'Arguably the best squad in the league' - New Gills boss Harris on Town

Cardiff City manager Neil Harris

New Gillingham boss Neil Harris brings his side to Portman Road this weekend. He says Ipswich Town have arguably got the best squad in the league - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town host relegation-threatened Gillingham tomorrow (3pm). Mark Heath takes a look at the Gills...

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Gillingham have had a dreadful season, there's no way around it.

They sit 23rd in the League One table, ahead of only rank-bad Doncaster, but have actually won fewer games than Rovers this season - just four of their 29 games so far.

Gillingham manger Steve Evans during the Sky Bet League One match at Hillsborough, Sheffield. Pictur

Steve Evans departed as Gillingham boss after Town's 4-0 win in Kent in Janaury - Credit: PA

Panto villain boss Steve Evans got his marching orders after they were thumped 4-0 at home by Town on January 8, but the Gills got no better under temporary boss Steve Lovell, culminating in a 7-2 home thrashing by sixth-placed Oxford United last weekend.

That left the Gills still without a win in the league since October 19 - a 1-0 victory over the aforementioned Doncaster - a not-so grand total of 17 games without tasting victory.

But then...

Millwall manager Neil Harris and captain Tony Craig celebrate with the trophy after the Sky Bet Leag

Neil Harris led Millwall to promotion from League One back in 2017 - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

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New boss, new hope

Gillingham appointed Neil Harris as their new manager on Monday, the former Millwall and Cardiff City boss signing a two-and-a-half year deal, along with long-time assistant David Livermore.

The move has been very well received by Gills fans - Harris took Millwall out of League One via the play-offs and got them to the last eight of the FA Cup, before he guided Cardiff to a fifth-placed Championship finish.

He is then, a boss with serious pedigree to have taking over a club embroiled in a relegation fight. Indeed, he was heavily linked to the Ipswich Town job before Kieran McKenna was appointed.

Chairman Paul Scally said: "It has been a difficult task over the past few weeks, interviewing and selecting the right candidate.

"But I am delighted that with Neil's experience, his knowledge and passion of this football club, and his desire to take the club on a new journey, that today is the start of a new tomorrow."

Instant impact

Harris took charge of the Gills for the first time on Tuesday night - and they won!

The Gills saw off fellow strugglers Crewe 1-0 at home, with Harris switching formations to a back three and using a trio up top to great effect.

He said: "We have come together last minute, some of it off the cuff, and I am really proud of the players. We will be better than that, I can assure people of that, hopefully it provides the same results but we will improve going forward.

“Hard work and honesty costs nothing and the fans saw it. There is no overnight success, no promises on what we are going to achieve and I was very clear with that in the messages during my interview with the club, I am not going to promise we will do this and that, it is about one game at a time and we took care of that (first) game."

Harris on Ipswich

Despite that winning start, Harris knows his side will have to be much better to return from Suffolk with any points.

He said: "It is an enormous task and we want to be better than when we played Ipswich at home, we want to be better and we have to build on what we did on Tuesday, we need the players individually and collectively to perform.

“We can’t guarantee anything, we are playing a side who have had time to nail down what they want to do under their new manager (Kieran McKenna) and he is a good guy.

"They have had some good results, we are playing a team who arguably have the best squad in the league, a ridiculous budget for the division and a team that shouldn’t be in this division next year and whether they are or not we will have to see.”

He added: "I know Ipswich very well and I know their players and their squad, it was a club I had been linked with, it is a great club, a club with huge resources at this level and I think Kieran will do a great job.”

Millwall's Ben Thompson (top) in action against Nottingham Forest's Tiago Silva during the Sky Bet C

Millwall's Ben Thompson (top) in action against Nottingham Forest's Tiago Silva during the Sky Bet Championship match at The New Den, London. - Credit: PA

One to watch

Key midfielder Kyle Dempsey departed on Monday, signing for Bolton for an undisclosed fee.

But Harris moved quickly to replace him with a man he knows well - Ben Thompson came in from Millwall on loan until the end of the season.

Thompson was part of that Millwall squad who got promoted out of League One under Harris in 2017, with some fans believing the Gills may have emerged improved as a result of the two moves.

The 26-year-old, who is likely to make his debut in Suffolk, said: "I'm over the moon. Obviously with Neil coming in as manager it was a no-brainer in the end.

"I am buzzing to be here. I jumped at the opportunity and hopefully we can have some good times at the club.

"Hopefully I can add some goals. I'm raring to go and it's a challenge to get out of the bottom four and get up the league."

Striker Vadaine Oliver is Gillingham's leading scorer this season, with seven goals so far.