All posts tagged 'Martin-Allen'

Has Scally's change of manager worked?

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, December 24 2013

Paul Scally’s decision to sack Martin Allen was a controversial one but is it looking like a wise one?

Allen’s replacement Peter Taylor has now been at the helm for 11 league games – the same number that his predecessor had.

The new manager had to work with a group of players drilled for 16 months to play a certain way, relying on power and pace, rather than players who may not be at ease playing the Taylor way.

Taylor may not have been able to get the team playing the kind of football he wants on a consistent basis but nobody can argue about the upturn in results.

After 11 league games at the start of the season under Allen, the Gills registered just a couple of wins, with an average of 0.82 points per game. Allen left the Gills sitting 16th in League 1 when he was fired following defeat at Shrewsbury.

Taylor brought in some new players but injuries have meant he has had to rely on youngsters Bradley Dack and Jake Hessenthaler to bring a bit of class to the team. And it seems to be working.

The pair have injected a fresh look to the team and that has been infectious.

Taylor’s 11 games in charge have produced five wins, nearly a sixth against Peterborough and five defeats, with an average points-per-game total of 1.45.

Is that because the opposition have been weaker or because Taylor has been able to get more out of this squad than Allen?

Taylor’s games have been against teams generally lower down the table. Allen’s 11 games have been against sides with an average position of 11th (going on current standings), while Taylor’s has been 15th. Not a lot in it really.

The win against a poor Sheffield United side has probably been the stand-out performance of the season and that was under Taylor’s watch. Allen would point to his team taking apart Crewe, winning 3-0.

What if the former manager had been given the funds to bring in four new players himself, like Taylor had? Would that have made the difference? He certainly needed extra in midfield, having missed out on several summer targets, including, apparently, John–Joe O’Toole.

Survival is the aim and on that score Taylor at least seems to be doing the business. And with injuries to most of his new signings, he has had to do it with Allen’s squad – minus the surely soon-to-be-departing Charlie.

Gills’ current position of 14th is as high as they have been all season and with 25 points already in the bag, the Blues are halfway to the magic 50, which should guarantee League 1 football next season. It would have done last season – just.

But on current form the Gills could end the season with 60 points – a tally which would have left them sitting 14th in last season’s table – which wouldn’t be too shabby at all. They haven’t finished a season that high since Ronnie Jepson led them to mid-table obscurity in 2006.   

There is certainly a lot more confidence in the team and in the stands at present but the festive season will be a great measure of just whether this team has progressed under Taylor. The top two teams in the division, Leyton Orient and Wolves, will both visit Priestfield.

Walsall are also in town and a trip to Stevenage won’t be easy.

Let’s hope the Gills can finally put on a decent show infront of the TV cameras for the Wolves game, which ends the busy period, and show everyone that things at Priestfield really are on the up.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Gills hoping change is for the better

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, October 17 2013

Changing the manager mid-season can often produce an instant impact but Paul Scally’s management changes haven’t always reaped rewards.

Martin Allen’s dismissal came about with the Gills on course for relegation. With just nine points coming from their opening 11 games the Gills chairman acted early.

Scally’s mid-season changes have gone wrong more times than right but at least new manager Peter Taylor has time on his side. He may be here on an interim basis but he remains odds-on to get the gig permanently, irrespective of results in the next few weeks.

Only a disastrous run of results will see Scally turn elsewhere. The Gills chairman may well be leafing through a few CVs but none are likely to better Taylor’s.

The managers from Scally’s early days, Tony Pulis and Taylor – during his first reign – both ended their spells at the end of a season – both following differing fortunes at Wembley.

Andy Hessenthaler – taking over from Taylor - may have guided the Gills to their highest position ever in their history but in 2004 his time was up. A 4-1 defeat at Crewe led to Hessenthaler’s departure, after the manager and chairman had a frank discussion about which direction the club were heading.

In came Stan Ternent and although the results improved, the situation didn’t. Hessenthaler had left the club sitting second from bottom, with 15 points from their opening 20 games, with their only wins coming against Leeds, Preston, Burnley and Wolves.

Ternent almost doubled the points-per-game ratio but too many draws proved costly. Many wished he had come in earlier, as the Gills dropped out of the Championship by the narrowest of margins. Just a single goal separated themselves from Crewe, who were safe.

