THESE are tough times for Southend United.

On the pitch, the Shrimpers have been beaten in all five of their matches so far this season.

And off it things are equally as concerning.

Chairman Ron Martin has promised to pay off an outstanding tax bill of close to £500,000.

But Blues remain under a transfer embargo while in desperate need of reinforcements and, in truth, it is tough to feel at all positive right now.

Defeat to Morecambe is nothing new of course and the Shrimps remain something of a bogey team for Blues.

In the 11 League meetings between the two teams, Morecambe have now won 10 and drawn one after Saturday’s success at Roots Hall.

But if there was ever a good time to break the curse, this appeared to be it.

After all, Morecambe had been beaten 7-0 and 5-0 in their last two outings, the heaviest of which came against Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup in midweek while Blues would have been resting up.

Early on, that looked like it could have been playing a part as the Shrimpers broke the deadlock, courtesy of an own goal from Liam Gibson.

But, after that, Morecambe began to get on top and looked by far the more threatening of the two teams, creating at least six good goalscoring opportunities, something the Shrimpers struggled to do at the other end of the field.

Everything is still a little too nice and slightly soft for Blues and they remain below par in both penalty boxes.

Morecambe took full advantage of that on Saturday and Southend remain at the foot of the League Two table without a single point to their name.

There were signs of promise at the weekend though.

New loan signing Kyle Taylor looked nice and tidy in the centre of the park after arriving on loan from Bournemouth while Jason Demetriou also returned to line up alongside him.

Demetriou is the most natural leader in the Shrimpers squad and Southend always look stronger when the midfielder is playing.

Further forward, Emile Acquah has signed a new deal after coming close to leaving the club back in the summer.

And his physicality certainly adds something different to the Shrimpers’ strike-force.

But sadly there are still more problems than answers.

Acquah and Jordan Green both went off with knocks at the weekend while the experienced Alan McCormack missed out with a calf problem sustained in training the day before the game.

John White and Simeon Akinola also pulled up in training and boss Mark Molesley is facing a real baptism of fire in the Football League.

The 39-year-old is lacking quality and experience in key areas of the pitch but Molesley remains restricted in the transfer market.

A such, Blues seem set for another season of struggle and this remains arguably the toughest and most testing time of the club’s entire history.

Fans are still unable to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic but frustration levels continue to grow and it is easy to understand why.

Right now, the Shrimpers are fighting for their Football League future both on and off the pitch.

But a planned protest was called off at the weekend after chairman Ron Martin offered to meet with a group of concerned supporters after Saturday’s game.

However, actions speak louder than words and plans must quickly to be put in place if Blues are to bounce back.

Ordinarily, Charlie Kelman would be at the heart of Blues bouncing back.

But the highly-rated youngster has been below par this season and was at fault for Morecambe’s winner at the weekend after giving the ball away cheaply.

Somehow or other, the Shrimpers must get Kelman back to his best or an already difficult season could become close to impossible.

And games like Saturday could become even more common.