All posts tagged 'Paul-Scally'

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

Time ticking to secure Gills' star striker

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Friday, December 6 2013

The January sales are close and it’s not only eager shoppers looking to snap up a bargain.

It’s also the time that football clubs re-open for business and at the end of the year there will be some cut-price sales being done.

So is this the time for Gillingham to start thinking about rewarding Danny Kedwell with a new contract? He will be one of several Gills players out of contract in the summer.

Not many will have earned a new one but Kedwell certainly has. And if the Gills don’t want to risk losing their star man, they might have to act quickly.

Kedwell will want to stay with the Gills, without doubt, but can the club take a gamble when higher league outfits can start talks openly with the 10-goal striker in January?

Any manager with a struggling team will be scouring the markets for someone who can get them firing, whether that be in January or for the new season. Kedwell, with 10 goals this season and with a habit of scoring wherever he goes, could be an option.

His record of late will certainly have alerted clubs. Eight goals in his last 11 games is a record any striker, at any level, would be proud of.

This season could have been a tricky one for Kedwell, following the arrival of Cody McDonald and Adebayo Akinfenwa. That pair proved fruitful last time around but the Gills number 9 has left both in his shadow.

The club talisman has led from the front, with goals and attitude, and he’s also proved capable filling positions in midfield and defence.

If he continues as he is, there may not be a need for the end of season awards party, we may as well just hand them all over now.

But the last thing the Gills want is to go into the summer trying to compete with other clubs who wants Kedwell to play for them. As much as he is a Gills fan and loves the club, he is also ambitious, as anyone should be.

Finances may be tight at Gills but this is one player worth breaking the bank for.

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Categories: 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

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.

 

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.

Gills on course to smash record

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, January 16 2013

IF Saturday’s match gets the green light and avoids the frost it could end up being an historical occasion.

Amazingly the Gills have only ever hit double figures in away wins once before in their history,

That came back in the 1984/85 season under the management of Keith Peacock, where the Gills won 10 and lost 10, while drawing the other three of their away outings.

This season the Gills are already on the nine-win mark, with 10 games left to go, so it’s a near certainty that the record won’t just be beaten - it will be smashed!

That 2009/10 season under Mark Stimson now seems like a long way off, when the Gills failed to win a single game in the road.

So why so good away?

Key to the Gills success on their travels this season has been a solid defence, one that is able to soak up anything thrown at them.

The game at Southend was the perfect example of what’s been going right for the Gills away from home.

Home teams can pile the pressure on as much as they want but with a stone wall to get through, it’s brought in an abundance of points this season.

On the flip side to the Gills’ solid back-line is their ability to hit teams on the break - the old smash and grab routine.

The pace of Myles Weston upfront and those in support, like Whelpdale, Lee and Allen mean that those teams are being punished.

Quite often this season, and as shown in their last two away travels, they’ve got an early goal and teams have just been unable to find an answer back. Gillingham have conceded just nine goals on their travels so far - compared to 14 goals at Priestfield in the same number of games.

To have conceded two sloppy goals last weekend was quite a shock, particularly as winning balls in the air has been one of Gills’ strengths this season. Both goals originated from crosses that should have been defended better.

Rochdale are a team in despair and the Gills could really enjoy themselves if they get an early goal.

The talk from Spotland is that their manager is under a fair bit of pressure and it won’t take much for an already frustrated home crowd to turn against their team.

The covers are on at Rochdale and an army of volunteers are ready for remove the snow on Thursday and Friday. I was told by someone in their office the pitch underneath the covers is “ideal”.

It seems to be an ideal time to play a disheartened Rochdale team and if they do, don’t be surprised to see the Gills bounce back with a bumper win to equal that record set by Peacock and co.

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Categories: Gills | Government

Hectic day at Priestfield as Allen trims the fat

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, January 3 2013

IF you weren’t paying attention on Thursday you missed an awful lot.

Mid-season transfer windows usually come and go with precious little activity at Priestfield.

But the arrival of midfielder Steven Gregory on Wednesday, shortly after defender Leon Legge signed from Brentford, took Martin Allen’s squad size to 31 and something had to give.

