Gillingham will host League One’s basement side Burton Albion on Saturday with the aim of improving their recent league run of four defeats from their last five games.
Ahead of the match, Gills forward Jordan Graham tackled the press via Zoom. Here are five of his key quotes.
On the loss at Plymouth
“There is a lot of build-up anger in the team from the Plymouth Argyle game because we are all still bamboozled from it, so the boys are eager to get out there on Saturday and put it right from the get-go.
“I did not think I was going to play at all. But in my head, I was prepared mentally – I love football and you will never see me ask to be subbed so as soon as I knew I was starting I was prepared to play the full game and I knew I could last 90 minutes.”
Gillingham controlled large parts of their recent matchup against Plymouth – particularly the majority of the second half – but lost the game 1-0. Graham, like many, shared the view that the Gills should’ve got something out of the game, and insisted he and the team want to put things right at the weekend.
The former Wolves man returned from a hamstring injury at Home Park and impressed. He laid on the floor at full time, perhaps in a mixture of relief and frustration, but is now ready to kick on.
On his injury
“I was watching all the games on iFollow when I was out injured and there is nothing more frustrating than watching it when you feel like you should be helping. It has been annoying but now I am back.
“I am a winner – I am angry if we lose and get angry in training. More than anything, I hope I bring that competitive factor; I am always talking about winning. For me, it is the most important thing and hopefully I can help bring back the feeling that we will win, and once you have that mentality you can build on that.
“We are six points off the play-offs; it is so doable, but we need to win and win games like Saturday, so it starts against Burton.”
Graham missed seven games in all competitions with his injury, but it seems he certainly made the most of his time off the pitch.
He is hoping to add a winning mentality to the group – something that won’t go amiss as the side aim to turn their form around.
On adapting his game
“I have always been someone that has believed in myself a lot. I watch every single game on TV, and I am always trying to better myself. I ask to do extras in training and for me it was just a case of finding a place to enjoy my football again. I needed to find a home and I needed to be somewhere where I get on with the lads and the management team. The fans love me here – I am feeling really settled and enjoying my football, and that is when you get the best out of me.
“I came here in the summer with a goal of getting back to the basics – living well and performing well. The cycle has continued and at no point have I deviated away from that. I had an aim for goals and assists and I hit it by November.
“2020 was a terrible year, but a lot of the distractions were taken out of my life and it was down to me and football. I have really excelled, and I think there is a lot more to come.”
It’s no secret that Graham has had a frustrating career. At 25, he has been plagued with injuries and various loan spells, but he has now settled at Gillingham and found a home. He has adapted his lifestyle to put football first, and that is certainly reflected in his performances on the pitch this term.
On a possible circuit breaker
“The worst thing for me would me to have a break, especially after being out injured. I just want to keep playing. I am no politician, but I cannot see the point in a two-week break – we would have to come back,and train and you can catch it anywhere. If it is the safest thing to do then do it, but it is almost impossible to eradicate until the vaccine comes.
“The boys are careful. We live well and we do not break the rules. We do our stuff correctly and listen, and if all football players do the same then hopefully the numbers should come down and we can continue.
“I think it is important we are having the two tests a week. I personally believe it should have been implemented by the EFL a long time ago, but it is positive moving forward. The boys want to feel safe so it is good they have introduced that and hopefully we can continue the season as safely as possible.”
It was announced on Wednesday that twice-weekly COVID-19 tests will now be carried out at all 72 EFL clubs thanks to funding from the PFA. A long-overdue move, but a positive one.
There have also been discussions about a possible circuit breaker of two weeks away from football amid the rising cases at various clubs, but no move has been made yet.
Graham made it clear that he just wants to play football, and that he thinks a two-week circuit breaker would be pointless, unless it is proved as the safest thing to do.
“I am well aware Burton are bottom and not having a great season and I want to take advantage of that. I am not going to give them any respect – they have a new manager? I do not care. For me, it is business as usual.
“Nothing changes – we have to win games. Winning is the most important thing for this team, manager and club. The boys are aware of Burton’s situation and that fuels us to want to take advantage and hopefully we put as many goals in as we can.
“The boys are really ready for the game. There are no ifs, buts or maybes in my head, the team’s head and certainly not the gaffer’s head – we are thinking home win.”
Burton are rock bottom of League One with just two wins to their name from 22 games this season. They do, however, have a ‘new’ manager at the helm, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink back at the club for a second spell in charge.
That doesn’t change things for Graham, though. He expects a Gillingham win on Saturday.