For Gillingham manager Mark Stimson, football has been his dystopia in recent times.
The Gills boss saw his side lose yet again on Saturday in a 4-0 defeat away at Brentford, continuing a perfect record of not winning any competitive match away from home this season.
Couple that with no wins in the last eight matches, some undoubtedly dire performances on the pitch, an acrimonious exit from the FA Cup, and a newly found place in the League One relegation zone, and you have the typical Football League manager under severe pressure.
Severe pressure that should ultimately result in one of two things: his resignation, or Stimson’s sacking. But why?
Lack of desire
For the thousands of Gillingham fans that spend around £20-30 each match for 23 games a season, and up to £50-60 for some away matches, it can be quite an insult when the players don’t put in a good performance.
It’s then twice as insulting when they display a complete lack of desire to win, and even more incredulous when the manager, instead of doing the job fans effectively pay for him to do, sits back and somewhat shows the same lack of desire!
Seldom does Stimson ever come out to the technical area and bark out instructions to the players or motivate them when they are losing or playing poorly; it’s usually the assistant manager out there shouting to the players.
If Stimson, like he has been doing, displays the same lack of desire as the calamitous players on the field of play, then what on earth is he doing managing a professional football club?
Same old story, same old performance, week in, week out.
Since the start of 2010, Gillingham have been on the slippery slope down to self-destruction, with the players churning out less than average performances resulting in bitter disappointment.
And why is that? Since the Boxing Day defeat (ironically, against Brentford!) that further dashed the sterling record of the former fortress of the krbs Priestfield stadium, a fresh, new approach has not been introduced.
In terms of formation, the Gills are tactically astute, with a well placed defence and midfield, and a good attacking set-up in a striker and support-striker in a solid 4-4-2 line-up.
However, the problem is the counter-attack and focus of play. Simply put, the Gillingham players out there are not prepared to take risks.
Or rather, Stimson is not prepared to take risks. The Gills do not counter-attack enough, most likely due to fear of failure and a loss of possession of the ball, and this of course can result in some costly mistakes due to a lack of defence.
As for focusing play, it’s annoying when you see any team play the long-ball game.
Stimson wants to get the ball forward to the likes of Simeon Jackson, Mark McCammon, James Walker and Rene Howe as often as possible, and probably thinks this can be achieved by playing the ball over the top of the defence, i.e. a long ball game.
Little does he apparently realise that channelling the ball along the floor with a series of short or long ground passes and through balls along the floor is the best option.
Why is it the best option to use? Because team after team come up against Gillingham, use that tactic and seal a deserved win; and also because the ball-over-the-top focus of play clearly is not working.
On current results and performances, it does not seem likely that Stimson will realise this in the near future.
Football is a results-based business and sport, and with Stimson unable to grasp successful tactics at this level, a new tactician is needed quickly if Gillingham is to beat the drop.
No Fan Support
Stimson gets verbally abused weekly by the Gills fans, with the section of supporters in the KM Medway Stand at the krbs Priestfield regularly sharing their less than happy thoughts with Mr Stimson.
And following yet another away defeat on Saturday at Brentford, the fans let Stimson know how they felt as he came over to them and applauded their support.
Stimmo was met with an air of disdain as his team put in yet another poor display, with the manager not once getting out onto the technical box and publicly showing everyone his desire to spur on his players.
On the lips of almost every Gillingham fan, and on almost every Gillingham forum on the Internet, the words “Stimson Out” have become synonymous with the situation the Gills are currently facing.
So the message to London-based businessman Paul Scally is: as chairman of Gillingham Football Club, do the right thing, sack your current manager (Mark Stimson), and go for a new approach to save this club from despair.
The club’s debts, whilst perhaps controllable, are still there and will not go away until the performances and subsequently results on the pitch improve; that is the only way this club will move forward and eradicate it’s financial burden.
In the words of Mark Stimson, “Will the chairman stand by me? Who knows?”
If he knows anything about football, he won’t stand by you Mark. You’re not the right man for the job, simple as that.