Southend United manager Phil Brown: Last season is in the past - it's about going one better this time

Phil Brown - looking forward to the start of the League Two season

Phil Brown - looking forward to the start of the League Two season

First published in Sport by

THE new season gets underway this weekend and it’s a tough challenge facing us.

We all obviously wish we were kicking off in League One but whatever happened last season is in the past now and it’s all about trying to go one better this year.

I’m very pleased with the squad we’ve been able to put together and I do feel as though we have good competition in most areas now.

Being picky, I could maybe do with a utility player who could give us more cover in the full-back positions but I’m pleased with the squad.

After losing John Egan and Jakub Sokolik, who we had on loan last season, making sure we brought in more centre backs was vitally important.

And I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to sign Mads Ibenfeldt and Cian Bolger.

They are both a good size but they’re also both good on the ball and think that’s important because I want us to be playing it out from the back.

People always talk about League Two being a real war of attrition but if you analyse what happened at this level last year then you’ll see three of the four teams who went up did so playing some really good football.

Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Rochdale all looked to play it around and we were up there doing the same.

We will be looking to do that again this season but we want to be the ones going up this time.

I certainly have plenty of options to pick from and we have the ability to change the formation if we need to.

We can play a back three or a back four and, while I won’t be mucking around with things, I will look at most of the players during the games against Accrington and then Walsall in the League Cup.

I know most people would think that you should know your best 11 before the season actually starts.

But I’m not actually sure that’s true.

I think it takes a few competitive games to see what the players can bring to the league programme and that’s certainly the case with us at the moment.

LEAGUE IS WIDE OPEN

WHEN it comes to predicting teams who may well be going for promotion I always tend to start off by looking at the teams who have just been relegated from the league above.

We will get to have a look at Stevenage and Carlisle in the first four games of the season and it will be interesting to see what they’re all about.

I think Oxford could be up there along with Portsmouth and York City were also excellent in the second half of last season so they could also be challenging.

Most teams will think they have a chance of being up there and it will make League Two a good place to be again.

With more and more foreign managers coming in to the Premier League, there are some good managers being squeezed out who are having to go down the leagues.

And I do believe that’s a major reason in why more good football gets played at this level now.

I WON'T BE WRITING ACCRINGTON OFF

WE start off at Accrington Stanley this week and I’m sure they are a team some people will be writing off, but not me.

They recovered well from an indifferent start last season and we had a couple of very close and tough games against them.

I also read an interview with their manager James Beattie in the week where he said he was looking to make another four or five signings before the weekend.

It’s hard to know who will be in the team for them but we’ve had them watched a couple of times during pre-season and have been going through the reports we have on them.

It’s a tough game to kick off with but we’re looking forward to it.

I also like to put matches into blocks throughout the season and I think the opening 10 games will give us a real indication of where we’re at.

WISHING RYAN ALL THE BEST

WE had another behind closed doors friendly with Colchester United this week and decided it would be Ryan Auger’s last game for us.

He had one or two clubs watching him after we invited him back in for pre-season but at the moment I don’t see Ryan challenging John White for the right back position.

Who knows, I might be wrong but that’s how I see it and I wish Ryan all the best for the future.

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