The business between Southend United and Henrik Larsson has been fascinating and reflects well on both of them. After a run of six defeats, Kevin Bond resigned as Southend manager six weeks ago. Since then the third tier club have resisted the greatest urge in football – appointing a manager. They sit second bottom of the table, above only Bolton, who are on minus 8 points following administration.
Speaking to Henrik was an outrageously ambitious play for a club that looks destined for the bottom tier of English football. They wanted Henrik, but not at any cost, they wanted him to have the necessary support to be a success in the job.
That support included recruiting someone with a knowledge of their league to act as chief scout. Henrik’s former Celtic team-mate, Tommy Johnson, agreed to be that man, but with contracts all in place and Larsson set to fly in with Johan Mjallby as his assistant, Johnson had a last minute change of mind.
Lots of managers and clubs would proceed as planned and hope to recruit a suitable head of recruitment at a later date, but Southend chairman, Ron Martin and Henrik believed this part of their jigsaw was critically important and without it the picture would not work.
Feeling betrayed, Henrik insisted Martin did not up his offer to Johnson and they agreed not to conclude contracts.
Having waited during summer weeks for a managerial appointment, I cannot imagine how Southend fans are coping. Without a permanent manager, the club is rudderless and no recovery is likely, but you have to admire Southend. Better to wait and get it right, even now, seven points adrift from safety, than plough straight into a bad appointment.
But still, can you imagine if it was Celtic sitting on the pot for this time? They will probably go down, but I hope the delay works out in the long term for Southend.