Cambridge United appoint ex-Millwall, Cardiff, Gillingham manager Neil Harris as their new head coach on an 18-month contract.
Harris comes in to replace Mark Bonner, who was sacked by the club in November after an almost four year stint at the Abbey Stadium.
The U’s are on a three game losing run in League One, leaving them 18th in the table with 20 points form 19 games played, four points above the drop zone, but bounced back after Bonner’s exit with an FA Cup victory over Fleetwood Town.
Neil Harris has been appointed the new Head Coach of Cambridge United.
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) December 6, 2023
Cambridge United are pleased to announce Neil Harris as the Club’s new First Team Head Coach…
The 46-year-old signs an 18-month contract and will take charge ahead of this Saturday’s game against Charlton Athletic.
Harris enjoyed a storied career as a player which began at nearby Cambridge City, but he most notably played for and captained Millwall, where he achieved legend status by scoring 138 goals in 431 appearances, making him the Club’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
After retiring from playing in 2013, Harris coached the Millwall U21s before being handed the reigns to the First Team in 2015 on a permanent basis.
Whilst at the helm of the Lions, Harris won promotion from League One and led the Club to the FA Cup Quarter Finals, winning 42% of his 245 games in charge.
A move to Cardiff City followed, where he reached the Championship Play-Off semi-finals in his first full season in the job, before becoming Gillingham Manager in 2021, where he spent 20 months at Priestfield Stadium prior to leaving in October 2023, with the Club four points off top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
“I am super excited and really pleased to be here,“ Harris said. “It’s a brilliant project in motion here and I just want to come and add some value to that.
“I have seen the team evolve over the past four or five years and have always followed the results from my connections with the Club from my younger days. I have always had an affinity with Cambridge but the players here have some brilliant attributes that suit the way I want to play.
“I want us to be a Cambridge United side that people fear playing against. I want to win games of football and address recent results as quickly as I can. It’s certainly not revolution, it’s about evolution and supporting the players that are already and trying to get a little more out of them.”
Majority Owner, Paul Barry said, “Neil is a Head Coach who brings great experience and a proven track record of success at a high level in the game. We are confident that he can get the best out of our players.
“Importantly, we also feel he has exactly the right character for Cambridge United and is a strong cultural fit for where the Club is at the moment. He is someone who can help us consolidate our position in League One, build on the strong foundations we have created and drive us forward by staying true to our collective values as a Club. He lives in this region and knows Cambridge well.
“This has been a quick but also a thorough process. Over the last week we have spoken to several different candidates, and we are appointing Neil after three separate interviews held over many hours. I am very grateful to Ben Strang for the way he has led this process.
“Finally, I would like to thank Barry, Kevin and all the backroom staff for the highly professional way that they have conducted themselves and led the team over the last week, through what has inevitably been a challenging time for everyone at the Club.
“Change is never easy, but we know the quality of our first team staff along with the shared values that they represent and, more broadly, what we are creating together as one club at Cambridge United.
“Neil has either played or worked with a number of the first team staff over the years at Southend and Millwall, and I know how much he is looking forward to working with his former colleagues and everyone at the Club over the coming months.”
Neil Harris will meet with the media on Thursday afternoon to further discuss his appointment to the role.
This is how fans reacted as Cambridge United appoint the ex-Millwall, Cardiff, Gillingham manager…
@JoshuaC51511011: Happy with this, he’s as good a coach as we could have realistically secured. Welcome to Cambridge Neil! 💛🖤
@marksaggers: This is a great appointment.
@TheRossAshworth: Happy with that. Decent pedigree, wishing you all the best Neil 💛🖤
@TomWalker_04: Good appointment 👍🏻
@zamp69wall: Good luck, Neil 😊
@bridportlion: Best of luck Chopper 🦁🦁🦁
@EmlynTimmons: Great appointment, really hope he does well for you 👊🏼
@RobHawley81: Good luck, Neil. We’re grateful for what he done for us. He’ll sure you up at the back and will get you playing effective football, even if it’s not always pretty. You’re in a better position than we were when he came in so you should steer away from the drop
@craigburling: 👏🏻 to the board on this 1 think be g8 ✍️⚽️
@JamieLewer: Best of luck Neil did well for us I hope you succeed there will always love you at Gills.
@kexisb: welcome gaffer!
@MillwallTT: Good luck Super Neil. Will now be watching the U’s results.
@BennetStone: Great appointment. Very unlucky at Cardiff City. 👍
@Dbulley_1999: Good luck Bomber! Miiiiillll once a legend always a legend
@FrazerJones11: Good luck gaffer! Once a bluebird always a bluebird.💙
@lionj1971: Best of luck Bomber. 9/1 for a top half finish. Only 4 points off that, I’m on!
@jack_the_gill: Good bloke, will be interesting to see how he does and whether he’s better than what he got out of his players with us. His MO is defensively sound football, mainly long ball going forward. We scored next to no goals and were extremely passive. He will keep you up I think.
@borismineburg: Hmmmm. If we play the style of football that he did with Gillingham then I can’t see this going down well & can see attendances dropping, really not good on the eye. If though he can show more of the promise of his earlier career then he may well win the Abbey over 💛🖤
@groundsmendean: Great appointment and a very clever manager
@svendcarr17: Great appointment. Hope he smashes it
@alexjsullivan: Wow! That’s quite a style change. Good luck Bomber!
@thefamousFroMan: My level of excitement about this appointment is lower than it perhaps should be, based on his strong record at previous clubs. That may be because Mark Bonner will be a hard act to follow, but there’s no reason why we can’t kick on under Neil Harris.
@COOPSthereitis4: Could be a decent appointment to be fair. Remember watching him down at Milton Road playing for Cambridge City years ago. 20+ years ago
@DanJordan90: Welcome Neil. Hopefully kick off with a win Saturday. #CamUtd
@millwalleio: Super, super Neil