Date:Thursday March 9 2006
Vital Gillingham editor Jon answers Ten questions on Saturday's opponents and he isn't sounding too confident!
Q - Why do you feel the Gills are having such a poor season?
A - Where do I start? After some mean bullies broke our hearts six minutes from the end of last season, it's just been one disaster after another. Stan Ternent left - we were never going to be able to afford to keep him in League One - and Neale Cooper came in and did an abysmal job. To be fair to Cooper, he wasn't helped by the sale of Darius Henderson on the eve of the season, but the players he signed were - with a couple of exceptions - utterly atrocious. And the legacy of Cooper could have been even worse... He tried to sell Jason Brown so that he could play his first choice goalkeeper Tony Bullock, but Bullock got injured while Browno was about to sign for Millwall, so Jason was saved. And that's a good job, as Bullock is the worst goalkeeper I have ever seen, and has already been shipped out to St Mirren. It just didn't work for Cooper, and he never seemed to have the fight. When we played Hartlepool away he was more concerned with his former club's supporters than the 135 idiots who had made the journey up there to watch them. After the FA Cup disgrace at Burscough, his days were numbered, and a week later he was gone. Jeppo made an encouraging start, but since then, he's gone a bit downhill. We have some players who just aren't good enough and not enough options, particularly in attack. When we were flying in the Championship (well, finishing 11th!) we always had a class man up front - King or Shaw - but we just don't have that anymore.
Q - Is Ronnie Jepson the right man to take you forward?
A - We'll see. He made a good start, and says all the right things, but I have serious reservations about some of his decisions. For example, Michael Flynn was brilliant as captain when we beat Swindon 3-0, then he was dropped two weeks later and hasn't actually played in his best position since then. My other main worry is that he doesn't seem to use his substitutes well enough. When we lost to Swindon last month, we'd had Byfield sent off, but even though we had Paul Shields on the bench, he never came on and even in the last five minutes, we were still trying to find a way through with one up front.
Q - Will you stay up!?
A - I honestly don't think so, no. Some of the performances in recent weeks have been completely unacceptable. We lost 2-0 at Doncaster, and if we'd put in a showing like that in the Championship, we'd have lost by six or seven. As I'm sure you've noticed, this is a poor division... Problem is, we are a very poor side in it.
Q - How has Neil Harris being doing for you and would you want to make it a permanent deal?
A - Ok, I guess. He's never been the same player since his cancer, but at times he looks a decent signing for us. I wouldn't mind us signing him, but I wouldn't like to see our team built round him.
Q - Would you be surprised to know Trigger has the most assists in the country currently with fourteen?
A - Ha ha. Yes. He was crap for us towards the end of last season, and I couldn't wait for him to go. But in comparison to the bunch of imbeciles we currently have, Trigger is like Ronaldinho. Glad he's injured on Saturday!
Q - Which 3 Forest players would you most like to see in Gills colours and why?
A - Nathan Tyson - we need a goalscorer and that boy fits the bill. Kris Commons - A creative midfielder is something we could never afford to turn down. Eugen Bopp -for constant abuse for him sending us down last year!
Q - Having played Forest for the past couple of seasons are you surprised that they are not closer to the top of the league?
A - Not really, no. The year you got into the play-off's you were a good side, but apart from that year - and the 3-1 win you had at Priestfield in November 2000 - I was never really impressed by you when I saw you. A club of your size should be doing better in this league, and with the squad and resources you have, you should be doing better, but as I'm sure you'll agree, there has been some serious mismanagement over the last few years.
Q - How did you rate Forests away support and how many will you be bringing on Saturday?
A - I wasn't actually at Priestfield back in August, but you're one of about four teams to get up into the top tier of the away end, so you're one of the better ones in this league. We've got a decent fan base by comparison to most in this league, but we probably won't even bring 500 to your place as fan apathy is pretty high right now.
Q - What formation and tactics are Gillingham likely to use on Saturday and which players should we be looking out for?
A - I wouldn't be surprised to see a 541 employed, with Paul Shields as the lone frontman. We played something similar at Donny, and given that Harris and Byfield are both suspended, we've not got a lot of other options in attack. Our keeper Jason Brown is one of - if not the - best in League One, while at the back, I'm sure you'll enjoy watching Ian 'car crash' Cox for his hilarious ineptitude. Our best two players are midfielders, Michael Flynn and the on-loan Tommy Black, but there's every chance Flynn will be forced to play on one side while the hopelessly useless duo of Andrew Crofts and Justin Cochrane continue in the middle of midfield. Look out in particular for Crofts. He got his second cap for Wales last week. How he even got a trial for a professional club is beyond me. On a positive, Matty Jarvis should be on the bench after more than two months out, and he's brilliant.
Q - Prediction time! Put your neck on the line, what score will it be?
A - About 3 or 4-0 to Forest. Depends what score you give up on.
Many Thanks to Jon for his answers to our questions, please visit www.gillingham.vitalfootball.co.uk to see how Vital Forest fielded questions on The Reds.
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