Neale Cooper was next in the hot-seat, as Ternent returned back home up-north, following his first ever relegation. Cooper’s reign was short-lived and painful. An embarrassing FA Cup exit at Burscough was followed by a limp performance at Walsall and that was enough for Mr Scally to send the Scotsman packing.

Gills were sitting 21st in League 1 with 17 points from 17 games. This time around the new manager at the helm would have plenty of time to put things right. And no-nonsense Ronnie Jepson did just that. A six-game winning run towards the end of the season helped to keep the Gills comfortably safe from relegation, finishing 12 points clear of the drop, in 14th.

For Scally, it had turned into a shrewd move, although few chairmen would have kept Cooper in a job after a poor effort. Bad signings led to bad results and his hasty exit.

Jepson’s side finished the following season in 16th but Mr Scally was quick to act after a difficult start to the 2007/08 season. With five defeats from Gills’ opening six games, Jepson was gone. Gillingham were sitting third from bottom.

After a prolonged chase, Mark Stimson finally wriggled out of Stevenage and arrived at Gillingham at the start of November. Many of his trusted non-league stars followed him, creating a divide in the camp instantly. It also created a divide amongst the fans. Gills won just seven games that season under Stimson with the club getting relegated in the same position than which Jepson left – third from bottom.

So what now? Gills are sitting 17th and with just two wins behind them. Fortunately Taylor comes into a squad that seem united and up for the fight. It’s doubtful there will be many changes to personnel, although the football might change, with less long-ball and more freedom to express going forward.

Scally has acted early and few managers have as much experience as Taylor. There won’t be any more bold statements about smashing this, or smashing that. If the Gills are still sitting 17th at the end of the season, then it will be a change for the good.

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Categories: Gillingham FC | Gills

Unwanted record looms large

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, September 23 2013

This time last year I was flicking through the Definitive Gillingham FC stat book as Martin Allen’s League 2 team smashed a number of records.

One year on and they are on course to set a couple more, only this time nobody is boasting.

If the Gills don’t beat Crewe this coming Saturday then it will equal the club’s worse ever start to a Football League season.

Back in 1961, under Harry Barratt, the Gills lost eight and drew one of their opening nine Division 4 fixtures. They also lost 4-1 to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup.

Defensively they were woeful, conceding 94 goals. They ended the season fourth from bottom.

Gillingham are closing in on that unwanted record, but apart from the trip to Wolves, at least they have remained competitive.

Barratt’s side let in five at Crewe, five at Workington and three at Chesterfield, Rochdale and Stockport.

Only on one other occasion did the Gills start their league campaign so badly. That was back in 1903 with William Ironside Groombridge at the helm during the Southern League years.

This time around, Allen’s men have only once seen the opposition score more than a goal more than them, at Wolves. The rest have been pretty tight affairs.

It’s the reason so many fans are still backing Allen to turn it around.

What’s hindering him is a lack of funds. He has a paper-thin squad and little room to manoeuvre.

It will be a shame if this record-breaking team from last season set records of a completely different nature.

Allen has plenty of experience of managing teams at the wrong end and turning things around. He’s going to have to draw on all of his experiences to steer this campaign back onto the right road.

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Categories: Gillingham FC | Gills

Gills can't go it a-loan

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, August 5 2013
A glance at the back of Gillingham’s matchday programme on Saturday showed what sort of challenge the club face this season.
With the budget spent now must be the time to start calling in the favours and bringing in some loan talent.
Colchester showed on Saturday what a rich pool of talent there is in the Premier League and for many of those players League 1 is the release they need.
Playing reserve team football will be doing few favours for those lying on the fringes of a Premier League team. Academy matches fail to give them a taste of what life is like on a proper matchday.
At the end of August many Premier League players will have no choice but to head for the exit door if they want first team football.
Clubs must name their 25-man squad at the end of the current transfer window, which runs until August 31. After a brief lull the loan market opens.
Gillingham fans will no doubt be hoping some activity happens at Priestfield a little sooner than that.
Several top-flight clubs with vast squads, including Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool, have already started farming out their future talent.
Swindon have taken four from Spurs to boost their numbers.
Crewe have been boosted by the arrival of Arsenal’s young striker Chuks Aneke while Everton forward Conor McAleny has joined Brentford.
On Saturday there was a classy display in Colchester’s midfield from Craig Eastmond. Their best results last season came with him in the team, along with fellow Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt. Both have since signed permanently following their release in the summer.
Goalkeeper Sam Walker kept a clean sheet for the U’s at Priestfield. He is on loan from Chelsea, as is young back-up defender Daniel Pappoe.
Carlisle have loaned Manchester United defender Reece James, while Patrick Bamford is another Chelsea export, having returned to MK Dons, where last season he hit 14 goals.
Surely it’s time for the Gills to join the party.
And what’s the harm.
If they don’t work out, send them back. If they do work out, happy days.
Many of these Premier League teams will be happy to see their players in action and are unlikely to ask for much of a contribution financially. With the Gills’ geographical position they are within a train journey for players coming in from the capital.
Gills boss Martin Allen acknowledged he did need more additions at the weekend and that the loan market could be the answer. Matt Fish’s injury highlighted the lack of depth.
Allen is a well connected man and no doubt he has been busy on the phone since the weekend. Let’s hope he can wheel a bit of magic and bring in some new faces to boost that threadbare squad.

