Southend sacked former Sheffield Wednesday manager Paul Sturrock yesterday and promised to unveil his replacement today but, in a bizarre twist, the Scot will return to take charge of their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final clash at Wembley.
Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin issued a long statement on the club’s website in which he stated that Sturrock, whose three-year contract was due to expire in the summer, would be axed with immediate effect, yet - as a “privilege” - he would come back to lead the side against Crewe on April 7.
Southend lie only two places outside the League Two play-off places, although they have taken just five points from the last available 18. Martin claimed promotion was imperative, also suggesting personal sentiment had led him to ask Sturrock to take charge on a one-game basis at Wembley.
The statement read: “The club will not be renewing Paul’s contract at the end of this season and will appoint a new manager tomorrow to ensure the club’s interests are protected and advanced both now and from the first day of next season.”
After being relegated in 2010, Sturrock was hired with the task of leading Southend back into League One and went close to fulfilling that goal last year when they were beaten in the play-offs by Crewe. Their chances of promotion this year are evaporating with just seven games remaining, and Martin expressed his disappointment at recent results against “relatively low league teams”.
The curious element to Sturrock’s dismissal remains the decision for him to lead the club at Wembley in just 14 days’ time - particularly with the new manager’s appointment imminent.
Martin added: “They say ‘there is no sentiment in football’, I do not agree. We are all human and have to understand the emotions influenced by our decisions. The decisions here are, as I say at the beginning of this statement, driven by the wider interests of Southend United, it’s success and growth, whilst remaining conscious of what is fair and just.
“These may not be sentiments common to football but it is the way I want this club to be run. For all these reasons I have suggested to Paul he leads the team out and manages them at Wembley. He has earned that privilege and agreed.”