It was another busy January for United with five signings secured across the final 24 hours of the transfer window, making it an interesting Monday night as targets were confirmed and secured.
Speaking at his Thursday virtual press conference, manager Keith Millen said: “I’m delighted with the amount we’ve been able to do but I wasn’t expecting Monday to be as hectic as it was.
“There were a couple of deals we thought were going to happen on Sunday, which didn’t happen on Monday morning, so that was annoying.
“Mitchell [Roberts] was one that we had done, and I’m really pleased with that one. We had no cover, when we brought Joel Senior in the thinking was he could cover both full-back areas, but he stepped in after Kelvin’s, injury which meant he couldn’t cover left back as well.
“We knew we were very short defensively, so Mitchell coming in adds to the competition for places. We were always on the lookout for different types of front men, I’ve said that from day one, and that’s been the difficult ones to get over the line.”
“We had a couple fall through on Monday morning,” he confirmed. “Zach Clough going to Australia was a surprise, but a move that I wasn’t going to stand in his way of.
“We knew about Owen and Dev, so it was good to get those over the line after some complications. While that was going on, we were trying to find our different types of forwards.
“We were after a stronger, target man type, and we’ve got that now with Tobi Sho-Silva. That one happened quite late, so it was good to get that done.
“Kristian Dennis is one of the players we’ve looked at for a while, and you’ve only got to look at his goal scoring record. He’s a natural finisher who gets in good positions, and his record shows that.
“I’m really pleased with the options we’ve got now because I think we tick all of the boxes.”
On the difference they’ll make to the squad, he said: “They’re not all match fit, so not all of them can start.
“Sometimes in a January window, players becoming available are available for a reason, and it’s normally because they’re not playing at the clubs they’re at.
“They’re not all match fit, but they’re certainly fit enough to play some part. I’ve got to try and work out who may be ready to start and who may be ready to be a sub.
“At least I’ve got a few more options and more competition for places now, certainly in the front places.”
As with any new employee in any workplace, the key is fitting in and settling quickly so that maximum output can be achieved.
“Integrating won’t be a problem in the dressing room that’s for sure, they’re a really good group of lads and they’ve already made them welcome,” the manager explained. “The cold weather might be something that shocks a few, but we’re in February so things should start warming up.
“Learning from me, what I want from them, the way we play, they all need to do that. We’ve done some work on the training ground, to get as much information into them as possible. But it’s difficult in two days, it’s not going to be the finished article.
“At least there was a bit more freshness about us. Before training everyone was a little bit down because of the result and performance, and the injuries, but they livened training up a little bit so that was good.
“Thursday was the first time for the meet and greet, that’s all been done. It’s always better once you get out on the grass and train and join in with the lads. I’ve just got to try and work out how fit they are and how much game time they’ve got in their legs. That’s going to be the difficult thing in the next couple of weeks.”
With 18 games left to play the new arrivals know that they have click quickly, with results a priority.
“None of them are injured, which is good,” he commented. “They’ve just not had enough game time at their previous clubs. I’ve got no worries in that respect. It’s just trying to get the balance right.
“I have got some good options, certainly in the front areas. It also might give a bit of freshness to the lads who are playing a lot of games this season. They’ve been playing week-in, week-out.
“Certainly for the attacking players it can be quite tough to have that edge to their game all the time. In a way it’s quite good that I can freshen it up.
“Jamie Devitt, I knew about his history medically. He has been fit for a while now. He’s had bit parts for Barrow, playing. He’s been in and around it, it’s not like he’s not played because he’s not been available.
“He’s been sub and used at times. I also know the quality he’s got and he’s had here before. He was desperate to come back and play for the club again, which I liked. He can definitely be high on the assists, and creating goals, which we’ve lacked at times.
“I just felt it was a no-brainer. His hunger to come here and do well, I always like. Every player we’ve brought in has come here because they want to try and improve and kick on again. Kristian is very hungry hungry to play, and with his goalscoring record, that’s not going to change now – he scores goals, and we lack goals. He’s a really good addition to the squad.”
And both Devitt and Dennis add experience to a mix that has a lot of blossoming youth currently pushing through.
“With both of them, I didn’t want another young lad out from an academy,” he told us. “We’ve got them, and Kristian is experienced. Even just the way he is around the place, he’s great to talk to, really good in the dressing room.
“I think that’s a positive as well. I think he’s a good pro that likes high standards. Obviously I want him to score goals but he brings more than just that.”
“At the moment we have a busy period of games, but as we get into February we have a few weeks where there aren’t any midweek games,” he continued. “That’s good, and we’re integrating players in a busy spell you can’t make big changes.
“When that’s the case they’ve got to buy into what I’m trying to do as quickly as possible. I told the players in this morning’s meeting that we’ve got to come together and socialise and talk to each other, get to know each other, because we’ve lost three key players through injury.
“The way football is we’ve got to move on very quickly and get to know how each other thinks. It isn’t pre-season where we have six to eight weeks, we’ve got a game on Saturday so it’s really important that they learn about each other.
“We need to be winning games, they need to be working hard at that, and that’s the difficult thing we’ve got in that it has to happen now. We’ve got a game against Rochdale and we need to pick things up.”