IF Kevin Maher had not realised the size of the task facing him at Southend United, he does now!

The former Shrimpers skipper returned to Roots Hall as head coach towards the end of last week.

But his first game in charge ended in a 3-0 defeat Dagenham & Redbridge and perfectly underlined the problems Maher and his coaching team have now taken on.

For me, it could well be the toughest task in football because, as Saturday showed, this is a Southend team which, quite simply, is nowhere near good enough.

The team lack the quality, creativity, pace and athleticism to threaten most teams at this level.

And there remains an incredibly soft under-belly too.

Dagenham certainly exposed that weakness at the weekend as their opening goal, from Mo Sagaf, was quickly followed by two Sam Ling headers in the space of four minutes to condemn Blues to their sixth defeat in seven league outings.

The latest setback also saw the Shrimpers slump into the National League drop zone and a third successive relegation remains a realistic and serious concern for Southend.

Staying up is now the main goal for the remainder of the campaign and securing safety is what matters most between now and May.

In my eyes, Maher and his coaching team – consisting of Darren Currie and Mark Bentley – is a positive appointment.

And they deserve credit for taking on such a tough task.

Maher will certainly have accepted the role with his eyes wide open and, unlike many of his predecessors, the former Blues midfielder will already fully understand the state of the club.

Those inheriting the Roots Hall hot-seat seem to have often been left shocked and surprised by events unfolding in front of them, on and off the pitch.

But there will have been no sugar-coating the situation for Maher, who has kept fully abreast of events at Blues since his departure.

He will know just how much needs to change but, with so much going wrong, where on earth do you start?

A trip to the treatment room will be among the first things to do, because the current injury situation is not helping Blues’ cause.

Goalkeeper Steve Arnold and defender Nathan Ralph were both hugely missed at the weekend.

But an accurate assessment is needed before deciding what work is required in the transfer market.

If Arnold remains sidelined then Blues need to a bring in a replacement on loan as Harry Seaden struggled between the sticks on Saturday.

The young shot-stopper has long been highly rated at Roots Hall but now needs games at a lower level on loan before being ready to feature more regularly for the Shrimpers.

That being said, Seaden was also let down by those in front of him at Dagenham and defensive reinforcements are drastically needed.

Blues are still crying out for a commanding, no-nonsense centre-back along with an energetic midfielder capable of securing the Shrimpers far more of a presence in the centre park.

Trying to attract players could remain problematic for Blues but the new look coaching team will bring their own contacts and hopefully some joined up thinking where recruitment is concerned.

In the past few seasons, there appears to have been a scattergun approach to transfer targets rather than those coming in being part of an intended structured style of play or system.

Maher will already have his own ideas where that is concerned and will continue to carefully assess his squad ahead of Saturday’s tough-looking trip to third placed Boreham Wood.

By then Maher could also have decided upon the immediate future of his on loan players, with Hamzad Kargbo, Benji Kimpioka and Matt Dennis all failing to make the squad against Dagenham.

But there are several situations still to be resolved, including the future of Stan Collymore.

The former Blues striker has spoken well with supporters during a series of Zoom calls and does seem to have the enthusiasm and the expertise to help the club during the darkest days in their history.

Collymore is keen to become head of football operations and does appear to have a lot to offer but the club must come first.

Talks should now continue behind closed doors and should not be made public until a concrete conclusion is reached.

The last thing Blues need at this stage is even more confusion and controversy because times are already tough enough.

And absolutely everything must go into avoiding yet another relegation, which could ultimately kill the club.