We survived… but there’s a HUGE job to be done

It all came down to Gillingham’s final game of the season and, while they went into the match with their destiny in their own hands, by the end of the match the players were huddled around a mobile phone desperately hoping Fleetwood would keep a clean sheet.

They did, and Gillingham survived.

The players huddle round Bradley Dack’s phone as they await the final whistle at Fleetwood

It was another nerve-shredding final day in the turbulent history of Gillingham Football Club, and one that nobody cares to repeat.

A turgid season that saw the team peak early, falter in the winter and collapse during the run-in ended with last-day survival as relief proved the overriding emotion after a campaign to forget.

Rarely have a pair of 0–0 draws in English football’s third tier produced such euphoria, but that was undoubtedly the case among the Gills faithful as the final whistle at Highbury confirmed the club’s survival in League One.

But now, mere hours after the aforementioned relief and euphoria have died down, the reality kicks back in. The unavoidable truth is Gillingham Football Club is a mess and change is not just needed, it’s absolutely critical.

Mark Byrne and Scott Wagstaff celebrate Gillingham’s survival

There are question marks, once again, over the chairman. Health issues have struck Paul Scally during the campaign and we hope that those issues are now under control. But from a footballing point of view, the club has been in a worrying state of regression that needs to be halted.

While the chairman is fighting battles (health- and business-related) off the pitch, the product on it has gone to the dogs. The squad Justin Edinburgh put together has proved — not just under Edinburgh, but under Adrian Pennock, too — to be sub-standard for this level. That urgently needs addressing.

Defensively, we’re lacking in leadership, organisation and even a reliable system. In midfield we desperately need a strong holding player to give the team some backbone in the centre of the pitch. And up front we need options to support the one striker of quality we have on our books — Cody McDonald.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has a huge rebuilding job on his hands

In short, next season’s manager (or head coach, whatever title you’d like them to have) has one hell of a rebuilding job on their hands. Most fans are realistic enough and knowledgable enough about our situation to know not to expect an instant fix overnight.

For the club to bounce back it needs to implement a process of change running over a number of seasons, but the most important decision now is the decision to start.


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