FC Halifax Town: We can build on last season’s success, says Millington

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town, FA Cup match at the Shay. Pictured is Pete Wild (right) and assistant boss Chris MillingtonActions from FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town, FA Cup match at the Shay. Pictured is Pete Wild (right) and assistant boss Chris Millington
Actions from FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town, FA Cup match at the Shay. Pictured is Pete Wild (right) and assistant boss Chris Millington
FC Halifax Town assistant manager Chris Millington is confident the club can build on their play-off finish last season.

Millington admits it is inevitable that expectations among the club’s supporters will rise after their unexpected sixth-placed finish in the 2019-20 campaign.

But he is optimistic that, with a full pre-season behind him and manager Pete Wild, The Shaymen can again compete among the National League’s pace-setters.

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“We want to build on what we’ve done this season, we want to improve certain aspects of our play, we want to have a team that, when the fans are watching, are working hard, are working together, and they see a real unity amongst the side,” he said.

“We want them to see that there’s an understanding of what we’re out there to achieve, and we want the team to display the fact that we’ve got the ability to keep possession in the opposition half a bit longer, with a bit more purpose in terms of trying to break teams down.

“We’re aware that when it got the stage of the season where teams were paying us a bit more respect and sitting in, we had to have a bit more about us in trying to unpick teams, so there will be players and systems in place that will allow us to do that, along with the ability to do what we did in the early part of the season, which was be very effective on the counter-attack.

“There’s not many teams at this level who’ve got a well-rounded approach and who can take two or three different approaches - sitting in and hitting on the counter-attack or offering a possession-based game that unpicks teams - we want to be effective at all aspects of that, so we’re building a training programme and selecting a team that will deal with all those different aspects.”

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Millington says he and Wild will look to learn from promoted sides Barrow and Harrogate at what made them successful in last season’s fifth tier.

“You look at the top teams and you aspire to be better than them,” he said.

“It’s interesting that the two teams who finished top in the lockdown are the ones who’ve gone up.

“Barrow had the ability to keep possession and wear teams down with possession, but also to hit from deep on the counter-attack.

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“Harrogate displayed a really good energy throughout the play-off process, and a high level of fitness, and there was a togetherness about them as a team.

“I think Simon Weaver’s done really well in evolving that team into a promotion side.

“So there are aspects of both those teams that we’ll look to emulate, as well as building on what we did well last year, which was a solid defensive structure, we were difficult to beat at times and we were a good possession-based side.

“We need to be better, we need to unpick teams when they sit in, and we showed that we can be very effective on the counter-attack.

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“We want to be all of those things again, improve on those things and see what the other teams did well that we can copy.”

Millington accepts it is inevitable that expectations will have risen after last season’s play-off finish.

“I would imagine so,” he said. “I think our (he and Wild) expectations are pretty hard to meet anyway.

“We want the fans to expect the best for the team and the club.

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“What we also want them to do is understand that we will always give everything we possibly can to try and make this club successful.

“We will always go the extra mile, we will always work that little bit harder than the competition, we will always try and provide an environment for the players to be successful.

“If all of that comes together then we should meet the expectations of the fans and be competing up there again.

“I hope the fans expect us to do well and our expectation is that we can build on what the team did last year, which was a really solid finish.

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“Although we were disappointed with the result against Boreham Wood, I think that performance showed that we can compete at that end of the division, we’re not there by luck or because we’ve had a plucky season where we’ve given it a go, we’re there because the players have worked hard, they’ve bought into what we wanted to do and we’re there because we deserved to be.”

The Shaymen are expected to begin pre-season training before the end of August, with Wild and Millington having significantly more time to work with their squad than last summer, when they were appointed less than two weeks before the start of the campaign.

“We’ll have the time and ability to mould the squad in our own image a bit more, we’ve had the support from the chairman to start to select players and build the squad that we feel is more effective,” he said.

“We’ve had the opportunity to re-work the budget and where the money’s spent on the players because we felt that maybe it could’ve been spent more effectively in certain areas, and was maybe being spent less effectively in others.

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“So we’ve had the opportunity to make that work a bit more efficiently.”It’s an exciting time for us. We came in last season and we were fire-fighting a little bit in the early stages.

“Now we’ve got an opportunity to work hard from the beginning and be thorough and consistent in what we do.

“We’re hopeful that’ll be reflected in performances.”

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