It feels a bit like pre-season at the moment. A performance like yesterday – full of endeavour, but few chances – is encouraging but ultimately meaningless.

I like the FA Cup, but I can’t quite get my head around us giantkilling a team like Southend. Nor can I see us getting much out of the replay. Even the prospect of a third round tie against one of the big teams feels a little flat; with no hope of victory and even likely humiliation, I’m not really sure I can get excited by the prospect of going to the Emirates or Stamford Bridge. After all we have ‘done’ Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in recent years – each time with better teams.

That’s not to say yesterday wasn’t good. The work rate was great, it’s a wonder Clarke hasn’t been used before, the shape and pace is coming. There’s no doubt that Southend are a good team, but we matched them for long periods. If we can build during this mid-season pre-season of Cup, Trophy and Setanta Shield games maybe the season it still alive.

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