A NEW television show will see former Wales and Liverpool striker Dean Saunders trying to revive Southend Manor’s under 18 side.
As part of a series produced by former Soccer AM star ‘Rocket’ for Mola TV, Saunders watched Manor in action before taking them for three training sessions at Southchurch Park.
The TalkSport pundit then also took charge of the youngsters for a match at Garon Park on Sunday.
And Saunders told Echosport it had been an enjoyable experience.
“It’s been excellent,” said Saunders.
“When we came to watch them play they got beaten 8-0 and it could’ve 15-0 to be honest.
“They were a bit disjointed and doing their own thing and I had a week to turn them around.
“It’s a bit like Gordon Ramsey really but I was trying to sort out a football team rather than a restaurant and I’m really pleased with how they did.”
Manor were narrowly beaten 2-1 against Brantham Athletic but Saunders felt it had been an improved performance.
“We lost the game in the last minute but coming back from 1-0 down pleased me,” said Saunders.
“I told them if that happened not to let their heads drop but I really hope they can carry on with the improvements we’ve made.
“Rocket tries to make it fun and they’ve got my face on their shirts but it makes me look like David Brent.
“I hope they’ve learnt something but I’m gutted they’ve lost because they played so well.
“They have a good team there now and I hope they do alright.
“I’ll definitely come back and will try and follow their progress.”
But it was not just Manor which caught Saunders’ eye during his stay by the seaside.
“I have to say Southend is lovely,” said Saunders.
“I stayed at the Seven Hotel, I played golf at Thorpe Hall who made me very welcome, the beach is lovely, I’ve been to the casino and up and down the high-street too.
“ I’ve liked it a lot but I think I’ve come at the right time because it’s been boiling.”
Saunders was joined at Garon Park by ‘Rocket’. And he was delighted to have been able to help Manor as part of the forthcoming series which will be aired later in the year.
“We will have been to six teams by the time we’re done but we chose Southend Manor because they finished bottom and the team had disbanded basically,” said Rocket.
“They only had six or seven lads from the season before and we wanted to help try and save the team from collapsing.
“Every team gets two sessions with Dean but this was the only group we felt needed a third and it’s gone really well.
“The boys are enjoying it and Dean is working his magic.”
Manor will now be looking to push on during the season ahead. And the club’s head of youth Dave Creevy was delighted to have the help of Saunders.
“Dean has done a few training sessions and it’s been fantastic for us as a club to have him here,” said Creevy.
“We didn’t do too well last season so Dean said he would come in and improve them.
“I don’t think they won a game last season so it was a tough time but hopefully this season will be better.”