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Gillingham Football Club: The Problems

Angry. Annoyed. Frustrated. But above all, just disappointed. The general consensus amongst Gillingham fans are that these are the emotions we currently feel.

Today was yet another stupid, totally avoidable defeat against a team we see on the fixture list in this vital run-in and think: must win, should win.

We must win at home to Barnet, as there are only six games to go and if we are to get into those automatic promotion places, or even just consolidate our security in the League Two play-offs, we must win our home games.

We should win at home to Barnet, as they are all the way down in 20th. We should definitely be beating the lower-ranked teams.

But if you had been a neutral knowing hardly anything about the Gills, no way would you have known this was a must-win, should-win game for the team in blue.

With their oh-so unelegant, amazingly careless passing and lacklustre shooting (you thought they might’ve actually practised their shooting at the training ground, but from today’s match, it clearly appears not), the not-so mighty Gills brilliantly managed to produce one of their most unspectacular, mind-bogglingly shit performances of the season.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded if the Gills were consistently poor, but the thing is they are so inconsistent.

One game they are on another planet, playing their opponents off the pitch with beautiful yet effective, fast-flowing football that culminates in fantastic performances with brilliant results.

Such games come as a very welcome bonus to us long-suffering (in most cases) die-hard Gillingham fans.

However, the next game, they’re all over the place, with sloppy, uninspiring defending, slack passing that goes to nowhere but that fan in Block G of the KM Medway Stand, and lacklustre shooting that almost knocks out one of those guys standing up at the back of the Rainham End.

The thing that insults me the most as a Gills fan is that one game they play great, and yet the next, they have the audacity to appear to actually choose to play poorly.

It’s as if they just can’t be arsed to play, and that’s the most insulting, soul-shattering thing about it. Us fans, splashing out a considerable amount of money, come rain or shine turn up at the krbs Priestfield for every game, just to see these pampered things (trust me, I’ve seen behind the scenes, and these players have the best facilities in League Two) decide that today, they can’t bothered really. That’s how it appears to me, sitting in Seat 192, Block G of the Gordon Road Stand.

The audacity, how dare they. Effectively, we pay their wages, and this is how they thank us? Deciding that after doing well last week, they just won’t bother today.

My Gillingham brethren, don’t abuse Mark Stimson. Okay, he makes evidently poor decisions at times, like taking Andy Barcham off today, but I see him regularly whenever I help out at the Gills, and he is a really nice guy. He seems committed to the cause at Gillingham Football Club.

And that’s far more than what I can say about some of these players. Committed to the cause? Don’t make me laugh. Where was the running off the ball today then? Nowhere to be seen. Hardly any darting runs by the wingers, or the strikers, and I hardly saw any movement off the ball from the midfielders.

But if you players argue against that and say it’s because of fatigue as we approach a mad rush of games in the season’s finale, then I simply say to you:

Then don’t bother with your Premier League or Championship aspirations. Those players are up there for a reason. They train hard (by the way I have seen you guys train plenty of times before), they’re committed, determined, focused.

Stamina is vital for any athlete, and those players make sure their stamina is at the required level to perform consistently throughout the season.

If your players are dropping off in performances and are starting to feel tired, then pull your finger out, train harder, and make sure your stamina is high enough. Simple as that.

It is not Mark Stimson’s fault, my fellow Gills fans. What can he, Scott Barrett and Mark Robson do when the players appear not to apply the coaching, tactics, and set-plays from training into the match?

I’m sure if these players followed all instructions from the coaches, then they would not lose, or they would’ve at least been able to put a fight against lowly Barnet.

If you are still following this epic rant from a disappointed Gillingham fan, my American readers here on this American-based Open Source Sports Network called Bleacher Report, just in case you didn’t know, my beloved Gillingham lost 0-2 at home today against a side ranked 16 places below us. Not good, is it?

Anyway, I closely analysed today’s game instead of drifting off into another world after seeing yet another sloppy performance.

I have picked holes in Gillingham’s play and come up with reasons why we are performing so badly at times.

I firmly believe that if already Mark Stimson, Scott Barrett and Mark Robson haven’t picked up on the problems, then they should read this article, see the problems, and decide what should be done to correct them.

Here are my observations on why Gillingham lost 2-0 against Barnet at the krbs Priestfield Stadium in the Coca Cola League Two encounter:


External Issues:

Here are the issues affecting the players and coaches which are not entirely their fault.

Where’s the noise, lads?

The apparently ever-so vocal Rainham End was almost silent today, never singing any Gillingham chants or spurring the players on. They were so unusually quiet that I doubt the players even felt motivated to win today.

It was so bad that at times, all you could hear in the ground was those 12 Barnet supporters standing up in the away end, quietly singing:

“Can you hear Gillingham singing? Woah, woah. Can you hear Gillingham singing? I can’t hear a fucking thing! Woah, woah! Sshhhhh!”


“You don’t know what you’re doing!”

Every game I complain about the referee’s decision, saying “how on earth can he give that?!” The rest of the stadium are usually in agreement, singing “You don’t know what you’re doing!” to the ref.

While today that was saved for the manager after taking off Barcham, it just dawned on me today that it is just not today’s ref who is poor. It’s the referee for every one of our games, and every team’s games.

The refereeing standard in League Two is poor, very poor. I am a qualified official in Table Tennis, but part of learning officiating is grasping the general rules, applied in almost all sports.

