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Joined
Aug 11, 2008
Messages
6,800
Location
Oregon
I thought I would depart from the normal RSXF theme of carl, steveo and I arguing with all the Godless lefties and discuss something which really doesn’t belong in the Pub section – my view on the current state of Southend United, both on and off the field.

Steve Tilson has presided over one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, and his managerial achievements, coupled with his illustrious playing career make him an absolute certainty for any SUFC Hall of Fame. He also comes across as a thoroughly likeable sort of chap, who desperately wants the club to succeed. These factors make it very difficult to criticise the man, even when we are really struggling on the pitch, so you might imagine that frustrated fans would pour scorn on Tilson’s boss, Mr Ronald Martin.

However, within the precincts of Shrimperzone, especially among the more established Zoners, Mr Martin is almost as popular a figure as Tilson. I am sure we have all noticed that there have been a number of new members joining up in recent weeks, and some of them have been less than deferential to the Chairman. Almost without fail, their complaints and criticisms have been greeted with a flurry of red rep points from the seasoned Zoners.

Fans of Mr Martin will point towards the financial stability of the club compared with the dark days of Anton Johnson et al and the spiralling wage bills of the Jobson era. We are told that we are ‘living within our means’ and that fiscal responsibility will bring long-term benefits. These are all noble concepts within most business models, but are they really worthy of their proponent being canonised by many fans?

I would argue that another old business maxim merits consideration: ‘You have to speculate to accumulate.’ A conservative fiscal policy will always get my vote when you are running a country, but not when you are running a football team. The best way to improve revenue streams is not through the building of hotels and shopping precincts (although these will definitely help); it is the improvement of the on-field product offering. If the club spends more money on transfer fees and players’ wages, it can expect to improve its product, thus attracting supporters, but more importantly attaining higher league status with the associated benefits of television revenues and more lucrative sponsorship deals. If we are content to tread water in the lower two divisions with a loyal supporter base of five to seven thousand people, then strict financial conservatism is the way to go. If we are serious about having an established Championship club that can support a fan base of twelve to fifteen thousand, then we must be bolder in our dealings on the transfer market.

I am aware that my musings on this subject may be greeted as ‘naïve’, but I would argue that it is naïve to complain about reduced revenues after relegation from the Championship when we did not make the necessary investments that would have kept the club in this promised land. I firmly believe that a bold chairman would have done more to keep the club in the Championship – including offering our talismanic striker a better deal to ensure that we kept hold of him until the time was right to move him on and use the funds to rebuild the squad, as was the case when Stan Collymore was sold.

One obvious argument against my proposed strategy is that spending money doesn’t guarantee success. It is up to the Manager, the coaching staff and the scouts to ensure that we don’t waste money on poor players who aren’t committed, or are too fragile to play more than twenty games a season. When I spoke to Mr Martin, he made no secret of his dissatisfaction with Tilson’s transfer dealings, and made particular reference to Alex Revell, who he considered overpriced, and Richie Foran, where he shared much of the frustrations of fans who couldn’t believe significant wages were being paid to a player who contributed absolutely nothing.

I share Mr Martin’s dissatisfaction with the Manager’s transfer dealings. It’s been said time and time again, but he has made too many mistakes to continue living on the Eastwood coup. I didn’t see much in either Kightly or Hooper when I saw them playing in a blue shirt, but I’m not a football manager. Steve Tilson is our Manager, according to many, the greatest Manager we have ever had, and it is his job to recognise the talent in players – talent which was obviously present in Kightly and Hooper. How many of us, when not at the game, have watched Sky Sports on a Saturday afternoon and groaned as about half a dozen ex-Shrimpers hit the back of the net whilst our own attack draws a blank? I recognise that many of them are playing at a lower level (possibly the same level in which we will be playing next year), but I am convinced that players like Mitchell Cole, Lewis Hunt, Mark Bentley, Garry Richards and even Matt Harrold would be able to perform at least as well as our current crop.

After building a very decent side around Freddy Eastwood on our way to the Championship, Steve Tilson, Paul Brush and the Shrimpers’ scouting network have consistently released players who have gone on to prove themselves elsewhere, whilst buying players who are just not good enough. Bailey was definitely good enough, but couldn’t wait to jump ship. Freedman and Barnard are good enough but are far too injury prone. My main contention is that we have weakened our squad significantly over the last two seasons and we don’t have a lot of money to show for it.

