Jackett In? Not Yet!
And Can Mick Have The Same Effect?
Following the dramatic improvement in Gillingham’s results since the arrival there of Kenny Jackett, can another former Wolves manager now instigate a similar revival 300 miles or so north west.
These are still early days following the dramatic makeover on and off the pitch at the Priestfield Stadium at the start of the year but the difference could hardly be more noticeable.
With Jackett installed as director of football and Andy Hessenthaler making another return to the Medway, this time as head of recruitment, a club who were hopelessly marooned at the foot of League Two amid an extraordinary goal famine are now very much alive and kicking.
With investment from America and new signings to boot, the side who frustrated Wolves in the Carabao Cup for 77 minutes but showed nothing going forward in Julen Lopetegui’s first match in charge have now won two and drawn one of three League games since losing by the only goal to Leicester in the FA Cup.
What’s more, they have scored seven League Two goals in that time – the same number that they previously netted across TWENTY-TWO League fixtures – to give themselves hope of avoiding the drop.
And that isn’t good news for Keith Curle, boss of the Hartlepool team who were beaten 2-0 at Gillingham recently and who are now one place better off than them immediately above the danger line.
Bottom of the pile are Rochdale, Ethan Ebanks-Landell and all, the 31-year-old former Wolves defender having been sent off in the defeat at Hartlepool on January 21.
While Jackett remains in the background in support of manager Neil Harris, Mick McCarthy is very much in the middle at the front after being appointed at Blackpool in succession to the sacked Michael Appleton.
We always suspected the 63-year-old wouldn’t want to finish in the full-time game on the low note that marked his departure from Cardiff in the autumn of 2021 – and would back himself to achieve enough of a new-manager bounce to prove himself a hit somewhere else.
At Bloomfield Road, he will again have Terry Connor with him and will be hoping to replicate the highly uplifting early success he enjoyed at Wolves (four wins in his first seven matches), Ipswich (five wins in eight matches) and Cardiff (six wins in eight matches).
Such a recovery would do much to blow away the Seasiders’ relegation fears at a time when Lancashire rivals Wigan are still in serious danger of a quick return to the third grade.
It remains to be seen what happens to Rob Kelly at the DW Stadium in the medium and long term but he was still in joint caretaker control following Kolo Toure’s sacking after only nine matches, Shaun Maloney having since been appointed in place of the former Arsenal defender.