Southend United have blinked first in their battle against relegation out of the Football League, sacking manager Mark Molesley with six games to go.
Molesley, who only signed a three-year contract with the club in August to replace Sol Campbell, has been swiftly replaced by Phil Brown, himself sacked by Southend in 2018 after five years at the club.
Their statement read: “The club last night terminated the contract of manager Mark Molesley, together with the majority of his backroom staff. We wish to thank Mark for the commitment throughout his tenure. The Board recognise the management team worked tirelessly. However, whilst considerable further support was afforded during the January window, results on the pitch remained, unfortunately, inconsistent.
“Phil Brown, who previously managed the club between 2013 and 2018, will take charge with immediate effect.”
The news has come as a shock to many Southend fans, who have endured a torrid time over the last couple of years. They were comfortably the worst team in League One last season, only avoiding finishing bottom due to Bolton’s points deduction. There was some hope that they might at least stabilise in League Two, but instead have become embroiled in a relegation battle.
The Shrimpers are currently five points from safety and are just two points clear of bottom club Grimsby Town who have a game in hand. It does look to be a three-horse race at the foot of the table, with Colchester United in 22nd, one point behind Barrow having played two matches more.
The situation points to a nervous run-in for Southend, with Brown seemingly set the impossible task of keeping them up despite barely knowing the squad. It is also fair to say reaction on social media has been fairly unanimous, but sadly for fans who have endured so much, it is not much of a great shock.
Post-embargo MM took us from certain relegation to having a fighting chance. Ron now spunking more money on paying off MM & his team. Running the club out the league and into the ground.
What happens when ? Brown doesn’t keep us up?
Never been angrier supporting Southend.
— EssexDons (@DonsEssex) April 9, 2021
This is disgraceful – timing TERRIBLE! 6 games to go, to avoid the drop, if you are gonna pull the pin on MM you should have done this Atleast 2 months ago. Also MM had to play a youth team for the first 10 games, this is farcical.
— Dimi Pana (@DPan0059) April 9, 2021
Couldn’t pay the embargo off but can pay to sack the whole backroom staff and MM. Well done Ron. You’ve done it again.
— Jonty (@jontyedmondson) April 9, 2021
We were 1 good striker away from being a team that stayed up relatively comfortably.
Panicked, if we needed a change in manager. This is too late. If we are going down regardless, why not let Molesley try to rebuild us back. Need stability more than anything when going down.
— Theo Paphitis (@TheoPaphitis4) April 9, 2021
Very disappointed for Mark. A talented and very nice guy. Well respected at afcb. I hope he finds success next time.
— Keith Brewer (@kcb49) April 9, 2021
Rotten to the core we are
— Declan McGhie (@Declan_Mcghie) April 9, 2021
Personally thought that if MM had been backed from the start and we hadn’t been put in the transfer embargo mess by RM, I don’t think we’d be in the position we are in today. We was crying out for a striker in January and we get ranger ?
— Dowsett (@Samdowsett_) April 9, 2021