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Caretaker manager Steve Lovell speaks about his return to Gillingham

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Steve Lovell had no hesitation in returning to help Gillingham in their hour of need.

Lovell answered the call from chairman Paul Scally to take caretaker charge after Steve Evans left by mutual consent following Saturday’s 4-0 defeat by Ipswich.

Steve Lovell is back in charge at Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry
Steve Lovell is back in charge at Gillingham Picture: Ady Kerry

Gills have it all to do to stay in League 1 - they’re seven points from safety and without a win in 10 games - but Lovell is up for the challenge.

The former striker was sacked by Scally, and replaced by Evans, in the summer of 2019, but that’s all in the past.

“It’s been nearly three years since I left, which has passed so quickly,” said Lovell, who will be in the dugout for this Saturday’s home game against Burton.

“I still love the club and when I left I was still a supporter, so it was lovely to get the call off the chairman.

“I just want to help the club out, the same as when I was there last time.

“The chairman thought it was best for the football club to make a change, so I respected that, but I’ve still been in contact with him all this time, I still talk to him, I still come to games.

“We’ve still got a chance of staying up, of course we have.

“There’s a lot of games to go. I’ve got to organise it, I’ve got to work hard on the training ground.

“That’s something I’ve always done and that’s something the players like to do.

“They’re a good bunch of players. I’m not going to say, ‘Bloody hell, it’s going to be great, we’re going to stay up’ and all that, because that would be stupid.

“All I can do is implement my ideas, work with what I’ve got and hopefully the players will respond.”

Gillingham were all-but safe when Scally called time on Lovell’s previous reign two games before the end of the season.

They finished 13th but he returns to a club in deep trouble.

Ultimately, they’ve gone backwards despite a pair of 10th-placed finishes under Evans and it’s up to Lovell to pick up the pieces.

“That was back then,” said Lovell. “We were in a decent position, we finished in a decent position.

“What’s happened in the past is in the past, I don’t look at that.

“I look at now, what I’ve got to do, what we’ve got to do as a club, as staff, as players, as supporters, to make sure the club are as one.

Former Gills boss Steve Evans Picture: Andy Jones
Former Gills boss Steve Evans Picture: Andy Jones

“We need everybody pulling together to help the chairman, to help the football club up the league.

“We’ve done it before and hopefully we can do it again. It’s a big ask, where we are at the moment, but if I didn’t think we could do it, I wouldn’t be here.

“I know we can and I’ve got a great opportunity to make it happen.

“Hopefully we can stick together, work hard and give it our best shot.

“But the main thing for me is the performances, they’ve got to start improving with the ball and without the ball.

“I think we’ve scored nine goals at home all season, which is just not good enough.

“We haven’t created enough all season, I don’t think there was one shot on target last Saturday.

“These are things you’ve got to look at and start improving.

“If you improve on that and the percentage of possession, you’ve got to stamp your authority on the game.

“The main thing is giving ownership to the players.

“They’ve got to start believing in themselves and trying to express themselves.

“They’re good footballers so let’s play football, let’s play the way I like to play and the way the players like to play and hopefully get a good response on Saturday and we can move on from there.

“I just want to give something for the crowd to shout about, something to cheer, like we had before.

“We had some great times and there’s nothing like it when the Rainham End and all the other supporters are behind us, and that’s what you work hard for, those moments at the end of the game, when you win and everybody’s happy. That’s what we want to get back to.

“It goes without saying it’s going to be a lot of hard work but we’ve got a group of players who want to roll their sleeves up and have a go.”

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