Neil Harris’ surprising exit from Gillingham means the club is now looking for a new manager, after the former Millwall man was abruptly fired from his position at the Kent club.
At the time of writing, Gillingham are in a reasonable eighth place in League One, with six wins from 11 games played.
However, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the Gills’ attacking style and overall paucity of goals – only nine goals scored so far this season – but the beneficial results had typically overcome any major concerns about the impotent attacking showing.
The Gillingham board of directors may choose a manager who wants to play more daring and swashbuckling football – a guy who will bring fans out of their seats more frequently at Priestfield.
With big sections of the Gillingham supporters amused by the rash decision to fire Harris, they’ll have to get the replacement right.
Who is being considered to replace the former Millwall manager?
Here are five names that could take over in the near future, including a present boss who is flourishing in non-league, a proven League Two manager who is out of work, and more!
Karl Robinson, the former Oxford United manager and assistant to Sam Allardyce at Leeds United, might return to the EFL with Gillingham.
He’ll want to be the primary man in the dugout again now.
Robinson’s most notable achievements as a manager came at his first club, MK Dons, where he led the club to promotion from League One during the 2014-15 season, coming runner-up behind Bristol City in the automatic promotion spots.
He struggled to adjust to the Championship as manager, although Robinson oversaw MK’s greatest days in recent memory.
During his time at Oxford, Robinson made his U’s team competitive in the third division, regularly playing in the League One playoffs.
Oxford would never be as successful as MK under Robinson – Oxford lost a playoff final in 2020 and then again in the semi-finals in 2021 – but his time at Oxford United was largely positive before it all went wrong for the 43-year-old near the end.
He may be willing to drop down to League Two with the Gills after having his ego hurt in the later stages of his stint at Oxford, leaving the U’s after his team went winless in eight.
With Gillingham fully bent on promotion to League One, the Gills might potentially entice Robinson to become their next manager to assist the squad attain their aim of jumping up to the third tier.
Gillingham would also have to persuade Cowley to return to the fourth division; the 44-year-old last coached in League Two in 2019 with Lincoln City.
His stint as manager at Lincoln City means he’s still remembered as a great for the Imps, winning 98 of his 184 games in charge and achieving many promotions as well as a memorable FA Cup run, overcoming the likes of Burnley and Brighton in 2016 while the Imps were in non-league.
Cowley would win three trophies as Lincoln manager, winning the 2016-17 National League title, the 2018-19 League Two title, and the FA Trophy in the 2017-18 season.
He’ll be in the running for the Gills job based solely on his stint with the Imps, where he took Lincoln from non-league obscurity to League One in a short of years.
Cowley’s experience at Sincil Bank led to possibilities in the Championship and higher up in League One, where he managed Huddersfield Town and Portsmouth.
Cowley struggled in patches for both clubs, and was ousted by both following dismal runs of form.
Cowley would be a coup for the Gills if he was named manager, despite his unimpressive experiences at Pompey and the Terriers, a proven League Two promotion winner.
The Gills could choose an exciting new non-league head coach as their next manager rather than a more seasoned leader who understands the EFL inside and out, with Andy Woodman from Bromley standing out in this regard.
Woodman has been the manager of Bromley since 2021, having previously worked as a goalkeeping coach at West Ham, Charlton, and Newcastle United, as well as briefly serving as Arsenal’s Head of Goalkeeping.
He’s had success in the 130 games he’s managed for the Ravens thus far, winning Manager of the Month in May 2021, just a few months after taking over at the Greater London club.
At the time of writing, Woodman’s team is fifth in the National League. They are undoubtedly punching above their weight, currently ranking higher in the division than Oldham Athletic, Woking, and Rochdale.
Seven wins from 14 games is a remarkable record, with a recent 3-1 success over Gateshead standing out, with Michael Cheek’s double securing the three points.
Woodman would not have to relocate geographically if the Gills came calling.
Could Gillingham give Woodman a chance to make an impression as a manager in the EFL so early in his career?
Gillingham could make another raid on Crawley, but this time for their current manager, Scott Lindsey, after signing Tom Nichols and Ashley Nadesan from the Red Devils in the summer.
Despite losing a lot of their key players and the Crawley owners dominating the off-season debate, Crawley have been dominant in League Two this season.
Crawley surprised a number of clubs in September to maintain their scorching start, dismissing pundits’ predictions that they’d be relegated.
Lindsey’s Red Devils scored goals for joy, beating Newport County and Sutton United 4-1 and 3-0 at home, respectively, while their away performances have also been entertaining, winning 3-2 at Grimsby and drawing 3-3 at Edgeley Park against Stockport County.
Lindsey could be at the top of Gillingham’s list of potential new managers due to the number of goals scored in Crawley’s games this season, which is supported up by the fact that they are now in fifth place in the league, above the Gills.
Lindsey made no remark on the rumors before his club faced Wrexham this weekend, holding all conjecture at bay. Could he relocate to Kent after this Saturday?
Mark Warburton is a renegade choice to round out the list of possibilities for the Gillingham job, but if a deal is made, he could be a statement signing for the Kent-based club.
Warburton has been out of work in football since June of this year, when he left the West Ham coaching staff.
The 61-year-old was hailed as an exciting manager during his stint at Brentford, as he led the Bees to promotion to the Championship in his first season.
After stabilizing the Bees in the Championship the next season, the London-born manager was connected with a number of high-profile moves to teams such as Leeds United and Newcastle United.
Following Brentford, he would take over as manager of both Nottingham Forest and Rangers.
Gillingham may consider Warburton as a marquee signing and an ambitious managerial appointment that justifies Harris’ surprise departure.
Warburton also left West Ham in search of a more prominent position in football; would the manager’s job at Gillingham be appealing to the 61-year-old?