Photography by Jon Enoch

Chris Powell

Southend United, 2018-2019

“They’d won one game. So I watched that one. How were they successful in that game?”

When Chris Powell was appointed as Southend United manager in January 2018, the team had lost eight of its last nine games and was precariously placed just one point clear of the relegation zone in League One. By March, the former Charlton boss had led the Shrimpers on a five-game unbeaten run and become the first permanent manager in the club’s history to win his first three matches in charge – the most memorable of which was a 3-1 victory against league leaders and eventual champions Wigan Athletic. Here, in an exclusive chat with The Coaches’ Voice, Powell discusses how he turned around the fortunes of a losing side in double-quick time.

“The team had lost eight games in a row and previous to that they’d won one game. So, I watched that game. How were they successful in that game?

I watched one or two of the defeats – not too many. But everyone feels they’ve got a chance to be in the team. So, you set down the way you want to play pretty quickly, you know you don’t have much time. You don’t have a pre-season, what-have-you. But you look at where they can be comfortable, in what shape they’re comfortable, and you work with that accordingly. And then you adjust it as you go along.

You have to get on to the good side and get them on side as soon as you can. So, I organised training straight away. I made sure that training was intense, but fun and enjoyable at the same time – but making sure they got the key pointers from me, in how I could see them improving as a group, as an individual.

And you get on board the ones who can do it straight away. Over time, there will be ones who won’t be able to do it. And there will be some who will change your mind and some who, you know, with the right guidance and right man-management and right coaching, you can bring them on board.

You have to make an impact pretty quickly. And that’s something I’ve managed to do. And then you just show them the side of your professionalism, how you see them day to day, how you see them on a matchday, and those little things come over time.

But, ultimately, you need to get the training, the nuts and bolts of that now down straight away. Don’t make it too complicated as well. I think that’s something, during the course of a season, that they need to understand what you want. You have to make it quite simple to begin with. Then you understand that there might be one or two players who need more information, or ones who take it on board straight away, and they understand it.

And that’s something you have to learn pretty quickly you know, when you walk into a dressing room.”

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