Adrian Pennock (Managerial) Football Genius!! Erm, No!!

Everyone and anyone who has spoken to me on social media and at games will know that I was and still am a big fan of Adrian Pennock the football player.

Image result for ady pennock gillingham defender

Ady Pennock – top player.

Perhaps legend is a word that gets used all too easily in sport these days, but even if Ady isn’t quite in that bracket, he is certainly a cult hero among the Gills’ faithful and someone who played a massive part in the most successful period of our history.

For that reason I was very willing to give him a chance upon his appointment as manager back in January, the hope being that his knowledge and love for the club would perhaps give him an edge over someone coming in who had no affinity to the Gills.

Quite simply, it has sadly not worked out. Not even close.

When he arrived on his proverbial white stallion back in January all the talk was of having a real go and pushing up the league towards the Play Offs, and with just a ten point gap to bridge and with about half a season to go it wasn’t in the realms of impossibility.

Image result for gillingham appoint ady pennock

Improbable yes, but certainly not impossible – especially with a squad that boasted the likes of Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Cody McDonald, Scott Wagstaff, Paul Konchesky, Bradley Dack et al in its ranks.

Unfortunately, we are all very aware of how things have panned out since his opening interview where he promised to get ‘bums off seats’ with adventurous attacking football and natural wingers.

How long did that last? A game, maybe two.

Elliot List featured in his natural role in Ady’s opening game reverse at Oldham -who hadn’t won or even scored in ages prior to us pitching up – and it has rapidly declined since then.

We didn’t win any of his first eight games in charge, with creditable draws at Sheffield United and Bradford plus the fact we lost only twice perhaps masking the issues that are now all too clear and apparent.

Image result for elliot list gillingham

One winger to have played as a winger under Ady.

And looking back now, his inability to guide us to victories over sides in and around us at the time of playing them has proved to be a massive achilles heel – Oldham, Shrewsbury, Port Vale, Chesterfield, Coventry, Wimbledon, Swindon and most recently Charlton all being prime examples.

Credit where credit is due though, we then won three of the next four to give ourselves some breathing space in what was now very evidently a battle against the drop.

This, however, has been the only ‘positive’ period in what has been a dismal and soul sapping spell watching this club that we love so dear, and when broken down there is a case to be made that all four victories we have accumulated under the ‘football genius’ have been somewhat fortuitous.

At home to Southend we were aided by a penalty and a soft red card for Ryan Innis.

At Bury we were indebted to Stuart Nelson preventing what could have been a hiding.

At home to Scunthorpe we were awful for 75 minutes and won due to being awarded three, YES THREE, penalties in the last quarter of an hour after trailing 2-0.

Image result for josh wright hat trick

At home to Bristol Rovers I was not in attendance but was told by plenty that the display was on the whole poor, and only two inspired Cody McDonald strikes got us out of jail in injury time.

Anyway, back to that Play Off charge, that promise of attacking football and that squad of talented footballers……

The promotion push clearly never got off the ground after six points from the first 24 available, and in that time he decided to release both ‘JET’ and Paul Konchesky, as well as sending Billy Knott on loan to free up funds for signings.

All simply a disaster.

It has since come to light that we are paying Emmanuel-Thomas until the end of May….. Yes he was frustrating but was our top scorer at the time of his release, so why not keep him in the squad? Especially since his two seeming replacements Josh Parker and Joe Quigley have just three goals between them since arriving.

Senior left back Konchesky  – who granted hadn’t been great in a Gills shirt but was actually a left back, and an experienced one at that – has since pitched up at non-league Billericay Town, seemingly earning upwards of £1000 per week, while we have Bradley Garmston unavailable until pre-season after a campaign of torn hamstrings, and a 16 year old called Aaron Simpson.

This has meant we have reverted to playing a centre back or a winger at left back, or switching to a 3-5-2 system which has worked as well as a lawnmower on a driveway.

And finally Billy Knott, who is now enjoying some game time at Conference Champions elect Lincoln City, who could actually be in the same division as us next term if we go down. And who did we get in? Bondz N’Gala, the brute of a centre back who didn’t step onto a pitch for us due to a breach of football league rules.

Genius.

So, onto that promise of attacking football, wingers, and getting bums off seats….

