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Club News

MANAGER: It's up to us to get the performance we need

Keith Millen on the minimum requirements

26 November 2021

United’s next opponents have been very difficult to beat on the road this season and they come to Brunton Park off the back of a very good Tuesday night win at Vale Park, against the high-flying Valiants.

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Looking ahead to the Saturday game, Keith Millen said: “From what I’ve seen on the videos of their games they look like they want to try to play out from the back.

“We’ve looked at the shape they play and the threat they have, and their centre forward George Miller has scored goals for them. We have to be aware of his strengths and what he does.

“They tend to go with a 4-3-3 shape, that’s what they mainly play, so we’ve discussed that with the players. We haven’t done any tactical work yet because Thursday was all about us getting in the right mindset. That’s why we made it a more aggressive, full-on, short session.”

“I know Matt Taylor and Neil McDonald, they’ve had really good careers, haven’t they,” he told us. “They’re a good club, they’ve got them playing well, they’re trying to pass the ball and play out from the back.

“I’m not saying they’re playing the right way - the right way is to win a football match and get the best out of your team. They’re in that sort of mid-table position probably where they could go either way.

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“We have to respect them, of course we will. We’ll do our homework on them. It’s the level of performance that we’ve got to achieve, that’s where we have our focus.”

The improvement in performances has coincided with the implementation of an identity which has the seen the team adopt a measured approach to possession as they look to unlock the door to goals.

“We want to continue to develop that, but we also have to adapt to how the opposition will play,” he explained. “There’s a middle ground.

“I’m conscious of keeping our identity because when I first came in I was trying to think of way of building confidence and belief in what we’re doing, and that helps.

“Having an identity to what you’re doing builds positive feelings and that has definitely worked, without a doubt. There is a belief in what we’re doing, and I’m very conscious of not changing too much as we continue to develop that.

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“We’ve just got to get better at what we’re doing. I’ve said previously, we’re creating enough chances to win games, so that side of the game is something I’m pleased with.

“We always consider what the opposition do, so maybe we tweak things to deal with that, but it’s always up to us to try to win the game.”

“I’d like to say we’re a progressive, passing team,” he commented. “I like to give players options on the ball, but I’m not trying to make us a total possession team who pass for the sake of passing.

“If you can get through the opposition with one pass, it’s a great pass. If you look at Man City, they’re probably the best passing team in the country and if they get pressed high, their keeper passes it long with one kick and they’re in on goal.

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“It’s about finding a way of playing that will win you a football match. I’ve looked at what our strengths are and what I feel the players’ strengths are, then come up with a way of playing to give the player on the ball options.

“Whether that’s to play through people, round them or over them, you have to adapt to what the opposition are doing. I’d like to think the players have got options on the ball, and their decision making on the day determines the success.”

“An identity and a way of playing is what it is, but there’s more to winning a football match than just having that,” he insisted. “It’s a mindset and a competitiveness, and an understanding of what we need to win a football match.

“At times I think it’s fair to say we’ve been a bit naïve, and I’ve spoken to the players about that. We need to be a bit more savvy with our game management, but there are lots of things we need to improve on.

“We need to finish our chances to start with, in all the games I can think of, apart from Northampton, if we’d scored first I honestly think we would have won the games.

“The first goal is crucial for anyone, if you look at the stats at how many teams don’t lose after scoring first, it will be a high percentage.

“If you aren’t on a good run, like we aren’t, that first goal becomes ever more important because it releases the pressure on the players and gives the fans a lift.

“It’s not the be-all and end-all, because a good thing I have noticed with the group is when we have gone a goal down, there’s been a positive reaction, which is vital if we’re going to win.

“We can’t let our heads drop too much if we don’t score the first goal.”


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