ON the weekend the clocks went back, Southend United hoped to make steps forward with new boss Sol Campbell in charge for the first time.

But, despite an improved display, Campbell was unable to make an instant impact as table-topping Ipswich Town recorded a 3-1 win at Roots Hall.

Campbell will need time to transform the stuttering Shrimpers.

However, he was right to be encouraged by aspects of Saturday’s showing.

Blues were on the front foot far more than in previous weeks and could certainly not be faulted for organisation or effort.

But, despite those improvements, familiar frailties remained as the Shrimpers conceded another three goals.

The first of those was a real body blow and came after just eight minutes when James Norwood fired home with Blues goalkeeper Mark Oxley opting to remain in his six yard box.

Norwood’s effort came just moments after Shrimpers centre-back Rob Kiernan had a header ruled out for a marginal offside decision.

But, when just a goal down, Southend enjoyed a good spell of pressure at the start of the second period yet rarely troubled Town goalkeeper Will Norris.

Creating clear cut chances proved troublesome but the statistics suggest Blues are not alone in finding it tough to carve open the Ipswich defence.

Town actually boast the best away record in the division having been beaten just once in eight games on their travels and Paul Lambert’s side also have the second meanest defence on the road at this level.

For, after Saturday’s win, Ipswich have conceded just five goals away from Portman Road.

And that perhaps underlined the size of the task facing the Shrimpers at the weekend, along with Ipswich’s in-form strikers James Norris and Kayden Jackson.

Town’s forwards were both clinical with the chances coming their way but the service they received was also to be commended as two more well-taken goals in the second half saw them seal their win at Roots Hall.

As a result, Blues have still yet to win at home this season but by now the damning statistics are well known by all Southend supporters.

How to get out of the sorry situation is what needs most focus and the early signs from Campbell are definitely encouraging.

For, even before Saturday’s game got underway, the former England defender had already enjoyed a good first performance – in his press conference.

Now, many will quickly point out that talk is cheap and it is easy to speak a good game.

But what was most encouraging was how Campbell quickly identified two of Blues’ main weaknesses – a lack of fitness and a real absence of leaders.

Campbell continued to be quite outspoken about the shape of the squad after Saturday’s game and he is spot on.

Many times on these pages in recent seasons a lack of fitness has been mentioned as Blues have definitely looked out of shape and less sharp than their opposition on numerous occasions.

The high number of late goals conceded points towards a lack of concentration which may have been caused by tiredness creeping in.

And, while I am no medical expert, you could also argue the lengthy injury list could have been caused by the condition of the squad.

Campbell will certainly be taking no prisoners where that is concerned and the appointment of former Arsenal fitness coach Tony Colbert underlines that point.

Colbert put the Shrimpers substitutes through their paces during a lengthy workout following the final whistle at the weekend.

And Campbell’s post-match interview suggested that would be the sign of things to come.

However, improving fitness during a busy League One schedule will prove tricky and is arguably likely to take quite some time to sort out, just like everything else hurting Blues right now.

The Shrimpers have been on a downward trajectory for quite some time, winning just five League games in the whole of 2019.

That further underlines how the spine of the side will need to be strengthened during the January transfer window as Blues are severely lacking in key areas at this stage.

But, between now and then, Campbell will need to pull out all the stops for the Shrimpers to still be in with a chance of survival.