Gillingham are on the lookout for a new manager ahead of the 2019/20 season after dismissing Steve Lovell.
The 58-year-old lost his job at Priestfield despite guiding the Gills to safety in League One. Indeed they sat in 12th place at the time of his departure in April, before going on to finish in 13th.
Lovell had been in charge of the Kent club since November 2017, having replaced Peter Taylor initially on an interim basis before getting the job full-time. He won 32 of the 92 matches he managed and in truth did a pretty good job given the resources at his disposal.
Speaking after the decision to relieve the manager of his duties, the club chairman Paul Scally said: “He won’t be our manager next season going forward, but he will always be a person who is much loved and much welcomed here at the stadium and he deserves a big round of applause.”
So who will take over at Gillingham for next season? We have taken a look at the bookmakers odds to see who the most likely replacements for Lovell are.
Paul Raynor favourite to become next Gillingham manager
The favourite with the bookmakers to take over at Priestfield is a man who has spent the majority of his coaching career as a number two, Paul Raynor.
He is the long-time assistant manager of Steve Evans, being a member of his coaching staff at the likes of Boston United, Crawley Town, Rotherham United, Leeds United and most recently Peterborough.
The 53-year-old has no previous experience as a manager though, so it would certainly be an interesting appointment and quite a risky one from Gillingham's point of view. It is also unclear whether Raynor actually wants the job, with no reputable sources having yet linked him with the post.
Despite this, he is currently odds-on with Sky Bet to take up the reins at the club. They have him priced up at 1/2 to be the next Gills boss.
Steve Evans also in the frame
The only other real contender according to bookmakers odds is Raynor's former manager at clubs such as Rotherham and Leeds United, Steve Evans.
Unlike Raynor, Evans has plenty of experience managing in the English Football League and has been a success at League One level before. His most notable achievement was guiding Rotherham United to back-to-back promotions from League Two to the Championship between 2012-14, beating Leyton Orient in the League One play-off final.
Most recently he was in charge at Peterborough United and he had the Posh in the play-off places midway through the season. But that was ultimately deemed not good enough and he was sacked in January and replaced by Darren Ferguson.
The Scot has been linked with plenty of other jobs since leaving London Road, including the vacant post at Scunthorpe United. But could it be Gillingham where he ends up?
There are certainly plenty of links between him and the club. Indeed he was spotted at a number of the clubs fixtures towards the end of the season which has sparked the rumours into life.
He was also approached to take over the Gills in October 2017 whilst he was in charge of Mansfield Town, only for the Stags to refuse him permission to speak to the Kent side. That would though indicate that the club do like Evans, who is currently 6/4 to take over.
If Evans was handed the job at Priestfield, it seems that he would be an unpopular appointment. Local news outlet KentOnline ran a poll on whether fans wanted the former Leeds manager to replace Lovell and 73% said no, which could potentially make the club think twice about bringing him in.
Next Gillingham manager odds:
(All odds taken from Sky Bet)
- Paul Raynor - 1/2
- Steve Evans - 6/4
- Jay Saunders - 20/1
- Mark Patterson - 20/1
- Chris Powell - 25/1
- Glyn Hodges - 25/1
- Ian Hendon - 25/1
- Michael Flynn - 25/1
- Paul Hurst - 25/1
- Shaun Derry - 25/1
- Stephen Constantine - 25/1
- Wayne Burnett - 25/1