It’s a strange one. Having been dismissed from his role as Southend manager, Paul Sturrock has been given the opportunity to return on April 7th to lead his old team out at Wembley for the final of the Johnstone’s paint trophy against Crewe Alexandra. Quite how the logistics of the day or the moment will work in tandem with newly appointed manager, Phil Brown, is difficult to tell.
Phil Brown has been appointed after Chairman Ron Martin ran out of patience with Sturrock’s attempts to sustain a strong push for promotion. Sturrock leaves with the Essex side six points adrift of the play off places in League Two.
Martin has brought in Phil Brown for his first managerial job since being sacked by Preston North End in December 2011. Brown’s star has waned somewhat since gaining Hull promotion to the Premier League in 2008. But Brown wasted no time today in meeting up with his new charges, attending training ahead of a busy Easter schedule whereby The Shrimpers will visit Carling Cup finalists Braford City on Good Friday and will entertain close rivals Fleetwood Town on Easter Monday, who lie one place and three points ahead of Southend.
Phil Brown’s managerial career has been of a higher profile then that of his playing career. Brown was caretaker manager at Bolton Wanderers before Sam Allardyce’s appointment in 1999. His first permanent managerial position was an ill-fated and brief stint at Derby County between June 2005 and January 2006.
Brown was then appointed in charge of Hull City in December 2006 and in the 2007/08 season he gained promotion with The Tigers. He maintained Hull’s Premier League status until he was placed on gardening leave in March 2010 with the side in the relegation zone. His contract was formally ended in June 2007 with Hull having been relegated in the interim.
He took over from Darren Ferguson at Preston in January 2011 but a late season, good run of form could not prevent their relegation to league one. After slipping down to 10th place in league one after a nine match run without a victory, Brown was eventually relieved of his duties.
The odd side show of Sturrock’s involvement at Wembley on Saturday week should not detract from the immediate pressure Brown will be under. Martin will be hoping for a dramatic turn around with seven league games left. In the unlikely event of promotion, Brown will be expected to reshape the squad in the summer and deliver early with his new club as front runners for promotion. Anything less could see another bout of undesired gardening leave.