They say football is a results business, so any chairman or CEO worth their salt would take a very close look at the past managerial records of any candidates being considered for a job at a Football League club.
And, with gossip running wild with every market move, we thought we’d cut through the speculation and postulation and look at the cold, hard numbers of the key men being linked with the vacant Gillingham managerial post.
A plethora of names have been suggested, including a clutch of Football League managers, a handful of non-league bosses and one Peruvian whose link with the club appears to have materialised out of thin air.
It’s generally believed the club’s next appointment needs to be someone with proven experience at Football League level, and it needs to be someone with a proven ability to get results. But which of those viable contenders is actually the best man, statistically, for the job?
In the table below we’ve listed the top 12 managers in Skybet’s ‘Next Permanent Gillingham Manager’ market that have at least one season of Football League experience and ranked them by win percentage.
Topping the list is Graham Westley, who not only holds the highest win percentage (45.9%), he’s also the most experienced manager on the list with a career spanning more than 890 games.
This might come as a surprise to some, but the second most successful manager on the list is Gillingham legend and two-time former Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler.
A win percentage of 44.5% over 500+ games certainly isn’t to be sniffed at, especially at this level, but would fans be happy to see ‘Hess’ back at the helm for a third stint as permanent manager?
A side note to consider: Hessenthaler’s two spells as permanent manager, plus his eight-game stint as caretaker, saw him compile an overall win percentage of 36.6% at the Gills, a figure that would put him ninth on the list above.
The controversial, much-discussed Steve Evans is listed in fourth place on the list, with a win percentage of 43.1% over 870+ games, making him the second most experienced manager on the list in terms of games managed.
Martin Allen is just behind Evans on the list, at 40.3%, but his win percentage during his time at the Gills was even more impressive, at 42.2%. He also steered the club to its most recent league title when he led the side to the League Two championship in 2012/13, the club’s first title win since they won the Fourth Division back in 1963/64.
Cambridge United boss Shaun Derry has been heavily linked in recent weeks, and the well-travelled midfielder-turned-manager has a solid if unspectacular 38.0% win percentage from his first 179 games.
Lower down the list than some might expect is one of the early fan favourites for the job, Chris Powell (37.6%), while another name recently mooted for the vacancy at Priestfield is former Bristol City boss Keith Millen (33.3%).
Bottom of our 12-man list is former Gills assistant Ian Hendon. The former Barnet manager and current Leyton Orient boss has a less impressive record than his peers on the list, with a win percentage of just 29.2%.
Current caretaker boss and Director of Football Peter Taylor is the third most experienced manager on the list, but he’s relatively low down the list in terms of win percentage, with 35.4%.
Four men on the list, Derry, Millen, Ardley and Hendon, actually have losing records as managers, which may be worth taking into account when considering the right man to get the club out of its current slump.
And it’s also interesting to note that two of the more polarising managerial candidates on the list, Westley and Evans are also two of the top performing candidates. Before he joined Gillingham for his title-winning stint, Allen could possibly have been included in that bracket, too, and he’s also right up there on the list.
All of which takes us back to the start of this article. Football is a results business, and while some may be fans of individual candidates as personalities, what matters to the success of the football club is results.
I’m sure you’ll have your favourites, and your reasons behind them. But for me, the next appointment has one job to do – win games. And in that regard, I’d strongly consider those names toward the top of that list, and perhaps look to rule out those at the bottom.