Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Season preview: Promotion goal for York City manager Gary Mills
6:00pm Wednesday 8th August 2012 in Sport
York City manager Gary Mills wields the club’s two Wembley trophies on May’s triumphant open top bus tour
Promotion is the target for ambitious York City boss Gary Mills, he tells DAVE FLETT as the Minstermen count down to their return to the ranks of the npower Football League.
YORK City manager Gary Mills has set his side the same pre-season target as last term – promotion. The Minstermen chief is in no mood for consolidation after May’s Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final victory over Luton brought an end to eight years of non-League football.
Instead, he wants to create club history by securing back-to-back promotions at Bootham Crescent for the first time.
While aiming to get off to a flying start, though, Mills has also instructed everybody not to panic if the team does not sprint out of the blocks Usain Bolt-like during their early games back in the Football League.
The City boss said: “The target is the same again – promotion. We are in a league where you get that opportunity if you finish in the top seven.
“We finished fourth last season and got that chance so, if we win the league then fantastic – that’s what we want to do. But, if we can’t, it would also be fantastic to finish second or third and, if not, we have to finish between fourth and seventh and get through the play-offs again, which we all know about.
“All those things are achievable. We didn’t get off to a good start last season and lost to a couple of teams at home that people did not expect us to lose to. People might have gone away then and thought it wasn’t going to be our year.
“I had people even questioning me and asking if the season was over in September! In this division, Crewe came from being in the bottom six last season to go on and get promoted by finishing seventh in the table. That said we want to start the season well because it gives you that lift and confidence to work hard and achieve what you want to do.”
Typically, for Mills, he has no opinion on who the Minstermen’s potential promotion rivals might be in 2012/13 and is also paying little attention to bookmakers’ League Two prices.
He added: “Who knows who will be up there? People have made us 33-1 for the title while others are 5-1 but that doesn’t mean much. It all soon changes. Southport were 80-1 last season and look how they did – they nearly reached the play-offs. There will always be sides who do well against the odds.
“I don’t talk about other teams being dangerous as everybody will know by now. I’m only interested in what we do. If we do our jobs, then we can achieve again. If we don’t, we won’t, it’s as simple as that.
“York City Football Club is all that’s on my mind. I’ve not thought about any other side and what they have or haven’t got.”
Over the summer, Mills has made six new signings, recruiting Michael Coulson, John McReady, Oli Johnson and Danny Blanchett, as well as bringing former Minstermen Jonathan Smith and Lee Bullock back to the club.
Winger Adriano Moké, meanwhile, opted for the exit door and signed for Cambridge United despite being offered a new deal at Bootham Crescent but, from the players that started City’s double-winning Wembley outings in last season’s play-off and FA Trophy finals, only left-back James Meredith has moved on, departing for Bradford, while on-loan defender Ben Gibson has returned to parent club Middlesbrough.
Taking a policy of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, Mills said: “I think the team will prove that we are stronger but I thought we were very strong last season and to get any stronger would be tough.
“That’s why we’ve kept the majority of that squad. I let some players go and a couple have left that I wanted to keep but there’s not been major changes and we still have that belief and capabiliy to win football matches.”
On his new players’ pre-season contributions, Mills added: “They’ve done okay but it’s early days and there’s more to come. You can’t expect them to be perfect after just a few weeks with us but they have blended in well with the way I like to do things and the way we play.”
Prior to last night’s final friendly at home to Sunderland, City had beaten Huntington (8-0), Harrogate Railway (3-0), Pickering (6-2) and Gateshead (2-0), drawn against Grantham (1-1) and Leicester (2-2) and suffered defeats at the hands of Oldham (0-2) and Middlesbrough (1-2).
Delivering his verdict on those warm-up performances, the City chief said: “We’ve done okay in spells although we’ve maybe not really played for 90 minutes solid as I would have liked to. We’ve done it for 45 minutes but you have to take into account the number of substitutions that have been made to give everybody game time.
“There have been a lot of positives and you would be lucky if there were not a couple of negatives as well. We’ve addressed those.
“We’ve got that same bond, spirit and belief we can win every game that we’ve had since I came here. I’m confident we can go to Doncaster and get a result on Saturday and do the same against another good side in Wycombe a week later.”
After the glorious scenes that marked the historic end to last season at Wembley and in St Helen’s Square, Mills stressed there is now no time for anybody to reflect on their achievements or rest on their laurels.
He said: “Those times spur you on because the game is all about winning and achieving. The danger is that when you’ve had a season like we’ve just had, people think it will just happen again and can take their foot off the pedal.
“But, if we don’t work as hard or even harder this season, it won’t happen. We’ve got to have the same work ethic and, while we all enjoyed last season, it’s gone now.
“I’ve got the photos, the trophies but not the medal because they ran out! All that matters now, though, is I am looking forward to a fantastic season at a fantastic football club back in the Football League.”