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Next Gillingham Manager Odds: Who could replace Steve Evans?

Former Gillingham player Michael Flynn is looking for a new club
Former Gillingham player Michael Flynn is looking for a new club

Steve Evans has become the first Football League manager to vacate his post in 2022 after the Scot left League One Gillingham (22nd) by mutual consent on Sunday.

The decision, which came three months after the Gills rejected an approach from Stevenage for Evans, follows a 4-0 thrashing at home to Ipswich which extended the club's winless league and cup run to 13 games dating all the way back to mid-October.

One league win since September has seen the club drop into the relegation zone and now seven points adrift of safety. No team has fewer wins on the board than Gillingham (three), while only Crewe have a worse goals scored record. 

In a statement, Gillingham said: 

The Club wishes to thank Steve for all his efforts over the past two years in circumstances that have been significantly more difficult and challenging due to the Covid pandemic, and wishes him well in the future.

His assistant, Paul Raynor, will also be leaving the Club.

The search for a new Head Coach/Manager will begin immediately.

League One Odds

After exceeding expectations with impressive back-to-back 10th place finishes under Evans, Gillingham had faint hopes of sparking a push for the play-offs this term but with just less than half the season remaining the club are now seeking a manager who can save them from the drop down to League Two; a division they’ve not been in for nearly a decade.

So, who could Gillingham appoint?

Click here for the results of our Next Gillingham Manager Poll

Neil Smith

In as the early red-hot betting favourite for the vacancy is former Gillingham player Neil Smith. Bookmakers BetVictor appeared to think Smith is for the man for the job after taking down the market after 24 hours - however, it's now back up and running.

Smith, 50, remains available for hire after leaving Bromley last March following five years in the job during which he led the club to an FA Trophy final and had them challenging in the top-half of the table.

Smith, who has also managed Welling United, may be a fan favourite at Gillingham and has been spotted at Priestfield this season, but jumping up two divisions from his last job into a relegation battle is a tough ask for a boss who has no EFL managerial experience on his CV.

Michael Flynn

Another former Gills player who could inject some fresh impetus is Michael Flynn, who was club captain and top-goalscorer for the club during the 2006/07 season and is currently the overwhelming favourite in our next manager poll.

The Welshman has had three months to refresh and recharge following his impressive tenure at Newport, whom he took to two League Two play-off finals and oversaw cup upsets over Leicester and Leeds.

Not only does Flynn know Gillingham from his playing days but, pertinently, he has experience of beating the drop, having performed miracles in keeping Newport in League Two as caretaker manager: upon his appointment the Exiles were 11 points adrift of safety with just 12 games to play, but he somehow conjured up a Great Escape.

Flynn, who over time transformed Newport into a more progressive and possession-based outfit, no doubt has League One on his radar and the Gills job could well prove to be the challenge the talented young manager has been waiting for.

Luke Garrard

The spotlight is shining brightly on Luke Garrard right now after he led non-league Boreham Wood to an FA Cup shock over Gillingham’s League One relegation rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Since his appointment in 2015 Garrard, who has frequently been linked with a move up into the Football League, has transformed National League outfit Boreham Wood into promotion contenders and currently has the club challenging for a spot in League Two following a fine start to the 2021/22 National League season.

6th, but with multiple games in hand on their rivals, his defensively solid side have conceded just 13 goals in 19 games so far this season.

Garrard is a hungry and ambitious young manager, 36, but like Smith he has never managed in the Football League.

Neil Harris

Out-of-work since leaving Cardiff a year ago, Neil Harris has League One experience on his CV from a successful spell at his beloved Millwall whom he twice led to the third-tier play-off final; winning promotion up to the Championship at the second attempt.

Harris would go on to finish 5th in the Championship at Cardiff, but lost his job mid-way through last season after a six game losing run.

Was recently linked with the Ipswich job, but after a lengthy search the club appointed Man Utd coach Kieran McKenna.

Speaking of Ipswich...

Paul Cook

Paul Cook represents the experienced, successful, and high-profile appointment, although luring him into a battle for survival may well be out of reach for the cash-strapped Gills.

Wounded after his spell at Ipswich didn’t quite go to plan, Cook will be hungry to bounce back. He would have backed himself to recover from Ipswich’s slow start to the season, but it was not to be, however his resume boasts three league titles, including a League One success with Wigan meaning he’s an attractive prospect for any club hunting for a new boss.

A long shot admittedly, but if you don't ask you don't get.

Any other names?

Former Gillingham manager Steve Lovell has been placed in charge as caretaker for Saturday's game, and is priced at 6/1 for the full-time job alongside Marc Bircham.

Nigel Adkins, Simon Grayson, Mick McCarthy, Neil Warnock, and former Gills boss Tony Pulis are all out-of-work right now, although the latter’s previous courtroom battle with chairman Paul Scally means an appointment is very unlikely!

Like the aforementioned Luke Garrard, Andy Woodman is another manager enjoying a fine season in the National League with Arsenal’s former Head of Goalkeeping currently third in the table with Bromley.

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