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MANAGER: I know the way I work is successful

Keith Millen on his new role at Brunton Park

27 October 2021

We sat down with new boss Keith Millen on Tuesday afternoon to get his initial thoughts on his arrival at Brunton Park.

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“It’s all come to a conclusion very quickly," he told us. "The negotiations have been going on for a couple of weeks and I met the board and David [Holdsworth] last week.

"The process has taken its time, which is the right way of doing things, but the final part has been me travelling up then getting everything finalised in a couple of hours. I’m really excited by the challenge.

“I looked at it when I first spoke to the club and they told me where they were and where they wanted to be. The league table obviously isn’t favourable at the moment, but it’s so early in the season that I’m not concerned about that.

"I look at the club and the potential, and it’s a great opportunity for me to work here and maximise that potential."

“I think you can see that the confidence and belief in the lads is low, but that’s to be expected because they haven’t had the results," he said. "It’s easy for me to come in and say I’m going to give them confidence, but that doesn’t wash.

"The only way you can get yourself confident is by doing things well. I’ll come in and change some things and look at what is going on at the moment. I’m sure there are a lot of good things going on in training, and I will add my stamp to it.

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“The great thing is, during my experiences in the game at all different levels, I’ve had good periods and bad periods. Over the years, you realise what works and what isn’t so good.

"I don’t care what league you’re in, I’ve covered a lot of different leagues, I know what’s good and what isn’t. Hopefully I can get a lot of good going on here.

"To help the players be more confident you have to give them a structure that they can believe in. They have to know what we are as a team and what our identity is.

"The results might not be perfect straight away, but if you’ve got an identity to what you’re doing, that gives them belief and confidence that they can see where we’re going and know that we’re going to get there."

On making the initial introductions, he commented: “I’ve already met the players and I’ve told them that our first goal is to win on Saturday.

"Their mindset has to be win the next game. That’s all they have to worry about. Everything we do in training, our preparation during the week and what they do when they go home is about winning on Saturday.

"If we win, great. If we don’t, we’ll pick up the pieces and look at what could have been better and move onto the next game. The beauty is we’ve got 32 games left so there’s no talk of any relegation fight or anything like that. We want to see how many games we can win and see where that takes us.

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“When you come into a club it’s generally because things aren’t going well so you do have to hit the ground running. It’s never nice to see anyone lose their job but it’s created an opportunity for me.

"I’ll be a different voice and I’m sure it will be a slightly different way of working. I know the way I work is successful, hopefully the players buy into that."

And on what changes need to be made to help the team win more games, he said: “We’ve got to find a way of playing that wins football matches.

"I’ve looked at the record and it’s obvious to see we’ve conceded too many goals and we haven’t scored enough goals, that’s never a good recipe.

"I’ve learned from some top managers that when things aren’t going well, you work with the defensive side of the team first. You need a defensive structure that keeps you in the game.

"Even if you aren’t playing that well, it might still be 0-0 and you can score from a set piece to win the game. I think I have to look at the team now and try and make them as solid as possible.

"On the flip side, we also need to look at how we’re going to score goals. You’ve got to look at the personnel and decide whether our players suit going long or going through teams. There are lots of different ways to score goals, without getting too technical.

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"I need to quickly work out the best way of scoring goals with this group of players. I know it's an obvious thing to say, but if we can do both of them, be solid defensively and score more goals, we’ll start winning a lot more games."

“I’ve watched quite a few of our games already so that has helped me get an idea of where we can improve," he continued. "I’ve seen a lot of League Two this year, I’ve been doing scouting for Leyton Orient, so even though I haven’t worked in League Two I feel like I know a lot about the teams.

"League Two isn’t just an old fashioned long ball league. There are teams who play football, but it’s about being effective with what you do. Whether that’s playing long or short passes, you have to look at what is best for your team.

"I’ve got to get the best out of the squad, whether that’s going long, playing through teams or going round teams, it has to fit our players. I’ve probably watched six or seven games now so I’ve got a good idea of where the players are, but it isn’t until you get out on the training pitch and work with them until you get a feeling of who is in a good place."

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“It is a clean slate for every player in there, it has to be," he confirmed. "I’ve got no agenda with any of them, and if there was one I would get them in my office and tell them face to face. If I don’t think something is going well, I’ll tell them why and what I think they need to do to improve.

"That’s the way I work and that’s what I wanted from my managers when I was a player. You don’t always like what a manager says to you, but if they’re honest with you it’s always for the right reasons. Everything I say to them and everything we do is to try and make them better players and better people.

"Within that, those individuals then have to become a team. I’m told the dressing room is a good dressing room, which is great, but a good dressing room doesn’t always mean it’s a winning dressing room.

"I love the fact that they all get on really well, because in the teams I’ve been successful with I always knew that my team mates had my back. That’s a really good feeling to have when you go out on the pitch, and hopefully this group have already got that.

"From what I’ve seen, they’ve got a great attitude towards work and I want to use that energy and enthusiasm because I think that’s the minimum you should expect from your players.

"When fans come to home games, they want to see their team doing everything they can for that badge. It isn’t even negotiable, the players need to work as hard as they can, but also be effective with what they’re doing. I want to use that enthusiasm to help us win more games." 

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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