Gary Mills was Graham Wood’s unequivocal choice to succeed Anth Smith as Gateshead manager, a “stand-out candidate with a proven track record”.
Mills means to live up to his billing.
The 51-year-old signed a 12-month rolling contract at the International Stadium yesterday. He takes the reins with the Tynesiders fifth bottom of Skrill Premier after one win, one draw and four defeats, and Hereford United set to visit on Saturday.
“Excited and delighted” at his appointment, the double European Cup winner insists his footballing philosophy is inkeeping with the Heed’s.
But while he rates his new players highly enough to believe promotion remains a possibility, Mills is determined to “put my own stamp on the side” and admits he may make one or two loan signings.
“I’ve always liked the way Gateshead play their football, which is very much my philosophy, and I’m excited and absolutely delighted to get the job,” said Mills, who will retain former caretaker manager David Rush as his assistant.
“The chairman, Graham Wood, wanted me as manager, to come in and make the club a success, and I’ll be doing all I can to do that.
“The meetings with the chairman went very well. I had a look around the area and everything seemed right.
“The people are very friendly and welcoming and I’m delighted to be Gateshead manager.
“There are good players at the club. I’ll be putting my own stamp on the side and it’s important everyone works hard and there is a hunger for success.
“Everyone connected with the club has to pull in the same direction as we all want the same goal.
“The players need to have a smile on their faces and enjoy the challenge ahead which starts against Hereford United on Saturday.”
Stressing the need for his new players to match his own work ethic and buy into this approach to the game, Mills added: “I’m confident that the players will work and do their jobs like I know they should, that they’ll play my system, the way I like my teams to play.
“I believe the players are here to do that.
“I’m not saying that maybe there won’t be a couple of loans coming in, but let’s see. Let’s get working with the players.
“It’s about honesty, and the players are going to have to work hard. They’ve got to be fit, not only physically but mentally, to be successful.”
One of more than 50 applicants for the post made vacant following Smith’s surprise resignation last month, Mills led Tamworth to the Conference North title in 2009. Three years later, he was in charge as York City won the FA Trophy and promotion to the Football League, via the Conference Premier play-offs, inside nine days at Wembley.
He was dismissed from the Bootham Crescent hot-seat in March, with the Minstermen four points above the League Two relegation zone after 11 games without a win.
But Wood was hugely impressed by Mills’ vision for Gateshead, and is optimistic about his capacity to re-establish the club’s upward momentum after a short period of stagnation.
“Gary Mills was my first choice as manager,” Wood said. “There was a lot of interest in the job but he has a proven track record and was the stand-out candidate.
“He did a magnificent job at York City and I was impressed with what he had to say and his vision for the club when we met up for discussions.
“To get York back into the Football League having won the FA Trophy a week earlier was a tremendous achievement and he also did a fine job to get promotion at Tamworth.
“He is very keen to make an impression at Gateshead and I am confident he will get the best out of the players and take the club forward.”