Gillingham v Sheffield United: some thoughts on the opening game of the season

At long, long last the torture and boredom of the summer months are over. In just a few days I will be back in the Rainham End as Gillingham kick off their League One campaign.

And as far as opening matches go, this has the potential to be a cracker.

Gillingham v Sheffield United: some thoughts on the opening game of the season

With Sheffield United likely to bring the largest away following of the season (they will probably sell out their 1,900 allocation in the uncovered Brian Moore Stand) there should be a great atmosphere at Priestfield.

Following MK Dons away last year, it is another very tough opening game; Sheffield United are favourites for the league and rightly so.

Nigel Adkins is a manager with a track record for promotion. He got Scunthorpe promoted from League One twice in three years (we will overlook the relegation in between…). Adkins then got Southampton double promotion to the Premiership. Four promotions in five seasons is not bad going.

Sheffield United also have a formidable attacking force. Che Adams is being tipped for great things this season; Billy Sharp is a proven goalscorer; Conor Sammon has attracted £1,000,000+ transfer fees from Premier League clubs and Jamie Murphy picked up Player of the Year, and Players Player of the Year in the 2014-15 season. Add to this the likes of Matty Done, Diego de Girolamo and Jose Baxter and it is clear that United shouldn’t be short of goals this season.

I expect them to be in the top-two this season and so any points the Gills can pick up will be a bonus.

However the weak point of the United team is certainly their defence and so I hope that Gillingham really take the attack to them.

I would line-up as follows (from left to right):

Nelson; Garmston, Oshilaja, Egan, Ehmer, Jackson; Aaron Morris – Houghton, Dack; Norris, Williamson

With Loft out, I think the 5-3-2 formation is our best bet as Aaron Morris and Jordan Houghton will provide plenty of cover for the central back three thereby allowing Bradley Garmston and Ryan Jackson (who has impressed in pre-season) license to roam down the wings, providing pace and width.

Likewise it should give Bradley Dack freedom to create. Ben Williamson will work hard, tracking back and closing down which should liberate Dack to play that no.10 role perfectly. Without Cody McDonald it is a necessity that he is given the freedom to provide the attacking spark that we might lack.

Looking forward to the season, I think the diamond formation will be Justin Edinburgh’s favoured formation. If Morris stays fit (if not I would like to see the on-trial Josh Wright occupy this position) then he can provide the cover for the defence. Loft and Houghton could provide the creativity and bite in the centre of midfield and Dack, further forward, making chances and getting in between the midfield and defence of the opposition.

I think, sadly, that Gillingham will lose 2-1 as I don’t think that we will have the incision up front to prise open the Sheffield United back-four with enough regularity. I also think it may take a time for our defence to gel; Houghton is still only 19 years old and will take time adjusting to the physicality of League One.

Despite the result I think it could be a very exciting season for Gillingham FC.

Personally I cannot wait – bring on Saturday, 3pm!


(hat tip for the photo to joshjdss for the cracking photo)


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