So what’s the answer? The best we can hope for this year is mid-table obscurity, as even if Mr Martin decided to splash a ton of cash, the transfer window has closed. I would not support a change of Manager in midseason, but if the Chairman does decide to spend in the summer, I think he should have serious reservations about entrusting the cheque book to the current management team. There is a lot to be said for stability – look at Alex Ferguson in England and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL (they have had only three coaches in the last forty years and have won more Superbowls than any other franchise), but we should not be content with stability if it only brings mediocrity. What is the point of having a Championship stadium and League Two players?

Part of the enjoyment of supporting a lower league club is the camaraderie between the limited number of fans, the idea that we are the ‘real fans’ whilst the Chelsea/Arsenal/Man Utd fans are just prawn-sandwich consuming wannabes. However, I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to stop us from ‘daring to dream’ if you’ll excuse me the emotive Americanism. I want there to be 20,000 Southend fans at Fossetts Farm, even if some of them have never heard of Brett Angell, let alone Billy Best. I want our club to be a fixture in the Championship, even pushing for a play-off spot to the divine promise of the Premiership. When we were promoted to the Championship, I thought we had taken our first step towards that aim, but all we have done since is stagger backwards. Are we happy to live in lower league obscurity, or do we want a team that is worthy of the incredible support that we have always given, the commitment we have shown and the money we have spent? I will always be loyal to Southend United FC – I will never support another English team, even if we went out of existence. I want my club to grow, to achieve great things, and I want a Chairman who feels the same way. I also want a Management team that can deliver these great things, provided he is given the right financial backing. Do we have these components in place right now? I’m sure many of you will say yes, but I’m not so sure.
 
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A Century United

Firewalking for HD
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
10,004
but I am convinced that players like Mitchell Cole, Lewis Hunt, Mark Bentley, Garry Richards and even Matt Harrold would be able to perform at least as well as our current crop.

Very interesting and thought provoking, but I'm afraid you rather lost me with the list above, of whom only Matt Harrold would improve our current squad in my opinion - and it wasn't Tilson's desire to see him go, but the effect of constant barracking from our knowledgeable fans.

Hunt wanted to move on, and Mitchell Cole had health issues. Bentley was offered a year in the Championship and chose not to take up the challenge.
 

fbm

Blue tinted optimist⭐
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
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Location
Cloud cuckoo land
A very interesting read Rusty.

However, I would also add that buying quality on the pitch doesn't even guarantee success. To illustrate my point I give you Leeds United. They bought quality by the bucketload in an attempt to get Champions League football at Elland road and look at them now.

By far the best ingredients for a successful team are endeavour and team spirit. This is what Tilly is striving for and explains why superb managers like Martin O'Neill and the late Brian Clough have been so successful with a squad full of relative unknowns.

Get the team all pulling in the same direction and that camaraderie and spirit will win through over "talent" any day. After all, what has Robinho done for Man City?
 

Reg Martin

No Relation
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,516
wot no conspiracy theories?
that aside a good summing up of a point of view held by others though often expressed in a far more hysterical and angry way.
actually on second thoughts there may have been a hint of a conspiracy theory in there...

However, within the precincts of Shrimperzone, especially among the more established Zoners, Mr Martin is almost as popular a figure as Tilson. I am sure we have all noticed that there have been a number of new members joining up in recent weeks, and some of them have been less than deferential to the Chairman. Almost without fail, their complaints and criticisms have been greeted with a flurry of red rep points from the seasoned Zoners.
.
 

steveo

mine to stay the same please
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
7,545
Do we have these components in place right now? I’m sure many of you will say yes, but I’m not so sure.

Me neither. Seems to me we have stopped passing the ball and become just another hoof it anywhere team.

Is this because our current squad isn't good enough? Is it because the manager isn't imposing the tactics that did so well for us on the current set of players?

Is the missing link a Maher type player often criticised but would always, whether it be backwards, sideways or forwards, try and keep possession.

Have you watched West Ham lately? Since Zola's passing football has influenced the way they play, they have climbed the table.

Watching Southend these days is not a pleasure. Every match is a scrappy dog fight and a desperate hope for the break that might win us the game.

Get it on the floor, give it to Dougie and lets pass our way out of this mess.
 

fbm

Blue tinted optimist⭐
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
9,276
Location
Cloud cuckoo land
Me neither. Seems to me we have stopped passing the ball and become just another hoof it anywhere team.

