Southend. What can I say thatâ€™s good about Southend? It has got the longest pier in the world, but thatâ€™s about it! It even has the misfortune to be in Essex and, therefore, full of plastic Cockneys.
Of course, my wife and daughterâ€™s watching of endless repeats of cookery programmes on UK We-Show-Any-Old-Rubbish-That-Costs-Us-Next-To-Nothing tells me that Jamie Oliver takes his nieces there for days out. You donâ€™t think heâ€™ll be coming, do you? That would be the final nail in the coffin of the attendances at the Banksâ€™s.
I suppose Southend fans do deserve some sympathy, however, in that a lot of their glory moments seem to have happened with Barry Fry in charge. Barry Fry and Jamie Oliver, what a combination!
Anyway, to the football.
Jimmy Mullen has some real problems now. Last weekâ€™s pathetic defensive effort at Crewe has to be put behind the team, but he is now, of course, faced with the Anthony Gerrard situation. Even if Gerrard is still with us at three oâ€™clock tomorrow afternoon, youâ€™ve got to wonder if his mind will be on the job. Rhys Weston and Steve Roberts are back in training, but youâ€™d have to question the wisdom of throwing Weston in at the deep end, when heâ€™s missed virtually the entire pre season and hasnâ€™t played a competitive game yet.
In midfield, itâ€™s likely that Dwayne Mattis will not be ready either, which means that Mullen will have to make a decision about Taundry versus Bradley, and itâ€™s also about time he decided what Reichâ€™s best position is in the team.
Mullen also will have to make another tricky decision on who will partner Ibehre, as Ricketts serves out the last game of his suspension.
Southend Manager Steve Tilson seems to have few injury problems, missing just midfielder Alan McCormack, plus Begian Franck Moussa suspended. That means a likely start for Chelsea loanee Lee Sawyer in the middle of the park.
Dangermen? Full of them. Striker James Walker is back from injury, they have the ever dangerous Paul Furlong and Richie Forlan, plus theyâ€™ve signed a mystery French striker this week, Francis Laurent from FC Metz. Heâ€™s 6 foot three and a bit of a handful, apparently, if he plays. Oh yes, and Kevin Betsy is almost certain to score, isnâ€™t he?
Southend have an almost exactly the same record as we do, played 3, won 1, drawn 1, lost 1. They have, however, been missing some key players who will be back (Walker, for example) and their one defeat was 0 â€“ 2 at home to Brighton after Moussa was sent off and they were reduced to ten men.
This is going to be a tough proposition, with the effect on morale of the Gerrard transfer request, so Iâ€™m thinking this might well be a draw.