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Gillingham's new manager is former Leeds United, Rotherham and Peterborough United boss Steve Evans

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has confirmed that Steve Evans will be the club's new manager.

Evans has been in the frame for the Gills management job ever since Steve Lovell was relieved of his duties two games before the end of the season.

The former Leeds and Rotherham manager has now agreed to take over as manager of the Gills.

Steve Evans is the new manager of Gillingham Picture: Barry Goodwin
Steve Evans is the new manager of Gillingham Picture: Barry Goodwin

Mr Scally said: "I fully expect him to bring us success both on and off the field."

Evans has previously been linked with the Gills and was a target for Scally in October 2017, before he handed Lovell the job.

At the time, Evans was at Mansfield, but the league 2 club refused the Gills permission to speak to their manager. Evans eventually quit Mansfield for Peterborough United in February 2018 but he was sacked by the London Road club in January of this year, despite the club being in the play-off race.

Posh chairman Darragh McAnthony said he had “zero regrets” about axing the Scot. They had been top of League 1 under Evans at one stage, before falling away. They finished outside of the play-off places at the end of the season.

The Gills ended their campaign under the caretaker management of Mark Patterson, who was Lovell’s right-hand man, guiding them to a 13th place finish.

Evans will be no stranger to the Gills, having been a regular at games during the latter part of the season. His long-term assistant Paul Raynor has also watched the Gills at first-hand and is expected to join as his assistant.

Steve Evans watches the game against Wycombe Picture: Ady Kerry
Steve Evans watches the game against Wycombe Picture: Ady Kerry

The appointment of Evans won’t be universally popular – a recent poll showed the majority of fans were against his appointment - but he’ll ultimately be judged by performances and results on the pitch. The Gills have spent the last six seasons in League 1, finishing no higher than ninth and in the past three campaigns the club have flirted with relegation.

Glasgow-born Evans played football in his native Scotland and first made a name for himself as a manager in the non-league scene, not always for the right reasons.

Having enjoyed promotions with Stamford, he then led Boston United from the Southern League to the Football League, however, his reputation became tarnished after being given a suspended sentence for tax fraud while at the Lincolnshire club.

Evans did eventually return to Boston, as manager, but his time there ended in relegation back out of the Football League.

Steve Evans is booked by referee Lee Swabey when Peterborough played at Priestfield earlier this season Picture: Ady Kerry
Steve Evans is booked by referee Lee Swabey when Peterborough played at Priestfield earlier this season Picture: Ady Kerry

He left Boston for fellow non-league side Crawley Town and along with Raynor they enjoyed another title, winning the Blue Square Bet Premier League and promotion to League 2. They challenged at the top of League 2 but fell out of the automatic promotion places after selling some key players.

Evans was handed a 10-match touchline ban while with Crawley, after being hauled before the FA following a number of dismissals from the bench. Evans left Crawley for Rotherham, who were then in League 2.

An incident at Crawley earned him a further six-match stadium ban after using “abusive and insulting words and behaviour" towards a female member of Bradford City's staff. Back in 2011 Evans had a spat with then Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler during a heated match at Crawley.

Hess faced court action following the complaint, but police later confirmed 'no further action' would be taken as complainant Evans no longer wanted to pursue the matter.

Despite the controversy that followed him, he was successful again at Rotherham. His side finished second behind the Gills in the automatic promotion places in League 2 in 2013 and then won promotion the following season to the Championship after a play-off win at Wembley.

Steve Evans argues with Gills' former boss Andy Hessenthaler during a heated game at Crawley Town Picture: Barry Goodwin
Steve Evans argues with Gills' former boss Andy Hessenthaler during a heated game at Crawley Town Picture: Barry Goodwin

Evans was involved in an incident at Priestfield in April 2014 when three Gills fans were arrested following complaints of racial abuse towards the Scottish manager.

Evans kept Rotherham up the following season but he and Raynor left in September 2015. Two months later the management team took over at Championship side Leeds United.

He guided United away from relegation trouble but was fired at the end of the season by controversial owner Massimo Cellino.

Evans had an offer to manage in China and came close to taking over at Oldham for the 2016/17 season but it wasn’t until November 2016 that he got back in the hot-seat, taking over at Mansfield Town.

Rotherham manager Steve Evans is escorted from the pitch by stewards for his own safety on a previous visit Picture: Barry Goodwin
Rotherham manager Steve Evans is escorted from the pitch by stewards for his own safety on a previous visit Picture: Barry Goodwin

Evans was approached by the Gills during his time by the Stags, as Scally looked for a permanent replacement for Ady Pennock, but the League 2 club blocked the move. Both Evans and Raynor did eventually leave soon after, however, for Peterborough.

Mansfield were fifth in the table, just two points outside the automatic promotion places.

Posh topped the table during Evans’ time in charge there. He was booked on his visit to Priestfield in September but his side enjoyed a 4-2 win and returned to the summit of the League 1 table.

The form dipped, however, and he was sacked by Peterborough in January. Since then he’s been out of a job but has kept a close eye on the Gills. He now gets his chance to put his planning into action.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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