FLEETWOOD Town boss Graham Alexander believes there’s more to come from his side after drawing a blank in his first game in charge, writes Rob Stocks.
Both sides created plenty of chances but converted none – Alexander’s Highbury bow ending an exciting but fruitless 0-0 draw.
But the new Town boss was pleased with the endeavour of his team and excited about the future.
He said: “I’m a pretty positive guy, in our first game I wasn’t expecting miracles.
“I’ve only had one hour of training input.
“But there’s plenty of ability in that dressing room which is really pleasing and that is the positive for me.
“I could see the lads wanting to play and see their determination in training and that is a great base to build from.”
He was particularly pleased with the way Fleetwood picked themselves up after a slow start, first half substitute Jamie Milligan (right) singled out for particular praise.
Alexander said: “There are things to improve on and things that please us but I can’t fault the lads’ commitment to the game and to the team.
“They put their bodies on the line in the box when they needed to because we were put under pressure from Southend.
“The first half was quite frustrating, I though Southend were probably the better team.
“The introduction of Jamie Milligan got us passing a little bit more, he was finding good little pockets and I thought it gave the team a lift.
“I’m pleased with the point and a clean sheet against a good team.
“We were put under the cosh, Southend are an experienced side.
“They put good balls and dangerous balls into the box and I thought the back four and the goalkeeper stood up to the test.”
As his side found more width they were able to get behind Southend creating problems for Paul Sturrock’s side, who are unbeaten in 10.
“There were definitely chances,” said Alexander.
“Second half I thought we created a few good opportunities.
“We found a lot more width and that helped us a lot.
“First half we played into their hands, they wanted to stay compact and we allowed them to do that.
“Second half we were a lot wider and that helped us try and create opportunities.”
Town started with two men up front, a chance from Micky Mellon’s 4-5-1 formation which had been the mainstay of Fleetwood’s Football League campaign.
Alexander said the shape had been decided early on in team selection.
He said: “We all sat down together after training, the four of us and had a general discussion.
“We put down a shape which we wanted to play and then went through the players we thought could carry that out the best.”
And the new manager was already thinking ahead – considering ways to get more out of his players.
He said: “We want a competitive squad.
“It’s all right having an abundance of players but if they’re not competitive and tight with each other during the week you get a bit of slackness.
“We’re trying to make this squad tighter and more competitive so everyone believes from Monday to Friday if they train hard enough and show the right attitude and ability they’ve got a chance to play on Saturday.
“That will only help push them along and reach even greater heights.”
One thing Alexander admitted had been difficult was watching from the touchline after more than 1,000 professional games as a player.
He said: “Even as a player you can only influence one part of the game because you’re one player in 22.
“But I’ll admit, it was hard to keep still.
“The fourth official kept pulling me back thinking I was trying to get on the pitch.
“I was so involved and I want the lads to do well and I want to be a twelfth man for them.
“They were backed through the whole game today – the fans were terrific, supporting the lads all the way through.”