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MANAGER: It's about continuous improvement at the moment

Keith Millen on the minimum requirement of hard work

12 November 2021

With another good week of work under the collective belt manager Keith Millen heads into tomorrow’s home game with some selection posers, particularly after a Tuesday night display which saw the Blues put League One Morecambe to the sword.

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“Hopefully I’ve got everyone fit and available, and I’ll pick the team that I think is going to win,” he said. “We look at Barrow, and what they’re about. The good thing is that in the last two games, the squad generally has performed well.

“There’s going to be some disappointed players, but I know now and feel more confident that the subs can come on and have an impact, and whoever starts or comes on can certainly fight for their place. That’s a pleasing feeling to have going into the game.

“It’s a happy camp, which is normally the way after a win. A lot of the players that played on Tuesday hadn’t played for a while, and you could see they were tired at the end of the game. It’s been more about getting their legs back. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have almost a fully-fit squad.

“In some ways Morecambe was a strange game. We knew the situation with us already being through, but they surprised us with how strong a line-up they put out. We were expecting their reserves and they decided to go full-strength apart from the four players on international duty.

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“That was a good test for us, when we saw the team sheet, it was - wow, they’re strong tonight. But it was an opportunity for the players I’ve not seen yet. That really pleased me, some of the lads I’ve not seen, the way we performed.”

“In midfield, Danny [Devine] was the biggest surprise of the night,” he told us. “I spoke to him today about it. He’s a great lad, quiet, just gets on with his work, and I wasn’t quite sure how to take him if I’m honest, before the game, because he just gets on with it and keeps himself to himself.

“You’re never quite sure as a manager where he is, but his performance was really encouraging. I was pleased with the way he played. He's certainly given me food for thought in that central position where I felt we were a little bit short. He performed really well.

“I said to him I just want to see a little bit more from him in training, just to show me a bit more intent and urgency, a little bit more fight for trying to get a shirt. His performance was excellent on Tuesday; that was probably the biggest plus of the evening.”

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And on the mood of the squad overall, he said: “I’m happy with their attitude to what I’m asking them to do. I’m happy that they’re listening, and I know they want to improve and get better.

“What more can you ask as a manager coming into a new club. I’ve walked into dressing rooms where you know you’re in trouble, because of the atmosphere, but it isn’t like that here. There’s a good atmosphere here and hopefully I can give them a direction that wins us football matches.

“I have no worries with this group and after Tuesday I know I have more competition for places, and that’s how it should be. Nobody should feel safe in their shirt, there should always be somebody pushing to take it away.

“It’s about trying to find some momentum at the moment. If we perform well on Saturday and show signs of improvement, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll win the game.

“Hopefully we perform well and win the game, but we can do everything we want on the training pitch and in the game, then someone might smash one in from 30 yards, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t performed well.

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“It’s more about carrying on what we’re doing and trying to keep improving. If we do that, we’ll naturally win more games. The pressure on Saturday comes because it’s a local derby and means more to the supporters, which adds to the occasion, but I just want us to perform as well as we have done in the last two games. If we do that I think we’ll be ok.”

“We’re talking about such fine margins,” he added. “Everyone I speak to in League Two and around the game tells me that it’s very even at this level. There’ll be teams that have good runs, others that have bad runs, and they can’t quite put their finger on why.

“I know if we can get momentum going it can take us to much better places. All we can do is keep taking it game by game and, if we do start getting results, we might find that we’re on a good run without even realising it. Things develop and build and that can take you anywhere.

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“People keep asking about free agents, and we’re looking every day. If there was something that would improve us, I would look at it. We’ve got a good size squad, the squad is better than I expected.

“Probably, after Tuesday, I think there’s more competition there that I hadn’t seen before. We are looking to improve the squad, that’s what we need to do, but I wouldn’t bring a player in for the sake of it, there’s no need for that.

“I’ve got to carry on working with this group of players. I think there’s an improvement there, already. You never know how good they could become. We’ve just got to concentrate now on Saturday and get a team out that’s hopefully going to win the game.”

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