Well he’s got bums off seats to a degree, because sadly – despite constantly telling everyone how great us fans are – since arriving attendances have dropped and dropped.

And why is that? Because that attacking football to excite us simply has never materialised.

We have become a dour, boring, horrible ‘kick and rush’ type side that goes long at the earliest opportunity, bypassing any semblance of creative players that we may have on the pitch.

And those wingers…..

Well he has played them. Just not as wingers.

Scott Wagstaff – who has suffered more break downs than a second hand Metro this season – has spent the campaign mainly at right back, left midfield or as part of a narrow diamond.

Lee Martin – the player who shouldn’t be really playing after THAT injury – has played left back and right and left wing back.

Image result for lee martin gillingham

Not a defender – Lee Martin is not a left back, or a wing back.

Elliot List has started once in his natural position, but since then has hardly featured, and when he does he gets stuck up top for us to punt long balls in his general direction.

Finally, Harry Cornick – the highly rated winger on loan from Bournemouth – has played at left and right wing back, up front and also in ‘the hole’ when Bradley Dack was unavailable.

Now if only we had someone like, I don’t know, Billy Knott in the squad. 

Hmmmmm……

But it’s not just in wide areas where we have put the proverbial square pegs into round holes, because as recently as Monday’s thrashing at Charlton we started the following:

Right back Ryan Jackson at centre back. Left winger Lee Martin at right wing back. Right winger Harry Cornick at left wing back. Attacking midfielder Bradley Dack as a defensive midfielder. Defensive midfielder Josh Wright in ‘the hole’.

Image result for bradley dack goal v sheff utd

Dacky – seemingly now a holding midfielder.

And then at half time we brought on central striker Josh Parker at left wing back, but ironically – and to basically sum up our disaster of a season – he was actually our best attacking threat.

Anyway, enough rabbiting on.

Below is the League One table when Justin Edinburgh was sacked and how it would look after the games played by all clubs since Ady arrived.

League 1 Table 02-01-17   League 1 Table since Ady
at Justin Edinburgh’s dismissal   Pennock’s appointment
     
Club – Points Position Change Club W-D-L-Points
     
     
Sheff Utd 53 points Sheff Utd 11-5-2-38
Bolton 50 down 5 Fleetwood 11-5-3-38
Scunthorpe 49 down 11 Millwall 8-8-3-32
Rochdale 45 down 13 Oldham 9-5-6-32
Bradford 42 down 1 Southend 9-3-6-30
Fleetwood 40 up 4 Bradford 8-6-4-30
Southend 39 up 2 Bolton 8-6-5-30
Peterborough 38 down 10 MK Dons 8-6-6-30
Millwall 38 up 6 Oxford 9-2-8
Bristol Rovers 36 Bristol Rovers 7-6-5-27
Charlton 35 down 8 Walsall 7-6-5-27
Oxford 34 up 3 Shrewsbury 7-5-6-26
Wimbledon 33 down 2 Bury 6-7-5-25
Walsall 31 up 3 Scunthorpe 7-3-8-24
Port Vale 31 down 9 Wimbledon 5-8-6-23
Northampton 30 Northampton 6-4-9-22
GILLINGHAM 30 down 3 Rochdale 5-7-7-22
MK Dons 28 up 10 Peterborough 6-3-11-21
Swindon 25 down 2 Charlton 4-7-8-19
Bury 22 up 7 GILLINGHAM 4-7-8-19
Chesterfield 22 down 1 Swindon 5-3-10-18
Coventry 21 down 1 Chesterfield 3-6-9-15
Shrewsbury 21 up 11 Coventry 4-3-12-15
Oldham 19 up 20 Port Vale 3-5-10-14

Quite simply and obviously, his appointment has not worked out at all.

We are now closer to the relegation zone than when he took over – eight points down to four points – and are also further away from the top six that he was aiming for – 21 points compared to 10.

I believe I read somewhere that he has the worst win ratio – 21% – of any Gills manager EVER, and there are only four teams worse than us since he was put in charge.

Swindon would go above us if they won their ‘game in hand’ and Coventry have taken 10 points since appointing Mark Robins at the start of March, whereas we have only accrued seven. On top of that, if Port Vale do win their actual game in hand there is an increased chance that we will end this season relegated back to League Two.

Not the Play Off charge we were sold in January, or the attacking football.

