The Gills boss answers a few questions.
Q: It's a testing time for everybody at the moment; how are you finding things personally?
A: It’s a testing time for everyone; to be locked up isn’t a hardship though when you consider our great grandfathers and grandads went to war and fought the battles for us, and many didn’t come home at all.
We just need to stay at home, please do that. I’m no different; I’m finding it difficult at times but to beat this virus we need to do what it’s taking, we need to take the advice of the Prime Minister and, I hate using this name, Piers Morgan!
Piers, thank you. Keep beating the drum, please keep people at home.
Q: It's been confirmed that Football won't resume until April 30 at the earliest and that date looks set to be extended. Do you remain of the view that the current season must be completed?
A: Absolutely, the season has to be completed as best we can. Commercial monies people are relying on from the TV, media, radio, everything that contributes. Overseas television rights all contributes to putting money in the pot for Gillingham Football Club and from the Premier League down.
It’s massively important that that is continued. I saw in the press about 24 hours a good friend of mine, Mark Warburton [manager at QPR], said that in his opinion we need a clearer date.
I don’t think the EFL board can give us a clear date; they are like the rest of us. They are in lockdown for three weeks – will it be four, five or six weeks? We don’t know, but I do agree with him as we need some guide that’s an accurate guide, rather than putting a date out there which isn’t applicable.
From that point of view I don’t see us playing on April 30, I don’t see us back then. I think Football will be played, touching wood, hopefully, in June and we’ll get the season concluded. We can then have a short break, because the players won’t need as long, and we can go back in and get back on with the season but we should be keeping the Carabao Cup, we should be keeping the FA Cup and let the big clubs do what they’ve done on lots of other occasions which is use their vast resources and a big squad.
Q: Do you think all owners and managers should be consulted before any end of season structure is implemented to gain a majority view?
A: I think there is an absolutely outstanding majority, if not unanimous, that managers and chairmen want the season to finish, but it shouldn’t lie at the decision of the managers.
We coach the players, manage the players and we want to win promotions if you are challenging, you want to avoid relegation if you are down there and you want to get into the play-offs if you are like us. It’s massively important that that decision is taken by the owners of the Football Clubs and the Chairmen and respective boards. We trust the good people on the EFL board, and there are some great people on that board, along with the Premier League and the Football Association. We are trusting these people to guide us through these times and make the right decisions.
Q: Next season may have to start a touch later as a result but considering the break in fixtures we have had, will that be an issue in your view?
A: If we end up back in June, the players can have three weeks in July, maximum three weeks, and we can go back in and go again in the middle of August.
It’s not about when we start again; we need to win this virus war. Let’s win that, secondary let’s win Football matches and thirdly let’s get ready for next season. Let’s hope all of our loved ones that are fighting for their lives, with the help of the brilliant NHS staff that are giving them a chance, there are as many of them as possible to see in the new season because we know how tough this is going to be.
Q: I'm sure you are liaising with staff/players on a daily basis. How is everybody?
A: The players have been given a fitness and training schedule which has to be adhered to; they have to report on it and it has to be checked. James Russell is doing a great job who heads up our fitness team. Myself and Jamma are all over it; on Friday I had a call with each of the players just to talk to them and make sure they are understanding the work we are asking them to do. How they are doing it, where they are doing it and, more importantly, how their mental state is, because it’s tough for everybody, especially Footballers who are used to routine.
In by 0915, breakfast at 0930, training ground 1015, finish training, lunch at 1230, Gym 1315. We don’t treat Footballers like kids, but they are very regimented from the Premier League down and when you take them out of their routine, there is a lot of down time from home, but hopefully from my conversation with each of them they are in positive spirits.
They are staying at home, doing the isolating which is a key part. We are making sure they are doing the work as early as they can in the morning, not many people around, away from everyone else and getting back indoors with the family and making sure we are staying safe.
We are fighting this virus war, and we are in this together for sure.