THESE are tough times for Southend United.

In one way or another I have been watching the Shrimpers for the past 30 years.

And, right now, this is honestly as bad as I can remember at Roots Hall.

The Alvin Martin era towards the late 1990s still sends shivers down my spine and the dismantling of Steve Tilson’s team amid a financial crisis in 2010 also felt as though Blues had hit rock bottom.

But the current situation is equally as concerning and, most worryingly of all, it continues to get worse.

Now, for me writing about Southend is more than just a job.

The Shrimpers will always be my team no matter what I do for a living.

Right now though, there is no enjoyment for me in this role.

Long gone is the excitement and the enthusiasm and forthcoming matches now create feelings of dread as the doom and gloom continues to mount.

Yet it was not supposed to be this way this season.

The great escape act of the final day of the previous campaign should have acted as the biggest wake up in the club’s recent history.

But survival was not built upon and looking back now, perhaps beating Sunderland and maintaining League One status, papered over the cracks.

Because the harsh reality is Blues have been in decline for quite some time and a combination of factors have contributed to that along the way.

Recruitment has not helped and neither have certain managerial appointments or splashing cash in the wrong areas.

But the bottom line is the Shrimpers do not have the infrastructure needed to stabilise and begin to start moving in the right direction.

A lack of a chief executive remains a fundamental concern and so does the seemingly financial instability.

The late payment of December’s wages hit the headlines and the January transfer window was equally as concerning.

Eight players headed out of Roots Hall, with none arriving in the opposite direction.

A clear out was needed to a certain extent and with relegation a foregone conclusion perhaps now was the not the best time to make significant investment in the squad.

But new signings were definitely needed and, without them, Blues have been left severely lacking in key areas.

Subsequently, Sol Campbell’s frustration levels continue to rise and they appeared to hit new highs in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s 4-0 defeat at Peterborough United.

Campbell revealed Blues were unable to bring in any new signings and will have to continue to rely on the club’s young players.

Of course, everyone loves to see home-grown talent coming up through the ranks.

And, with Ricky Duncan continuing to work wonders, the Shrimpers do have plenty of promising players within their academy.

However, those youngsters should only be called upon when the time is right – both for them and for the team.

But right now, many of them are being thrown in at the toughest of times.

Blues have been beaten 20 times in 30 League One outings this season and sit 13 points from safety.

This season is now a write off and attention must immediately turn towards rebuilding the club both on and off the pitch to stop the rot.

The same errors cannot afford to be made again and the Shrimpers must already be looking for players to line up for them in League Two.

For make no mistake about it, if things do not improve then Blues could be facing another relegation fight again next season and that cannot simply be allowed to happen.

The club’s hierarchy must get their house in order to enable the Shrimpers to progress.

And maybe then it might start to be fun following Southend again.