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MANAGER: Their possession stats are very high

Keith Millen ahead of the Saturday trip to Rochdale

4 February 2022

United are at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday afternoon and manager Keith Millen spoke to us about what we can expect as we come up against a Rochdale team who have proved to be difficult to beat this season.

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“They’re a possession-based team and you can see why they’ve drawn a lot of games,” he said. “They like to keep the ball and play out from the back so that they control the possession.

“Their possession stats are very high but that doesn’t always necessarily mean that you win football matches. It’s what you do in both boxes that counts.

“I’m expecting them to try to be more effective when they do have the ball and we’ll have to make sure we stay solid. We’ll need to have control to our shape and with the freshness we’ve got with some of the new signings they’ll hopefully have an impact on Saturday.”

“It’s a team in the bottom half of the league, but in this league it doesn’t mean that much,” he continued. “Everyone can beat everyone. We certainly played two of the form teams in Sutton and Forest Green, and you could see that when we played them.

“Whether Rochdale’s form, I think they’ve drawn their last three, they’re not in a bad place. We’re on the back of three defeats that we have to stop.

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“When you get on a little run of defeats or draws you want to turn that around as quick as possible, then people stop asking the questions about you haven’t won, or lost three, you’ve got to stop that little slide we’re on.

“But there will be ups and downs I’m sure from now to the end of the season. We could quite easily go on another good run then have a little dip. I’ve just got to try and not let this little dip drag on too long.

“It’s more about getting our performance levels up. We’ve come away from our performances, for different reasons, over the last few games.”

And on what he wants from his own team, he commented: “When you’re away from home you always want to make sure you’re solid, and keep your shape, and hopefully something will fall for you.

“Tuesday, we set up to make sure we were really hard to beat, then you get three injuries. The first five minutes we never got out of our 18-yard box. But we saw that little period through and all of a sudden pick up all these injuries.

“I was pleased to get through to half-time 0-0. Then we’ve conceded two goals by individual mistakes. Away games you normally set up first of all to be hard to beat, and we’ve done that for every game. We’ve got to try and do that on Saturday.”


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“You always try and look back on the good performances, as we had at Scunthorpe and Stevenage, because that gives you confidence,” he continued. “It just reminds you of what you did well.

“The difference for me between Tuesday and that was we didn’t make mistakes in those games. You look back to Scunny and Stevenage, it’s not like we played great football or passed them off the park.

“We were just very strong, controlled, organised, didn’t make a mistake I don’t think. We punished them and that’s enough normally.

“We’ve come away from that for whatever reason, we’re making individual mistakes, which has affected the confidence for some. We’ve got to cut them out, I know that.

“The fans know that as well. The numbers on Tuesday were brilliant, it was great to walk out to that. It’s our job to perform and give them something to carry on cheering about.

“You can perform fantastically well and still lose the game. It’s more about how we play, I’d like to think the fans will get behind you, it’s not just always about the result – you can perform really well and be unlucky.

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“We didn’t perform well on Tuesday. A lot of things did go against us, certainly with the three injuries. That’s bizarre what happened. I thought we’d have recovered from it, but we made mistakes and got punished for it.

“Hopefully they come in numbers again, and then it’s down to us to give them a performance and they can get behind us.”

With the Blues currently eight points clear of the drop zone, the Carlisle boss insisted that the focus was on points and not on positions.

“I honestly haven’t looked at the table,” he said. “Someone said that we’d dropped down, but I don’t look at that just yet. All I look at is that we’ve lost three games and we’ve got a lot of games left.

“The bottom half of the table is very close, so if I say we’re in a battle but we then go and win the next three games, suddenly we’re talking about being in mid-table.

“Things can turn very quickly and my main concern is probably our lack of form from the least few games. That’s my concern because we have to pick that up, without a doubt.

“We know if we get back to better levels and if the new players help us quickly that we’re going to be ok. A relegation battle is when you’ve got six games left and you have to win three of them, or something like that. That’s when you know you’re in that kind of battle.”

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