Is this because our current squad isn't good enough? Is it because the manager isn't imposing the tactics that did so well for us on the current set of players?

Is the missing link a Maher type player often criticised but would always, whether it be backwards, sideways or forwards, try and keep possession.

Have you watched West Ham lately? Since Zola's passing football has influenced the way they play, they have climbed the table.

Watching Southend these days is not a pleasure. Every match is a scrappy dog fight and a desperate hope for the break that might win us the game.

Get it on the floor, give it to Dougie and lets pass our way out of this mess.

First, make sure Dougie plays... of the 9 league games he's started we have won 5, lost 3 and drawn 1. 16 points from 27, which if pro-rataed over the season would give us 81 points and a comfortable play off place at least.

However, that means that in the other 19 games, we've won just 4, drawn 6 and lost 9. 18 points from 57, again applied at the same ratio over a season equates to 43 points and relegation.

Come on Dougie!
 

choggy

Coach
Joined
Dec 10, 2006
Messages
571
Location
London
Very good, however before we can even start thinking about taking the next step towards 'doing a Hull' we need that new stadium. Root's Hall's capacity means that we can only be a good league 1 club/relegation fooder Championship Club, which is pretty much where we are now.

Totally agree about Tilson's transfer dealings, although personally I wouldn't get rid of him for that because I doubt we could replace him with somebody better. And to be fair he has done very well with limited funds this season.
 

BoyWonder2

Life President⭐
Joined
Oct 25, 2003
Messages
8,915
Location
Essex
Me neither. Seems to me we have stopped passing the ball and become just another hoof it anywhere team.

Is this because our current squad isn't good enough? Is it because the manager isn't imposing the tactics that did so well for us on the current set of players?

Is the missing link a Maher type player often criticised but would always, whether it be backwards, sideways or forwards, try and keep possession.

Have you watched West Ham lately? Since Zola's passing football has influenced the way they play, they have climbed the table.

Watching Southend these days is not a pleasure. Every match is a scrappy dog fight and a desperate hope for the break that might win us the game.

Get it on the floor, give it to Dougie and lets pass our way out of this mess.

The reason for that is the players in the middle of the park, Macca, JFC and Granty aren't known for their passing abilities. Don't get me wrong, they are good at their roles but if you had to list their positives passing wouldn't be one.

Over the Tilson years, we have had Maher, Bailey, Gower, Guttridge and Sawyer all capable of passing the ball around, at the moment our midfield doesn't look capable of it. Moussa has the potential to be the Maher type player we are missing, but its an element of our game we need to re-address either when the loan window re-opens or in the summer.
 

steveo

mine to stay the same please
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
7,545
The reason for that is the players in the middle of the park, Macca, JFC and Granty aren't known for their passing abilities. .

Look a bit deeper to the centre backs. No one wants to take the ball off them so they end up hitting it long and usually aimlessly. You can often witness Clarke attempting the killer 60 yard ball which goes to the keeper.
 

Tampa Blue

Director⭐
Joined
Apr 14, 2007
Messages
3,286
Location
Burnham-on-Crouch
Whether you agree or disagree with this post, I would like to say what a pleasure it is to read such a well thought out and literate post - Thanks you for sharing your thoughts!!
 

Sean 2

Director
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
2,890
Location
wickford e-s-s--e-x!
Well Rusty,it's a very long post i'll give you that.And you want Tilson out in the summer.Right.Well who do you want in then,to spend these thousands of pounds you believe we should be chucking about ? We've had managers in the past who threw money around like confetti and never got anywhere so it's not always the answer.

In my eyes,some of our best players have either upped sticks and left us at the last moment or simply got injured.Most clubs would not have a great season if it happened to them and we're no different.We've had to get loans in quickly and those need time to settle.So results would suffer along the way as formations were tried out and new players bedded in.

But of course,let's talk about those loan players shall we? Feds,bloody good keeper.Sawyer,bloody good young talent.Christophe,took a while but bloody good and we managed to sign him.I don't need to go on but you can see the quality there that Tilson has brought in.Not bad then.No huge fees to pay.

What was said when we tried out Laurent? -He's got something about him? Yeah i should cocoa,another great signing from the back of beyond.Freedman,bloody great signing,shame he can't keep fit.
How about Theo Robinson? On his full debut,fantastic talent!! A player i bet we shall try and sign at the end of the season,he'll be another Freddy,he loves to shoot at every given opportunity.
To top it off,the latest superb loan coming in from Spurs,on his debut and looked like he'd played with Clarke for years.Admittedly we won't keep him but just another example of Tilson spotting talent.

