Henrik Larsson: Southend United talks over manager role collapse

Henrik Larsson
Henrik Larsson had been watching Southend from the stands this season

Former Celtic and Sweden striker Henrik Larsson will not be the new manager of League One strugglers Southend United.

Larsson, 48, had been in talks with the Shrimpers to take charge with former Celtic team-mates Johan Mjallby and Tommy Johnson as assistants.

But Johnson, who would have been head of recruitment, has accepted an alternative offer and discussions with all three have ended.

Southend are currently seven points adrift of safety in League One.

Chairman Ron Martin said all three were set to sign contracts at Roots Hall on Wednesday before Johnson pulled out.

Larsson had watched the Essex side at least twice and was understood to be one of five shortlisted candidates, which included Sol Campbell and caretaker manager Gary Waddock.

Southend have been without a permanent manager since Kevin Bond resigned on 6 September after six straight defeats.

"It was critical to the club that we had an individual, as part of that threesome, who was not only well known to Henrik and Johan but completely familiar with the English leagues. Including all the players from not just League One but the Championship and League Two also," Martin said in a statement.

"As a consequence of Tommy Johnson withdrawing, all discussions with Henrik Larsson and Johan Mjallby have, unfortunately, come to an end too.

"The club had identified other individuals in the run up to agreeing terms with Henrik and his proposed colleagues.

"Those parties remain on our radar and we will resurrect those discussions with every intention of appointing a permanent manager as soon as practically possible."

Analysis

Glenn Speller, BBC Essex sports editor

This will come as a huge blow to Southend chairman Ron Martin who had been negotiating intensely with Larsson and his backroom team and had invested a lot of time in the process.

Many Southend fans were concerned at his lack of experience in this country and particularly in the lower leagues so once Tommy Johnson pulled out, it looked like even more of a gamble.

The situation appears to be a mess now with Southend having been without a manager for 39 days during which time they have taken four points from a possible 18 under caretaker Gary Waddock as well as losing to Brighton's under-21s in the EFL Trophy.

Club legends Adam Barrett and Steve Tilson have been interviewed for the job and appear to be the only viable alternatives after Sol Campbell's interest in the position waned earlier this month.

But Barrett is also being talked about as Millwall's possible new boss where he is currently caretaker.

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