The Gills manager previews Saturday's game against Shrewsbury.
“We will never allow our season to fade out,” insisted a resolute Steve Evans, who is calling for a positive reaction from his Gillingham players when they face Shrewsbury Town on Saturday afternoon at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
The Gills boss is keen to shake off Monday’s disappointing Blackpool defeat and put his side’s late play-off charge back on track. The challenge may seem like an uphill battle, but Evans is confident his men will keep fighting until the end.
The Gaffer spoke with the local press via Zoom to preview a difficult Shrewsbury fixture, as well as react to his ‘Manager of the Month’ nomination and send a message of hope to his counterpart, Steve Cotterill, who will be absent from the sidelines as he continues to receive hospital treatment for Covid-19.
“If you are involved in a promotion campaign and you get an adverse result or two, it’s dead easy to look for blame, whether that be big players, a goalkeeper, or striker, but experience tells you the best thing to do is go away quietly, analyse things with a calm head and then go forward and make some decisions for Shrewsbury.
“We are capable, as a squad of men, of winning all of our six remaining games. We have hunger and desire and the players are going to get an opportunity to fight in these final six games for a wonderful prize.
“A good performance against Shrewsbury gives us an opportunity to win the match; if we win the match then we are in this play-off race with five to go.”
‘Manager of the Month’ nomination
“Every time you get a ‘Manager of the Month Award’, and I have had several over the years, it really is a testament to your players and your staff. To receive that award, you have to be winning games and scoring goals, playing attractive football, and doing something positive.
“If I am successful, but there are some excellent managers up for it, it is recognition for the players and staff, they are the ones who earn the results.”
Thinking of Steve
“Steve Cotterill is an outstanding guy and I’m closer to him than a lot of managers around the country. When I heard the news about Steve getting Covid, I thought he would be in and out in two days because that guy could run a marathon backwards. It shows you how nasty this virus can be. I kept in daily contact with the people down in Shrewsbury with what was going on. He’s been in and out of hospital, but he is winning the fight.
“From a wider perspective, other than football, it will be great to see Steve Cotterill back at Shrewsbury Football Club; he’s a big character. Steve, you are missed; come back to it buddy.”
“I watched the Northampton game myself (when Shrewsbury were defeated 1-0 at Sixfields Stadium) and the Northampton boys had their balaclavas on by the end because they were robbing it. Shrewsbury deserved to take their share of the spoils, as both teams produced a real energetic performance. If I were the Shrewsbury gaffer that day, I would have come away disappointed because they deserved more.
“They were comfortable beating Plymouth on Monday, 3-0, and it could have been more.
“They will be a tough opponent for us. Why? First and foremost, they will be set up properly. Secondly, they have some really good footballers.
“It’s time for our players to get back on the front foot and produce the performances they have over the last eight weeks.”
Looking forward to seeing fans again
“I can’t find the words in such a detailed fashion to explain how much we miss them. We have had some magical days this season, both home and away. We have often sat in this little office of mine and said: ‘the one thing that is missing is the Priestfield fans singing as we leave the stadium.’
“We miss you guys and girls, more than you can imagine!”