Headley: West Country boy the ideal replacement

Last updated : 09 August 2005 By Simon Head

The situation at Gillingham has seen fans strongly debate a number of issues, but regardless of your viewpoint, it's very tough to argue that as the Gills rack up the defeats, Andy Hessenthaler's position becomes more and more under fire. The number of fans (almost all of whom hold Hessy in the highest regard as a player for the club - and arguably the best signing the club has ever had) now calling for a new manager seems to be growing by the week.

As you would expect, those already looking for suitable replacements have looked to those with Premiership experience. Names such as John Gregory have been regularly mentioned - and Sir Bobby Robson's little visit has had people dreaming, but in reality those looking at managers like that are looking in completely the wrong place.

For me, it's all about looking for someone who is fit for the purpose of running Gillingham Football Club. Therefore we need a man-manager, someone who is both a good motivator and a tactical thinker. We need someone who can get the team playing good, entertaining football, while getting the very best out of players with limited ability. He'll need to do this as he'll be working to a very tight budget - and he'd have to come reasonably cheap, as we don't exactly have an open cheque book at Priestfield.

Does such a manager exist? I'd say yes - and I know exactly where he is. Yeovil.

Gary Johnson is arguably the best manager in the lower leagues. He gets very little press, but trust me, he has all the attributes needed for the job of taking Gillingham into the future. His sides have a reputation for good defence, excellent passing football and goals. These are all things that are sadly lacking in our side at the moment. On top of that, he's done it on a budget, taking non-league side Yeovil Town into the Coca-Cola League. Yeovil now sit at the top of Coca Cola League Two. The myth that you can't play good football and be successful in the lower leagues is being shot to pieces by Johnson.

Also, for any of you who may place question marks on his ability to manage at a higher level, forget it. He was part of the management team of the Latvian national side and played a major part in building the side that eventually qualified for their first major international tournament, Euro 2004, knocking out Turkey in the playoffs to get there.

If he can do it at non-league, League Two AND international level, why can't he do it at Championship level, with our (still limited) players?

If Paul Scally was to decide to look for a new manager to turn things around, I'd strongly suggest he takes a look at Yeovil's Gary Johnson. For me, there's no better candidate out there.