The Insider: Signs of improvement as former Portsmouth captain Sol Campbell brings Southend to Fratton Park

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Southend Echo chief sports writer, Chris Phillips, gives the lowdown on Pompey’s next League One opponents Southend.

To say Southend’s start to the season has been disappointing would be an understatement.

It was the first time in the club’s history they started with six consecutive defeats.

There have been three different managers at this stage of the season already.

Gary Waddock took caretaker charge for a period after Kevin Bond left the club, before Pompey FA Cup-winning captain Sol Campbell took over.

It’s been a really tough start for him, with his first three matches against Ipswich, Sunderland and the Blues at Fratton Park.

Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell

The bar was set low by the start to the season, but the past two performances have provided encouragement.

Southend have conceded 44 goals in the league this season, which is the most of any team in the top four English divisions.

They’ve been so bad and Campbell has taken on what looks a really difficult job.

It’s going to take time for him to turn things around.

But they’ve have got better defensively in the two games in which Campbell has taken charge of.

Having said that, it’s going to be a tough ask to keep them in the division.

They’re going to have to produce something near play-off form if they are to get out of danger.

The only saving grace could come in the fact Bury have been expelled from the EFL and Bolton being deducted 12 points.

That could mean Southend might only have to overtake one team in order to stay up.

Although, most people will be expecting them to go down and it certainly looks that way.

But if that is the case, I don’t think it’s going to be because of Sol Campbell.

Given the way Southend performed at Sunderland last time out, they’ll head to Fratton Park with hope.

They had a lot of the play at the Stadium of Light, but did not really look like scoring.

You’d imagine Campbell’s message to his players will be to work hard, stay compact and try to frustrate Pompey.

The onus will be on the home side and everyone will be expecting them to win.

But Southend will be hoping to create some tension by getting things tight for as long as possible.