Why ex-Millwall manager Neil Harris is unlikely to return to Southend United

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 04 October 2019, 11:42

Within minutes of Millwall releasing an official statement announcing Neil Harris’ departure on Thursday night, the Lions legend was thrown into the mix to replace Nathan Jones at Stoke.

Jones was widely expected to leave the Championship’s basement club in the wake of their dismal defeat at home to Huddersfield, yet the Welshman remains at the helm for now, although the Potters have reportedly targeted - and been rejected by - Chris Hughton.

Then, within a blink of an eye, Harris also rocketed into contention for the Southend job, with bookmakers Bet Victor swiftly installing the 42-year-old as the new odds-on favourite for the post.

Now, there’s a couple of factors to take into account here.

Firstly, Southend’s search for a new manager is set to enter into its fifth week, and at the time of writing the club appears no closer to finding Kevin Bond’s successor at Roots Hall. A host of managers have already traded places at the top of the betting market, from Henrik Larsson to Adam Barrett, while it’s been revealed that Sol Campbell has been interviewed.

Secondly, Harris is a former Southend player, so a link to the vacancy is perhaps inevitable, especially considering how open it is. The ex-striker switched Millwall for the Blues back in 2011, and he went on to spend two seasons at the club before hanging up his boots.

It’s not even been 24 hours since Harris left his beloved Millwall, who are in the Championship, with whom he managed for four-and-a-half years - at the time of his exit only three Football League managers had been in their current posts for a longer period of time.

With this in mind, Harris is unlikely to be too keen to jump straight back into work. At any club. Let alone one that’s not only operating in a division below Millwall, but one that’s currently stuck in the relegation zone following a poor start to the season which has resulted in one win from their opening 10 matches (sorry for the reminder Southend fans).

We’ll hold our hands up if we’re wrong but from the outside looking in, we’d wager that for now Harris is keen to take a break and recharge his batteries following a near five-year tenure.

Meanwhile, in an interesting twist, former Southend captain Adam Barrett, who has been hotly linked with a return to the Blues as manager, has now been placed in caretaker charge of Millwall following Harris’ departure. The Lions first-team coach has also since emerged as the favourite to replace Harris on a full-time basis, and could bolster his permanent prospects with a victory at home to high-flying Leeds on Saturday.

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