MANAGER Alan Miller understands the frustration of Newtongrange supporters at their team’s poor start to the season – because he feels exactly the same way.
Star suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Premier League side Thornton Hibs in the first round of the Fife & Lothians Cup last Saturday.
The club, who have acquired the likes of Lee Currie and Lewis Coult from the senior game, languish in second-bottom spot in the Super League, 12 points adrift of leaders Penicuik Athletic albeit with three games in hand over their Midlothian rivals. The New Victoria Park outfit will look to get their season back on track with a league visit to Carnoustie Panmure this weekend.
Despite their indifferent start, Miller is confident his players can get out of their current predicament to compete at the top of the table, although he fully understands the current mood of their supporters, who expect their team to be doing a lot better.
He said: “Whilst this kind of run goes on, people get incredibly frustrated and start talking on stupid terms. I’ve not spoken to a lot of the fans recently because we’ve not had an awful lot of home games but, if I was a fan, I’d be frustrated.
“The progress the club has made in recent years has been significant, so when you make significant progress, you raise the expectation levels of your supporters. So, based on their expectation going into the season, they are clearly and obviously disappointed, and we completely understand that. As long as they are abusing me and not abusing the players, that’s all I’m bothered about. I couldn’t care less, as long as they stay off the back of the players. I’m old enough and long enough in the tooth to take it. We’ll just get on with it and encourage the players to keep on working away. We’ve just got to focus on doing what we can to eradicate the frustration our players’ are showing in games – the only way you do that is by performing well, working hard and getting results.”
Miller rued Star’s inability to convert the opportunities they had against Thornton last weekend and he admits failing to turn their supremacy into results has been a recurring theme so far.
“We hit the woodwork early on in the Thornton match and, if that goes in, it’s a different game. I’m not going to make excuses – at the end of day, it’s a bad result for a club the stature of Newtongrange Star but that’s part of the challenge and part of the problem at the moment. We are not winning football matches and everyone remembers the progress we have made in the past four years and, of course, everyone is disappointed when you don’t win matches. There’s an awful lot of disappointment surrounding the club but we just need to keep on working and chipping away to make sure we can turn that around.
“We’ve not done well enough in putting our dominance to good use and putting games out of sight and that’s a challenge we’ve had all season. But, another challenge we’ve had all season is discipline. We started the season with Stephen Tulloch and Lee Currie suspended. We then had Kris Renton suspended, and we’ve now got John McManus and Currie suspended.”