Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Gillingham have appointed Adrian Pennock as head coach once again, but this time he’s got backup, as former Gills boss Peter Taylor returns as Director of Football

It’s official. Adrian Pennock WILL continue as the head coach at Gillingham FC.

Club Statement

“Following meetings with chairman Paul Scally this afternoon, Gillingham Football Club can confirm that Ady Pennock will be continuing as head coach for the 2017/18 Sky Bet League One season.
“Furthermore, we are delighted to announce that Peter Taylor will be returning to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium as our new director of football. He will oversee recruitment and all footballing policy.
“The club will make further announcements in due course.”

The former defensive stalwart was roundly criticised at the end of the season for failing to steady the ship following Justin Edinburgh’s sacking, as the Gills managed to survive the drop on the final day.

Pennock was an emotional wreck after the Gills’ final-day survival, and spoke about some of the issues he’s had to deal with behind the scenes at the club.

At the time I read it as a manager who assumed he wouldn’t be getting another chance getting a few things off his chest, but doing so in a way that didn’t throw anyone under the bus, just in case he did get the gig.

Well, now he’s got the gig, the first task is to deal with those issues.

Some will be — and are already — upset by the appointment. After all, Pennock’s record as Gills boss isn’t one to write home about at all.

Just four wins from 21 competitive games and a win percentage of just 19.05% won’t fill anyone with confidence. So why has he been given the reins for the coming campaign?

He’s a man with a plan (literally)

Whoever else may have been in the picture, the one thing in Pennock’s favour would have been the fact that he’s been at the club over the past year and knows what he’s dealing with.

He’ll know where the deficiencies lie, where the club needs to strengthen and he’ll have ideas on how the club needs to be run.

Indeed, he said as much after the Northampton game, where he said the club needed structure and he’d drawn up a comprehensive plan that he’d present to Scally, saying he’d want the club to implement it in order for him to carry on. It wasn’t, he said, just a matter of being offered the job. The conditions had to be right.

Pennock spoke about the club lacking structure and there being poison in the dressing room. Maybe Scally appointing Pennock is recognition of those comments being accurate and showing a willingness to address them.

Let’s certainly hope so.

He’s got backup in the form of a former boss

Pennock isn’t jumping straight back in with no support. This time he’ll have a more experienced person above him that isn’t the chairman — and that’s a positive.

Peter Taylor was one of the most influential figures in Pennock’s career as a player, and even made him skipper at Wembley on the day the Gills won promotion to the championship.

He’s also been one of the club’s best managers having turned a big, strong, aggressive squad of players into a side that could play, too. He’s managed England (he gave David Beckham the captaincy) and was a hugely successful boss of the England Under-21s.

As a man who knows the ropes, knows the club and is connected in this part of the world, Taylor may just be the ideal foil for Pennock upstairs.

Only time will tell.

He clearly cares

There are some managers out there, and I’m sure you could think of a few names yourselves, who appear to be out there simply for a paycheque. They move from club to club, sometimes from rival club to rival club, and do their bit for a while before leaving.

Pennock’s definitely not in that category.

He’s a man who’s getting his first real shot of managing in the Football League at the club where he had the best years of his career as a player.

His tears after the Northampton game told us how much it means to him. The fact that he drew up his plans for the club even though most people wouldn’t have given him another shot said the same.

Fans want their team to play with passion, and they like to see passion in the dugout. Pennock might not stand there and berate his team and the officials with expletives like Tony Pulis did. But he was a Pulis signing, and worked with Pulis as one of his assistants at Stoke. He won’t be a soft touch.

And if you wanted someone who cares, then be happy, because that’s what we’ve got.

He’s (probably) cheap

It’s a vulgar topic to discuss, I know, but it’s definitely relevant. Gillingham Football Club isn’t awash with cash. Never has been. And appointing big-name managers just isn’t going to be in our wheelhouse when our managerial vacancy comes up. It just isn’t.

Pennock initially arrived from non-league, and is coming back for a second bite of the cherry after only just averting a footballing disaster — relegation — that he’d overseen us plummet into.

So, from a footballing perspective, he’s got a fair bit to prove and as such, he’s in no position to start asking for a significant improvement on what he was earning before.

The negotiations with Scally will more likely have been around being given the leeway and the funds to put his plans into place, rather than his own personal contract.

We can only hope that now he’s been appointed, he’s going to be given all the resources he needs to make his tenure a success.

Now it’s time to back him

I made no secret that I thought we needed a new man in charge. My biggest concern was the fact that, despite being a defender and a defensive leader for this club down the years, Pennock had failed to organise his back line.

But as far as I’m concerned, the time for criticism of last season has stopped. The debate over the managerial position is over. We have our man. Now we need to back him.

Pennock comes across as a genuine man, and one who clearly cares about our football club. He’s also been prepared to stand up and call out the club over some of the issues that he had to work around last season.

Now he’s been put in charge, I just hope the club does right by Pennock by backing his decisions and allowing him to address — and eradicate — the issues he’s hinted at.

If they do, we can expect a host of departures and arrivals as he looks to reshape the squad he inherited from Justin Edinburgh and turn it into HIS squad ahead of the coming campaign.

The first statement of intent may well be come in the form of the retained list, which will make for very interesting reading when it’s announced.

Now we know who’ll be in charge, I wish Pennock well, welcome Taylor back to the club and hope that together they can turn things around and help make watching the Gills fun again, just like they did in 2000.

But if I’m honest, I’m not holding my breath.


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