With our thanks to our Southend contributor, James Cambridge…
Southend Fan: James Cambridge
1) Hi and thanks for talking to us. First of all how did you get into supporting Southend?
I’ve been supporting Southend for as long as I can remember and that’s all thanks to my grandad. He took me to my first game when I was a youngster and I’m 25 now so God knows how long it’s been.
We still go to Roots Hall together now as often as we can.
2) What did you think of the games between the two sides last season? I was at last season’s home game against you guys that finished 1-1. I remember leaving frustrated because you’d equalised from a set piece fairly late on – something we knew you were a danger from. But I think we definitely rode our luck in that match and Mark Oxley kept us in it with a few good saves.
As for the away clash, well that was an utter shambles from our perspective. We conceded inside five minutes if I remember correctly and then you were home and dry by half-time. I hope we don’t see a repeat of that performance that’s for sure.
3) How are you finding the management of Chris Powell since he replaced Phil Brown earlier this year? Since Chris Powell took over last January we were instantly transformed. He dragged us up from one point above relegation to finishing 10th. He even got us winning away from home.
I think I’m right in saying that if Powell had started the season in charge, that sort of form would have seen us finish fourth, so he certainly had us fans purring from the get go.
We suffered a setback on the opening day – losing 3-2 to Doncaster – but that score really was an anomaly for the way we played. I fully expect us to have a good season.
4)What are your thoughts on Southend’s summer transfer business and the pre-season campaign? The summer transfer business from Powell has been a breath of fresh air. Gone are the golden oldies that Phil Brown insisted on bringing in over and over again.
We haven’t signed a single player over 26 and I’m personally very excited by 24-year-old former Leicester striker Tom Hopper. He had a good debut and got himself a goal.
The only downside would be we are perhaps still lacking a pacy striker and winger and Powell has admitted we will not be signing anyone else permanently.
There’s talk of some loan deals coming in later, namely Stoke striker Julien Ngoy, and I do worry about our squad depth at the moment if there are injuries.
5) Who would you say are the main stars in your squad and who would you be most keen to move on? Our star player has to be Dru Yearwood. The 18-year-old midfielder burst onto the scene last season and quickly became the first name on the team sheet.
We also have a lot of high-level experience running through the squad in Michael Kightly, Michael Turner and Simon Cox. And Mark Oxley in goal, in my opinion, is one of the best in the division.
As for deadwood, Powell has made it abundantly clear Anton Ferdinand is not needed and I hope he finds himself a club otherwise I can’t see him featuring much, if at all.
And former Rangers centre-half Rob Kiernan needs to either get fit or get out. The guy has had a double knee operation and has played just one league game since Brown signed him last year.
6) How are you likely to set up tactically on Saturday? I expect us to play a 4-4-2 against you guys on Saturday with a slightly deeper striker so we can beef up the midfield to a five if needed.
As for the line-up I expect it will be the same team that faced Doncaster but with John White coming in for Harry Lennon at the back who has broken his toe.
There’s a small chance Theo Robinson could start after he scored from the bench against the Dons but away from home I can’t really see it as he’s a bit lightweight.
Timothee Dieng is another on the fringes after his substitute performance against Donny and there’s a slight chance of Yearwood being back after his lengthy hamstring injury.
7)What realistic targets do you have for the season and what type of season do you expect Argyle to have? The target for this season is undoubtedly play-offs. We messed up our chance two seasons ago, finishing one point behind Millwall and following Powell’s amazing finish to the last campaign it has got us all believing it’s possible this time around.
As for Plymouth, I see you guys in a similar position to us. We both had a very strong end to last season and are probably in that pool of about 10-or-so sides that are battling for the four play-off spots. I expect Barnsley to run away with the league and Sunderland will probably sneak up in the automatics too.
8) If you could sign any one Argyle player, who would it be? If Southend could raid your squad I would definitely be happy to take Graham Carey. We don’t really have a midfield goal threat anymore since we sold Jack Payne and released Anthony Wordsworth. But I’m so glad you took Freddie Ladapo off our hands. I’ll be amazed if he gets anywhere near double figures for you this season.
9) Finally, a score prediction for the game? I obviously want us to get revenge on you for last season’s 4-0 thumping but I think it will be a close game. With us both losing on the opening day, I reckon it will be pretty cagey. I’ve got to back us at this early stage in the season obviously so maybe 1-0 or 2-1 Southend.