Gillingham FC – A fan preview
Gillingham FC – A fan preview

Its been a major summer of upheaval at Gillingham Football club as Steve Evans has certainly made a statement with the signing of a brand new squad. Expectation levels have risen at Kent’s biggest club and KSN Gillingham reporter Lewis Browning provides the key talking points ahead of 2019/2020.

 

How would you sum up Gillingham’s close and pre-season business?

The main piece of business at the club has been a new management team. Steve Evans and Paul Raynor have been appointed manager and assistant manager respectively, replacing Steve Lovell, and they’ve wasted no time reshaping the squad.

The notable outs in terms of player personnel were Tomas Holy, our number one goalkeeper, who left for Ipswich and striker Tom Eaves, who signed for Hull. They will be big losses, but it was important to replace them and I believe, to an extent, we’ve done that.

The club have signed 11 players so far this summer: Jack Bonham, Lee Hodson, Alfie Jones, Connie Ogilvie, Ouss Cissé, Stuart O’Keefe, Matty Willock, Mikael Ndjoli, Mark Marshall, Mikael Mandron and Alex Jakubiak.

The side has new faces in almost every area, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. A shakeup was needed in midfield in particular, and the additions of O’Keefe, Cissé and Willock will help sure up that area. It’s great to get a couple of wide players in, too, in Ndjoli and Marshall.

 

What represents a realistic aim for Gillingham this season

It’s always hard to predict League One, but most of the squad and staff have been mentioning the play-offs, and I don’t see a reason why that isn’t realistic.

Evans has a great record in regards to promotions, and he won’t take any carriers. He’s going to make sure everyone is giving 100% every week and won’t settle for anything under par. 

If we can improve our home form and keep up the good away record from the last couple of years, and believe we can achieve something, I see no reason why we shouldn’t push on and be competing in that top 10 at least.

 

Star signing and why?

I’ll probably go with Stuart O’Keefe. He’s a tough tackling central midfielder who loves a good battle and a 50/50. I’ve gone with him as the star signing because that, and the role he plays, was something we really missed last season.

He’s got a good voice on him and has said a number of times he sees himself as a bit of a leader and likes to dictate. He’s also got Premier League experience with Crystal Palace which is handy.

 

If there is a cause for concern what might that be?

I think there a one or two causes for concern, the main and obvious one being trying to replace Tom Eaves’ goals. He scored 22 in all competitions last year, and replacing those won’t come easy. We’ve not necessarily signed a man who’s going to go and replace his goals directly, but I think we’ll aim to spread them out a big more rather than rely on one man.

The only other possible issue is with Evans’ temperament. He’s known for snapping a bit and having a big personality, but he’s been great with us so far. He’s admitted himself he intends to calm down – after he’s served his four game touch line ban from his previous job at Peterborough, of course.

 

Your personal prediction for the season

I think we’ll be challenging up the top end of the table. Maybe not necessarily in the top three or four, but the top 10 for sure. It would be nice to have a season where we don’t have to worry about the threat of relegation, and maybe have a sniff at a chance of finishing in the top six in the run in.


 
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