Right back Tom Miller is heading into his third season with the club in July and he told the official site this week that his first experience of league football has been extremely positive following his move from Lincoln City in the summer of 2015.
Now closing in on 100 appearances in all competitions for the Cumbrians he admitted that he felt there was a huge difference between the player who first walked through the door and the one who made 44 starts for the club in all competitions last season.
“It’s been my first two years in the Football League so I’ve noticed a massive difference in myself,” he told us. “In non-league you can be complacent and get away with things, if I’m being honest.
“For example, people don’t see what you do away from the ground. My girlfriend talks about it a lot because people are always waving and saying hello when we’re out and about. You can’t be sloppy in your lifestyle because it does affect your football.
“In terms of the football, compared to last year I feel this league has been stronger. The intensity has been high and teams are very good at going forward. There are a lot of fast, young players in this league who I think will get big money moves in the summer.
“As I say, the improvement personally has been massive but I feel I still need to work on certain areas within my game. Overall it’s been good for me and hopefully I can become a better player again next year.”
A big part of securing a place in the play-offs was the never-say-die attitude shown by the squad – an attitude which saw them pick up more points from losing positions than any other team in the division.
“The team spirit we have here is massively important,” he commented. “It’s played a big part this season and that’s because we’ve got a great group of lads. A lot of people say you always have a few poisonous players in teams, or players who get unsettled and become disruptive in the dressing room, but we haven’t had any of that at all.
“If you aren’t in the squad you’re still working hard in training to try and earn your place back, and you’re still giving everybody else the best opportunity to do it. The team spirit has been a massive part of why we’ve done so well this year.
“Obviously with that you also need ability and I think we’ve got a good mix of that. I’m sure the recruitment will be the same this summer. They’ll look at how people are off the pitch as well as on it.”
“That’s a big part of what this club is about and it’s played a massive role throughout this season,” he continued. “I think that’s how we’ve battled through since January and we’ve still managed to get a play-off place.
“When we’ve gone goals down we’ve been able to fight back because the togetherness we have shines through. It’s the best team spirit I’ve ever experienced.”
Important now will be to utilise the down time in the coming weeks to charge the batteries ahead of what we all hope will be an even more successful campaign.
“In the past I’ve enjoyed my summers but as I’ve grown older and football has become more serious for me I’ve used it to spend time with the family,” he explained. “I like that quiet down time and then I just get back into the swing of things and go again. It’ll be good to have that family time but I just want to get back in for pre-season now.
“My focus is on helping us to do what we didn’t do this year. It feels like we’ve missed an opportunity so I won’t be able to relax and really enjoy myself until we’ve put that right. I think we’ve got to use what happened to us last season as a positive rather than a negative.
“We’ve all spoken to the gaffer and we’re feeling positive because we know what he’s about and we know his ambitions. We finished sixth and if we strengthen what we had, and everyone stays fit, then who knows where we can get to.
“We’ve got to use this season as an experience but make sure next year we don’t make the little mistakes we’ve made this year. I think we all know what they were and what our weaknesses have been. We’ll learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again next season.”
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