Best Blog or Account to Follow: All at Sea Fanzine used to have an active blog and podcast but their Twitter account remains up-to-date. You can still access their fanzines and it’s well worth a look.
Record Last Season + Quick Summary:
League One - 7th; W 20 / D 12 / L 14 / F 70 / A 53 / Pts 72
Phil Brown’s outfit built on a very solid showing back in the third tier in 2015/2016 and only missed out on the play-offs on the final day of the season in May despite beating Bury. The impressive central defensive partnership Anton Ferdinand and Adam Thompson formed was a big factor in their climb up the table and they rarely went a couple of matches without winning, which is always a good indicator of a positive campaign. However, four of their defeats came at the tail-end and that is something that ultimately cost them the top six. This was compounded by witnessing Millwall gain promotion from the spot they coveted.
Top Goalscorer: Simon Cox (16 goals in 39 starts/3,290 minutes)
Top Creator: Simon Cox (8 assists in 39 starts/3,290 minutes)
Manager/Head Coach: Phil Brown; he has never been one to shy away from controversy or the limelight. On the other hand, he is also ambitious and his record in the dugout at Roots Hall speaks for itself in the four years he has been there; he will be hoping to go at least one better in 2017/2018. His time as assistant at Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce has had a big influence on his managerial career but he is very much his own person in style.
Ins: Michael Kightly (Burnley), Stephen Hendrie (West Ham United) & Michael Turner (Norwich City).
Outs: Luke O’Neill (Gillingham), Adam Thompson (Bury), Frank Nouble (Newport County), Will Atkinson (Mansfield Town), Dave Mooney (Leyton Orient) & Zavon Hines (free agent).
Predicted First XI & Shape:
Tactics: I wouldn’t expect Phil Brown to make massive changes in terms of shape or general approach play. Ryan Leonard’s inclusion above is subject to him staying (he recently withdrew a transfer request but turned down a new contract); the ground he can cover in central midfield is chief amongst the reasons Championship clubs are interested in him and his presence helps loosen the shackles imposed by the disciplined formation Southend employ. Ferdinand is joined by Michael Turner and their combined vast experience will have the measure of most strikeforces in League One. The high-profile signing of Michael Kightly should go some way to erasing the disappointment of losing Will Atkinson, with the added benefit of being an expert from direct free-kicks.
Expect endless aerial battles in the opposition penalty area; both Marc Antonie-Fortune and Simon Cox relish heading opportunities and in Kightly and Steven McLaughlin, they have reliable suppliers.
Predicted ‘Area’ of Finish: Comfortably mid-table. The roster still requires a few additions; Cox will need some more help in attack, especially after Nile Ranger was jailed in May. The first XI still looks strong but an adequate alternative for Leonard will be difficult to come by. Once more, the defence should be one of the meanest in League One but despite the creativity Cox and Kightly will offer between them, I don’t currently see the Shrimpers matching the goals tally last season produced. The competition for the top six and even the top half will be fiercer in 2017/2018; Southend should achieve the latter but the former is probably out of their reach at the time of writing.