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Categories: Gillingham FC | Gills

Let's all enjoy the ride

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, April 11 2013


SATURDAY’S celebrations inside Priestfield are what makes it all worthwhile.
And 1,400 fans will be packed into Whaddon Road on Saturday hoping for an even more special occasion - with the League 2 title up for grabs.
I may not be a Gillingham fan as such, but having covered them home and away for the last seven years as part of a sports reporter for the KM, they are certainly a club I have a lot of time for.
So I was as pleased as anyone to see the Gills promoted back to League 1.
I certainly won’t miss some of the ropey League 2 reporting facilities on offer, with the likes of York City springing to mind.
Sheffield United, Coventry and even maybe the likes of Blackburn and Wolves could be on the fixture list next season.
This season must have cost the faithful Gills fans a massive amount, with some mammoth journeys. It makes the trip to Cheltenham this weekend seem like a local derby.
And it’s sure to have that feeling. 
Cheltenham fans may be keen to show Martin Allen their displeasure - having seen their club drop a league and head towards non-league football under his reign.
But I’m sure the 1,400 Gills fans will easily be able to drown out any negative sentiment coming from the home ranks.
It isn’t the first time that Allen has returned to Cheltenham as manager but he won’t have many happy memories from his last visit.
Allen’s Brentford team - with Stuart Nelson in goal - suffered a 5-0 defeat.
Nobody will be expecting the Gills to suffer such similar problems this weekend.
When I was younger I once read the book by Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch. It was all about his life following Arsenal. It earned rave reviews but I never got it.
He would get upset if the team didn’t get to Wembley or win the league. That’s not real football for me.
I once went from Lincoln to Colchester and saw us lose 7-1 and traveled all the way to Wigan’s old shambles of a ground for an LDV Cup game - or something similar. Missed the first half and saw us lose without a shot.
Gillingham fans have endured some torrid times themselves. Just mentioning ‘Accrington away’ will send a shudder through the spine.
But only when you have tasted the very worst can you appreciate the very best.
Football is all about the roller-coaster and there is no denying that being a Gillingham fan offers plenty of highs and lows.
When I saw Martin Allen this week in his office the phone was already buzzing with calls from football agents. The plan for League 1 is already underway.
And let’s hope now for many more highs than lows. The Gills fans have certainly deserved this moment.
Roll on Saturday.


Relaxed Gills could make for exciting finale

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, April 4 2013
If Monday’s game against Rotherham was anything to go by we could be in for some entertaining displays in the next few weeks.
The Gills went back to basics over the winter (the calender winter that is) and even the manager admits it wasn’t particularly pretty to watch.
But the Gills have ridden the storm and now at home they are playing far more relaxed football.
If you have sat anywhere near Martin Allen during a game he will probably shout the word relax at his players more than any other.
A relaxed Gills team is capable of playing some good entertaining stuff, just like we saw at the start of the season, with regular big wins on home soil.
And now that promotion is all-but sorted it could be time for the Gills to really start expressing themselves.
Chris Whelpdale looked the business going forward on Monday and big striker Danny Kedwell has been enjoying his extended run in the starting XI.
There was anxiety at Priestfield and maybe the mood in the stands has helped to de-stress the players. As the atmosphere has risen so has the players’ performance levels.
Big crowd are sure to accompany the Gills everywhere they go now and even the hardened moaners are running out of things to shout about.
With positive vibes on and off the pitch - stemming from a manager who has been ice cool throughout - we may well see the return of some big wins.
The Gills haven’t beaten a side by more than a goal since January 29 - 14 games ago. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a few sides get a thumping?
And no doubt Martin Allen would love nothing better than heading back to Cheltenham - a place where he has few happy memories from his management days - and secure promotion with a handsome win.
Four games left, four beatable teams, let’s hope the Gills finish the season off in style now and lift a Football League title for only the second time in the club’s history. If the positive and easy-going mood continues there is no reason why they can’t.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Title shot may be just the beginning for Gills

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, March 25 2013

Gillingham are in with a chance of claiming the League 2 title with five weeks of the season remaining.

