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Southend United sack their manager…and then invite him back for one last game

In a season full of managerial sackings, Vincent Ralph looks at the latest, which comes with a twist.

In what must surely be the strangest managerial sacking in a season full of them, Southend United have announced the departure of Paul Sturrock.

And yet, he will be back in two weeks to take charge of the side in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Crewe.

It has to be the nicest sacking in football history: a departure with the promise of an encore.

Reading yesterday’s club statement from Chairman Ron Martin, it is clear it was not a decision made lightly. But with Sturrock’s contract not being renewed in the summer, Martin has taken the decision to relieve him of his duties two months early, in the hope that the play-offs can still be reached.  Although currently ninth in League Two, they have some work to do to get there.

In what is quite a read, Martin’s statement speaks of what could have been had certain games been won. It is an exercise in hindsight that fans the world over do on a regular basis. But the truth is, two points from five matches against teams fighting relegation is poor for a team challenging (or at least aiming to challenge) for promotion.

Martin spoke of the need to appoint a new man now, in order to give him the best chance of hitting the ground running next season. That man has now been confirmed as former Hull boss Phil Brown. But come the Wembley final next month, for one day only, he will step aside and allow Sturrock to return.

The man who got them to the final will lead them out in it, take his seat on the bench and have his moment. And in such circumstances, few would bet against him winning a trophy for the team who sacked him a fortnight earlier.

They say football is a funny old game. But sometimes “funny” doesn’t quite do it justice.

What do you think of Sturrock returning for one game?  And how do you think Brown will do as Southend manager?

images: © harriyot, © harriyot

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