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Club News

MANAGER: What they do shouldn't affect us

Keith Millen looks ahead to tomorrow's game

10 December 2021

United take on their second trip of the week down the M1 with Stevenage the opponents on Saturday afternoon.

Match Previews

PREVIEW; Stevenage away

9 December 2021

Manager Keith Millen spoke to us about the game at his pre-match press conference.

“I know what we’re going to go there and try and do, but Stevenage are a little bit harder to work out because their new manager has only just gone in there,” he said. “He’s been in charge of their games against Yeovil and Scunthorpe so we’ve watched both of those, and he’s had another few days to work with his team.

“We’ll be guessing a little bit on what they might do, we’ve looked at their last two games, but if they change from that then we’ll adapt as the game goes on.

“It isn’t ideal not knowing what they’re going to do. I like to try and have a clear identity of what the opposition are about. That’s difficult when a new manager goes in. I know Paul Tisdale, he’s a good football person, a real football thinker, and he will be trying to do things differently to maybe the norm.

“That’s how he works. He’s not had a lot of time with the group but I’m sure he’ll be trying to work out the best way of getting them to be at their best. The fact that we don’t have a clear indication of what they might do is the difficult part for me, as a manager.

“I have to try and work out the what-ifs as far as their shape and way they want to play. That’s something I have to think about, without a doubt.

Interviews

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“But it doesn’t change us. The more we can stick to our identity I always think you’re in a better place. Not knowing what the opposition are going to do shouldn’t affect what we’re going to do, or what we’re going to try to do well.

“They’ve got some pace and movement up front, in the last game they played 4-3-3, Norris scored a good goal coming in off the line. But we won’t know really until the game kicks off what shape they’re going to play.”

As for the importance of the game, he told us: “It is and you can’t deny that, especially with the team we’re playing.

“People will talk about must-win or six pointers, but that’s not how I take it. It’s important because we’re playing a team around us, but if we do win it’s only three points. Not getting anything from Tuesday adds more pressure to Saturday, but we’ve got to deal with that.

“The players know it’s a big game because of who we’re playing, but it isn’t a must-win because we’ve got plenty of games left. Nothing will be decided on Saturday. We’re going to lose games, but we don’t want to get into a run of defeats because that could knock confidence.

“If we win it will give us more confidence going forward. We’ve got a busy period coming up so we’ve got to try and win as many games as we can leading into January. If we win and that puts us above teams, great, but we know we have to win matches from now to the end of the season, and this is just our next opportunity to do that.”

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“When it comes to the importance of games, I want to try and use it as an incentive for the group,” he continued. “I always try and think of some sort of edge for every game. When we played the Papa John’s I was saying about the times the club’s been to Wembley.

“The FA Cup, you never know what could be round the corner, as it turns out it would have been Liverpool at Anfield. It just shows the importance of each game; you just don’t know what can happen after that.

“The fact we can win and go above them is great. It’s more about understanding the importance of the game for me. That’s a good edge to have rather than just, if you like, a game where you’re trying to think of something to get the players a little bit upbeat.

“There will be a nervousness about the game but hopefully we can use that as a positive. Winning would mean we’ll have a good weekend, that’s for sure. I’m not dismissing it by any means, but it’s not a must-win.

“It’s one we want to win, we know how important it is, and we know how the league table will look. I don’t talk about that, it doesn’t really interest me, if I’m honest. What I know is that we’ve got to take our chances and if we do that I think we can beat anyone in this league.

“The bigger picture, over the longer-term, I’m comfortable and I think we’ll be fine.”

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With the Blues having one behind early on Tuesday night, he also discussed the importance of a good start in any game.

“If you start well it can get your fans going and add pressure for the home team,” he commented. “I don’t know what Stevenage fans are like, whether they just help them or they’re getting on them.

“For us, going there, our away support Tuesday was fantastic. The people that travelled there, in those conditions, was really appreciated. Hopefully we have a small gathering on Saturday of our fans and we can give them something to cheer about.

“The pressure’s on both teams because they know the importance of it. Whether Stevenage fans get behind them or not, I actually don’t mind, as long as there’s an atmosphere.

“I always found that I didn’t care if they were shouting for me or against me. If there’s a better atmosphere and more noise, it makes for a better atmosphere for the players. That was me, I don’t know if these lads are quite the same.

“I’m hoping it’s a loud atmosphere and one we could enjoy. Like I say, we’ll have to look at how Stevenage turn out. Paul hasn’t had a lot of time with his players either, they also played on Tuesday, and I had the same when we went to Northampton. That was very difficult.

“It will be the same at Stevenage because when you play two games in four days it’s about recovery. I don’t see it being drastic changes because he’s not had time yet to implement that. Normally Tis does like to come up with something a little bit different, so we’ve just got to be ready for it.”


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