Mikael Mandron believes he’s chosen the right boss to take his game to another level.
The big striker was one of Gillingham manager Neil Harris’ key summer recruits and on Saturday he got his first goal since rejoining the club, heading in the winner at Southend United.
Harris wants to get more goals from the frontman, who has averaged around a goal every five league games from starts and off the bench in his career, and the manager was a key reason for him returning to Priestfield for a second spell.
Speaking after the 1-0 pre-season win at Southend, the Frenchman said: “It helps when you know the place, you know where you are going, I knew a few of the boys, but I think the main attraction for me was the gaffer and knowing the level he has played at and managed. That was the biggest selling point for me, him being a striker.
“I am looking forward to learning as much as possible from him.
"I am positive I will improve under him.”
Harris had to be patient to get his man, with other clubs interested. Mandron had returned to his home country over the summer, playing a bit of five-a-side with friends before returning to get himself fit.
He said: “When I came back to England it was a bit difficult when you are by yourself, you try and do as much as you can, you go to the gym, do running sessions, that is not the same as training by the team but I came back fit and I am fully up to speed now.
“Every off season is different, I was a free agent this time, there were a few options, it is always about getting the right club, the right contract and it is definitely what I have done here.”
Mandron’s previous spell with the Gills was cut-short because of Covid. He was on a one-year contract and opted to leave after the season was eventually scrapped. He had played 23 league games, with just under half off the bench, scoring five goals, including two at Sunderland in his last appearance.
He said: “It was the Covid season, nobody knew what was going to happen, whether we were going to get back to football but I am happy I am able to come back and hopefully have a very successful season.
“I was going from strength-to-strength, I can’t remember how many games were left, but we had a chance to get into the play-offs and for me to get a few more goals, obviously that didn’t happen but we are here now and we have an opportunity to do it this season.”
He’s in a forward line at Gills with a familiar face in Scott Kashket, the pair were at Crewe together last season and combined for the winner at Southend. It’s the kind of link-up Harris will have been hoping for when pairing the two of them up again.
Mandron said: “Scott did really well and he took the ball down the line and because he was on the goal-line I knew he was going to dink it and the ball arrived exactly where I wanted it to be. I just had to put my head through it, easy!”
Reflecting on that game, he added: “They caused us problems in the first half and we adjusted and we were much better second half.
“Personally I was happy, I played for 70 minutes, I felt great, felt that I could have played for longer which was good, I managed to get a goal, perfect for me.
“I am feeling very good, I felt I could have played 90, that was as close to a league game as you are going to get in pre-season, I felt very confident and I am looking forward to (the League 2 opener at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday).
“The first game is always one everyone is excited about, if we can get a good result there it will set us up nicely for the season.”