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Gills fans look forward to new season
Gills fans look forward to new season

The 2022/23 League Two campaign is fast approaching with pre-season in full swing for Gillingham and we’ve caught up with four fans to give us their views of the upcoming campaign.

Neil Harris has made eleven additions to his side so far, with more new faces expected in the building over the next few weeks. Harris stated that he needed to “get the blend right” between experience and youthfulness in the squad. We have seen this with the addition of experienced midfielder Shaun Williams, and younger players in Dom Jefferies and Elkan Baggott.

I asked Gills fans Dan, Harry, John and Evan a few questions to get their perspectives on the summer business and the upcoming season. 

How are you feeling right now ahead of the new season?

Dan: Overall, I am feeling quite confident. Throughout all the pre-season games, especially those at home, we have looked like a strong and competitive side. Obviously, there are still areas for improvement but as a whole, we are a strong band and as a fan I am very confident we will do well this campaign. 

Harry: I’m feeling quite optimistic ahead of the new season. Obviously following on from last season there was a lot of work to be done, in all areas of the club, and so far I feel like Gills have done well at fixing some of the problems we had. Neil Harris and his team, especially, have done well at building a group of players who seem to be able to compete at the top end of League Two.

John: I feel very confident ahead of the new season.

Evan: I’m feeling confident with the season starting shortly, however, I’d like to see us bring in 4 or 5 more players.

Which signing excites you the most and why?

Dan: There are a couple of signings that stand out to me. Seeing Mikael Mandron coming back will be an interesting watch, and hopefully, he will do better than he did in his previous spell. Elkan Baggott is possibly my one to watch this season. He hasn’t had much experience in first-team football, especially at football league level, so if he can perform then I think he will be a star at the back for us.

Harry: Jordan Green is probably the most exciting addition, in my opinion. After watching him in pre-season he seems to be a promising talent, and given his experience in many levels of the game, you would hope he can be a real asset to the team, going forward. I’m hoping he turns out like Jordan Graham!

John: Jordan Green because of his pace and technical ability. He looks so confident already. 

Evan: Jordan Green. I’ve watched him in pre-season and he looks like a player the opposition would need to look out for.

We have seen a lot of youth training and playing with the first team in pre-season, which ones have impressed you and who do you see being involved in Neil Harris’ plans for the forthcoming season?

Dan: The one that stands out to me the most is Matty MacArthur. He looks to be quite a reactive player and one that doesn’t shy away from a tackle. I would like to see him in and around the first team this season, however, with the number of central midfielders we have, it’s unlikely he’ll gain large amounts of game time and a loan spell may be best for him.

Harry: Joe Gbode and Matty MacArthur have impressed me so far, and I think that with Bailey Akehurst being in the team as well it will help them reach their potential. It will also be helpful to them to have Neil Harris as a manager, as he has previously expressed his desire to make our Academy as good as possible so that he can have players make the progression from the youth to the first-team. So I would say that Gbode and MacArthur both have good chances at making appearances this season…

John: Matty MacArthur looks like he could become a good player off the bench, and could thrive under Harris.

Evan: Joe Gbode certainly impressed me against Portsmouth.

Gillingham struggled for goals last season, especially at home. Harris has brought in Scott Kashket and Mikael Mandron so far – two players that can score goals at this level. How do you see them getting on?

Dan: As previously mentioned, Mikael Mandron will be looking to better his tally from last time out. I think he will be our main goalscorer this season, similarly to Tom Eaves and Vadaine Oliver in recent years. As for Kashket, I think he will be more of an assister rather than a goalscorer. His past records show us he most likely will be on the scoresheet regularly, but I can see him getting more assists especially if he’s used as a wider option.

Harry: I reckon Mandron and Kashket will both do well this season, with Mandron probably getting a few more goals than Kashket. But with the help of players like Lee, who is now playing in his preferred position, and Green, there is no reason why we can’t score lots of goals this season.

John: I really like Kashket and Mandron. I think they will do well in this league. I see Mandron hitting double figures this season.

Evan: I can see Mandron being our top goalscorer this season, with Kashket proving him.

Where do you think we need to improve on and/or off the pitch?

Dan: On the pitch, the main thing we need is another frontman. With Mandron as the only out-and-out first-team striker, we will definitely need someone like him on the roster as well, especially if Mika gets injured. As for off the field, I think making Priestfield a fortress and a tough place to come will be key. Obviously, this does tie in with the performances on the field, but the fans have to play their part in ensuring this too. 

Harry: There are a lot of areas of concern at the club, but since Harris has been appointed there has slowly been an improvement off the pitch. With season-ticket sales having already exceeded last season’s amount, this season should be an exciting year for the supporters. There are still a lot of things that have to be done, mainly by Scally, to get supporters further involved (and obviously investment) but we do seem to be heading in the right direction, which is hopefully a sign of good things to come. On the pitch though, we do still need about 4 players, and I have belief in the management team to be able to get 4 useful players.

John: We need to sign another starting keeper due to the injury of Maynard-Brewer. 

Evan: We definitely need a goalkeeper due to Maynard-Brewer potentially being sent back to Charlton. Another striker to link up with Mika is also needed.

Where do you realistically see us finishing this season?

Dan: With the squad we have, and the quality of our management, I think the play-offs are easily achievable. We know there are a number of quality teams in the division who will be up the top of the table, but I do think we have a fair chance of making the top 3. However, play-offs could be our goal at this stage. 

Harry: I would say we have a very good chance of getting to the playoffs this season. Realistically, top 3 would be a push, given our poor budget, but with the supporter’s help and the players carrying on in a promising fashion, there is no reason why we can’t get top 7 and hopefully be promoted!

John: I realistically see us finishing 7th.

Evan: I think we will finish 9th.

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.