Cue the departure of four players, the loan departure of one, with another likely to follow, and three heading for the exit door on potential free transfers.

And all this amid rumours of a major signing to bolster the strike force, even if the manager is staying pretty cool on the subject.

So if you weren’t paying attention, then here’s how we stand after a frantic start to the January transfer window.

Boss Martin Allen was hoping to bring in David Wright from Crystal Palace, on a permanent deal rather than a loan, but the Gills were unable to match the demands from the Championship club and so in came Steven Gregory.

He played in the same AFC Wimbledon team as Danny Kedwell as they returned the original Dons back to the Football League in 2011. Allen stepped up his interest in Gregory after sitting in the stands and watching Gregory captain Wimbledon (while there on loan) during their recent FA Cup game against bitter rivals MK Dons.

And the Gills didn’t even need to part with any cash after Gregory was released by Bournemouth on a free just before Christmas.

Allen saved his players from a miserable Christmas by choosing to wait until the festivities were over before delivering the news to those he felt were not going to make the grade.

Making it as a League 2 players is not enough anymore, as Allen said in Thursday’s press conference.

“Everyone that comes in has got to be able to challenge in League 1,” said the Gills boss.

“There is no point in bringing in squad players. Our young players are coming up to fill those gaps and what comes into the building now has got to be good enough to do it again next season and challenge at the top.

“We are not going there (League 1) to make the numbers up, we aren’t going up there to play around with relegation, we can go up there and smash it again; that’s what we are aiming to do.”

So Allen had the task of telling Tom Brunt, Jack Evans, George Humber and Alex Brown that their futures lie elsewhere. All were released.

“One of them (Tom Brunt) told me it was his birthday when he walked into the blinking office!” said Allen, who described the task as being a “horrible” experience.

Allen had bad news for some of his more experienced pros as well.

Striker Ben Strevens, keeper Ross Flitney and defender Connor Essam have all been made available for free, although all will remain Gills players and the door hasn’t been close on any.

Strevens has four strikers infront of him in the pecking order and, contrary to several rumours, all are set to see the season out for the Gills.

“Those four are staying right the way through to the end of the season,” said the Gills boss.

Flitney started the season injured and there is little chance of shifting Stuart Nelson from the number one spot. But even Allen admitted letting Essam go will be tough.

He knows the defender has massive potential and will slap in a 30% sell-on fee if anyone wants him. He is contracted to the Gills until 2015 and Allen said: “The door is not closed and I would be delighted if he forces his way in to be first choice.”

Two more players face time away from the Gills, but with differing reasons.

Bradley Dack is only 19 and has plenty of potential but Allen was keen to get him some game time so contacted Conference Premier side Braintree to see if they would take him. Their manager Alan Devonshire didn’t have to think long, especially as he has got him for virtually nothing.

And lastly, on a frantic day at Priestfield, it looks as though Lewis Montrose has played his last game for the Gills. His contract expires in the summer and he is set to join another club on loan until the end of the season. The deal has yet to be completed so Allen wanted to destination to remain quiet for now.

So that’s it for now, although those asking about Cody McDonald will be interested to here what Allen had to say, so here you go.

“I don’t really know Cody that well,” said Allen. “I know what a good footballer he is but I don’t know what his situation is at Coventry, I just don’t know.

“My priority has been to get a centre back in place of Tom Flanagan and my priority was to get a central midfield player in the position that David Wright was playing.

“It was like a new signing to give Adam Birchall his (league) debut at Southend. He is like having a new centre forward in so I am not banging Mr Scally’s door down to get a new centre forward.

“With regards to that player I am not specifically saying yes or no but what I will say is that I do ask Mr Scally about players and about how we can improve, what we can do to improve, who can we get to improve us, how much it will cost. When he says no I am fine, we just carry on working.”

It’s been a busy start to the January transfer window and it wouldn’t be a shock if we see a little more action before the end of the month.

January transfers should give Gills final push

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, December 18 2012

THE points total may have slowed down a bit for Gills in recent weeks but with January looming things are surely only going to get better.

There is no question over how much the Gills have missed the presence of David Wright as a calming influence at the back and no doubt he’ll be number one on Martin Allen’s hit list.

