Tom Miller on form, fans and the demanding environmentWe caught up with defender Tom Miller ahead of training on Tuesday morning as the lads prepare for another tough game against Crawley Town at Brunton Park on Saturday.
On the victory at Stevenage on Saturday, he said: “When we’re going away teams know we’re up there in the league, so I think they’re maybe upping their game a little bit. They press us high and try and kill the games, but we’re always finding a way to win at the moment. Hopefully that will continue.
“Everybody wants to beat us with us doing so well, so they’re trying to play formations that they think can stop us and they're trying to find weaknesses in our team. So far, whatever tactical changes teams have made, we’ve adapted and came away with the result, so it’s very positive for us. It’s not always the prettiest but it’s a results business and we’re doing very well."
“It’s a pleasure to be involved in a team which is making new club records," he told us. "We’ve got a great set of lads here and we’ve all played a massive part in it. As the gaffer has said, the coaches and all the staff at the football club are coming together and there’s a great feeling around the place at the moment. I’m really enjoying it.
“You’ve got to take each game as it comes because every single team is a different test. We’ve got to concentrate on one game at a time and short term goals. If we can do that it should mean that we do well in the long term. During the week we work on the opposition we’ve got on the Saturday, it’s very short term in the way that we work, which is the right way to do things.
“It is nice to look at the league table at the moment. We’ve got a little bit of a cushion there now and hopefully we can extend that over the next few weeks. We’ve obviously got the FA Cup game coming up so it will be nice to have a little break from the league and hopefully have a bit of a run in that. It’s looking nice but it’s still early days and we still need to make sure we don’t take our foot off the gas and keep pushing on."
When asked where the belief and determination is coming from at the moment, he said: "It comes from the gaffer and his staff first and foremost. The manager instilled it in us all from the moment we signed and he makes it clear to you when you put pen to paper that he is going to demand a lot from you every day.
"It then has to come from us, as players, and we’ve got such a positive, good bunch of lads that we're finding it easy to respond. There’s not one bad egg in the squad, day-to-day we get the best out of each other and it's a very healthy environment. Everybody is playing a massive part in that and it’s very enjoyable.
“The team spirit has only grown with the players we brought in over the summer. Players like Nicky Adams and Mike Jones ... even Russell Penn who isn’t here at the moment but came in during the summer and was a massive person for us behind the scenes. He’s a great lad to have around and he’s very positive.
"It’s just a good environment with good people who want the best out of all of the others. There’s no selfishness in the squad, everybody is striving for the same thing - promotion. We’ve got players who have done it and it’s always good to have players with that experience, because they know what it’s about.
“Even in training when we’re doing five-a-side, there are arguments and people digging each other out, but as soon as you walk off the pitch you’re friends again. I’ve never really known it before, where people are getting on at each other if you concede a goal in a small-sided game in training. It’s happening this season and it’s a positive thing. Good habits get taken into the games and you can see that on a Saturday."
“Although some people think we’re a surprise package, when I came back at the start of pre-season I said that I didn’t think we would be a surprise because of the players we signed," he commented. "We haven’t spent as much money as clubs like Portsmouth but it isn’t about that, it’s about the players you’re getting in.
"Bringing in players like Nicky Adams and Mike Jones, like I said before, but also keeping players like Danny Grainger and Michael Raynes. We’ve got a lot of experience and players who've done it all before.
"We’ve got a bit of everything in the side so I don’t think we are a surprise package. The reason I came back here and was looking forward to it so much in the summer was because I thought we had a great chance. We’re backing that up now."
On his own form, after featuring in all 18 of our games in all competitions so far this season, he said: “I do still feel like there’s still more to come from me. I’m enjoying everything we’re doing and we’re winning games.
"I’m getting some assists but I would like to get a couple of goals to add to that. I’m still working on myself but I feel like I’m giving a good account every week. I still feel like there’s a lot more to come, but I’m happy with how it’s going at the moment."
And on the growing relationship between the fans and the players, he told us: “The fans have been unbelievable. Hartlepool at home was the best atmosphere I’ve felt in Brunton Park since I’ve been here.
"Away from home has been a different level as well. We took 3,000 to Blackpool and 2,000 to Morecambe, which is incredible for a League Two club. I know we’re a big club but to get that kind of support is amazing. I think the club is going in the right direction and it’s just a great place to be at the moment.
“To have the kind of backing we had at the Hartlepool game means a lot more to us than the fans probably think. To have your own fans believing you’re going to win games and do well is incredible and it really gets you going.
"Even when things aren’t going our way, which happens to everyone, if they’re there to support you and pick you back up it makes a massive difference. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make at times and it is much appreciated.
“It’s still early days and I don’t want to say too much but, with what we’re showing, and with the ability we’ve got and the players we’ve got, I think we can continue this run for a lot longer and go up this year.
"If we continue doing what we’re doing and make sure we don’t take our foot off the gas, as well as things like injuries going our way, I think we’ve got a great chance. I don’t see why we won’t go up.”