Adrian Pennock for another season? Sorry, but no thanks
Adrian Pennock will remain a cult hero among Gills fans as one of Peter Taylor’s famed ‘Eggers’ during the club’s glorious promotion season of 1999/2000.
But, according to fans voting on our Twitter poll this week, the man who captained the team at Wembley in 2000 is NOT the man to lead the club into the 2017/18 campaign.
Sadly, I agree with them.
More than three quarters of the fans who voted said they wouldn’t give Pennock a new deal, with 24% saying they’d give him a contract and a chance to rebuild for the coming campaign.
Pennock joined the club from Bournemouth for £25,000 as one of Tony Pulis’ key signings and went on to become a cornerstone of a defensive unit that fought tooth and nail to reach back-to-back Wembley playoff finals in 1999 (under Pulis) and 2000 (under Taylor).
The genial centre half who ‘only scores own goals’ was a terrace favourite with the Rainham End contingent and went on to make 168 league appearances for the club before departing in 2003 to join Gravesend & Northfleet.
His return to the club as manager wasn’t the fairytale he and the fans were hoping for, and now it seems the overriding belief is Gillingham need to look elsewhere for their team leader for the coming campaign.
His post-match interview on BBC Radio Kent in Northampton suggested he was battling a plethora of obstacles and issues behind the scenes during the season, but his failure to better organise the side following Justin Edinburgh’s departure has clearly left the fans thinking there are better options out there.
Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie. After taking over with just under half the season to go Gillingham didn’t improve, they regressed.
As one of Gillingham’s most fondly-remembered defenders of the last 30 years, Pennock’s failure to organise Gillingham’s defence stands out as the major black mark against his managerial time at the club.
Sure, he’s gone on record saying he told the chairman they needed to sign defenders, but as a gaffer you still have to work with what you have and, from an organisational and positional standpoint, Gillingham’s defence was all over the place.
Too many points were routinely thrown away in the dying embers of games, with Gillingham losing a colossal 10 points in stoppage time throughout the campaign — a trend Pennock was seemingly powerless to stop. Four times it happened under Edinburgh this season, and it happened four times under Pennock, too.
In short, the improvement demanded when Scally sacked Edinburgh simply hasn’t been there under Pennock. In 21 games, Pennock’s side managed to register just ONE clean sheet, and that came in the final game of the season at Northampton.
We can only count ourselves extremely lucky that our defensive frailty wasn’t punished with relegation to League Two.
To me, Pennock will always be one of the men who helped bring me the most enjoyable years I’ve spent watching the Gills.
He was the wise-cracking, flaxen-haired stopper who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time during his playing career at Priestfield.
It’s sad to say, but unfortunately as a manager/head coach, it looks very much as if he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He comes across as decent man and if he stays he’ll get my support but, from a cold-hearted footballing perspective, it’s hard not to agree with the majority in our poll above.