Gillingham aren’t afraid to set their targets high for next season.
After a stunning turnaround in January, the Gills are among the favourites for promotion in 2023/24. Owner Brad Galinson is aiming for just that.
“The expectations next year are huge,” accepts the US owner. “It’s good and it’s bad, right? You know, ‘the Galinsons saved the club’ could go to ‘Galinsons Out!’ if we’re not careful.
“We know the expectations, we’re thrilled about it, and we’ll work the best we can to fulfil the dream that the fans have.
“Our expectation is promotion. We might not attain it, but we’ll try.
“It’s like a double-edged sword because if you’re 15th mid-season that’s better than it was last time, but that’s not what our expectation is. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.”
The Gills are looking to add a handful of players to those they brought in during a successful January recruitment drive.
“We’re definitely trying to recruit up,” said the chairman.
“We’ll also recruit the same way we did in January, which is like when you watch the pitch and someone scores and you see our bench clear out and hug each other. That’s not something you teach. That’s the kind of boys that we have.
“We definitely want to keep it consistent and have that same kind of camaraderie with that athletic skill that hopefully helps the team. You have to have both.”
The word sensible has already been used to describe Gillingham’s summer transfer window and Mr Galinson insists they won’t be overpaying - even though everyone knows the club are a different beast now.
He said: “In January we had to tell the story, ‘we’re gonna stay up, we’re on a journey’ and people were like, ‘I don’t know if I want to be part of that - I don’t want to be in the National League’.
“Now part of it is media, there’s Wrexham and there’s Notts (County) and there’s us. It’s like, ‘we’re the best thing since sliced bread and we’re gonna all be promoted’ and so it’s the opposite and people are calling us and they want to be part of our journey.
“They also have the expectation that we’re going to pay wages that are probably more like the Championship. You have that issue, which is ‘no, no, we’re still a League 2 team’.
“You have fair play rules but also for me sustainability is pretty important.
“If you try to buy yourself promotion, first of all, it might not work. But second of all you’re basically taking a car off a cliff because at some point, you’re going to fall off the cliff.
“The idea here is to be patient and sustainable and do it right so you are within your means but you are still competitive.
“I think we signed 11 or 12 in January and we probably need four to six, probably six.
“It’s the same in that we’re obviously being quite aggressive but it’s more controlled and it’s very specialised in the player we’re trying to get so it’s a little bit more relaxed.
“I think we have a very solid team and if you look at the last half of the season, I think we’re number two. If we can’t get better than we have then there’s no reason to just get a new player which is why it’s very specialised, very surgical.
“Watching (director of football) Kenny Jackett and (head of recruitment) Andy Hessenthaler and those guys around a table, they’re masters at what they do. I just watch and ask questions and maybe challenge them a little bit, but they know what they’re doing.
“It’s almost like a chess game because if you get this striker, then this winger makes sense. But if it’s this (another) striker they need this winger and so it’s very much a chess match.”
Mr Galinson isn’t afraid to add a few suggestions to the mix, either, adding: “I also watch on social media and some of these fans are really smart. I’ll send a name to Andy and ask ‘what about this guy?’. He’ll be like, ‘where did you get him from?’. I’m like, ‘Oh, well, I have some connections!’.”