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Gillingham manager Steve Evans says he faces different challenges in League 1 this season

Manager Steve Evans feels he is working to different parameters at Gillingham this season.

It's a different challenge to the one that faced the 58-year-old when he was appointed by chairman Paul Scally in May 2019.

Manager Steve Evans believes the task facing him at Gillingham has changed. Picture: Keith Gillard (49599300)
Manager Steve Evans believes the task facing him at Gillingham has changed. Picture: Keith Gillard (49599300)

There are even more big-spending teams and Gillingham's ability to compete has been weakened by the impact of the Covid pandemic.

"The challenge has changed since I came in," stated Evans. "The challenge when I came in pre-Covid was to take Gillingham Football Club, the supporters' team, the people of Medway's team, from fighting relegation every week to being a promotion contender.

"I think in my first season if Covid doesn't come in then I think we get in the (play-offs).

"Last year we finished 10th, we had a massive day at Oxford when we were 2-0 ahead (and lost 3-2). If we won that game I was confident that we'd beat Oxford and Peterborough but we didn't and that's what cost us.

"Then you get the summer, the spending power of Wigan with new owners. I don't fault them, I've been one of those managers who has been at big clubs with big budgets and you have to spend it wisely.

"I think Wigan have, Cooky has at Ipswich, Lee Johnson is starting to bring people in at Sunderland, and Sheffield Wednesday who nobody mentions - I respect and fear them. They, Sunderland and Portsmouth are three giants in League 1.

"It's a real tough gig but we're not going to talk about budgets once the season starts, we're only going to talk about how hard we've worked for Gillingham Football Club. If we work hard enough, and I've said this to the players, then I'll certainly stand in front of them and I'll be judged on results by the people above me."

Former Leeds and Peterborough boss Evans may be a realist but he's also up for the battle of competing against some big clubs.

He's happy to put his reputation on the line at Priestfield, knowing that the club's survival is more important than an eye-watering wage budget.

"League 1 is so tough this year," said Evans. "It's telephone numbers that is being spent by over 10 clubs. They're spending more on one player than we do on five - more than I've ever seen it.

"You've always had a big one or two but now you've got a big seven and three or four not far behind. I look at them spending money at Ipswich, at Wigan, at Sunderland, I look at Shrewsbury, I look at Crewe and it's big money.

"But you have to back your judgment and you have to use the resources we've got. The one thing we've got is a chairman who pays every bill, pays every player on time and pays every staff member on time.

"So we don't end up like a Bolton - a club dear to my heart because I started my career there - or a Bury. Many time I've been to Gigg Lane and been manager there and those supporters don't have a club to watch."

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