Paul Sturrock admits he is already planning for next season after seeing Southend fall off the play-off pace.
The Shrimpers have won just once in their last seven outings, a run which has seen them slip into the bottom half.
And although manager Sturrock has not written off promotion altogether, he is realistic about their chances.
"I think people must remember it's been a real rollercoaster ride for us this season and we've come a long way in a short space of time," he told the Echo.
"Progress has definitely been made but injuries haven't helped our cause recently and nor has not having a proper pre-season.
"We certainly won't be giving up on a top-seven finish and we will remain competitive in all of those matches, but I am already thinking about next year now."