SOUTHEND United’s most successful ever skipper Kevin Maher is backing the current Shrimpers side to win the League Two play-offs.
Maher captained Blues to promotion from the basement division, via the play-offs, back in 2005.
And the 37-year-old is convinced Phil Brown’s team can now do the same.
“I’ve seen the last few home games and the team looks very strong and they have more than enough to be able to win the play-offs,” said Maher who made 454 appearances during 10 seasons with the Shrimpers.
“The team has got 20 clean sheets so we’re not giving away many goals and the fans will be right behind them too which will be a massive help.
“Some of the team also have the experience of getting to Wembley before from last season’s JPT final so that will be a big help if we get there too and I’m certainly confident about our chances.”
But, if the Shrimpers are to work their way back in to League One, then Maher also believes Southend will need a bit of a luck.
“You always need the rub of the green when it comes to the play-offs and we certainly had that when we went up,” recalled Maher, who is now back at Blues helping to coach the club’s youth players.
“In the semi-final against Northampton the penalty decision went our way when Nicky Nicolau went down and then in the final Lincoln had a goal disallowed for offside which was a bit dubious.
“They are the breaks you need to go your way if you are going to come out on top and get promotion.
“But it’s a fantastic feeling when you do it, especially after you’ve thrown automatic promotion away like we did that year.”
KEVIN MAHER’S DREAM TEAM, MADE OF HIS FORMER BLUES TEAM-MATES
Goalkeeper – Darryl Flahavan
I played with Flavs for a number of years and for a spell he was just unbelievable. People often mention his size but if you keep the ball out of the net I don’t think it matters how tall or small you are.
Right-back – Simon Francis
Franno was still quite young when he came to us and we were in the Championship too but he had everything you need. He was 6’2’’ tall and was very quick and he’s got that bit of experience now which has improved his decision making. He’s doing very well at Bournemouth.
Centre-back - Spencer Prior
Spinner was one of the elder statesmen when he came back to the club but he could still play and was brilliant for us. It also wouldn’t be worth all the grief he would give me if I left him out.
Centre-back – Adam Barrett
Adam and Spinner did very well together and Adam chipped in with some very important goals. He was also a great servant to the club.
Left-back – Nathan Jones
This was a tricky one but I’m going to go for Nathan just ahead of Steve Hammell. Nathan did very well when I was with him, he was a great athlete and I always enjoyed that strange hitch-kick he did which made it look like he was in Riverdance!
Right –wing – Jamal Campbell-Ryce
Jamal did very well for us. He had a lot of tricks, loads of pace and offered us something a bit different. He was also a great lad.
Centre-midfield – Luke Guttridge and me!
I’ve been told to pick myself so at least I might get a game that way! If I’m playing then I’m going to need some legs around me. I always enjoyed playing alongside Alan McCormack but I’m going to go for Gutts mainly because of the season we had together when we won League One.
Left wing – Mark Gower
I’m going to have to pick my mate! We drove in together every day and he was a great player. He always got double figures in goals and had the ability to go left or right. He really showed his quality when he left and joined Swansea and he was better suited to playing at a higher level because of his technical ability.
Centre-forward – Freddy Eastwood
When Freddy first came in, he was doing things off the cuff in training and he had an unbelievable strike on him too. We had a good group of players but he took us on to the next level. He would do something out of nothing to win us a game and his scoring record was fantastic.
Centre-forward – Shaun Goater
Goat was a great character and was always smiling. He probably didn’t get as many goals as people remember but he was great for us and had an impressive pair of man boobs.