Beloved former Barcelona striker in running to become next Southend boss

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Henrik Larsson.

Southend chairman Ron Martin has revealed he will fly to Sweden on Tuesday to meet with Henrik Larsson, who is in the running to become the club’s next manager.

The former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United forward watched the Blues lose 1-0 at home to Accrington in League One on Saturday.

Larsson is not the only candidate to replace Kevin Bond – who resigned on September 6 – with current caretaker Gary Waddock still in Martin’s plans.

“We know the qualities within the manager that we are looking for but the combination of those characteristics or persons are not always available and its right we carry out, as we are, proper due diligence in arriving at the right choice,” Martin said.

“Henrik Larsson is obviously one of the individuals that we have been interviewing but he is not the only candidate and no decision has been made as I write this statement.

“I am going to Stockholm in the morning, back in the afternoon, to meet potential ‘back room staff’ but that’s it, gathering information. There are five shortlisted candidates and Gary Waddock is certainly included.

“It’s sometimes difficult for the assistant to step into the shoes of the manager but in this instance Gary has had very considerable experience and he is well-placed to stamp his authority.”

Martin, in a lengthy statement on the official club website, insisted he hopes to make a permanent appointment before Saturday’s match at Gillingham.

Bond took over from the sacked Chris Powell at the start of April and kept Southend up, but failed to win a single game in League One this season and walked away at the beginning of September.

Waddock led the Blues to an opening league victory of the term at MK Dons, but may still miss out on the job to Larsson, who was most recently manager of Helsingborg in Sweden.

Martin continued: “It’s my wish to get through this process this week but I have to be clear that in making that decision I have more than one eye on the future in my aspirations for our club.

“This has been a factor as to why I have looked further afield than some of the merry-go-round of English managers.

“I just want to assure supporters of the club that we are absolutely ‘on it’ and recognise the sooner we can galvanise the players, through stability, then the better off we will be and I am confident that results will improve.”

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde reacted after his team overcame the absence of Lionel Messi to beat Getafe 2-0 in La Liga on Saturday.

Luis Suarez scored off a long pass from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Junior Firpo added a second for the Catalans. They ended the weekend two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique demands unity on and off the pitch

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique demanded unity on and off the pitch after his side finally banished their away day demons with a 2-0 win at Getafe.

Goals from Luis Suarez and Junior Firpo ended a run of eight games without a win on their travels – and eased the pain in the wake of Barca’s worst La Liga start in 25 years.

Speaking to Spanish media, Pique said: “We need to be together – and when I say together, I mean the fans and the board too.

“We’re hoping that nobody tries to provoke battles that aren’t there, and which we don’t want. We need to keep the club united.”

Victory brought under-pressure Ernesto Valverde his second straight win after they ended their dismal run with a midweek triumph over Villarreal.

And Valverde admitted he was relieved to earn three points away from home for the first time this season.

Valverde told a press conference: “I think after recent results away from home we needed to win.

“It was a good away trip because we were asked a lot of questions and it was a tough game. I think we played well, we had chances and we were really solid.”

Meanwhile Valverde admitted there was some doubt over whether Ousmane Dembele will be ready for the midweek Champions League clash with Inter Milan.

Valverde said Dembele was left out of his line-up for Getafe as a precautionary measure after discussions with the forward.

Valverde added: “It was more of a precaution – he’s told me that he’s calm. We think it’s a little nuisance, but nothing serious.”

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