Chris Wilder's notes from the Southend matchday magazine
After the Chesterfield game I don’t think it was just our fans but also clubs in our division who were looking at how we reacted in the next game up at Hartlepool. If there were any questions then the players certainly answered them with an excellent away performance and a deserved win. To go up to Hartlepool and to put on a performance like we did and get ourselves back into the top two gave everybody a lift and it was a great boost for us. People pick up all sorts of stats but the biggest one is where we are in the table right now.
The previous game had annoyed all of us because to put in as much work as we have done all season and to lose our unbeaten record in that manner was disappointing. We put up a fight, hit the post late on and had one or two little bits and pieces but I will hold my hand up and say that we were well beaten on the day. We should always have honesty in our assessment and we didn’t do enough that day. By contrast we fully deserved three points last weekend.
We have good connections with Southend, especially Dave Penney, who I have known for a while and is a close friend of Mickey Lewis. He was at our game last weekend and they are a good club with a strong side who have been around the top of this league for a while now. They will be looking to get their season up and running because they certainly have the right management staff behind the scenes to be at the top. Southend have some very experienced players and they have come very close to winning and drawing games. There have been some fine lines and those extra five or six points would have put them higher up the league.
We welcome Dave Kitson back into the squad today, although we are still without Andy Whing through suspension. We also wish Shwan Jalal all the best back at Bournemouth after his recall this week. Jal fitted in well here but we have Max Crocombe available again today. We have trained well this week. Sean Rigg, who I thought did well last Saturday, has had another week’s training and we were pleased with Ryan Williams’ debut last week. The attitude we have in the squad was summed up by James Constable as well. He had a fitness test on the Friday and then travelled up with us, trained for the first time and wanted to play. He could easily have looked at that long away trip, looked at his new baby daughter, and said he would give himself another week. Instead he wanted to play his part and came on for the last 20 minutes to get us over the line. That is the commitment that runs through the squad. All the players have been excellent this week in terms of the quality, effort and commitment that they have put in meaning that we don’t make major changes in the process and they believe in the process week to week, win, lose or draw.
As we have seen nobody can predict results at this stage of the season. This is such a tight league and attitude plays just as big a part as ability. If you have the two things together you have half a chance. I think everybody has seen that we have an attitude and desire to do well. Last season after our first defeat we didn’t react the right way. When we had dinner last Friday we talked about it and I truly believe that last Saturday’s win was a big result. Portsmouth away was a great start, but last Saturday’s response was a big step as well. We are nine games in now, a fifth of the way through the season, and we are delighted to have come through another big test and we have many more to come, starting today.
Finally, a big thank you to Andrea Whitehead who retired this week. Andrea has cooked the lunches at the training ground right from when we were at Milton. She has been great and I thank her for her help, support and friendship throughout her time at the club.