How will Phil Brown's Southend fare next season?

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Phil Brown and Southend ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.

Background

Phil Brown was punished for poor preparation last season. Transfer business was done late, players were unfit and the team had no identity. After 12 matches, they were third from bottom with a goal difference of -11 but the tide turned in October once Anton Ferdinand had settled in, Anthony Wordsworth returned from injury and 4-4-2 was introduced. The Shrimpers then tasted defeat just four times in 27 matches, posting their best finish for nine years - but they missed out on the play-offs by a point.

Personality

Brown is undeniably extravert, as depicted by the key moments - such as that half-time team talk on the Etihad pitch or his end-of-season karaoke session at the KC Stadium - that define a well-developed caricature. He always looks to control the environment around him, which combined with his internal intuition makes him a shrewd big-match tactician. A win-at-all-costs mentality frequently gets him into trouble with officials, while he’s also partial to a spot of mind games whenever he thinks there’s an advantage to be gained.

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Verdict

Brown is typically bullish in the knowledge that his team set an automatic promotion pace between October and April last term, although it’s worth remembering they had their play-off destiny in their own hands on the home straight and blew it. Kightly and Michael Turner are both eye-catching signings but neither seems ready for a gruelling 46-game season. The Shrimpers might start better this time around but there’s enough scope for them to be tripped up by a lack of foresight once again.

Prediction: top half

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