GRAHAM Coughlan and Kevin Maher face Southend United still feeling frustrated they did not get more of an opportunity with the Shrimpers.

Coughlan has been in charge of Rovers since December 2018 while Maher joined as his assistant in the summer.

But Coughlan, who spent close to eight years coaching at Blues, is hurt he was never given the top job at Roots Hall.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying being at Bristol Rovers but yes, it does hurt I was never given this chance at Southend,” said Coughlan.

“There was a great group of people there in Ben Cirne, Ben Clarkson, Lee Harrison, Kevin Maher and myself who I feel had the experience, nous and knowledge to do well.

“I had to put up with a lot of nonsense when I was there and turn a blind eye to things I wouldn’t have put up with if I was the manager.

“I also worked exceptionally hard so it was frustrating and disappointing I didn’t get the chance to take things on.

“When I look at where Southend are now it really hurts me and angers me too because the club shouldn’t be in that position.

“Things have spiralled out of control and I don’t think that would have happened if I had been given the chance to take over.

“But I respect the chairman Ron Martin and the decisions he has made.”

Coughlan left the Shrimpers along with manager Phil Brown at the start of 2018 before joining Bristol Rovers the following summer. The Irishman was promoted to manager just months later and remains surprised he was allowed to bring Maher in from Blues to work as his assistant.

“I was shocked we could get him but Southend’s loss has been Bristol Rovers’ gain because Kev’s been brilliant,” said Coughlan.

“He knits together the under-23s with the first team superbly and does a lot of work on the analysis side too.”

Maher enjoyed a lengthy playing career with the Shrimpers, making more than 450 appearances for the club before returning as under-23 coach.

And Maher was also frustrated not to be given the chance to work with Blues’ first team.

“It did hurt not to get a chance at Southend,” said Maher.

“I was the under-23s coach for four years and a lot of players went through to the first team in that time. We also won a couple of cups and I really put a lot of hours in but if it wasn’t to be it wasn’t to be and I’m happy at Bristol Rovers now.”

However, Maher still keeps an eye on Blues.

“I’ll always have an affiliation with Southend,” said Maher.

“I really hope Sol Campbell turns things around, just after tomorrow’s game.”