SOUTHEND United chairman Ron Martin is expected to confirm the Shrimpers’ new manager this week.

But, as Saturday showed, whoever gets the job is facing an almighty challenge.

Blues were beaten 3-1 by Gillingham at the weekend to continue their torrid start to the League One season.

And it could have been far worse but for two missed Gills penalties and a series of fine saves from goalkeeper Mark Oxley.

However, the latest setback now means the Shrimpers have been beaten nine times in 11 League One outings so far this season.

But the poor run of results actually goes back much further.

In fact, during the whole of 2019 Blues have triumphed in just five of their 32 League games and have picked up just 22 points from a possible 96.

That, more than anything else, perhaps underlines the sheer size of the task facing the next manager who will inherit a side beaten in their last three outings.

Ten Blues fans heroically walked from Southend to Gillingham to raise funds for Little Havens.

But their team also started at a pedestrian pace on Saturday with Oxley making three fine saves inside the opening 10 minutes to keep the game goalless.

The hosts eventually gained control with goals just before and after half-time.

But a double substitution and tactical reshuffle which saw the Shrimpers switch to 5-3-2 soon saw the visitors enjoy their best period of the game.

That resulted in Simon Cox scoring for the third season in succession at Gillingham and Blues suddenly seemed right back in the contest.

However, young striker Emile Acquah then showed his inexperience to get sent off and from then on it was always going to be tough for the Shrimpers to get back into the game.

Acquah – a tall targetman – had already been yellow carded for one aerial challenge before angering the Gills with another just moments later.

At this stage, the 19-year-old should have dropped the intensity, taken a bit of a breather and altered the aggressive approach.

But, with emotions high, the striker immediately sprinted across the pitch before launching into a needless sliding challenge on the experienced Barry Fuller.

Whether or not Acquah made any contact with the defender is open to debate but the challenge did not need to be made and it left referee Lee Doughty with little option than to issue a red card.

Acquah – who has just six first team appearances to his name with Blues – will learn to adapt his game the more he plays.

However, his dismissal proved costly at the weekend as the Shrimpers were unlikely to conjure up an equaliser with 10 men.

The drama did not stop there though as Doughty continued to take centre stage, awarding the Gills two penalties in the space of just three minutes.

But Mikael Ndjoli somehow managed to miss them both.

The on loan Bournemouth forward sent his first spot-kick against the outside of the left post before seeing his second well saved by Oxley.

However, Blues were unable to make the most of the let-offs as the hosts sealed their victory with a late goal.

The defeat saw the Shrimpers drop down to second from bottom in the standings, five points from safety.

And Blues are now facing a huge fight to stay up, whoever the manager may be.

Henrik Larsson, Sol Campbell and Adam Barrett remain among the frontrunners for the job.

But Barrett may now be harder to appoint given his new role as Millwall’s caretaker manager following the departure of Neil Harris.

Either way, Blues chairman Martin is facing arguably the biggest appointment of his Roots Hall reign as he bids to bring stability back to the club.

Larsson remains the biggest gamble given his managerial record in Sweden and his lack of knowledge on the English lower Leagues.

Campbell helped get Macclesfield out of trouble against all odds last season but Blues may take longer to turn around.

Including caretakers, the Shrimpers have already had four managers in 2019.

But the fifth is facing a huge task as a team who have won just three times since January bid to beat the drop.

Right now it seems unlikely but then again it did last season too.