Tilson KNOWS the type of player he wants here,it's just a question of getting them here for whatever reason.And in my opinion for an average type club we are,considering the shocking amount of players unavailable for whatever reason in that first half of the season,you could say we are of an average position in the league.
Now with these lads coming back from injury and no-one going from our club certainly 'till the end of the season let's see what these boys can do.
Tilson out? More like Rusty out!
 

steveo

mine to stay the same please
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
7,545
If you making a case for Tillsons talent spotting ability, you should also balance your post with Paynter, Foran,Furlong, Betsy, 150k for Revell, Scannell etc etc
 

Sean 2

Director
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Messages
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Location
wickford e-s-s--e-x!
If you making a case for Tillsons talent spotting ability, you should also balance your post with Paynter, Foran,Furlong, Betsy, 150k for Revell, Scannell etc etc

Scannell i think will come good yet,potential is there.Furlong fair enough but must have come cheap at his age and we needed experience in case Dougie's deal fell through.Revell,he's done well for us although i'm no big fan of his and Paynter and Foran absolutely last-minute panic buys that couldn't cut the mustard fair enough.

But Rusty's saying don't give Tilly the keys to the safe in the summer and i'm saying he's learnt a good deal since those Chumpionship days and has improved in that respect.
I don't agree that Bentley,Hunt,Cole,Richards or Harrold would be as good as what we have in the squad now,i think most of them would get taken apart!
The point is i don't see where Rusty's vision is taking us forward with him talking about failures and ex-players when he could do alot better in talking about where we could be with what we've got.
I actually think we are moving into exciting times without spending out these horrendous sums that undoubtedly someone else will given the chance as manager.
 

Jedi Shrimper

formerly Drastic™
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
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SS1
Excellent post Rusty, as always thought provoking.

However, despite their flaws (and yes i admit they have flaws) I believe Ron & Tilly are the best people to take us forward.

With young managers there is often initial success followed by the inevitable comedown, after which they find a more natural level inbetween which comes with experience - I believe Tilly is in the comedown stage. If we got rid of Tilly in all honesty we'd probably get another young manager in and go through the same experience again. The same could also be applied to Ron Martin, he was new to being a football club chairman and is in many ways still learning too.

As for your 'speculate to accumulate' transfer theory, I can see where you're coming from but it's a careful line to tread. However january is a bad time to buy, prices get over inflated and panic buys often go wrong. I'd like to see us spend more in the summer, but throwing cash around isn't the answer, I mean the Rays made it to the WS ahead of the Yankee's didn't they?
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
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Location
Lewisham, London
I would argue that another old business maxim merits consideration: ‘You have to speculate to accumulate.’ If the club spends more money on transfer fees and players’ wages, it can expect to improve its product...

What money?

People do continually appear to labour under the misapprehension that our club is in possession of a "magic porridge pot", from which untold reserves of cash can be drawn.

On the other hand, the charts in Ron's latest blog email appear to clearly demonstrate that, averaged out over the last 5 seasons, we've probably broken even. We entered that period carrying approximately £3-4m of debt, accrued during the ruinous last days of the Jobson era and added to by the equally disastrous tenure of John Main (the last chairman who sought to accumulate by speculation, as I recall).

We've since heaped another few million of debt onto the club, when Ron bought out Delancey's stake in SEL.

So, we're a club with many millions (I'm going to say £6m, for the sake of argument, which is probably there or thereabouts, + or - £2m) of debts and that is not really making a profit.

* * *

So, what does that mean? Oddly, I agree with you that when Tilly is given a large pot of cash to spend, he invariably goes awry with it. I would say that the vast majority of our best signings under Tilson have been either freebies, or when he has paid a small sum of money to a club at or beneath our level in the football structure:

Eastwood
Bailey
Barrett (and, before ORM howls with protestation, Barrett was a brilliant signing in that first League Two season)
Barnard
Bentley
Constantine
Guttridge
Gray
Sodje

Conversely, when Tilson has been given significant money to spend, and has spent it either at or above our level, the signings have tended to be mediocre at best:

Foran
Paynter
Harrold
Francis
Betsy (we may not have paid a fee, but I bet the wages are meaty)
Ricketts (as above)
Black (as above)
Clarke (controversial, I know; but have we really had a decent return on our outlay?)
Revell (as for Clarke)
Hammell (as for Clarke)
Walker (as for Clarke)

* * *

Obviously there are exceptions to both the above: Freedman, McComack and Cristophe have come from above us and have been palpable hits; Mitchell Cole and Damian Scannell came from below and appear (so far) to have been misses.

