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‘We’re backing the boss’ says York City midfielder John McGrath
ON-LOAN says John McGrath has confirmed that Gary Mills has the full support of his dressing room as he bids to turn around York City's fortunes.
The Bootham Crescent board have declared they are looking for an improvement in results following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Barnet – the club’s eighth match without a win.
And McGrath, who also played under Mills at Tamworth, is adamant the City chief will meet that challenge, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Oxford United.
The former Doncaster midfielder, recruited from Burton by Mills, said: “There’s no doubt the gaffer is the right man for the job and he has the backing of all the lads.
“He’s one of the main reasons I came here. He’s a great bloke who’s very enthusiastic and losing will have hurt him as much as it did any York City player or fan on Saturday.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and what the manager did last season to get York those two trophies was great. I know the fans are a bit upset and disappointed after the highs of last season but this is a hard division with some massive clubs, even ex-Premier League ones in it, and to finish third-bottom and stay up would represent a great season.
“If everybody sticks together, we should be okay.”
McGrath has signalled his commitment to the cause during his first two displays for the Minstermen and he has revealed he would also be ready to end five years with Burton, where he is still club captain, by making his switch to Bootham Crescent permanent in the summer.
He added: “I had a choice between sitting on the bench at Burton, coming on for ten minutes here and there and seeing my contract out, or coming to York so I jumped at the chance because I missed that Friday night buzz of preparing for a game. I would definitely be interested in joining permanently.
“I like how the team play football and I like the three men in midfield formation. We have a good squad.
“I’ve seen young Michael Potts in training and Paddy McLaughlin and they are fantastic players. I also live in Doncaster so the club is only 45 minutes away, which is ideal for me.
“I have young kids that I can take to school and pick up. I’m at a stage in my life where I am family orientated so somewhere three or four hours away from home does not interest me.
“But, that aside, this is a huge club whether they are playing in League One, League Two or the Conference. It’s a well-supported team that deserves success.”
McGrath also revealed he almost joined the Minstermen back in 2008 when then manager Colin Walker tried to sign him.
He stayed at Burton instead and played a major part in their subsequent Blue Square Premier title-winning campaign.
Recalling that decision, McGrath said: “I did come close to signing back then and spoke to Colin a couple of times.
“I get drawn into loyalty though and had been at Burton for a season and knew I was going to play. I probably would have at York as well but I made my choice.
“Out of courtesy, I rang the chairman Jason McGill at the time to thank him for the offer and he actually said I hope our paths cross again some day. It’s been a few years but they have crossed again and I’m really glad they have.”
Prior to his arrival at City, McGrath had not started a League game since snapping ligaments in his foot during a 2-0 defeat at Swindon last February but is confident that he has made a full recovery from the injury, saying: “My wife worries about the injury in the stands and tells me not to go into too many tackles but that’s how I play football.
“I can’t go in half-hearted. It’s all healed and I’m 100 per cent fit so, if something needs to be tackled, I will tackle it.”
Despite replacing the likes of David Ginola and Paul Merson during his days as a Premier League player at first club Aston Villa, McGrath also remains just as hungry for success a dozen years on.
He said: “It was fantastic to come over from Ireland at the age of 18 and join a club like Villa because somebody had seen something in you.
“It’s also great to be able to talk to my nine-year-old son now about playing in the Premier League.
“People ask me if I miss that but things happen for a reason. Perhaps I wasn’t quite good enough at the time or things went against me but I’m where I am now and I love doing what I do.
“I’ve been a professional footballer for 12 years and I have many more years in front of me. I’m 32 but I feel better now than I did when I was 26 or 27. I can still get around a pitch as I hope I have shown over the last two games.”