Meet the opposition - A dreadful defence, new boss Sol and praise for the Blues
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Ipswich Town travel to struggling Southend today looking to halt a two-game slide against a Shrimpers team rooted in the relegation zone. But the Essex side have a new boss, and new hope – here’s your guide to Southend United.
SKIN OF THEIR TEETH
Their struggles this season are just a continuation of last season's travails - Southend survived on the last day of the 2018/19 campaign, when they needed to win to secure their League One status.
Sunderland were the opposition, so the Shrimpers were up against it on paper, but took the lead in the 43rd minute through club stalwart John White.
Chris Maguire levelled with just 15 minutes left and Southend looked sunk - only for Stephen Humphrys to write himself into club folklore with three minutes left to keep the Shrimpers up.
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Kevin Bond, the boss who orchestrated the survival run last season, only lasted a month into this one, quitting at the start of September after the Shrimpers started the season with six straight league defeats.
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At the time, the team sat 22nd in the table with a minus 13 goal difference, ahead of only Bolton, who of course started the season with a 12-point deduction.
And that's pretty much still the situation - Southend have just five points from 14 games, have shipped 40 goals and have a minus 25 goal difference. All of those stats are actually worse than basement club Bolton - who were playing their under 21 side to start the season!
Into this tremendous mess strides Sol Campbell, the former Arsenal, Spurs and England centre back, who worked wonders last season to save Macclesfield from the drop in League Two.
He arguably has a tougher test here though - and if he needed reminding of that he saw it with his own eyes on Tuesday, when his new team were promptly battered 7-1 at home by Doncaster and had two men sent off in their heaviest-ever home defeat.
He'll be assisted by Ipswich Town icon Hermann Hreidarsson, while former Newcastle United and Manchester United striker Andy Cole will serve as his forwards coach.
"There is a lot left in the guys' tank," the new boss told BBC Essex. "I don't think anyone is playing at their capacity yet.
"We shouldn't be down here but we are. I'm here to turn that around and get the club where it should be, higher up the league.
"They are better than what they are now. Every time we go out on the pitch we've got to compete and go toe-to-toe with whoever we're playing against."
NO CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
Ex-defender Campbell has immeadiately targeted shoring up the Shrimpers porous backline - those 40 goals shipped are 12 more than the next worst side, ailing Bolton.
He said: "I've got to look at slowing down the goals-against tally.
"We've got to stop the leakage but we've also got to score goals. We've got a deficit and we've got to overachieve now."
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
For his first game this weekend, Campbell has challenged his players to communicate more on the pitch.
"I think the team is a bit quiet for me," he told the Southend Echo. "I want to encourage them to be more vocal.
"That's key and those shouts and encouragement are needed on the pitch. Even in training they're important and I want those conversations.
"It's not shouting, it's about coming together and that can be like an extra man on the pitch sometimes."
PRAISE FOR TOWN
Of the game with the Blues, Campbell said: "I watched Ipswich on Wednesday night and they play good football."
"They're a fantastic side and they're up there because they have good players.
"They're having a little sticky patch but they've still got good players and confidence so this is a very tough start."
The aforementioned hero Humphrys, the man who saved the Shrimpers last season, is their leading scorer this campaign with five goals.
Charlie Kelman has bagged three, with Simon Cox, Brandon Goodship and Stephen McLaughlin all on two.
NOT LUKING GOOD
Southend boast a former Ipswich Town player in their ranks of course - midfielder Luke Hyam.
The injury prone former Northgate High School pupil left the Blues in July last year and signed for the Shrimpers, but has since made just 22 league appearances.
He's played five times this campaign, with his last appearance coming in the 2-0 EFL Trophy defeat to Brighton U21 on October 1.