I was completely caught off guard by the surprising dismissal of Millwall legend – Gillingham podcaster confessed…

I was completely caught off guard by the surprising dismissal of Millwall legend Neil Harris,” a Gillingham podcaster confessed, reflecting on the events of the past week.

Despite the Gills sitting in eighth place on the league table, just four points behind Notts County, who led the pack, Harris was let go after only 11 games into the season.

This decision came after Harris had been in charge for 20 months and nearly orchestrated a miraculous escape from relegation in League One, having taken over in January 2022.

Caretaker manager Keith Millen secured his first victory against MK Dons, with former Millwall defender Scott Malone among the goal-scorers in a 2-1 win.

James Hawkins, co-host of the Me7 podcast alongside his friend Owen Stanley, is still struggling to come to terms with what he calls a “bold” move. He expressed, “I never saw it coming. Even now, I believe it’s premature. We were eighth in the league, just one point away from third place.

I firmly believe he should have been given more time, 100%. While some fans may not have warmed to Neil Harris, irrespective of results, I think everyone would agree he deserved an extended opportunity.

Whether this extra time would lead to better outcomes, I can’t say, but sacking a manager after just 11 games when you’re within striking distance of automatic promotion is a bold and risky move, as it could go either way. It could be a resounding success or a terrible failure, and I hope it’s not the latter.”

Harris’ style of football, which was reminiscent of his time at Millwall, seemed to be a point of contention among some Gillingham supporters on social media. Hawkins speculated, “I believe this is likely the primary reason for Neil Harris’ dismissal.

The club stated its desire to move in a ‘different direction,’ and I assume this means adopting a more attractive style of play. It’s no secret that Neil Harris’ football wasn’t always easy on the eyes, and to be frank, that’s probably what cost him his job.

The football club invested heavily in the playing squad, particularly in wages, after the arrival of the new owner, Brad Galinson, in January.

There was considerable pressure to perform. I think the club felt that given the talent at Neil Harris’ disposal, we weren’t producing enough goals, engaging in attacking play, and were barely scraping by in matches rather than dominating opponents. That’s why he was let go, in my opinion.”

Despite any on-field issues, Hawkins spoke fondly of Neil Harris as a “top guy” who left lasting memories during his time at Priestfield, including remarkable Carabao Cup upsets.

Hawkins recalled, “We defeated Brentford on penalties in the Carabao Cup when we were at the bottom of the football league and playing poorly. We also beat Southampton this season, 3-1 at Priestfield, even though they had just been relegated from the Premier League.

He came close to keeping us in League One on the last day of the season, despite being 10 points adrift when he arrived on deadline day, and we only missed out on goal difference.

But the most significant thing for me is that Neil Harris was an exceptional person. He was incredibly kind and generous with his time, even appearing on our podcast for an interview.

He was a fantastic person, and it’s no wonder the players were devastated when he was dismissed. So, I’d like to wish Neil all the best in his future endeavors. Millwall fans hold him in high regard, and rightly so. He’s one of my favorite Gillingham managers, and I’ve been a Gills fan for 22 years now.”

As for who might succeed him, several candidates with various levels of recognition in EFL circles have been linked to the position. Hawkins expressed his preference, saying, “I would like to see the club go in the direction of a young, ambitious manager who plays attractive football.

Andrew Crofts, currently Brighton’s first-team coach and a former Gillingham player, is a strong contender in that regard. Some have mentioned the Cowley brothers. Karl Robinson would be my top choice.

He has led Oxford United to two play-off finals, promoted MK Dons from League Two to League One, and plays an attractive brand of football. If it were up to me, Karl Robinson would be at the top of my list.”

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