But if they can hold onto top spot just which way will they turn.

Over the last 20 years the winners of the division’s basement division have gone in many different directions afterwards, from euphoric heights to catastrophic collapses.

Some of the winners of recent years have gone onto achieve great success, such as the winners in 2000, Swansea City.

A move into a new stadium coincided with bigger crowds and success on the pitch. Next season they will be playing European football after their Capital One Cup triumph over Bradford.

Twenty years ago it was their South Wales bitter rivals Cardiff City who were tasting the title champagne and it looks like the Premiership is within their sights now as they sit pretty at the top of the Championship table.

Wigan Athletic won that title four years after Cardiff, in a chase for honours that saw fellow Premier League side Fulham finish second.

Brighton have taken their time to reach their full potential - not helped by ground problems - but now in a new home they are chasing a play-off place in the Championship this season and building what is a solid club now at the AMEX.

But while there have been great success stories there have also been some clubs who have failed to make the most of their success.

Poor old Rushden & Diamonds won the league a decade ago but back-to-back relegations saw them drop into the Football Conference before they eventually folded under the weight of crippling debts.

Plymouth Argyle had won the title the year before Rushden and they too have suffered a tale of financial woes. Just two points separate them and the relegation places in League 2.

But for the majority of clubs who have won this League 2 title, they have at least held their own or gone onto bigger and better things.

Chesterfield came straight back down last season but few others have.

Of the last 20 title winners 12 (which includes two wins for Carlisle, in 1995 and 2006) are in League 1 and only two are playing in League 2.

Wigan and Swansea are having contrasting fortunes in the Premier League, while Cardiff and Brighton are both dreaming of reaching the top flight this season.

So for the Gills there is not just a title to aim for but much more. This could be the start of great times ahead. If Mr Scally can get his dream stadium as well, which will boost revenue and crowds, there is a fairly well trodden path to bigger and much better things ahead.

Now with six games left let’s hope the Gills can match what the team of ‘64 and take the title.

All-action fixture-list could benefit Gills

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, March 18 2013

THE LAST few weeks of the season often sees a number of dead-rubber fixtures that mean little to either team.

But the fact that there could be something riding on every Gillingham game from now to the end of the season may well benefit Martin Allen’s side.

The sticky moments this season have arisen when teams have sat back deep, settling for a point.

But with Gillingham’s last eight games being against either promotion hopefuls or relegation threatened teams, nobody will have the luxury of settling for a point.

At the business end points aren’t going to be any use to anyone. It means teams will have to play more open football and that could suit the Gills, as they make the most of that space, like they did at the start of the season.

The rollercoaster starts this Tuesday night when the Gills visit a Rochdale side still needing points to steer clear of an ever-gripping relegation tussle.

Rochdale sit just above a six-way scrap, where only one point separates all six teams.

From Tuesday on it really is make or break for those sides facing the Gills.

Accrington, who visit Priestfield on Saturday, sit bottom of the league at present, with the worst goal difference. Only wins now will save them.

At the end of March the Gills head to a Fleetwood side in the last chance saloon as they chase a play-off place. Draws won’t do for them either.

April begins with the visit of a Rotherham side who still harbour ambitions of gate-crashing the automatic promotion party. Their visit is followed by the arrival of a Torquay side plummeting headlong towards non-league football.

In the first half of the season Torquay were sitting on the edge of the play-offs but with just one win in 18 they are in a desperate state.

In mid-April the Gills head to Cheltenham, where their former boss Martin Allen is sure to come under fire, after a disappointing stint there. The Robins currently sit fourth and could sneak a place in the top three.

Wimbledon are the last team to visit Priestfield and unless they sustain their recent good form, they too could be needing points to keep clear of trouble.

The excitement ends on April 28 when Burton Albion host the Gills. Hopefully by then everything will be done and dusted for the Gills, but for Burton, they may well be looking to take an automatic promotion place alongside Allen’s men.

