So on to Saturday and current manager at next opponents Southend is 43 year old Steve Tilson and he's been in charge since 2003 and he's just celebrated 6 years at the club. But his career at Roots Hall goes back further than that because he was also a long serving player at Southend having played 239 games before retiring.
And he's had some significant success in management with the Shrimpers. In his first season 2003/4 he took them to their first ever cup final, the Football League Trophy, at the Millenium stadium where they lost to Blackpool 2-0.
The following season saw promotion from League Two, via another trip to the Millenium where they beat Lincoln City. And then the following year 2006 they completed successive promotions by winning League One and moving up into the so-called Championship. Tilson's success saw him linked with jobs at West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City, but he remained with Southend. In November 2006, Southend achieved a notable victory over eventual Premier League champions Manchester United in the League Cup, but, after only a year stay, were relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2006–07 season just as we joined it.
With Tuesdays loss to Norwich, the Shrimpers have dropped into the bottom half of the table and are now down in 13th spot. They have also lost their last 5 away games in all competitions including three league games at Carlisle, Yeovil and Tranmere and their form on the road is not good with only 2 wins (at Brighton and Stockport) and 5 defeats. Its eleven games since a draw and in true Jekyll and Hythe form their last 9 games before Tuesday have followed a bizarre sequence of a win followed by a defeat! They lost their last game at Tranmere before facing Norwich on Tuesday but unfortunately for us couldn't maintain that sequence and lost again at home to the Canaries 0-3.
And over the last 8 games the Shrimpers are now down in 18th spot in the Current Table with 5 defeats and 3 victories and only 3 teams in League One have scored fewer goals in those 8 games.
Yes, there's Osei Sankofa, now 24 and he's been at Roots Hall since his release by us in June 2008. But after playing 31 times last season, has only started 4 times this year and hasn't featured since the 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton back in early October.
Southend have a very settled side with no fewer than 7 players who have started every league game this season; goalie Mildenhall, right-back Francis, centre-back Barrett, midfielders McCormack and Moussa and striker Lee Barnard and another, Grant, on 17 starts. The Addicks have just 4 ever-presents, (Dailly, Sam, Bailey and Burton).
But they may be in for a shock when they see the multitudes at the Valley because the biggest crowd they've experienced so far this year was the 10,123 at Roots Hall to see the 0-0 draw with Leeds.
After Tuesdays meeting with Nicky Forster we now welcome Southend's number nine Lee Barnard. He's their leading scorer by a long way with 14 goals( the next up has just 2) and scores once every two games on average. Signed from Spurs in Jan 2008 he's already got 32 goals for the Shrimpers. There's also the impressive stat that they've only lost once when Barnard has scored.
Whats Their Secret?
The Addicks share top spot in points gained (17) against the top half of the table with Leeds and close behind are Millwall with only a single defeat against the good half. And unlike our last opponents Brighton who have only had one success against top half teams, Southend, before Tuesday anyway, had a record to be proud of. Only 1 defeat against the top half and that after playing top half sides Huddersfield, Walsall, Millwall, Leeds, Bristol Rovers and MK Dons all without losing. Unfortunately on Tuesday they meet in-form Norwich and were beaten 3-0 at Roots Hall.
Not really a secret more of a defect really. While the Addicks are now clear of the League One field at leading games at half time, 10 in all, Southend are down the other end only leading at the 45 minutes a paltry 3 times. Southend have been drawing 12 times at half-time, only Orient on 13 can better that, and have had eight half-time 0-0's.
And once again it shows how scared teams are of Leeds because they have only conceded twice before half-time with Norwich and Millwall being the culprits.
What Are They Saying
Tilson after Tuesday's defeat to Norwich clearly felt hard done by, "If I’m being honest I think even 2-0 would have flattered them because we were right in the game. Two goals in a 10 minute spell killed us and they had that extra bit of quality in the final third but we had chances and on another night we could have scored three goals ourselves. Lee Barnard has gone close, so has Jabo Ibehre and I'm not too sure why our goal was disallowed either. If it’s for handball then I have no idea how the referee has seen it from where he is.”
Norwich's Lambert on striker Holt, "He's been colossal since I've been here. He needs other lads around him but he is a great credit to the club."
You'll be pleased to learn that we have the highest winning ratio, 52% of all games played, over Southend of all the teams in League One. Of the 38 League games we've won no less than 20 with 9 draws and 9 defeats and at home we have a goals per game average of 2.3.. Staggering numbers and we'd like to tell you that its been 50 years since Southend won at the Valley but we can't because they did in fact win there in 1996.
Nicky Bailey is one player looking forward to the game which will be against his old team from 2007/08 when he played 45 times and was their Player of the Year before he left for the Valley.
In goal will be Rob Elliot with Dailly and Sodje in central defence but the full-back positions are in doubt. Omozusi did well at Brighton and will probably continue while the current state of injuries to Richardson and Youga are unknown, to me anyway.
But Semedo, after getting his 5th yellow of the season, will be missing and after another 4 yellows ( Elliot, Sodje (S), Semedo, Mooney ) collected at the Withdean on Tuesday we're now on a total of 38 for the season - level with Saturdays vistors Southend. But our indiscipline may come to hurt us over the season as we are now second behind MK Dons 50 on total yellows collected over the 19 games as against Leeds' total of only 21 and Norwich on 24. And its not just unlucky refereeing as we also have conceded the 2nd most fouls as well.
Matt Spring will fill in for Jose and Parky, after two straight wins and 12 goals in 4 games, will be wary of making further changes so the midfield trio of Sam, Bailey and Wagstaff could well continue.
Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Sodje, Basey; Sam, Spring, Bailey, Wagstaff; Burton, Mooney
The history says we usually do well against Southend with more wins against them than anybody else but the Shrimpers have a history as well; of doing very well against the top teams and it was only this year that they followed their Manure result of 3 years ago with an away draw at Stamford Bridge in last years FA Cup 3rd round. And after defeats to Tranmere and Norwich, they'll not want to lose three on the trot so we can expect a hard afternoons work.
The clincher for the Addicks may just be the presence of Nicky Bailey against his old team. Just don't expect him to celebrate his goal. 1-0 to the Addicks.