KSN are proud to support:

Harris keen to get first win
Harris keen to get first win

Gillingham manager Neil Harris is desperate to get that first win of the season as Rochdale come to Kent on Saturday.

The Gills boss returns to the dugout this weekend after serving a carried over touchline ban from last season after spending last weekend’s defeat at Wimbledon watching from the stands.

“I didn’t enjoy it!” Harris admitted. “Seven and a half years into the job and I need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s a different view and it was “nice” to watch from a learning perspective of the team from high up. But not being able to feel like you’ve made an impact and be heard from the side-lines, it was frustrating to say the least!”

“When I got back on the bus after all the post-match stuff and sat down with a cup of coffee to reflect on it, someone said to me, “that was positive with nine debuts!” I, along with the fans, think that’s what pre-season is for, to bed them in. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple as it doesn’t work like that. It was one game – a very tough start – but I learned a hell of a lot.”

“Sometimes you learn more from the negatives than the positives – not just from the mistakes that led to goals, but the reaction of players and that’s the sort of thing that you don’t find out in pre-season.”

Gills start the new home season with the Priestfield faithful praying for a better return than the mere thirteen League goals scored by the home side in front of them last season. “That was last season and it’s gone,” th manager told us.

“I understand the thought process restarts at the start of the season, but we cannot look back at last season as there are so many new faces and so many new personalities in the dressing room. We have to look at what’s here and now – we try and learn from previous experiences but as in any football club, it’s a new dawn!”

“We might score five on Saturday, but we might not score in the first three or four League games – what we have to be over the course of the season is to be better than we were last season. I have to drag this football club forward and I have to move this group of players forward.”

“Ultimately last year was a failure! We want a successful season but how do you measure that? That’s opinion – for me, this season is trying to build a football club, trying to build stability long term and trying to find a group of players who play how I want them to play and develop that group all the time – whether that’s with individuals or with personnel.”

“Last year has gone and it’s all about this season!”

The Gillingham faithful seem to be backing the man who nearly saved the Club last season, but Harris isn’t surprised by the backing. He told us, “It doesn’t surprise as Gillingham fans support their football club. And that’s what they’ve done. If they’re unhappy with something about the Football Club, they will always support the players – if they’re unhappy with the Council, the Chairman, the Manager, the FA or whatever, they will always support the players.”

“So, to see so many of them buy their season tickets in numbers, doesn’t surprise me at all, and to make it very clear, I don’t take it for granted and am thankful to all of them for doing it. We got relegated, it’s finished, we have to make change and that can be positive whether… I want us to be top of the League on Day One but 99.5 percent of our very sensible fanbase understand that with nine new signings in the team – with hopefully at least a couple more to come – it will take a bit of time. But we will get there.”

“So going into the weekend and the first home game of a new season, of course theres a little bit of excitement there. There were 1,200 supporters at Wimbledon last week wanting to see a win in the first game – didn’t quite happen and so we move onto this week and it’s down to us to try and get a positive result.”

“But we will be like that for a period of time – bumps in the road – but I think the fans and you are honestly excited to see how this group of players come together!”

Harris confirmed that Alex MacDonald’s recovery from his long-term injury is continuing nicely and he may be involved against Rochdale, but for Skipper Stuart O’Keefe this weekend may come too early for his return.