FC Halifax Town: “We want to bring in lads who are going to be scrapping for a starting position straight away” says assistant boss Millington

FC Halifax Town assistant manager Chris Millington is confident The Shaymen can improve next season after just missing out on the National League play-offs.

By Tom Scargill
Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 12:37 pm
Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston
Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston

Millington, who said Town boss Pete Wild was busy working on potential deals, confirmed that every out-of-contract player at the club, other than Danny Williams and Reuben Noble-Lazarus, has been offered a new deal.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll manage to retain a strong core of the squad from this season,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of work in a coaching sense, with the group this season, and it would be a shame to have to start all of that all over again because there’s quite clearly more we need to do.

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“So to do build on those foundations that have been put in place from a coaching perspective next season would be the ideal scenario, and then what you hope to be doing, and what we plan to do, is to bring in players who strengthen the squad, not underpin it.

“So we want to bring in lads who are going to be scrapping for a starting position straight away rather than lads who are coming in to underpin the current group.

“We want to make it stronger rather than just support it, that’s the plan and that’s what I know Pete’s working very hard to achieve.”

One player who has been signed up for the next two seasons is goalkeeper Sam Johnson

“There’s a lot of things you look at with certain positions in the team, some of them are attached to budget, some of them are attached to performance levels, consistency, ability to improve, there’s all kinds of areas,” Millington said.

“But one of the things you want from your goalkeeper is stability and knowing what you can expect.

“With Sam, there’s a great affinity for the club, he’s a Shaymen through and though, really desperate to help the club get better and kick on. So that’s something that has a real value, on top of his ability as a goalkeeper.

“But what that adds to the position and the team is really important.

“There was never any sense from me that he would go anywhere else and the club see the value Sam has over and above just what he does on a Saturday afternoon.”

When asked where Town can do better next season, Millington said: “As a staff we’ve gone through a reflective process looking at performances.

“Our goal conversion rate could be better, in some games and some periods of the season we’ve been creating an awful lot of chances and not converting enough.

“Then there have been a number of games where the opposition haven’t had to create too many chances to score.

“So they’re the two real stark areas we would say we need to be better at, we need to be more frugal and make sure that teams are having to work to create really clear-cut opportunities to score against us, and the flip-side is that when we’re in the opposition box, we need to be converting more of those chances that we’re making.

“If we can continue to be creating that number of chances then we’d expect to be converting more, and that will definitely lead to us getting more points on the board.

“On top of that, if we’re taking more of those chances then that will lead to us killing games off earlier.

“Because maybe we haven’t converted some of these chances early on in games, that lets other teams have spells where they’re a threat that they may not have done had we been more clinical at the other end.”

Jack Earing and Jeff King, two of Town’s star players last season but who are both out-of-contract, have both been linked to moves away from the club.

But Millington believes Town are in a better position this summer than a year ago, with more of the ground work in place this time round.

“I think the foundations have been put in place this year and I’d hope the fans have seen, in lots of ways, an identity coming out in terms of how we play, they’ve seen what we can do when we approach games trying to use our possession-based style,” he said.

“I’d hope they’ve seen signs within that and could describe what this side looks like in a performance-sense.

“So I’d hope some of those things are being spotted by the fans, and we want to build on those and become better at them.

“We want to be better in possession, better in both boxes, be more clinical, be more effective, and to do that, we need to build on the foundation.

“So what we’ve done this season is create something that can certainly be better and be improved on, but we mustn’t rip that up and start again, or move backwards from that.”

Millington says he thinks Town can do better in the upcoming campaign than they did this season.

“For me, there are areas where we’ve fallen short that we shouldn’t have done,” he said.

“In all honesty, I think we could have done better than the 10th placed finish, even with the adversity we faced, which is well documented.

“Personally, I am disappointed we finished 10th and I think we could have done a bit better.

“Next season, I want us to be better again in terms of where we finish, but for me, it’s all about us earning that right and performing to a standard that deserves it.

“I think we can do that, and we’ve got to focus on the fact that other teams are doing it.

“There are other teams out there who might not have the biggest resources or budgets, but you look at who’s been successful in League Two this season, and there are teams who’ve got promoted out of that division who’ve got bottom-half budgets, so we’ve got to find ways to add value.

“Some of that is the quality of staff that are around the team, some of that is the quality of the training, some of that is the quality of the planning and analysis that goes on, and we’ve got to find ways to add value that might not be just going out and spending a load of cash.

“But I’ve got every faith in the people around the club to be able to do that and to be punching at the top end of the division, which should be a minimum expectation now.”