(Photo: Action Images via Reuters)
By Alex Beard
Another two managers bit the dust in League One today, as Gillingham’s Ady Pennock and Oldham Athletic’s John Sheridan departed their club’s by mutual consent.
And while the Latics are rooted at the foot of the table, Gills are two places and two points ahead of the Boundary Park outfit. Both teams are sitting in precarious positions, but with so much of the season still to go, there remains hope of a revival for the two sides.
But let’s focus specifically on the team from Kent, who announced Pennock’s departure in slightly short fashion this morning. Clearly expectations weren’t met by the former Forest Green boss, so can the next man (possibly one of these three) do better?
Here are a trio of managers who could potentially fill the void at Priestfield Stadium.
The early favourite for the post is former Aston Villa and Newcastle midfielder Nolberto Solano, who is listed at 4/1 with Bet Victor. Since retiring from playing in 2012, the Peruvian has had short stints in charge of Universitario and José Gálvez in his homeland, and with Internacional de Toronto in Canada.
Not much to look into on his track record, then, and his appointment would likely come down to an impressive interview and a blind leap of faith from the Gills board. Whether that’s what’s needed in the club’s current situation remains to be seen, but Solano is an intriguing option if nothing else.
Sometimes ex-players take to management like a duck to water à la Kevin Nolan at Notts County, other times they fall flat on their face like Teddy Sheringham at Stevenage. It’s always a gamble to give a former player the reins when they have little managerial experience, as you never know what you’re going to get.
Solano has been heavily linked with the position, however, suggesting that the Gills hierarchy have seen something in him. If appointed, he might turn out to be an inspired choice – but he’s definitely not the safe option for a struggling side like Gillingham.
It seems like Gareth Ainsworth has been in charge of Wycombe Wanderers for longer than five years. The former Preston and QPR midfielder has certainly been one of the aforementioned ex-pro’s who has grabbed management by the horns – and he hasn’t let go in the half-decade since.
Still just 44 years of age, Ainsworth seems like a grizzled veteran of the League Two rat race, and while he’s had significant success with the Chairboys, he hasn’t guided them to the third tier yet.
The closest he came was in 2015 when his side made it to the Play Off final at Wembley after finishing fourth in the league. However, they lost on penalties to Southend United after a 1-1 draw – Ainsworth was named LMA Manger of the Year for that season, though.
The Wycombe boss has proved himself a steady pair of hands in the fourth tier. The Chairboys aren’t the biggest club in the division or the most wealthy, but he continues to produce good-to-great seasons time after time. The trust placed in him by the club’s board over his five year period in charge also speaks volumes.
The only problem for Gillingham might be convincing him to swap Adams Park for Priestfield Stadium.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a Southampton fan and still harbour a soft spot for good old Nigel Adkins, but I seem to find myself constantly banging the drum for his appointment by a Football League club.
Putting aside my own feelings for the man, however, I do think he would represent an astute choice for a club like Gillingham. Adkins is a motivator, he puts smiles on faces and gets players wanting to play for him – and clearly morale needs lifting at Gills.
At 8/1 it seems like he’s in with a decent shout, and why not? He has a phenomenal record in League One, winning promotion with both Scunthorpe and Southampton, doing so twice with the Iron. He went on to restore the Saints’ Premier League status in 2012, before being harshly dismissed in January 2013 just as results started to pick up.
His resultant posts with Reading and Sheffield United haven’t gone to plan, but you get the sense that there’s potential there which remains untapped. Furthermore, a manager of his pedigree would instantly raise spirits at Priestfield Stadium, at a time when such a thing is a necessity.
In terms of experience and track records he’s the best of the bunch, and could end up being the perfect man to save Gillingham’s season.