Here's Jack Ross' Southend press conference in full
Has there been strong words with the players since Tuesday?
“I think Tuesday night was just a continuation of the previous games where we had good spells in the games - first half in particular - but haven’t made the most of the opportunities we’ve had in those games. If we look back and reflect on the last three games and the opportunities we’ve had, and the opportunities we’ve given up. It’s a season where Jon [McLaughlin] has had a lot of credit for the saves he’s had to make and yet in the last few games there’s not been a lot he’s had to do. So there’s a frustration that we haven’t made dominant periods count. We played well in the first half and then dropped in the second half, but the game had a strange feeling around it because we knew we needed to win, but also we needed to win by more goals. It was a frustrating night because the goal was always to finish in the top two and obviously Tuesday night confirmed that we couldn’t. But like anything, once the dust settles, you realise you can’t affect anything that’s gone before and you start to look ahead to the challenges that you face over the next couple of weeks.”
Important to get back to winning ways at Southend going into the play-offs?
“Yeah. First of all I would never treat the game insignificantly because it’s an important game for Southend and those other teams that are around them. Secondly, we want to try and finish the season with a win. And then thirdly, there’s also the incentive to confirm where we finish in the league and how that leaves us and whether we play home or away first and who against. So there’s a lot at stake for us in terms of the game and that will be reflected in our team selection. We’ll treat this as we would if we needed to go there and win the game.”
How's the squad looking?
“We had two or three more concerns on the back of Tuesday night, as you’d expect after a lot of games in April. We’re hoping Charlie Wyke will be back after missing Tuesday, but Aiden [McGeady] will probably remain out because we want to give him as much chance as possible to be as healthy as possible for the play offs.”
“We’ve got doubts over a couple, but we’ll see how they are and how they react to what they’ve done today over the course of the day and we’ll react from there. Ultimately though, it will be a relatively strong squad that will travel tomorrow and be ready for Saturday.”
Does Saturday carry an element of pride also?
“It’s just a very simple incentive that you should want to win every game that you go into. We’ve tried to create that mentality over the course of the season and it has been disappointing that over these last six games - particularly in the last three or four - some of the performances have been better than earlier in the season but the results have not come. That is obviously always the most important thing. So yeah, we want to finish with a win because we want to win games and we want to finish with good momentum going into the play offs and we also want to give ourselves the best possible chance in the play offs, which could be affected by where we finish in the league.”
How do you balance the disappointment of missing out on the top two, with an appreciation you are in the play-offs and can still go up?
“It’s a good question and I think that while we wanted the season to go to the last day, having that confirmed earlier in the week gives you a chance to accept your fate and get your mindset right for the fact that you’re in the play-offs and what you need to do to get through them. It allowed us in the 24 hours following Fleetwood to accept that and then look at it in a positive way. Once Saturday is out of the way it is a three-game season. Our record against the top seven this season has been pretty decent so we can take encouragement from that. We’ve also got players who’ve responded well in the bigger games also, so there’s a lot of reasons for us to be positive going into the play-offs. We have to embrace them and we’ve spoken at length this morning about that and understanding the prize at the end of them.”
Is it a concern that momentum isn't particularly with you right now?
“You can’t ignore the fact that you want to go into these games on the back of a good winning run, and you also can’t ignore the fact that this little stutter we’ve had has affected us in a really important part of the season. But it has been a bit of an anomaly in that their performances have actually been okay. If you break the game into segments and look at the chances we’ve created and the chances we’ve given up and asked someone to predict the results of the games based on that I don’t think they’d have said only two points. But that’s what we did and there can be no excuses of that, it’s just that there are good bits from that that we can take forward, and there’s also bits that we need to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch. We need to take chances at one end of the pitch and also ensure that at the other end, overall, our defensive performance are improved. They have in the last couple of games, but you’ve ultimately got to keep clean sheets. It sounds very simplistic, but if we get that little bit of right at both ends then we’ll turn these performances into wins.”
How have you approached the fans' reaction to the disappointment? Do you try and switch off from it?
“I’ve said all along that this job has big expectation pressure and I judge myself every single day with how I deal with that pressure. I know the reality of some of the things we’ve faced this season but I would use them to hide behind. People make their own judgements on what you do irrespective, so for me, every single day that I come in it is about preparing as diligently as I can for the next challenge that lies ahead. I will continue to do that for as long as I am the manager. I’ve got faith and belief in our group and that’s based on over the course of the season they’ve done a lot of good things. If they take those things into the play-offs then I believe we will be okay.”