Gillingham return to action tomorrow night with manager Neil Harris struggling to pick a team after admitting “nobody deserves to play”.
Harris’ confession came after a 2-0 loss at Newport County, a result which dropped Gillingham into the League 2 relegation zone.
The Gills boss has tried different tactics and different players on a weekly basis but the results have largely been the same. His side have won two of their 18 league games and scored just six goals in the process – only one of those from open play.
It’s left Harris still wondering what his best eleven is.
He said: “We played 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 quite a lot at the start of the season and our wide players weren’t creative, we need to create for the centre-forwards. When I played two wide players and two centre-forwards we didn’t particularly look a threat so if they are not doing it then you have to change shape.
“A (4-4-2) diamond and a 3-5-2 gives you the opportunity to be harder and more competitive in the middle of the pitch, we look like we can get bodies forward from that position.
“There was nothing wrong with the shape (on Saturday), nothing wrong with tactics in it whatsoever, we made a change at half-time, it was just two set-plays (that Newport scored from). If anything, we were better tactically than them, but again what team am I going to pick on Tuesday night? I have got no idea. That is a horrible position to be as a manager. I keep changing the personnel because nobody deserves to play.
“I keep changing the team don’t I? I change the formation to find a solution, you keep looking and sometimes you have to change the personnel.”
The Gills have another seven league games to play before he can make changes in January, when the transfer window opens, and there’s also a trip to non-league Dagenham in the FA Cup coming up on Saturday, not to mention a visit to Premier League Wolves in the Carabao Cup next month.
Asked if he felt under pressure following the latest set-back on Saturday, Harris said: “Am I under pressure? I have been asked that before and the answer is always the same, I am only under my own pressure.
“My pressure is I am fed up because my team is not winning and honestly I don’t really care what other people think, I never have done, all I care about is what is right and what is wrong and what is wrong at the moment is that we are not winning games of football.
“You roughly deserve to be where you are and we deserve to be where we are at the moment because whatever team I put on the pitch, hasn’t been good enough in moments of games.”
And can he fix it? “Yes, I can fix it,” he insists. “Certainly the January transfer window is going to help but I need help to fix it, in the meantime we have to try and win games of football.
“It has been a tough job since I have been here and that has not changed, that is not going to change in the coming months, I talked about brighter horizons, there can be brighter horizons but I am a custodian of the football club, the punters are the ones here constant, and they need brighter horizons.”
So for now it’s a case of trying to get more from a group of players who have struggled badly this season and Harris admits he’s seen no signs of improvement.
He said: “We are not improving, we are making the same mistakes, if you keep making the same mistakes and keep doing the same thing it is a sign of madness so I try and change it, we change personnel, we change shape, but once the players go out onto the pitch what I can’t control is their mentality.
“For 20 minutes (against Newport) we didn’t compete well enough, when we did compete we then get done by two set-plays, you just get to a stage where you say ‘are the players good enough?’