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MANAGER: We'll do our homework on them

Keith Millen on the Bradford game

17 December 2021

The Bantams are the opponents for the last game before Santa arrives and manager Keith Millen confirmed at his pre-match press briefing that he’s expecting a tough game against one of the teams from the division that was tipped do well at the start of the season.

Match Previews

MATCH UPDATE: Bradford

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“They haven’t been winning many but they’ve had a lot of draws,” he said. “They’ve been very close in a lot of games, they haven’t been conceding a lot of goals and their games have been decided by the odd goal.

“These are the small margins we talk about in this league. They’re not in a bad place but they haven’t got that confidence of winning a lot of games. We’re expecting a tough opponent, like they all are.

“I’m pleased to be back at Brunton Park, and we’ve got two home games now we can really look forward to.”

“They are a big club, big reputation, good support, big crowds, probably the biggest in the league,” he added. “All of that can add pressure to the team, but when you look at their results, they’ve been close.

“When you have a lot of draws, certainly at this level, it’s really small margins whether you win, lose or get a point. I don’t think they’re far away from probably where they want to be.

“They’re a good side, and they have a manager who knows how to be successful in this league. I’m sure they’re looking at the second half of the season to kick on.

“We’ll do our homework on them and show them the respect they deserve.”

Match Previews

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And United head into the fixture with no less than five former Bantams in their ranks (Danny Devine, Jordan Gibson, Callum Guy, Kelvin Mellor and Joe Riley).

“I’d like to think that will be something that will spur them on,” he agreed. “Whether they left of their own accord or the club said they could leave, normally when you go against your old team you’ve generally got a point to prove.

“That might be a little spark to some of them. I think the way they’ve trained, I would imagine they can’t wait for the game to come round on Saturday.

“And you notice the size of our pitch when you go to some other clubs. Stevenage, not sure exactly the measurements but you could sense it just feels smaller. The fact we’re at home on a bigger pitch, we have to take advantage of that.”

“It’s also nice to be within touching distance of another couple of teams,” he commented. “What you don’t want to do is get cut adrift, if a gap starts to form then that’s when the pressure mounts.

“At the moment we’re in and around quite a lot of other teams, there are probably six or eight teams within touching distance, so that’s good. The other teams are probably saying the same.

“We’re expecting a hard game on Saturday but if we can win back-to-back games that will give us another boost.

“I’m looking forward to us taking the confidence from Saturday into a home performance.

"Hopefully the crowd get behind us like they did at Stevenage, they were like an extra player for us, and I’m hoping we have that feel good factor about the place on Saturday.

"Traditionally this is a game where attendances struggle, but we're hoping that won't be the case for us. We want our supporters to be here in numbers - I know I keep saying it but they make a huge difference when they're behind us."

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And the Bradford game is, of course, the forerunner to another rapid run of games over a relatively short space of time.

“Again, everyone will talk about the fact that four games in a short period of time can have a big impact on where you are coming into January, whether you’re near the top, the middle or wherever you are in the league,” he said.

“The fact they’re so close together is really the only change. It’s still the same amount of points per game. There’s less recovery time and I’m trying to get as many players fit and available as I can for this period.

“Hopefully we might have a couple back. The rotation of the squad, generally are the teams that are successful over this short period, because you can change players and rest them, because it is a big ask.

“I don’t agree with it. I understand the festive period, people come out and you get bigger crowds, I totally agree with that. But when you play this many games, I think the quality of the games, if you watch them, deteriorates.

“I don’t think it’s such a good spectacle to go and watch at any level. I don’t agree with the amount of games, but it’s the way we are in England, we’re the only country that does it. And we’re used to dealing with it.

“Keeping the squad fit, and being able to chop and change a few players, that will help us. If we can have a strong period now, with January - coming into the window - and if we can bring players in to make us better, we’ll be in a better place.

“We’ve still got a lot of games after that, and the Papa John’s in the first week of January. That comes into the busy period, and then we’ve got a break, which will be good for everyone.”


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