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Neil Harris’ barmy army – time to back him
Neil Harris’ barmy army – time to back him

10 days is a long time in football. When I wrote my last column, we’d just beaten Hartlepool and were on cloud nine having finally scored two goals in a league game. But we were cautious, and rightly so – it was ‘only’ Hartlepool.

Now, we’re even more excited. We’ve had a fan forum, two more players through the door and another three points on the board since.

The Galinsons took over just over a month ago and it’s truly staggering how far the club has come already in that time. Paul Scally, though unfortunately still around, is almost out of mind. The threat of relegation seems a distant memory. The future finally looks bright.

I’ll start with the forum last Thursday. I was really looking forward to it, and it delivered. We heard from Brad and Shannon Galinson, Paul Fisher, Andy Hessenthaler and Neil Harris.

They were positive, honest, and open – that’s all we’ve asked for for years, really.

Loads was answered about the state of the club and the team, and the fans learnt tons. The relationship between the club and the supporters is back already. It was less than a month ago fans sang ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ at Sutton. Now we’re taking 1200 to Colchester and probably around 1000 to Swindon. Fantastic stuff.

A video surfaced at the weekend of Neil Harris giving the fist pumps at the away end on Saturday. I wasn’t there, but I imagine it was great to be. It’s got me thinking a lot about Harris.

I was his biggest critic earlier this season. I knew he wasn’t the main reason we were bottom of the Football League – far from it. But scoring six goals in 22 games or whatever it was was inexcusable, no matter the hand he was dealt.

I thought it was strange he called out his players in the press repeatedly. I thought it was bizarre he didn’t acknowledge the support from fans, home nor away. I questioned his attitude on this very website.

But listening to him speak at the forum, he’s revitalised. He’s said it himself. He’s now got tools he can work with. Clearly this was the plan all along, to keep him in the job for when the change of ownership came.

I spoke to Neil after the forum, and he had time for everyone. My dad and I were the last to catch him, and we chatted briefly about the new era and the result against Hartlepool before shooting up into one of the offices.

He doesn’t do social media – but let’s give him a chance. He’s got pedigree. He’s got the CV.

In the two games he’s had players that can actually function, he’s got two wins and two clean sheets.

I still don’t really understand the clapping the fans thing – and I know some supporters couldn’t care less – but I, like others, am willing to look past that. Maybe I’ll even give him the benefit of the doubt that he called out his players in the press because there was nothing else he could do – a cry for help, if you like.

On paper, we have one of the best managers in the division. Give him the tools to show that, as we are, and we’ll be fine.

Word at the forum from Harris and Hess (for those that weren’t there, because apparently the replay hasn’t been uploaded properly…) was that they want four more in. A left-back, a centre-back, a winger and a striker.

We’ve not had any in since then but at the time of writing there are six days to go until the deadline. I’m sure we’ll get all four, but, if we don’t, a centre half and a striker will certainly come in, no doubt.

I’m not sure what the latest is but last week word on the street was that Conor Masterson was coming in from QPR. Harris confirmed himself at the forum that he was in talks, but, contrary to some interesting reports, that doesn’t appear to be done. He’d be a great signing.

We’ve been linked with almost every striker in English football, so it’s anyone’s guess which one will join. But, to be honest, I’m not sure anyone coming in now would be an immediate starter anyway.

We’ve had two 2-0 wins on the trot and Wright and Ehmer are looking solid at the back. Sure, Masterson would probably replace one eventually, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The main issue would be if one of them got injured.

Dave Tutonda has really come into his own at left-back. Again, eventually we’ll need better, but whoever came in now wouldn’t get in for Tutonda straight away.

Up top, Nichols and Hawkins look like a fantastic pairing and a forward coming in now wouldn’t displace them, while Alex MacDonald looks perfect for that right-midfield role – his crosses in the last couple of games have been top-notch.

The next week could be as good as the last. We could have four more new men in and another win secure, this time at Swindon.

It’ll be tough this weekend – harder than the last two – but get anything and we’ll go into a sold-out home game against Crawley full of confidence. Mind you, I’m sure we will anyway.

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.