And sadly, certainly not the work of a football genius.

UP THE GILLS!! 

 

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3 thoughts on “Adrian Pennock (Managerial) Football Genius!! Erm, No!!

  1. I’m speechless , on how or why when we have a dangerous attacking weapon like Bradley Dack, ok not in the form of last season, but he still frightens opposition, has been used as a defensive midfielder,????? The rest of league one must be laughing at us ! Surely that is Josh Wrights role and that’s our best player this season so if that was working ,why change one of the few positions that was ??? We only have one striker Cody McDonald. The rest simply haven’t made the grade !!! max Ehmer has had more partners at the back than Joan Collins, the goal keeper conundrum needs sorting ,with Josh Wright maybe going to Forest, we need inspiration and strong leadership, perhaps Justin Edinburgh wasn’t so bad after all . If Ebbsfleet and Dover can rise again …” Can the Gills ??? Yours Gillfully Glenn Sarfas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would normally be speechless too, but after the season we have had to endure as fans nothing really shocks me anymore.
      Pennock takes ‘square pegs in round holes’ to a hole other level.

      Like

  2. It beggars belief that Scally has not just any love for the club, after all the energy and money and care he has put in over the years, but more worryingly, a complete absence of any regard for the club as an economic asset. I know little of his dealings beyond the club, other than his sale of a photocopier company many moons ago just prior to purchasing and essentially saving the club.

    As you have so plainly laid out too clear to see as anything different; despite our love for him as a player from a far more healthy period of our history, despite his hoped for blossoming acumen forged under Pulis and then shown in flashes at Welling and Forest Green…the truth is that he is one of the most appallingly inept managers I have seen at any professional level for more than two decades following the game, both domestically and abroad ( I am an avid juve fan due to the italian blood combining rarely seamlesslly with my anglo saxon elements in my crimson rivers).

    I moan at Max Allegri for playing Mandzukic as a LM, much earlier this year, yet I did not assume anything other than he knew damn well what he was doing. As he did. Yet to see, in one game after another, players playing in roles which have no relation to their natural skill-set, not just one, but seven!!!! It is bizarre. There are several explanations I can proffer –

    1. Scally is running the club into the ground intentionally. Hence his ostensible blindness to the woeful management of Ady Pennock. There might be something to gain by him sending the club into bankruptcy? Or he has a seller lined up? And is assuming we will stay up, by the skin of our teeth and sees no point in being negative for the prospective investors, who he assumes don’t understand football or results and are yet eager to buy?!
    2. Scally has gone berserk, and is actually suffering from some form of mental illness, which is not yet to be made public. Before any press conference, they give him a shot of something, tell him we are doing brilliantly, display a table which is inverted, hence he spouts nonsense of the premier league as our aim.

    I love Zola. He is that rare thing in football; honest, heartfelt and ultra talented. Consider his recent effort at Birmingham. he tried. tried. tried. Saw a possibility of the club falling so low and felt, in the interests of the club and its fan, that it was right to resign, leave them a chance to survive and prosper. Brilliant man. And I assume the fans, despite his failures, would pay him rightful respect.

    A manager who truly cares for a club and its fans is equally a rare thing. They might appear to, yet history reflects its a transient sensation, expression, which fits that period of time.

    Pennock can see the table. He knows that he has failed close to as horridly as anyone could have foreseen, yet he mistakes commitment for selfishness and pride. Had he any pride he would have behaved a la Zola. I suppose he feels, for good reason, that were he to have resigned, that would have been his one shot at managing in the professional game gone, and also sullied and soiled. He would emerge more unemployable than when he arrived on the scene in Justin’s wake.

    If I had any certainty, even suspicion, that Scally would sack Ady if we went down, I would prefer that option to staying up and realistically remaining in the bottom three for the vast majority of the season.

    In short, the unfortunate reality is that no manager unable to understand that players are not tiddly winks, they are more akin to pieces on a chess board. Each one has his specific power. You do not begin by placing your Queen as close to your king as possible, alongside your knights. They go on the offensive, and without any offence, the only result can be defeat.

    Enjoyable to read piece, my friend and I hope your stag do proved joyful and brimming with mischief and brotherly love.

    Up the Gills,

    Cheers,
    Daniel

    Like

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