WISE men say only fools rush in, but Phil Brown’s most daring act of brinkmanship may yet be his finest hour.
Brown is the masked singer who burst into a chorus of Sloop John B when the best trip he’d ever been on kept Hull City in the Premier League on the final day of term in 2009.
And his public dressing down of the Tigers at half-time, after a supine collapse against Manchester City, remains one of the most desperate attempts by a manager to get a tune out of his players.
But at 61, Brown has put all his quavers, crotchets and minims on the line at Southend United – a club nicknamed the Shrimpers, where there’s one prawn every minute.
Five points adrift of the frontier between League Two’s foothills and non-League shadows, Brown dived in for his second coming on the Thames estuary with just six games to save them from relegation, cheerfully admitting: “People think I must be mad.”
Scratch beneath the surface, however, and Southend have re-hired a Milk Tray man whose reputation as a manager was built on defying the odds.
Six years ago, in his first spell in charge at Roots Hall, Brown was only 26 seconds from defeat against Wycombe when Joe Pigott’s last-ditch equaliser sent the League Two play-off final to penalties.
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