Hess: We will NOT go down

Last updated : 22 October 2004 By Headley
Hess: 'I'm going to turn it around'
Gillingham player-manager Andy Hessenthaler has made a pledge to lead the Gills up the table to safety and avoid relegation this season.

Hess was in bullish mood when talking to the club's official website, saying, "As much as some of our fans might like me to go, I am quite happy and until the chairman tells me otherwise I'm going to turn it around here.

"I'm not going to just walk away from it. I want to get us back into that top half, back with a spring in our step with lots of confidence so we can start enjoying our football again."

The Gills gaffer has seen his side slip to their worst run in seven years. They sit second bottom of the Championship table with just 10 points from 14 games so far this season. The Gills defence, which has conceded 27 goals in those 14 games, is the worst in the Championship, with Crewe.

Despite this, Hessenthaler is convinced that he will lead the side out of trouble and secure their Championship status.

"Five years ago when we came into this division our aim was to stay in it. We will do that again this year," he said.

"I know we want more than that because of the year we had last year and we want to go on and push on, but we are also realistic.

"We haven't had a lot to spend due to the financial problems and it's been difficult to bring in that real bit of quality.

"We have got great spirit here, but to get to that top level we need quality."

There is understood to be a lot of work happening behind the scenes at the club to help secure the funds needed to help strengthen the squad, with two big sponsorship deals, with the KM Group and Courage breweries bringing in some much-needed income.

There are also a number of high wage earners approaching the ends of contracts, so there may be some players leaving the club before the end of the season, while they still command transfer fees.

Regardless of the monetary situation, Hessenthaler knows he has to get his current squad back to winning ways ASAP.

"Ultimately now we have got to get to 50 points as quickly as possible, which we say every year, and then push on from there. I'm really convinced we'll do that," he said.

"We are having a rough time at the moment, but every club has a rough time. Football's great when you're winning. When you're losing it's tough.

"We've got good characters, good staff, everyone is pulling together and the chairman is right behind us.

"The fans are right behind us - they were superb at Millwall - and they appreciated the performance. Let's do it for the fans - it's not through the lack of trying."

Hessenthaler's show of strength, defiance and determination needs to be mirrored in his side's play in the weeks and months to come if his promise of safety is to be upheld.

With 32 games remaining, the Gills need to pick up 40 more points to reach that all-important mark of 50 points. With the Gills looking at a tough run of November fixtures, it's going to be tough to pick up more than the odd point or two before December.

But by Christmas, the Gills will hope to have picked up a few victories, and some much-needed confidence, to start their 2005 surge for safety.