Behind Enemy Lines: Inside track on Southend United

Ahead of Saturday's season finale in the regular season, caught up with lifelong Southend United fan Peter Miles to get his thoughts on a view from the opposition.

Southend have had a difficult campaign with relegation still a real possibility, what have you made of the season?

PM: It has been one of the worst campaigns in living memory, 13 home defeats to date is a new club record. There are numerous reasons contributing to our downfall. We have had chronic bad luck with 14 first teamers injured at various points and by the end of October we had sustained five season ending injuries including our best defender, Ben Coker, and marquee signing Tom Hopper, who had scored seven goals in his first 14 games for us. 

We are also dogged by the spectre of Phil Brown’s reign with some real issues with lengthy and lucrative contracts given to the likes of Mark Oxley, Michael Kightly and Michael Turner who quite simply have not performed anywhere close to expectations. 

As a result, we have had to rush back long-term injured players like Rob Kiernan (17 months out with a double knee operation), Harry Lennon and Luke Hyam with little or no match practice. The latter two went on to have further injury issues. Chris Powell’s key midfield signings of Sam Mantom and Tim Dieng have been nothing short woeful.

You have had two managers this season, what has Kevin Bond brought that is different to Chris Powell?

PM: Very little I am afraid. It was a leftfield appointment on a temporary basis to the end of the season and with his long-time mentor Harry Redknapp turning up to some of the matches in between plugging jam roly-poly it has made us a bit of a laughing stock in some quarters. Bond is a quiet, unemotional type, when we needed a Churchillian type to rouse the troops for the last eight games all we got was a wet weekend in Bognor Regis!

Which players should Sunderland be weary of this weekend and why?

PM: We would have been relegated weeks ago but for Simon Cox, an absolute master on the art of proper centre forward play, 17 goals in a really poor team speaks volumes. From our superb academy production line Elvis Bwomono and Nathan Bishop have been outstanding when called upon. Harry Bunn, on loan from Bury, can light up a game but can drift out of one too. Dru Yearwood is another academy graduate and had an outstanding campaign last season. He has struggled with form and fitness this season but at 19 remains an outstanding prospect.

Which players are you most concerned about from Sunderland and why?

PM: Max Power is a player who I have always liked and could dominate our weak midfield. Charlie Wyke seems to impress whenever I see you guys on television. Obviously, you fear players with the pedigree of Bryan Oviedo and Will Grigg, our beleaguered defence can be so porous their quality and experience could turn any match. 

Finally, what is your score prediction?  

PM: My blue heart says a squeaky 1-0 to stay up but my head says we have very little chance of victory on Saturday.

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