I look at those referee’s in our matches and their performance, I check with the FIFA rule book, and I see that these referees, in some cases, get a few, sometimes pivotal, decisions wrong.

I’m not like you normal fans slagging off the ref; I have been a ref myself in football, and know the rules and what it’s like. These referees get some silly decisions wrong, and that’s why they officiate in League Two.

They are not good enough to officiate the important matches at the top of the English football hierarchy, in the Premier League and Championship, etc. Honestly, just ask Stuart Atwell.


Internal Issues:

Here are the issues affecting the players and coaches which are entirely their fault.


What the hell is Benno Doing There?!

Mark Bentley, though he and the coaches may like to disagree, is a midfielder, who appears to have an attacking nature.

Which, after seeing his performances of late, forces me to ask, why does he play at centre-back?

Converted there at some point this season, his performances have been shaky at best.

At times a lack of communication and understanding with fellow centre-back Kingy (Simon King) and goalkeeper Roycey (Simon Royce), combined with lapses in concentration, a lack of aerial dominance, lacklustre clearances, a tendency to pass it around inside the box, and worryingly frequent own-goals, are just some of the millions of reasons why I find it mind-boggling that Mark Bentley has been chosen as King’s CB partner ahead of the more solid and reliable centre-back-strangely-cum-centre-forward Garry Richards.

A perfect example of Benno’s (Mark Bentley) defending was today when, inside the box, he was beaten by veteran Barnet striker Paul Furlong.

Furlong would have retrieved the ball perhaps able to put a cross in, but even that was doubtful. But Benno tried to take no risk, and was going to prevent Furlong from pulling the ball back across the box.

No, not by tackling him, silly. Benno is a midfielder, isn’t he? He’s not used to situations like that. So what he did to prevent Furlong was to rugby-tackle him, and then seem confused as to why the referee actually got something right this time and deservedly gave Barnet a penalty.

I had the best view in the ground of that incident, even better than the ref I presume, so he did a great job in making the right decision. Gillingham, through the stupidity of Mark James Bentley, had shot themselves in the foot, and made the score 2-0 to Barnet.


Just fucking clear it!

Silly, silly, silly goals have been conceded when the defenders dilly and dally around at the back; passing it, passing it, passing it, shit, we’ve lost it. Fuck, they scored. Again.

Yes that’s right, despite what Simon King told Gillingham’s Official Matchday programme contributor Chris Dicketts, the no-nonsense lash-your-boot-through-it approach was not visible today against Barnet, or in any game for that matter.

Time and time again, they pass it around at the back, until usually Mark Bentley, weakly taps it back, and the tired, chasing opposition forward cannot believe his luck, as he takes advantage and grabs the ball, before going through one-on-one with Royce before coolly slotting it past the keeper and into the back of the net.

And once again, the Gills have contrived to concede yet another sloppy, totally avoidable goal.


Corner! One, two, three, back to the keeper, yeah?

After running down the wing and failing to get anywhere, players like Andy Barcham and Dennis Oli prefer to settle for a corner. Thing is, that’s as close to the goal as it goes.

For example, in today’s game, we were 2-0 down, and desperately needed that goal which could give us enough momentum to at least snatch an equaliser later in the match.

Andy Barcham had won Gillingham a vital corner. Nicky Southall took it, played it short to the diminutive forward Simeon Jackson, who was already surrounded by two tall, imposing defenders, and had no choice but to play it back to midfielder Curtis Weston, who also was surrounded by opponents.

Weston had simply no choice but to play it back to the centre-back, who had no options going forward, and could do only one thing if he wanted his side to retain possession; play it back to the keeper.

Goes back to my earlier point about movement off the ball, doesn’t it?

And this also suggests that next time, Leslie Nicholas Southall, you should simply play it into the box. C’mon, you’re the only player to have played in all four professional leagues in England, surely you should know better than to just play it short?


Now go! Forwards! No, not that way, dammit! Fucking forward!

The opposition have a corner, which breaks down and the ball comes to the centre-midfielder, either Curtis Weston or Adam Miller. What should they do?

They have the two or three forwards ahead of them, in Simeon Jackson, Mark McCammon, and/or Dennis Oli. What DO they do?

Take a touch to move forward, find the one that clearly would have some space, and play it through to them. Then, the counter-attack would be on, with the others soon to join, and with the forwards already up here, we’d have the numerical advantage in the opponent box.

The above is the scenario that would occur if the centre-midfielder did actually choose to play it forward. But shame, that never happens, as Weston or Miller always like to run for it themselves, but then are approached by a defender, and are forced to go back.

That disrupts the rhythm, the ball is delayed in going forward, the Barnet boys are back in position, the Gills attackers clearly aren’t getting the ball and so obviously come back to make a shorter option, and no-one has therefore pushed up well into the opponent’s half. The counter-attack has ended.

The great opportunity is missed, and it’s back to square one for Gillingham. Another reason why we failed to create potentially goal-scoring opportunities today.

I am a season-ticket holder at Gillingham, and I have been an avid fan of the club for many years.

I aspire to be a sports journalist in the future, so thankfully that has made me able to do what other fans cannot, publish their anger and show it to the world, as well as the Gills players themselves, in the form of a well-written, informative, accurate article which uses words subtly to express the feelings written at the beginning.

This article is not just mine, but it is the article of the thousands of Gills supporters who no doubt are in agreement with me about the mighty, or currently not-so mighty, Gillingham Football Club.


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