Neil Harris previews the trip to Fratton Park on Saturday.
“I would one hundred percent rather be out on the pitch as a player on Saturday,” admitted Gillingham’s passionate manager Neil Harris who is gunning for three crucial points at Fratton Park in a possibly season-defining game this weekend.
Gillingham sit one place and point above the relegation zone as a difficult season draws to a dramatic conclusion, and Harris, who has enjoyed defying expectation since his arrival at ME7, is confident his players can upset the form book once again to take maximum points against Portsmouth.
Harris, speaking to the media ahead of the fixture, said: “We are ready to go for the weekend and we are looking forward to it. We need to approach the game in the right manner and start from the first whistle. We need to play how we want to play and how we want the game to go.
“Nobody wants to be in this position but I would have snapped your hand off to be in this position 10 weeks ago. All I can concentrate on is preparing to go and win at Fratton Park. The lads have been at it in training and they want to win on Saturday. We will play with determination, spirit and desire and hope we have that moment of quality to get that victory.
“We will go to Fratton Park and enjoy it. We will have a good following and it will be a cracking atmosphere. We have sold our ticket allocation out very quickly.”
The Gillingham faithful have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes since the arrival of Harris who is hoping that two more positive results could see the Gills complete their greatest escape act.
“We have come a long way,” he said. “Going into the last seven days of the season we are outside of the relegation zone when everyone had presumed we would be relegated by this stage already.
“I’ve reminded the lads of some stats on how well we have done. If the league table had started on the 1st of February then we would be 12th in the league. We have seven clean sheets and have only conceded 13 goals in that time. I’ve reminded the players of this and that’s credit to them.
“I took the challenge on knowing that we were 11 points adrift with a horrific goal difference. I knew I was joining for the project, no matter what league we are in next year. I can only embrace the challenge and enjoy it. I came for a long-term project.
"I feel I have given some hope and belief to this season and am looking to now build for the future. Short term is about April 30th at 5:00; midterm is about the transfer window and pre-season; long term is about building a culture and infrastructure at this Football Club for years to come, not just whilst Neil Harris is in charge.”
Before any of that though, it’s Portsmouth on Saturday and Harris is desperate to lead by example from the dugout as he attempts to mastermind an important win.
He said: “I can’t change the person I am. I’m passionate and I like to win. Sometimes I don’t hide my emotions very well. I’ve learnt over my years as a manager to try and control what I say. I was hot-headed as a player but I try not to be as a manager. I try to be methodical. Teams represent their manager. I like to see my players play with desire and passion and give their all on the pitch.
“We will go there feeling confident. From our point of view we have everything to play for.”