But, in general, we seem to get great value when we scoop up a relative "unknown" from beneath us (I'd also add Mark Gower to the top list, albeit that Tilly didn't sign him) while any supposed "big name, big money" signing has invariably been a big flop.

So, what's the answer? For me, if Tilly & Ron are to invest anywhere, it's in improving the scouting network and improving contacts in the game. We need to be building bridges with as many local non-league clubs as we can. Essex has one of the strongest set of non-league clubs in the country. Historically, some of our best signings come from local non-leagues (thinking back before Freddy, you had the likes of Dean Austin, Simon Royce and Steve Tilson, with Chris Powell coming from the then soon to be non-league Aldershot...!).

I'm not really interested in speculating cash on flawed players from the leagues above; instead, if we're to invest, surely it's in prospecting in the non-leagues for the uncut diamonds. They're out there... and we should really be making our business to find them.

Matt
 
Joined
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Messages
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What money?

People do continually appear to labour under the misapprehension that our club is in possession of a "magic porridge pot", from which untold reserves of cash can be drawn.

On the other hand, the charts in Ron's latest blog email appear to clearly demonstrate that, averaged out over the last 5 seasons, we've probably broken even.

What money? I suppose I mean the Chairman's money. I don't think there are very many successful Premiersip teams (Arsenal would be the only one of the top five I believe) who finance their transfer fees and wages exclusively through revenues generated by the football club. Arsenal can survive (although they seem to be relegated to the number four or five club now) because they generate very large revenues from the Premiership and Champions' League and have the superb scouting structure that Matt very wisely advocates for SUFC.

If we consider a club like Chelsea, they made huge losses at first as Ranieri and then the Special One put the pieces together to build a Premiership winning team. Obviously, that's a lot easier when you are bankrolled by a multi-billionaire, but I am advocating something similar on a much smaller scale. I am sure that Mr Martin's income and wealth are not restricted to that which is generated through Roots Hall. I don't think that Southend United, the business, is sitting on a huge pile of cash, but I do believe that if the Chairman takes a chance and invests more into the football club, it will not just be the supporters who benefit, he will reap the long-term financial rewards of the team playing at a higher level.
 

fredheim_holm

Where art thou Tes
Joined
Mar 3, 2006
Messages
8,394
Location
London
The problem with the theory though Rusty, is that there's no guarentee of these long-term financial rewards.

Should all 24 clubs in the league take up your plans, then we'd soon be looking at a professional English league of no more than 2 leagues. If you speculate, you must accumulate, or you're gone.

I for one am not a fan of Russian Roulette, and wouldn't advocate Mr Martin to do the same.
 

BoyWonder2

Life President⭐
Joined
Oct 25, 2003
Messages
8,915
Location
Essex
Look a bit deeper to the centre backs. No one wants to take the ball off them so they end up hitting it long and usually aimlessly. You can often witness Clarke attempting the killer 60 yard ball which goes to the keeper.

True, but the reason no one is taking the ball off of them (Apart from Milsom in his loan spell in the middle of the park) is because they aren't comfortable enough in posession.

Maher always took the ball off of the centre halfs, and knocked the ball around. We need somebody of that type in the middle of the park. Maybe Moussa will grow to be that player, but that will mean dropping one of JFC and Macca and for me it would be Macca.

I wouldn't say we have become a long ball side, because we haven't as yet and we have no "out ball" without Revell's height in the side, but we are becoming "workmen like". It worked against Bristol Rovers, we needed that type of performance to get us back on track but would the same type of performance work against some of the top teams at home?

Also, in games that we dominate, like Yeovil a few weeks back, we aren't creating the chances to kill off teams. In our League Two and League One promotion winning seasons we had the likes of Mark Gower, Kevin Maher, Mitchell Cole, Luke Guttridge all able to put a ball into the box or play a pass to set up a striker or we had a plan B in Freddy's ability to make something out of nothing. During those two seasons we had plenty of games where teams came and sat back, and if a team was to do that to our team this season I don't think we'd break them down.
 
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