SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has urged his side to learn lessons from Burton Albion following their painful play-off defeat to the Brewers on Saturday.
The Shrimpers were held to a 2-2 draw at Roots Hall to lose 3-2 on aggregate against Gary Rowett’s side.
But Brown now wants his players to react in the same way Burton did to losing at the semi-final stage to Bradford City last season.
“I’m gutted for the players because they’ve been fantastic all year but we need to go away and come back stronger, just like Burton have done,” said the Blues boss.
“They suffered this pain last year and they’ve come back and gone one better this time.
“We need to use the pain we’re feeling now as motivation for next season but we don’t want to be in the play-offs again, we want automatic promotion and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
However, for that to happen Brown knows he will need to keep his best players at the club.
The Shrimpers boss is fully expecting there to be interest in some of his squad.
But he does not want them to depart.
“The biggest challenge facing me now is making sure we don’t lose any of the talented young players we have here,” said Brown.
“I’m sure there will be interest in the likes of Daniel Bentley and Ryan Leonard after the seasons they’ve had but it’s my job to try and make them stay with us.
“I’ve told all the lads to stay in good shape and when we come back in for pre-season we’re all going to hit the ground running.”
But Brown knows it will also take time to get over the defeat to Burton.
“It hurts and it’s hard to console the players at a time like this but we just probably didn’t have the fortune in front of goal you need to win a tie,” said the former Hull City chief.
“Maybe we could have shown a bit more composure, like when Ryan Leonard went through and shot at the start of the second half.
“But we have the spirit here and I think that was shown again in this game and that all of the loan players we’ve had here this season have been texting the lads and wishing them luck.”
And Brown was also full of praise for the Shrimpers supporters who generated a fantastic atmosphere inside the ground.
“The crowd was just absolutely fantastic,” said the Blues boss.
“It was like a cup tie and hopefully we can see Roots Hall like that again at the end of next season, only this time it will be us celebrating promotion.”