What next? Gills put Pennock to paper

Tom Jasper takes a look at what Adrian Pennock’s return as head coach might mean for the existing squad members

So at 5:30pm on Monday, Gillingham announced that Adrian Pennock will remain as head coach with the support of Peter Taylor. Some fans are outraged, some like me will say they simply saw it coming.

To be honest, it’s a very underwhelming and concerning move….but it’s probably all we can afford. Now we have our future (somewhat) sorted, I’m here to take a look at the effect it will have on the current playing staff.

Goalkeepers

Stuart Nelson, Tomas Holy and Tom Hadler

Nelson is guaranteed here for at least another season, but whether that’s as a Number 1 remains to be seen. Pennock says he wants players who are up for the fight and this was proved by bringing ‘Nels’ back in at Northampton.

However, Holy was his first signing and it’s still unsure whether he fully trusts his services or whether he sees him as a long-term solution. We’ll get a much better idea about Pennock’s youth policy based on what happens to Hadler.

What do I think?

For me, Nelson has to be number one. Holy needs time to adjust and will probably prove to be a decent understudy. I would like to see young players being brought through because frankly there’s not enough of our young lads making the break, Hadler will need a decent loan spell.

Defenders

Ryan Jackson, Bradley Garmston, Chris Herd, Max Ehmer, Deji Oshilaja, Mitchell Dickenson, Finn O’Mara, Zesh Rehman

With at least three of the above extremely injury-prone (no surprise if some of the physio-related horror stories are to be believed) it will be an interesting summer for recruitment in the defensive positions, which of course will mainly depend on the formation he chooses to play.

As it stands we are unsure if Deji Oshilaja will return for a third spell at the club or whether Pennock may decide to go another way.

My feelings are he will seek to offer another cost-saving deal for Zesh Rehman, as another one of his signings during the most recent season.

What do I think?

As stated above it’s all down to how he decides to line up. Jackson, Herd, Dickenson and Rehman are out of contract and I’m happy for at least the first two to leave. However I can see Jackson being offered a short term deal on the back of a better fitness regime.

Midfielders

Scott Wagstaff, Jake Hessenthaler, Billy Knott, Lee Martin, Aaron Morris, Emmanuel Osadebe, Darren Oldaker, Elliott List, Bradley Dack, Bradley Stevenson, Oliver Muldoon, Mark Byrne, Josh Wright

Frankly, the number of different midfielders we played with last season was laughable and in many different systems too. We can name at least 3-4 players in that list there who unfortunately found themselves in the “square pegs round holes” category, so again it’ll depend on the favoured system.

If the rumours are to believed, we could have seen the last of Bradley Dack (likely) and Josh Wright (less likely) in a Gills shirt, as well as there being players there either wildly in or wildly out of Pennock’s favour.

What is clear is that the midfield needs grit, personality and the ability to battle. We might be destined to offload the very players who could do just that.

What do I think?

I think a minor miracle will keep Bradley Dack at the club and his creativity will be extremely hard to replace. Not many midfielders in our league had form going into the end of season like Josh Wright so he may be on the radar of other clubs. Aaron Morris and Lee Martin I feel will relish full seasons under their belts. On the other end of the scale, I firmly believe that all of Billy Knott, Emmanuel Osadebe and Darren Oldaker have played their last games for the club, whilst I hope and pray that Oliver Muldoon has.

Strikers

Rory Donnelly, Cody McDonald, Joe Quigley, Josh Parker, Greg Cundle, Noel Mbo

Very sparse striking options especially seeing as we’re almost certain not to retain Donnelly’s contract based on recent indiscretions, kept under wraps by the club but confirmed as “not a footballing matter” — there’s already been too many of THOSE since January.

For me, the biggest indicator of what Pennock will be all about is the decision made on Cody McDonald. The club loves him and he clearly loves the club and is by far and away the best striker we have; out of contract and hopefully retained and partnered with somebody consistently.

Josh Parker is another of Pennock’s signings who may be given a new lease of life and there are early rumours that Quigley remains under surveillance having already had two loan spells.

Youngsters Greg Cundle and Noel Mbo have been in and around the squad and it may be make-or-break seasons for them as far as their development is concerned.

What do I think?

Keep Cody. Give him a strike partner and the armband. The most direct I’ve been so far but the most passionate I am about any of our current crop being awarded new deals.

Recruitment will again be key however signing a proven goal-getter at any level will be very tricky without the funds to do so. My solution? A target man to play alongside Cody will be far easier to find, hopefully with Peter Taylor’s new influence.

Donnelly is simply not the personality of player required at the club and I wouldn’t say Quigley has set the world alight. Parker? Keep him; he’s been the best of a poor bunch and would be a good squad player.


So there you have it. Pennock says he wants to flush out some of the poison from our system and build this club up to the Championship within the next two years. Whether he’ll be given two is another matter. One thing’s for sure though, we’re going to see a very different Gillingham Football Club when August 2017 rolls around.

@ThomasJasper89