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MANAGER: We have to change the mindset

Keith Millen with more reaction from Tuesday night

24 November 2021

There was no hiding the frustration felt by United boss Keith Millen when he sat with the press after the Harrogate game on Tuesday night with him having watched his side give up a solid first half performance to an added time sucker punch that sent them into the break with a one-goal deficit to make up.

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They were then made to pay for missed chances when the Sulphurites broke late in the game to seal the points, leaving the Cumbrians to pick themselves up and dust themselves down as they look to deal with what has been a very tough period.

“We’re going over the same things after games so I’m not going to do that this time,” the manager said. “I’m not going to sit here and talk about whatever possession we had, how many crosses, how many opportunities, or anything like that.

“I think they had three attempts on goal and they punished us twice. That’s not an answer, and we have to change. I have to change it and I’m not going to talk about how we passed the ball within passing patterns.

“I always protect the players, I always will, but we have to change the mentality. That’s what it is, it’s a mentality, and we cannot continue to have people telling me that we’re playing better football – when you’re losing football matches that’s not acceptable.

“I have to change the mentality of the group before Saturday. We need to change the momentum we’re in. I’m not going to hide behind the way we’re playing. It doesn’t matter how you play, you have to have the mentality where you’re going to win your next football match.

“At the moment I’m giving the players the opportunity to tell us that they’re doing this and that, but that has to stop now. They have to start winning as well as doing the other things well.

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“On Thursday it will be a different environment around the place, because losing like this has to hurt. To dominate the game like we did, and then to lose, that’s down to more of a mindset than it is the tactics or the style we’re playing.”

Speaking more about what the last few days have been like, he told us: “It’s certainly anger that I feel right now.

“We have to change this pattern and the cycle we’re on of losing games in the league. I can’t stand in front of the players and protect them by saying, ‘Listen, you’ve done so many things today’ because they did, they tried and worked hard.

“They passed the ball, put good crosses in, we had players in the box, we can’t finish the chances we’re creating and then we get punished by two really soft, poor goals.

“That’s irrelevant, because the worst case is we draw that game 0-0 and we’d be talking about the chances we’ve missed.

“But we’ve lost 2-0 and that can’t keep happening. We have to think of a way – I do – we need to be more ruthless, we’re too nice at times, we’ve got to be tougher. Now is not the time for talking about the way we’re playing. We’ve got to come up with a mindset.”

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And on how finding that winning mentality can be achieved, he commented: “I’ve got to try and pick players that I think are strong enough mentally.

“Players where I know they might make a mistake, but when the ball goes in the box at both ends hopefully we’re going to get on the end of it. At the moment we don’t get that, so I have to look at the way we play.

“Do I simplify it? I can’t continue saying that we’re doing things and that we have an identity, because the identity we’ve got is that we’re losing football matches. That’s not an identity I want, and I need to do whatever I need to do to change it.

“If it means getting angry with them, I will. That’s the way I feel, that’s the way the fans feel, and I’m sure the players feel it as well. They are hurting now because they’ve tried, but that isn’t enough.

“I see a dressing room that’s disappointed and a group of players that’s tried. It’s amazing how things go against you when you’re on a trough run. It was pretty even in the first half, they had a couple of breaks, and we had some chances, and I was thinking that we’d be going into half time at 0-0.

“I feel that recently we’ve got stronger as games have gone on and we look fitter than a lot of teams. For them to score with 30 seconds to go, and the manner of the goal, it's just too easy. It’s not acceptable and half time becomes a difficult talk then.

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“But, we come out for the second half and fair play to the lads they didn’t let their heads drop. We were on the front-foot and we couldn’t do any more apart from have desire to score a goal.

“That’s what’s missing. God knows how many crosses we got in and how many people we got in the box. We know that is a recurring theme all season. I have to try and change the mentality.

“We have to keep creating chances, but we can’t keep giving goals away. The two goals are so soft. I’m angry, and I’ll be angry until we hopefully turn it around and win on Saturday.”

“I know I’m repeating myself, but I have to change this whole cycle of what we’re doing,” he continued. “I can’t keep sitting and saying we’re doing this well or doing that well. We aren’t winning, so I can’t accept that.

“I’ll sit down with the staff over the next couple of days and find a plan for Saturday. We’ve got to win, that’s all my mentality is now. Whatever we have to do on Saturday, we have to try and win the game.

“It’s a quiet dressing room, they’re disappointed and they have to change that. If they can’t it’s down to me as a manager to get them angry. Because I’m angry. And I’m sure they are, the fans are angry, and we have to take this anger into the game on Saturday.

“It’s nothing to do with how we’re going to play. We have to be so angry that anything that comes in our box, we’re winning. Anything that goes in their box, we’re winning it.

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“I think the way we’re passing the ball, the chances we’re creating, I can’t really complain about that. That’s what I’m trying to get - an identity to what we’re doing. But I’m not that naïve to think, just carry on doing this.

“We’ve got to change this trend of losing football matches. I’m not going to sit and pretend everything is fine, when it isn’t.

“Without having watched the game back, I don’t think people can complain about how many balls and crosses and opportunities we created. We’ve never sat back into a defensive team.

“Every game we’ve dominated possession, we’ve had loads more opportunities, but I don’t want to talk about that. It’s more what we’ve got to do to get a real drive to win a football match. It’s not the shape, tactics, it’s a mindset that we need, and we need it soon.”

“Talking about positives after a game like this is no consolation for the fans. I’m sure they aren’t walking home talking about us playing well but missing chances.

“They’re not saying that and I’m not saying it. I’m not hiding behind anything. We need to change the trend that we’re in and the mindset we’re in. When that starts turning we can start looking at what we’re doing, but we have to get the mindset right first.”

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