Progress report: How are the Gills doing 10 games in?
*This article is from the 18/19 season
10 league games into their season and going into this weekend’s clash against top of the table Portsmouth, The Gills start to the season hasn’t quite gone to plan.
Neil Klee, chairman of the Gillingham Independent Supporters Club, was one of many hoping for big things from the Gills this season. “I had hoped that we would be challenging for a play-off place, I felt that the signs from the end of last season gave hope for this.”
The early signs were positive for the Gills, winning their first two league games of the season against Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion. The fans were also optimistic after what was considered a fairly successful summer.
“I thought we did some solid business, a mixture of experience and promising youth. Keeping Zakuani and Byrne was key as was the permanent signing of Reilly. Young players in Rees, Hanlon and Cook look exciting” said Dave Miller from Gills in the Blood TV.
However, whilst their summer business was decent it wasn’t perfect. “I always thought we needed to strengthen the striker role with a proven goal scorer, albeit someone who may have cost the club a little more at the outset.” Said Klee when assessing the summers transfer dealings.
One criticism a growing number of fans are levying at the club is a lack of investment from the board. The clubs media team released a statement saying: “Paul Scally and the rest of the board hold the teams best interests in their hearts and will continue to try their hardest in taking the team forward into the future.”
Last season Steve Lovell’s men were incisive, causing teams trouble on the break however this year they’ve gone more direct with the wingbacks pushing forward to support the attack. However, this has left the team vulnerable at the back with heavy losses against Peterborough, Rochdale and Sunderland.
Klee feels that the team should instead switch to three at the back to shore things up. “We play with attacking wing backs leaving just two centre backs to defend which just doesn’t work. The expectation that the wing backs should be part of the attack depends on having three centre backs and the wing back having really good engines”
Furthermore, fans are divided on whether Lovell, a Gills hero in his playing days, is the right man to take the club forward following the Gills dreadful run of form, but Miller believes that he at least deserves a shot at trying to turn the club’s fortunes around
“I was one who felt his appointment was a mistake and we needed an experienced manager but Lovell was fantastic last season and deserves time this season. Long term I am not convinced, but he has earned the opportunity to prove he is the right man.”
Struggling for form the team is in desperate need of some confidence and composure, with Klee and Miller both in agreement that the club should stick to a single shape and get back to basics going in to this weekend’s game against Pompey.
Going forward the club will be relying on giant goalie Thomas Holy, who despite the number of goals conceded has been solid for Gillingham this season, and at the other end of the pitch more goals from Tom Eaves will be vital to their season. The fans will also be encouraged by the performance of young guns Rees, Hanlon and Cook.
Miller and Klee both feel the Gills have the grit and guts to avoid the drop and push up higher up the table, and mount a late promotion push similar to last season, however it looks more likely that they’ll end the season comfortable in mid-table with the hopes of mounting a promotion push next season.