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The Payne game: Many Ron turns are Root of the problem at Southend

Flagging spirits: Times are hard at Roots Hall PICTURE: REX


A LONELY corner flag fluttered on the Southend website this week, and that can normally only mean one thing for the manager.

But chairman Ron Martin broke the mould this time, even if his statement was hardly a vote of confidence in his latest boss, Mark Molesley.

Perhaps it was a recognition that things have been going downhill fast under Martin — a member of the 1980 British Olympic bobsleigh team — since he sacked Chris Powell as manager in March 2019.

The early truncation of last season put the Shrimpers out of their misery early, having taken 19 points from 35 League One games, and there has been no respite in League Two.

After two draws and nine defeats from 11 games, the biggest surprise of Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Boreham Wood was not losing to a non-league side, but the fact they had put up a decent fight to draw 3-3 and force a penalty shoot-out.

‘The way I see it, some of our players are not good enough (yet) and some do not work hard enough… the penny has to drop on that cultural change,’ said Martin, who also had a dig at the ‘overpaid and under-achieving’ 13 players culled from last season’s squad.

That won’t cut much ice with fans who heard the 65-year-old property developer say much the same in his first interview after becoming majority shareholder more than 20 years ago. ‘I don’t always observe the required will to win from our players, which is the least you expect for the high wages they are paid,’ he said then.

Martin will not be the first or last to question footballers’ commitment but it’s a bit rich from the owner of a club still under a transfer embargo after a battle to clear HMRC debts.

And the humiliations keep on coming, a 6-1 midweek defeat at bitter rivals Colchester reportedly led to fans throwing eggs at the team bus and locking the gates to Root Hall to stop them getting back in.

While Martin continues to insist he won’t sell the club, the situation gets more toxic. What that corner flag really needs to signal is a change at the top.