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Paul Scally scrapped new manager plans to appoint Steve Lovell as Gills boss

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Paul Scally scrapped new manager plans to appoint Steve Lovell as Gills boss

Gillingham chairman reveals he’d identified the club’s next boss, but changed his mind following the club’s remarkable turnaround under caretaker boss Steve Lovell

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has spoken of how Steve Lovell convinced him to scrap plans to bring a new manager into the club and instead appoint the Welshman as Gills boss until the end of the season.

The appointment was confirmed on Thursday, with Scally explaining the thinking behind his decision in a short video clip posted to Twitter by the club’s official account.

“I’ve been hugely impressed with the way he’s gone about his work,” he began.

“Obviously we know Steve from years back. He’s been around and about this club longer than most people here, including me and the club secretary. So there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the club, and there’s nothing much we don’t know about Steve.”

While Scally was assessing candidates and looking to bring in a new man from outside, Lovell was placed in temporary charge of the team, which had registered just one win in its first dozen league games.

Credit: Kent Pro Images

Rewarded: Steve Lovell has been handed the reins until the end of the 2017/18 season (Kent Pro Images)

But while the Gills chairman was seeing his approaches for controversial Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans rebuffed by The Stags, Lovell was quietly starting a mini-revolution on the training pitch.

Without the luxury of being able to draft in new players, Lovell had to work with the same players Adrian Pennock had failed with during the opening 12 league games of the season.

But while Pennock could muster only one win from 12, Lovell matched that tally in his very first game, as he took his Gills side up to promotion hopefuls Peterborough and came away with a huge 1-0 away win.

He then followed up with a 1-1 draw at Priestfield at league leaders Wigan and later picked up another significant victory, defeating Rotherham United 3-1 away from home.

Over the course of his seven-game stint as caretaker boss, Lovell won four, drew two and lost just one in all competitions. Notably, that run also included significant away wins in the league against promotion-chasing opposition.

Steve Lovell as Gillingham caretaker boss

DateOppositionHome/AwayKick-Off/Result
Saturday October 14Peterborough UnitedAWon 1-0
Tuesday October 17Wigan AthleticHDrew 1-1
Saturday October 21Northampton TownHLost 2-1
Saturday October 28Rotherham UnitedAWon 3-1
Saturday November 4Leyton Orient (FA Cup)HWon 2-1
Tuesday November 7Reading U21 (EFL Trophy)HWon 7-5
Saturday November 11BuryHDrew 1-1

In the end, the transformation of the side under Lovell was simply too much for Scally to ignore, and he admitted as such.

“Sometimes the obvious answer is under your nose and you don’t see it,” he admitted.

“And I guess that’s very much the case with Steve and offering him the job, because he wasn’t really on my radar when I was looking at interviewing managers.”

Credit: Kent Pro Images

Convinced: Paul Scally admitted Steve Lovell’s performance prompted a change of mind (Kent Pro Images)

Indeed, Scally revealed he’d all but made up his mind over Pennock’s replacement, but Lovell’s performance as caretaker boss convinced him to shelve those plans and instead offer the Gills legend the chance that he’d dreamed of when he took over the side in October.

“I was fairly clear [on] who I was going to go for,” Scally explained.

“But Steve has done such a remarkable job it would have been foolish not to have recognised that.

“Only a fool could not have seen what he’s done with the team and how he’s turned things around.

“I’m actually looking forward now to the games ahead with some confidence and some belief that we’re going to win more games than we don’t win, which is not a feeling many of us have had as fans for the last probably 12 months.”

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