’re going to see who’s up for the journey, player-wise, and who’s not and that will happen as we go along the way.”
Having looked bright and energetic in the opening 45 minutes, things turned quickly after Blues conceded the first goal from Sagaf, with Ling’s double following quickly after.
And Maher felt that his side’s collapse was a legacy from those that had come before him, and something he’ll be working hard to address as quickly as possible.
“It looks like that when we concede a goal you can see the lack of confidence and the fear of “here we go again” and that follows on quickly with another one, and the game’s gone then.
“You can almost see the fear. I can feel it, I can sniff it and it’s our job to change that.
“It’s just one game and I’m not going to go overboard with the lads and start criticising because they gave everything. That’s the minimum, I know that, but it did change what I knew to a certain extent and changing the whole mentality and the culture of the football club is going to take time.
“You can’t lose for three, four years and all of a sudden flick a switch and it’s going to change.”
Having made over 450 appearances for Southend during his playing career, it was a proud moment for Maher to step out as manager for the club for the first time.
Despite the defeat, it was an experience Maher was delighted with, but he was quick to point out that he’s here to win and the former midfielder wants to give the fans a team they can be proud of.
“I was obviously delighted walking out in front of the fans and how many we brought, and the messages of support and everything we’ve had for the last two or three days, personally.
“But I’m here to win and that hurts. I’m here to win for this football club and I want to get those fans a team that they’re proud of.
“I know they’re disappointed tonight and they can go home frustrated, we all are, but we’ll get this right and we’ll make sure we put the effort in, work right and we’ll turn it around.”