IT’S scary how quickly my first year has gone in charge of Southend United but there has been an awful lot going on in that time.
We’ve had plenty of players coming in, we’ve had plenty leaving, we’ve made improvements off the pitch, we’ve had appeals and we’ve had some high and low moments.
Although I don’t want to take any of the credit for getting the team to Wembley for the JPT final against Crewe, being the manager that day was a very proud moment and definitely ones of the highs of my time here so far.
But, funnily enough, it would probably also be one of the lows because we really didn’t perform very well that day.
We fell away in the league after that too which was disappointing but it never really felt like it was my team and I couldn’t get my DNA on it.
However, we made changes in the summer, had a good pre-season and we’ve done well to be in the play-off positions for most of the campaign.
The bad run we’ve recently been on was disappointing but the way we responded on Monday to beat Oxford 3-0 was fantastic.
We had the footballing world watching us as we were live on Sky Sports but the players were fantastic and that would probably be my main highlight as Southend manager.
Beating Millwall 4-1 was great as well but the Oxford win was vitally important and hopefully the rest of the season can be just as positive now and I hope I’m here for a few more years yet as well.
JAMAR SET THE TONE ON HIS HOME DEBUT
JAMAR Loza was fantastic on his full debut on Monday and I think his work-rate set everyone else off.
He was in the faces of the Oxford defenders all evening and the way the whole team pressed was first class.
Jamar could well at started at Bristol Rovers the previous Friday but became the latest of our players to bit stuck in traffic.
Rob Kiernan and Cauley Woodrow both got stuck on the M25 on the way to our home game with Mansfield earlier on in the season, Jakub Sokolik had the same for our match at Scunthorpe and then the same happened to Jamar.
He got stuck in traffic on his way to Paddington, missed the train and then didn’t arrive until 6.15pm.
But, that meant he had a few days training with the lads, before making his first start and I think that probably helped him in the end.
At the other end, we’ve had three clean sheets in a row now with John Egan and Jakub Sokolik doing very well.
John is 21, Jakub is 20 and behind them Daniel Bentley is only 20 as well.
Just in front of them, Ryan Leonard is 21 so we have a very young back-bone to the team but that excites me and the future looks very bright indeed.
LEE BARNARD BACK FIRING AGAIN
ANOTHER very pleasing factor me against Oxford, was Lee Barnard getting his first goal since coming back to the club.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many games you’ve played in your career, confidence still plays a huge part and getting that goal will do Barney the world of good.
I’m sure it will kick start his second spell with Southend and I’m sure he will be a threat in the remaining games we have left this season as we look to try and get in to the play-offs.
I'M TIPPING CHELSEA
IT looks like being an exciting end to the Premier League season but I tipped Chelsea at the start so I’m not going to change my mind now.
I just think in Jose Mourinho they have a manager with real know how who can always work things in his favour.
I always thought Liverpool would be up there this season so I’m not surprised they’re still challenging and Manchester City showed they mean business with their derby win on Tuesday.
It’s obviously going to be close but, because of Mourinho, I think Chelsea might just have the edge.