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Club News

MANAGER: We've all seen upsets over the years

Keith Millen looks ahead to tomorrow's meeting with Horsham

5 November 2021

Dominic Di Paolo brings his Hornets to Brunton Park having already played seven games in this season’s Emirates FA Cup competition to get this far.

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And it isn’t a fixture that Carlisle United will be taking lightly.

“We’ve prepared for this game the same as we would for a league game,” manager Keith Millen said. “We’ve had someone go to two of their games and we’ve managed to get a video of another of their games.

“We’ve studied them and done exactly what we would for any other game. In some ways we have to show them even more respect, because we didn’t know anything at all about their players.

“Horsham isn’t far from where I live, but I don’t know any of them, which has meant we’ve probably done more homework because we don’t want any surprises on the day.

“We’ve got to try and understand what they do and respect that, but we’ve purposely worked on us in possession this week so we’ve got an identity, which we’ll start to see on Saturday.”

“They’ve been through replays and beaten a National League side to get to this stage and I’ll be reminding our lads of what to expect,” he added. “I’ve seen Woking play who they beat in the last round, and that should tell you what can happen in this competition.

“We’ve all seen upsets over the years and we’ve got to make sure we aren’t one of them.”

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With 66 places separating the sides in the football pyramid the expectation sits with the Blues, with Horsham looking to upset that particular apple cart.

“Of course that’s what everyone will say,” the manager responded. “It’s one of those situations where in a way we can’t win because we’re expected to do exactly that.

“All we can say is that we respect Horsham, they’ve done really well to get this far, and they’ll see this as a massive game. They’re the underdogs who are coming up here with nothing to lose, it’s like a cup final for them, and it’s that kind of thing people will say about the game and about them.

“We have to ignore that and respect them as we would any other team, without a doubt. It’s a great opportunity for us to play a game with a bit of confidence, having had a good week of training.

“I’ll be looking for us to dominate possession more, create more chances and sustain our attacks better. That’s the sort of thing we’ve been working on this week and hopefully we’ll be able to deal with the enthusiasm, energy and threats Horsham will bring to the game.

“We have to match all of that. I’ve been in this situation so many times where you’re the hot favourites and it’s about your mindset, it’s not about your quality. If you don’t compete and match the other team you can come unstuck.

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“Hopefully we’ll deal with that and then we’ll get the chance to show the quality we have in our team. Again, it’s something we’ve talked about in training, I’ve tried to give the players a little bit more of an identity to what we’re doing, and they’re responded well to that.

“I’ve looked at the squad and the team a little more in depth and I have more of an understanding of what they’re about. I’ve looked a lot at the front players because I’ve got to try to get the attacking part of the team working well, and that’s an area I think we need to concentrate on, even though we do obviously need to constantly work at keeping clean sheets.

“I’ve had a good bit of time to assess things and hopefully come up with a way of playing that’s effective and gets the best out of them.”

As for whether or not his squad will feel the pressure of being favourites to win the tie, he said: “You could say there’s less pressure because it’s away from the league situation, so it can be seen as a distraction away from that.

“Hopefully we can use that as a positive. But, for me, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, it’s the FA Cup. You want to win because of what it is. I’ve been lucky enough to go a long way and even get to a final, so I know what’s it like to win these games and see excitement come from it.

“Hopefully there’ll be less tension in the players, but they’ve got to understand what a great opportunity it is for us to get some momentum going. It’s got to come from somewhere, so why not this weekend.

“I want us to perform well, get a result, and that will put us in a much better frame of mind. Nobody likes to go on without winning, it affects everyone, the players, the staff, the fans – there’s a cloud around football clubs when you’re not winning games. We’ve got to try to lift that.

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“At the same time we have to appreciate that for Horsham to get to this round in the FA Cup is definitely a big achievement, and they’ll want to carry it on. I can understand why they maybe had a dip in the league because, once they beat Woking, this will have been on their minds since that day.

“It’s difficult to take their minds off it, but league form goes out of the window on Saturday. They’ll be a different team coming here. They’ve earned the right to be here, and we have to be so respectful of that.

“I’ll make sure we’re ready and the players know they have to show their opponents the respect they deserve.”

“I’ve had so many experiences of being the underdog and the favourite,” he concluded. “It is a different mindset. I won’t go into details of the way we’re going to play, but you have to earn the right, so you have to match what they’re going to offer.

“That will be lots of energy and enthusiasm. We’ve got to make sure we match that and then as the game goes on, where you are as players, hopefully can take control of the game and then we’ve got to take our chances.

“First of all we’ve got to deal with what they do, and get our way of playing, which is new to the group, it won’t be perfect – hopefully it will be, but I doubt it – but if I see signs of what we’re trying to achieve during the game, hopefully that’s enough to win it and put us through to the next round.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Millen on iFollow United now.

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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