Time to knuckle down, says Gills new skipper.
Stuart O’Keefe captained Gillingham to a battling victory on Tuesday night against relegation rivals Crewe and in doing so got new manager Neil Harris’ reign off to the perfect start.
The ever reliable Gills midfielder is now targeting another three points at the expense of his boyhood team Ipswich, where his football life began at the age of nine.
O’Keefe, who has been handed the Captain’s armband until the end of the season, was described by Harris as a man with huge dignity, integrity and pride; some ideal qualities needed in what is proving to be a tense relegation battle.
Speaking to the media ahead of the visit to Portman Road, O’Keefe was in a confident mood.
He said: “What has gone on, has gone on. We can’t change that unfortunately. It’s about us being as positive as we can as a group. The manager has definitely come in and installed that with the right direction, organisation and help. There is no reason we can’t take each game as it comes and move up the table gradually.
“It’s been a positive reaction from everyone in the dressing room. We had a good result on Tuesday night and it is about moving on now.
“After Saturday (when Gillingham were defeated 7-2 by Oxford), it is credit to the management team, who came in at short notice, and the boys to turn things around and get that result against Crewe who are fighting for their lives. It says a lot about us as a group. You could see the relief around the stadium, it’s time to knuckle down now and work hard.
“After Saturday, we couldn’t blame the fans if they didn’t want to come again, so it says a lot about them getting behind the boys, and that is what it is going to need. It’s going to take everyone at this Club to pull together to bring those positive times back to Priestfield. We all want to move up the table and be competitive again. Hopefully, with the new manager in place, we will be looking upwards.
“We felt relief if anything on Tuesday. It’s been a while since we have had that winning feeling. It was well overdue. Everyone put so much effort in, so to finally get the three points was a massive sense of relief and pride. We can get ourselves out of this mess, but it will take a lot of effort.
“We will have to be organised, disciplined and positive. We played them not so long ago and we got well beat. We owe them one. We will take Tuesday night’s enthusiasm and positivity into Saturday. It’s all about believing.“