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Southend United's Neil Harris: First half form must improve
WE have to start doing better in the first half of our matches and that needs to begin when we play Rotherham United at Roots Hall this weekend.
They're a good, strong, powerful team who are up towards the top of the table and you always know what to expect from a side managed by Steve Evans.
They have good players and plenty of options to pick from so with that in mind it's crucial we're at our best right from the first whistle.
I read this week that we haven't scored in the first half of our last 11 matches and we have to be doing better than that.
We cannot keep relying on our second half displays getting us out of trouble, especially at this time of the season when everyone is vying for points and promotion places.
We learnt that the hard way against Barnet in the week and that was a disappointing evening for us all.
I don't personally think we underestimated how hard the game would be against them because we had a close and very hard game against them at home earlier on in the season and had to come from 2-0 down to rescue a point.
However, what maybe did surprise us a little bit was just how much football they tried to play.
But whatever way you look at it our energy levels and work rate weren't what they needed to be.
We need to react to that as a group now and stay focused on promotion because that remains our number one concern.
Reaching Wembley for the final of the JPT is fantastic and something to really look forward but we can't let become a distraction because the success of this season will be judged on whether or not we get promoted.
That was our main aim at the start of the year and the target was to reach 80 points for automatic promotion or 70 to try and secure a place in the play-offs.
Right now, the 70 mark looks more achievable but there's a bit of a gap developing between us and the teams just above us and we need to close that as soon as we can.
We need to really step up now, work hard and do what we know we're capable of to get a win against Rotherham at the weekend.
GARETH BALE FANTASTIC BUT NOT QUITE WORLD CLASS, YET
THERE has been plenty of talk about Gareth Bale this week and I think it's fantastic for the British and Welsh game to have an idol like that.
There's no doubting he's a huge talent and, in the last month, he's proved himself to be a match winner for Tottenham.
But for me he isn't on the same level as Ronaldo or Messi just yet and I think the talk comparing him to those two world class talents is a little bit premature.