The defensive midfielder hasn’t played for Crystal Palace since ending his initial loan spell at the club.

Hopefully when the transfer window opens the Gills and Palace can pick up where they left off with the paperwork and complete a deal that wasn’t done in time when the previous window shut.

Apart from the 2-1 home defeat to Rochdale, the Gills were a tough nut to crack with Wright in the team, conceding just three goals in the seven games he played and winning most of them.

Tom Flanagan is another miss. The Gills have some talented youngsters at the back, in Connor Essam, Callum Davies and now Devante McKain, but Flanagan has something the rest didn’t - experience.

It was such a shame to see him pick up an injury just days after celebrating making his international bow for Northern Ireland’s under-21 side.

Another loan defender with a bit of pace and experience will be a valuable addition to the squad. That’s not to say Davies and co can’t do a job if a newcomer doesn’t arrive.

Perhaps a back-up for Myles Weston wouldn’t harm either. He has been a fantastic free transfer signing for the club but there are few others on the books with his pace and direct approach in attack.

Could Allen also be looking at a back-up in the full-back department. Both Matt Fish and Joe Martin are on four bookings - so likely to face a ban soon - and a versatile and experienced player to rampage up and down the wing wouldn’t be a bad move.

Whatever Martin’s plans, January looks like being an exciting time for the Gills fans. Hopefully the extra players coming in will give them that push to take them up as champions. And to think some people STILL moan!

The Gills seem to have money to burn, now chairman Paul Scally and his fellow directors have wiped out the bank loan that had been like a noose on the club’s neck.

Let’s not pretend the debt has disappeared. Mr Anderson and the fellow directors will want their money back at some point, but better them than owed to a bank who could call in the debt at any time.

The money generated from Matt Jarvis, Paulo Gazzaniga, Luke Rooney and Ryan Bertrand will have given the balance sheet a much better look and helped pay off some of those loans. Maybe it means that stadium move - designed to help wipe the debt clean and generate money away from 3pm on a Saturday - can wait a little longer.

Things are certainly looking good for the Gills, with a man in charge that is desperate for that first promotion and title win on his CV. 

Saturday’s attendance showed that the fan-base is still there so let’s hope the second half of the season sees the Gills push on and make this season an historic one.

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Categories: Gills | Government

England line up compulsive viewing for Gills fans

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, March 22 2011

Gillingham fans will have more reason than normal to tune in for England’s European Championship qualifier against Wales on Saturday.

The call-up of former Gills youngster Matt Jarvis to Fabio Capello’s England team has been a hot topic this week, and with Gillingham’s game at Cheltenham taking place on Sunday, there could be a bumper audience from Kent watching the match.

Not only could there be a full international debut for Jarvis but another Gills product, Andrew Crofts, will also be involved after winning a regular place back in the Wales set-up.

Both players may have to settle for a place on the bench but an appearance from either will be warmly received in Kent.

And if the Gills did their haggling wisely when Jarvis departed for Wolves there could be some money in it as well. The fee wasn’t disclosed at the time, when Jarvis moved on, although speculation puts it at around £600,000 and the Gills did pocket some cash when Wolves were promoted to the Premier League.

Shortly before the Gills negotiated a settlement for Jarvis in the summer of 2007, chairman Paul Scally declared, "I believe he’ll play for England within the next three or four years."

His vision could be proved correct.

Jarvis at the time was heading for the Championship and soon made a name for himself with the club, helping them to achieve promotion to the top flight in 2009.

Gillingham fans will remember the many times Jarvis had them off their seat, while bombing down the left flank, sending numerous full-backs into meltdown.

There were times when the final ball or shot lacked quality but others when he raised the roof by finishing off a burst of speed with a goal. With quality coaching he has developed what was obvious raw quality into a polished Premier League performer.

I just can’t understand why he wasn’t called up sooner. England have been crying out for a decent left sided player - a proper winger - with natural pace for as long as I can remember.

Jarvis quickly established himself in the Premier League and there is no reason why he can’t do the same at international level. Let’s hope that is the case.

Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler recently said their current academy player Ashley Miller is showing more promise than Jarvis did in his youth so at least it looks as though the production line at Priestfield is still fit and well.

 

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills | Sport

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