Keith Millen says he allowed his Carlisle United players to lead an “open and honest” discussion as they look for ways to improve their form.

The United manager said he encouraged all members of his squad to contribute to a team meeting as they returned to training after the Harrogate defeat.

Millen spoke after Tuesday's game about the need to change his players’ “mindset” in a bid to end their worrying winless League Two run.

He said yesterday's session at Brunton Park involved a frank discussion among the team.

“I wont go into too much detail of the meeting but normally meetings are led by myself, I would review the game with the players on video clips generally, on what went well, and what didn’t go so well – but I didn’t feel that was the sort of meeting I wanted this time,” United’s manager said.

“There wasn’t really any video work, it was more the players talking about where we are and the situation we’re in.

“I thought that was important. It can’t just be my voice all the time. The more communication we can have, the more ideas the players come up with…it’s got to be better rather than just me driving that.

“It was a good, open discussion with all the players. I encourage that. I want the players to communicate and talk about the game more.

“The way footballers are these days, it’s not a natural thing any more. But you have to try and encourage it and create that environment and atmosphere where, even the young lads in the meeting…I want them to have a voice and opinion – they might come up with something we hadn’t thought about.

“That was a positive meeting. There were a lot of things said that will stay in the dressing room, a lot of honest conversation.

“I think everyone knows where we stand, and we’ll see.

“It’s not so much about the performance – I think the performances have been ok. I’m hoping the mindset will be a little bit different come Saturday.”

Millen had said his prevailing feeling on Tuesday night was “anger”.

He is now preparing United for Saturday's visit of Walsall where the Blues are seeking a first league win in 13.

“The same feeling is there but I can’t walk around being angry all the time,” he added.

“I slept on it, and when I woke up I got my head around it and got ready to go again.”

Millen said he held a “short, sharp, aggressive” 11v11 training session yesterday.

He said that, whatever improvements in general performance have been visible, second-bottom Carlisle have to show they can be hardened winners.

“An identity and a way of playing is what it is, but there’s more to winning a football match than just having that,” he said.

“It’s a mindset and a competitiveness, and an understanding of what we need to win a football match.

“At times I think it’s fair to say we’ve been a bit naïve, and I’ve spoken to the players about that. We need to be a bit more savvy with our game management, but there are lots of things we need to improve on.

“We need to finish our chances to start with. In all the games I can think of apart from Northampton, if we’d scored first I honestly think we would have won the games.

“The first goal is crucial for anyone. If you look at the stats at how many teams don’t lose after scoring first, it will be a high percentage.

“If you aren’t on a good run, like we aren’t, that first goal becomes ever more important because it releases the pressure on the players and gives the fans a lift.

“It’s not the be all and end all, because a good thing I have noticed with the group is when we have gone a goal down, there’s been a positive reaction which is vital if we’re going to win.

“We can’t let our heads drop too much if we don’t score the first goal.”