Date:Friday February 23 2007
We talk to Vital Southend journalist 'Ed Junior' about the Owls forthcoming clash against the relegation threatened Shrimpers this weekend...
1. First things first - can you stay up?
I think there are many mixed feelings amongst supporters if we can stay up. You only have to look at the poll on the main Southend Vital page. I have looked at all our games from now until the end of the season and I have predicted we will get around 18 points in total. This would leave us with 49 points. Crewe came 22nd last year and went down with 42 points and QPR came 21st and survived with 50 points so it will be a very close thing in my book. The important thing is to win your home games and any points away will be a bonus. I think we will stay up by the skin of our teeth which would be a major achievement. We have to still play Burnley, Hull, Leeds, Colchester(derby), Barnsley and Luton so all teams except for Colchester are near the bottom meaning it is in our own hands still.
2. Your form since the new year seems to have been pretty good, why couldn't you do that at the start of the season?
We actually didn't do too bad right at the start of the season beating Stoke on the first day and then Sunderland at home. From October to December inclusive though we only won 3 games and confidence was very low. I think it took time for our players to adjust to the Championship after doing so well with two straight promotions. Many of our players were from these promotions and had no experience on the higher stage. Whatever the results though we have always tried to play the game the right way and have played some good stuff this season. Winning games builds confidence and as you say we have been on a good run and hopefully after a few recent hitches we can start another one.
3. How did you manage to hold on to Eastwood? And will he still be here come next season?
Eastwood has been fantastic for us and one of the reasons why we are playing in the Championship. There was so much speculation around him and I think it effected his game. We have to remember it was not too long ago he was playing from Grays in the conference. He struggled to find his form up to the transfer window in January and was scoring few goals. Time and time again the Southend chairman came out saying his was not for sale and word had it that he would only go to a Premiership club. Due to the goals drying up I don't think any Premiership club wanted to take a gamble on him. It is very difficult to say if he will be with us next season. If we stay up it means he probably will be scoring for fun again and one of the bigger boys will come in for him. If we get relegated I presume he will leave for a Championship side. I have always been a great fan of Freddy and in my eyes he will always be a Southend legend. Let's hope he stays and we are still in the Championship.
4. What do you make of your manager, Steve Tilson?
In my eyes either joint top with David Webb or out on his own as the best and most important manager we have ever had. When Steve took over we were on the verge of going out of the football league. Since then we have won two promotions, been to the Mill Stadium 3 times, beaten Colchester more times then I can remember and also beaten the mighty Manchester United.
Like all managers he has his own way of doing things and when we lose, some supporters make remarks but I don't think anyone can argue with what he has achieved.
5. I've heard a new stadium is in the pipeline, what stage are you at with that?
What a wonderful couple of days that was when we learnt we would be having a new stadium. I have heard that the plans have recently been sent to Ruth Kelly to be given the final go-ahead.
I for one and I know I am not alone when saying this that I will miss Roots Hall and I am sure many a tear will be shed on the final day. I will find it very very hard to leave the Hall for the last time. Things though have to move on if we want to secure the future of the club. If you have seen the plans I am sure you will agree it will be a super new stadium.
6. How is former Wednesday player Lee Bradbury getting on?
He has done fairly well over his time at Southend although doesn't score enough goals. He holds the ball up well, works his socks off but I think we are in need of some fresh blood upfront. We have just bought Foran from Motherwell and I think he will combine well with Eastwood. I have been impressed in the past when Bradbury has played in midfield so it is possible he may play a few games there.
7. Who are your danger men?
Obviously Eastwood upfront who can score out of nothing and I would also say Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the wing who when on form is very very difficult to stop. We also have Mark Gower who can delivery a wonderful cross and has a great shot on him and also our new boy Foran who is good in the air, makes good runs, links up well with Eastwood and can knock a great ball. Our captain Maher has also scored a few recently.
8. What are your weaknesses?
Our major weakness at the moment is the amount of injuries and suspensions we have. We have a small squad which doesn't help but as you will read on the pre-match report Clarke (defence)is suspended for the game, Barrett (defence) is injured and could be out for over 5 weeks. Steve Hammell (defence) and McCormack (midfield) are also unlikely to feature.
9. What's your most memorable Owls v Southend match?
Travelling to Hillsborough in the 90s to see the F.A Cup match with over 4000 (if I remember correctly) Shrimpers. We played well even if we lost and I remember jumping up and down when Collymore scored, in the process smashing my friend's glasses only to find the goal was offside and my friend couldn't see the rest of the game
10. Finally, what's your score prediction?
We have injury problems and have also lost the last two games.
The Owls have been struggling and I saw you recently lost against Luton Town.It is a hard one to call. On our day we can be excellent and up until Sunderland we had recently drawn at Stoke, Coventry and beaten Cardiff and Birmingham away. You are at home though and higher in the league so I will go for a high scoring draw with Foran and Eastwood scoring 2-2.
Cheers Ed, and all at our sister site Vital Southend for all the help answering the questions, and good luck for the weekend and in your battle against relegation! We hope you do it, if only at the expense of our neighbours up the M1 (you know who we mean!).
You can have your pre-match banter on the Vital Sheffield Wednesday forums, or alternatively you can check our the preparations of our opponents on Vital Southend United by CLICKING HERE.
NEXT UP - Leeds United....
Date:Friday February 23 2007
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