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Former Gillingham boss Steve Evans speaks for the first time since leaving Priestfield

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Steve Evans has described his departure from Gillingham as “very amicable”.

Evans left Priestfield on Sunday after two-and-a-half years in charge following talks with chairman Paul Scally.

Ex-Gillingham manager Steve Evans Picture: Ady Kerry
Ex-Gillingham manager Steve Evans Picture: Ady Kerry

A 4-0 defeat by Ipswich extended the Gills’ winless run to 13 games in all competitions and proved to be his final match.

Evans, speaking on Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony’s The Hard Truth podcast, highlighted the impact of Covid and injuries this season.

But with the team seven points from safety, he said: “Listen, I’m not one to offer excuses. At the end of the day, I wasn’t happy, the chairman wasn’t happy, we’ve been speaking for the last couple of weeks.

“One thing I am, I’m honest. Sometimes my opinion’s misguided but I said to him we need to sit down and he called me Sunday and said let’s have that chat, and it was very amicable.

“We’ll see but it was very amicable in terms of it’s not working, he needs to change direction.

“When you’ve not won for that long, it’s right.

“I’ve nothing but gratitude for managing a good club. I lived amongst the people in Gillingham for many months and they were great to me and I’ve had messages of brilliant support since the news broke.”

Evans told MacAnthony he couldn’t disclose Gillingham’s budget, as part of his agreement with the club.

He did, though, say it would be “nearer the bottom than top (of League 1) by some stretch”.

A lack of resources made it difficult for Gillingham to compete in a league packed with big clubs and Evans understood the position Scally was in.

“I met with the chairman very early in the summer and he said if anything there will be less money, probably the same budget, and he tried to help when he could,” said Evans, who managed Peterborough under MacAnthony.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally Picture: Ady Kerry

“But I think the difference at Gillingham is Paul Scally’s on his own and I have a lot of empathy with that.

“I don’t think the chairman would mind me saying it, he doesn’t have the wealth of Darragh MacAnthony, and I’ve been there, I’ve been in meetings when you’ve said ‘I’ll put a million in on Tuesday’.

"Paul Scally didn’t have the wealth to do that.

“Listen, he can fly to Dubai first-class tomorrow, he’s not that skint, but the difference is he doesn’t have a million pound sitting there or £2m or £3m, and I understood it when I met him in the summer when he said, ‘Listen, this frightens me’, like it did all of us with the size of clubs (in League 1).

“I spoke regularly to Paul Cook (then-Ipswich manager) in the summer, I was looking to take his third-team players.

“I think the difficulty the chairman had was saying it’s going to be around the same (budget), or I’ll try and get you a little bit more if I can, and of course the pandemic didn’t go away.

“If anything it got worse for clubs and I had to understand there wasn’t going to be the resources, so there was no point me going to try and sign a Jordan Graham, like we did the previous year, or retain Connor Ogilvie or sign a Kyle Dempsey.

“We couldn’t in the summer go for those players because there wasn’t the funds available so we had to shop in a different market and what that brings is a lesser ability of player, however we dress it up.

“But you try and sign characters and I think in the main when Gillingham have their full team out, they’re all fit and they’re all well, then good results will come.”

Evans spoke briefly about interest from Stevenage at the end of last year.

He was informed of the approach but says Scally told him “he was going to refuse permission (to speak to Evans) unless it became a contractual situation where they were paying full compensation”.

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