None of those sides should be sitting back and so hopefully that means the Gills will have space to attack and finish the season off in style, just like they started it.

Chasing teams eye up top spots

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, March 6 2013

GILLINGHAM and Port Vale have been left to their own devices in the battle for top spot but could all that be about to change?

With Port Vale stalling and Gillingham dropping vital points on home soil the door has been left ajar for others to join the party.

Rotherham look set to be the team best positioned to make a late charge with just a handful of weeks left between now and the season finale on April 27, but they are not alone.

The Millers are the form team, winning four of their last six, including a 4-0 win at Oxford on Tuesday night.

They could move to within a point of Port Vale if they win their game in hand over the long-time title challengers.

The last few weeks have been a massive disappointment for Vale, who have won just one of their last six, scoring just two goals in the process.

Even Tom Pope - with 27 goals so far - is struggling, as he hasn’t found the target in any of the last eight games. Is it any coincidence that his form has waned ever since the arrival of Lee Hughes.

If the results don’t turn quickly for Micky Adams’ side they may be finding themselves sucked into the play-off mix, as the likes of Exeter, Burton, Northampton and Cheltenham pull out all the stops for a late promotion push.

Cheltenham are unbeaten in six, with just one defeat in 12, but draws are slowing them down. A last minute win over Chesterfield in midweek leaves them in third but they have played more games than anyone else.

Nobody should take their eyes off Paul Tisdale’s Exeter side, who have quietly manoeuvred themselves into a good position. With four wins in five they are making up ground quick and could take over third spot with a win at Bristol Rovers on Wednesday night.

Exeter’s 3-0 win over Northampton on Saturday stopped another form team in their tracks. The Cobblers had been surging up the table before that heavy defeat.

Burton will be cursing themselves for losing so badly at Bristol Rovers, having won their previous four, netting 13 in the process.

Of the five teams below the Gills and Vale, in 30 games, there have been just three defeats between them, which highlights just what a concerted effort they are putting in.

The Gills’ form isn’t too shabby, with just one defeat in six, but any slip-ups and it seems that there are plenty of willing suitors to take over the mantle at the top.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Fresh faces make sense

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, February 21 2013

THE recent arrival of new faces was the breath of fresh air the Gills needed.

Michael Richardson and Ryan Williams may not be recognised names but their enthusiasm can be infectious.

The same can be said of Steven Gregory and Anton Robinson - two players itching to show what they can do after barely kicking a ball for their parent clubs this season before arriving at Priestfield.

Those arrivals coincided with the departure of the likes of Danny Jackman, Ben Strevens and Ross Flitney.

Not long before that, the Gills said goodbye to Lewis Montrose.

There is no doubting that these are good players but when good players don’t get games they get frustrated.

Just as that enthusiasm can give the team a lift, players who aren’t playing regularly and are down in the dumps can set in motion a wave of negativity.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just football.

Everyone wants to play and at this level sitting on the bench for some just isn’t an option.

For someone like Strevens he had to get games. In the summer his contract at the Gills was at an end and it was doubtful it was going to be extended.

So rather than join the mass summer cull, he’s gone early to make sure he has some money coming in from football next season.

The same has happened to Jackman, now playing regularly for a Kidderminster side who are flying in the Conference.

We have all seen what a quality player Jackman is, but if he’s not getting games then he’s going to start getting itchy feet. Does the Gills manager want a player in the squad who is unsettled or one who is young, fresh and full of beans?

The recent player changes may not have just been based on skill alone. Footballers want to play football and any footballer with a passion for the game will be annoyed when he doesn’t play.

That is not to say it’s what happened in this case but boss Martin Allen did admit himself it would be better for these players to leave for first team football.

So it was no surprise to see Gills boss let some good senior players go, to be replaced by youngsters who aren’t at the stage of their careers when they can be making any kind of demands.

It makes life off the field more harmonious and gives the likes of Strevens and Jackman the chance to start enjoying their football again.

The extra bonus is that a lot of these youngsters will be on a lot less money and if things don’t work out after 28 days they can be sent packing without any fuss.

Allen may not be finished in the transfer market this season. There is speculation he could make a loan offer to Sheffield Wednesday for young forward Harry Grant.

More youth, more enthusiasm and more energy helps keep everyone on their toes. It’s a mix that blends perfectly with the experience heads like Adam Barrett and Deon Burton.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

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