The Season to Date

Clyde head coach, Stuart Millar talked exclusively to at the end of the first quarter of the league campaign. It has been a disappointing start and Stuart spoke candidly with his views on The Bully Wee’s form to date…

“We are playing well in periods of matches but are getting crucified for mistakes, with poor defending and individual errors costing us dear. Opposition mangers have texted me recently telling me that the club is in a false position and things will change, but I’m not daft. I know that supporters judge by results on a Saturday and they have not been good enough. I want to put it right. I know we have not reached the standards I set myself, I accept we should be doing better and I know that it is not good enough.”

One criticism that has been posed is the lack of experience in key positions…

“I agree. The spine of the team isn’t right. For example, we lack a commanding figure in the middle of the park and I also accept that we need a streetwise centre mid who can be a leader on the park. A Marvyn Wilson type of a few years ago but maybe six inches taller than Marvyn!

So why wasn’t a player of that type brought in?

“I think its right that fans know the truth. We were dealt a huge blow on the eve of the Stranraer game when loan deals which had looked certain to go through, with a club at a high level in the game, broke down at the last minute.

“We had discussed a deal for four players for a season-long loan and these were in key positions; centre and left midfield as well as up front. However, at the last minute the other club, as is entirely their right, decided against the move. It was a blow as it left us short.

“Negotiations had been advanced, indeed I had spent time seeing the prospective loans in action. We had not pursued players in those particular positions because we believed those players would be coming to Broadwood. By the time we knew the deal was off we had spent our budget on the remainder of the squad.

“I remember thinking that we had negotiated two cup ties well. A decent performance against Thistle and a good victory over Cowdenbeath, so we were set to get a boost of additional quality to the squad.

“The deal may re-emerge in January but for time being we just need to get on with it. The Board and the Supporters’ Trust have been good as we were able to bring in Alan Lithgow and Ricky Waddell to help bridge the gap but it did leave the squad unbalanced, as now we have areas of the park with very little – if any – SFL experience. I think we also have to recognise that it isn’t all about the middle of the park, we aren’t creating enough from wide areas and our strikers have not been scoring.”

Were there not other loan deals that could have been pursued?

“We may look at loan deals in January but remember that the lending club, more often than not, wants a significant proportion of the wages paid. Very recently we’ve been offered players from SPL clubs but the wages for the youngsters, even at 50% of their salaries, put them at the high end of our scale and the budget has been spent.”

Will there be significant changes in January?

“In the transfer window it is likely that players who are not in the picture will be asking to go so they can play regular football. It would not be my preference to make wholesale changes at that time so maybe four, five or at a maximum six will move on. Much of the moves will be instigated by the players themselves.”

The supporters have been disappointed and angry at the way things are working out at the moment…

“I don’t read Internet forums but I can guess what the fans are saying. I hear it on matchdays and receive letters from supporters who express their opinion to me. I spoke to a supporter for an hour on the phone the other night discussing our present position. This is the time when the club really does need supporters. It just seems part and parcel of the game that one week you are a hero and then the next week you are abused.

“We do need a reality check though. I accept Graham Roberts was able to achieve great success for a time with young, athletic full-time players but we have to recognise we are a part-time Third Division club – not a full-time First Division club.

“Due to good housekeeping we will have a team to support next season and that is important to remember. A lot of Dundee fans would be delighted with that assurance.”

Are the players good enough to turn things around?

“I believe they are. I have confidence in them and they have confidence in me and through time we will prove that. It is frustrating, you do question yourself but we have been consistent. We have tried as much as possible to keep it straight forward in how we have set up the team.”

Certainly pre-season gave no indication as to what has happened since…

“Pre-season is about fitness and the games are virtually non-contact. We are still all finding out about each other and these things take time. We have good individuals but we need to form partnerships throughout the team.

“Albion, Berwick and Annan, for example, I would argue have players who aren’t miles better than us but they are streetwise to the Third. Their squads have a good balance with guys who know the demands and what it entails to compete in the Third. They have dug deep and we need to learn those attributes to succeed.”

You did bring in more players than you originally hoped…

“I wanted to keep up to thirteen from last year, as I didn’t want to have to sign a lot of players. Yes we needed a freshness but we wanted to retain the core. We felt at the end of the season the players were playing to a level that they could have done well in the Third.

“Of course, some of those decided not to accept our offer and we don’t have the budget to sign a full squad of players of the quality of Strachan and McCusker. We can’t sign tried and tested players so we brought in a larger number who had never played senior football before. The more players you sign the riskier it gets.”

Rab Sneddon was brought into the club as chief scout but he has been seen more in the dugout, what is his situation?

“The situation is that Gordon, myself and Rab discussed what was happening and, during these difficult times, we believed that Rab’s experience was best used in the dugout on matchdays. Rab still watches games during the week but I felt it was in the best interests of the club that we use his skills differently for the present moment. What it doesn’t mean is that games are not being covered.

“Brian Reilly, a person who both Neil and I have worked with over many years and who was working for me during my time at Ross County, watches matches for us. Brian is a person I trust and has a good knowledge of the game. He forwards me reports on our forthcoming opposition each week so we are not leaving anything to chance.”

Where do we go from here?

“In the longer term, we need to identify a core of players in the current squad who will move the club forward. We want to retain players much earlier than the club has done in recent years. We can’t start from scratch each summer. If you look at the teams at the top of the league they have had a core of players together for a number of years and we need to match that.

“I knew what I was coming in to but I never thought it would be as difficult. We have let ourselves down. I’m not kidding myself, I know we need to do better and we will do everything we can to turn it around. There is no secret solution. It is about continuing to work hard.

“It’s important that we move the club forward and match the good stuff happening off the park. In time, I am confident we will get our reward and results will change.”