Despite losing the final of the Steel and Sons Cup and dropping three crucial points at home in the league, not to mention the departure of the club’s highly-rated coach, it wasn’t all bad news for Paul Millar as 2011 came to an end – because the Larne manager has been awarded a new three-year contract.
“In a week when there was much else to cheer us up as we headed out to celebrate the onset of a new year of great hope, myself and Paul Carland were offered the new deal and we had no hesitation in accepting it,” explained the former Glentoran boss.
“I think the offer of the extension is a tribute to the work we have done at Inver Park, especially given the number of managerial changes that had come about before we came. I think you probably had been writing three or four managers coming and going in a very short spell before we arrived.
“As well as providing stability at the club, I think it’s widely accepted that we have assembled a pretty decent squad of players, yet at the same time reducing the outgoings financially – which in itself is no mean feat.
“We’ve enjoyed our first three years in charge and I think we have achieved quite a lot. Indeed, I think I am probably the longest-serving manager in this division now, which says something.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve just lost coach Norman Kelly, but it’s very understandable that he has accepted the offer from new manager Glenn Ferguson to join Ballymena United and I wish him well in his new post,” said Millar, who expects some players to depart as well in the coming days and weeks.
“I think we will have two or three players leaving, primarily to make way for several new signings that I hope to make during the traditional new year opening of the transfer window.I have been speaking to a few guys and I’m confident that deals can be completed to bring them to Inver Park. I obviously can’t divulge their names, but they are players who are experienced and can help to bring the best out of the many promising younger players on the books right now. My priority is for a right-sided player and another striker.
“I don’t expect anything to happen in the next two or three days, but I would be hopeful there will be some developments on this front in the next week or so,” assured the manager, who was disappointed at Saturday’s defeat by Harland and Wolff Welders.
“The hardest thing last Saturday was bringing the players up again after the cup final defeat, but I was talking to some of the Bangor guys and they were flat as well – and they won the final.
“We started slowly, but picked up as the half progressed and we dominated the latter stages, hitting the post twice and the crossbar once, as well as being denied by a couple of good saves and also being refused a reasonable penalty call.
“But we didn’t get the goal and when the Welders went in front we struggled to get our energy levels back up and they killed us off with a second goal.
“Now we need to get back on form for Saturday’s banana-skin Intermediate Cup trip to Bangor aside Bryansburn. It’s a must-win game ahead of the Irish Cup match against Dungannon Swifts and I am optimistic of a good performance and a result to match,” added Millar.