MANAGER: Home form is key

Manager Keith Millen gets his first taste of Brunton Park league action on Saturday afternoon with the visit of Barrow [kick off 1pm] and as he continues to work hard with the group on implementing a structure that will them on an upward cycle.

Key to that, of course, will be performances in front of the home supporters, with positive results on your own patch a foundation for a positive season.

“I think home form is key,” he agreed. “I do look at where we are in the country. The fact that teams normally have to do a lot of travelling to come here can make it quite difficult, and it could be something they don’t always look forward to.

“We’ve got to make sure they don’t enjoy playing here once they arrive. It’s a lovely big pitch, so teams will feel they can go out and play on that, but home form is critical for anyone, and we have to take advantage of the surface we have in our favour.

“The fact we have so many games at home coming up is something we should try to use, and the fans can play a massive part if they really get behind us. I’m sure they will again, and if they can create a good atmosphere for every home game it will certainly help the players.”

On what he’s seen through the first three games of his tenure, he said: “I wouldn’t say anything has taken me by surprise, but you’re never quite sure what you’re dealing with until you get here.

“You can watch all the videos you like of how the team has been playing and things like that, but until you actually get in the dressing room and meet the players, you’re never sure what you’re coming into.

“All I can say at the moment is the players have bought into what we’ve asked of them. They’ve been very responsive and positive, we’ve won the last two games, which has pleased me, but the performances have been the main thing I’ve been pleased with.

“Hopefully we can see signs of what we’re trying to do, and I think that is giving the players a bit more confidence and understanding. After the Northampton game I wasn’t too worried, it was a bad performance and result, but in the last two games we’ve seen the type of performances that we’re trying to work on in training.”

“I’m not going to talk about what went on before because I wasn’t here and I wouldn’t do that,” he continued. “All I can talk about is what I’ve done since I’ve been here. We didn’t have much time before the Northampton game and it was a poor performance, but since then we’ve had a couple of weeks for me to look at the players a little bit more and try to come up with a way of playing that suits them.

“We haven’t over-complicated it, what we’re trying to do isn’t rocket science, but certainly out of possession I want us to be a well-structured team. At any level, if you’re organised it means the opposition have got to do something a bit special to score against you.

“When you analyse the goals scored at this level, quite often it comes down to a mistake, lack of discipline or bad team shape. I’m looking at us making it as hard as possible for the opposition to hurt us, and I think that’s a great basis for any team.

“We’ve had that for the last two games, and that then builds confidence to go and score goals, because you know you’ve got a solid base. They’re the principles, it isn’t perfect by any means yet, but it’s helped us for the last two games and hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.”

“From a manager’s point of view of course you want to have an impact as quick as you can,” he commented. “To have won the last two games is great. From the lads’ point of view, anything that can give them a bit more belief and confidence will help.

“It’s more been about the performances and the process of what we’re trying to put in place to win football matches that I look at more.

“The last two games, performances have been good and we’ve won both of them. That’s great, gives everyone a bit of a boost, more confidence. But it’s more about how we’ve played that’s encouraged me more than the actual results.

“The other good thing is that from day one I’ve felt very comfortable here. The staff and everyone have made me feel very welcome.

“I have very supportive staff around me, it’s still early days of trying to get things in place, it’s not going to happen overnight. Every day and eery week that goes by we try and improve things.

“I’ll hopefully settle in somewhere next week as far as living goes, rather than a hotel, which helps. I’m realising every scout game I go to now, I’ve been to two this week, everything’s at least two hours away, there’s not many games you can go to around the corner.

“The travelling is something I’ve got to get used to a little bit but that’s what you have to do. If there are games, you go and see them.”

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