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Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land
This board is about opinions and this is mine.

It is clear to me that there is an enormous amount of people on here that have not got a clue what it is they actually want. Well, let me rephrase that; they do, but can't see they what they actually want is impossible. They are all like one of my step daughters who is a typical teenager. Here is a fairly common conversation style -

Her - "Ohmigod I'm so tired."
Me - "Well go to bed then"
Her - "Don't wanna go to bed"
Me - "Well, you're standing up, so why don't you sit down?"
Her - "Don't wanna sit down"
Me - "Ok, stay standing up then"
Her - "Don't wanna stand up either"
Me - "What are you going to do then, float?"

I'm sure the above won't come as too much of a surprise to people who have teenagers. But it makes the point - she doesn't want to do anything that is possible and only wants something else. She doesn't know what it is, but it's not any of the choices available.

Southend fans are just the same.

Let's look at a few things here.

What league do we want to play in?

For quality of football, surely the Premiership. We'd get to see all those top players and sides and even if it only lasted a season, we'd have parachute payments and would be set up financially. Or would we? Look at Swindon, Bradford, Oldham, Hull, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth... examples of ex Prem teams that have had financial struggles since getting relegated. Bradford have been in the bottom division for a few years and dropped like a stone through the leagues. Swindon and Oldhams were more gradual declines and whilst Oldham haven't plumbed the depths, Swindon have but as we know to our detriment are now on the way back up. The only way Prem quality players would play for these less fashionable teams would be on long contracts which took the place of the exhorbitant wages other Prem teams pay. So whilst the wages were more manageable, the length of time the had to be paid for was like a millstone. We know from our experience what that means as we had Harrold and Foran on the books for a whole season and got nothing for them. Paterson is another example. Plus we would have all these odd time kick offs. Bloody hell, Southend have been playing football on Friday nights since I was a kid in the 1960's and yet STILL people moan every season when the Friday games are announced. If we ever got to the Prem, we'd be playing anytime from Saturday lunchtime to Monday night. There are 7 popular kick off slots in there. And would we be happy to pay £40-odd to watch a game? Because that's how much we'd need to pay to stand any chance of competing with our fanbase.

So, the Championship. That was a great season when we were in it but we got relegated. We are still dealing with the financial fallout from that and it nearly killed the club. We can't compete in that league until FF is built and we can sustain 15-18000 people per game. Even then, it would mean financial disaster after an inevitable relegation, however long that may take to happen. Plus we have the extra ticket costs, probably £30 per game that would go down a storm with the fans who seem to think we should watch Championship quality players but only pay 1990 admission prices.
What about League 1? Yes, this is where we traditionally belong an we are still so gutted about last night. But the consensus is that there is such a gap between L1 and L2 now that we'd suffer the same fate as 3 of the 4 sides promoted last season and come straight back down again unless we developed the squad, and we don't have the cash for that. This means that a promotion may see us struggle and we would have lower crowds, meaning lower income, yet the players wages would be higher. That gap won't be bridged by the additional TV and appearance money although we could get better players in, meaning better football... but with a higher wage bill.
League 2? What a dross league. But we stand more of a chance of financially surviving in this division and yet even now seem to be losing money. We have (apparently) made a huge investment in order to go up and failed; so we're stuck here for another year at least, despite many people claiming they won't come back and watch this rubbish again. This means lower income, possibly having to sell our assets like Hall and Mohsni and only attracting cast offs or lower quality players. This could mean a drop to...
The Conference where, like the Prem, the club have never been. But, ironically, being a conference team gives us possibly the best chance of financial stability. But we do not, absolutely do not, want to drop into that league which makes this one look like La Liga. Plus it will be years before we get out. Just ask Stockport, Mansfield, York, Cambridge, Luton, Grimsby, Lincoln, Wrexham, York, Newport, Barrow, Darlington and Halifax where they would rather be.

So actually, there isn't one division we'd be comfortable being in.

The manager

Despite Paul Sturrock taking a squad of just 5 registered players, three of which were youths, and adding a collection of cast offs and misfits to make a team and within 2 seasons challenging at the top of the league, amassing the second highest points total in our history, scoring the most goals and getting the most away wins ever, almost getting automatic promotion and then almost making it to Wembley, there is clearly a growing number who think he has failed and needs to be sacked.

There is no feeling as to who would take over but I'm not sure if there would be anyone with his experience available. This means another teeth cutting appointment of a novice, who may be as lucky as Tilly, or who may be as unlucky as Bate, Moore, Whelan, Martin or Clark. It must have been luck, because none had any prior experience to draw on. Incidentally, only Tilly went on to manage another club as an "experienced" manager and look what happened - Lincoln dropped out of the league into the Conference.

So do we want a novice manager? Not really... so let's have someone with a good record of getting teams out of this league and plenty of contacts in the game, who's prepared to go without wages for a while if necessary and give his all to the club at the same time.

That'll be Paul Sturrock then... but we don't want him, do we?

I'm not even going to start about the players and owners... but I have concluded that a Southend fan will only be happy when the team are playing scintillating football in League 1, not always winning as whilst we want to go up we don't want all the problems that come with promotion and the additional costs PLUS we don't want to lose our best players to the bigger teams, but we don't want to lose either because that's failure and could mean relegation into dross league 2 again. Drawing games is a bit dull unless they're exciting 2-2, 3-3 or 4-4 draws but at the same time we don't want to concede too many goals as then we might lose so we'd best have a tight defence and keep clean sheets.

The manager needs to have the contacts and CV of Sturrock, the tactical nous of Mourinho, the fortune of Tilson (early years), the attacking mentality of Fry and the popularity of Webb.

We also want to be owned by someone with the pockets of Abramovich, the philanthropy of David Whelan, the generosity of Sheik Mansoor, the popularity of Al Fayed and for them to be a Southend fan and write all the money they ever put into the club off.

Can't see a problem with any of that personally...