ONLY the league title will do for York City boss Gary Mills next season – as he revealed his lofty ambition to take the Minstermen into the Football League in 12 months.

As his side prepared to travel to champions Crawley Town tomorrow (5.15pm) to round off a campaign that only narrowly failed to realise a play-off place, Mills said his focus was already on preparing a squad to win the Blue Square Bet Premier next time around.

“It’s the Conference next season and it is about me preparing a squad to win it,” the City boss revealed. “I am at a club where we want to win it. We don’t want to be in the play-offs. We want to finish top. That’s how ambitious we have got to be and that’s how ambitious I’ve got to be.

“It’s how ambitious I have got to be in finding the right players to do that. They have to be mentally strong and know what it is all about to go and win football matches week in and week out.

“It’s a big job for me over the summer. There are going to be some disappointments and there are going to be new faces.”

Mills took over a side in freefall in October and, having briefly flirted with the relegation zone, York surged up the league in the New Year – only their patchy away record robbing them of a place in the post-season shake-up.

Now, aware of the hope of fans next season, Mills said he was determined to deliver.

He added: “In the short space of time I have been here I have given this club expectation. They are expecting better next season. I do want to win the title. That’s what I am about.

“When I was at Tamworth, probably a bit more tongue in cheek, I wanted to win the title. I wanted to get in the play-offs. After ten games we were second and could have gone top.

“Now I am at a football club where we can win the title if I get the squad right – because we are a big enough club. I know what the budget is and the budget is okay. It is about how I spend it. We can get carried away that we need more money. I have to do my job better if that is the case.

“It’s down to me and my assistant and everyone around the football club that I get in the right players and I rebuild a side for next season.”

Of his squad for next year, Mills confirmed that eight players – Michael Ingham, David McGurk, Chris Smith, Daniel Parslow, Scott Kerr, Jonathan Smith, Andre Boucaud and Jamie Reed – were contracted while adding he wanted to keep James Meredith at the club, who he said had been “outstanding” at centre-back in recent games.

But some of those waiting to hear news of their playing future at Bootham Crescent may have to wait for a decision.

“A couple of players whose contracts are up have said ‘What’s happening with me?’ and I have said ‘I’ll let you know when I am ready’,” Mills said. “That’s not being arrogant – I don’t like sounding like I am messing about – but I am not going to do it until I am ready. There might be better, there might not, but if there is better I want to go and get them. I don’t want to be rushing off on holiday because I want to make sure I don’t miss out on the players that are available.

“It’s important to me. This is a big football club.

“Probably all the other managers have said that but I think we have proved, certainly since October, that we can win football matches.

“There will be some players leaving here and there will be some fresh faces. It’s about the date of the first game in August and that we are ready to go into action and be successful next season.”

Mills is still unable to call on the injured defensive pair of David McGurk and Daniel Parslow, along with striker Leon Constantine, for Crawley but Chris Smith is fit and Scott Kerr returns from suspension.

While admitting the failure to make the play-offs has made this a tough week, the City boss said he would be going all out to blunt opposition who are looking to set a raft of Conference records at the Broadfield Stadium tomorrow.

He conceded: “It’s been tough. Probably from the Tamworth game it all went a little bit pear-shaped for us. We didn’t win enough in the last few games. The disappointment is there, but we have to go down to Crawley and try to finish in sixth.

“Then, when we look at where we were when I came in October we can say it’s not a bad finish for us.

“It’s difficult. We are all human beings and when there is nothing to play for it becomes tough.

“But there are players out of contract for next season and they know that. I have still got to make a lot of big decisions.

“Crawley are talking about records and they are going to want to do that.

“I know Mr Evans (Crawley boss, Steve) will want to beat Mr Mills so there is a lot of pride there still.

“I want to go down to Crawley and win and show what my team is all about, show why we have done so well this season.

“I want to stop them getting that record.”