Millwall have been one of the most consistent sides in the division this season, with only two defeats since the beginning of December. It must’ve been quite an enjoyable few months at the Den…
It’s been really good to watch and it’s all come together since their last league defeat to Norwich on New Year’s Day; Neil Harris was very critical of his side after a terrible second-half performance after taking the lead. But since then it’s clicked, especially away from home They’ve kicked on, they’ve won five away from home in a row and their home form has always been good - they haven’t lost at the Den since November. They lost at Rochdale in the FA Cup and some fans were critical as there was the carrot of a tie with Tottenham Hotspur, but they weren’t too bothered about that. It would’ve been nice to play Tottenham, but the league form has been superb and they have rarely changed the starting line-up across the season. They are very confident despite being put down as early relegation favourites and I think they are relishing proving that wrong.
Neil Harris’ men are slowly making their way towards the Play-Off places and are just a few points off the top six going into this weekend’s game. They have drawn the joint-second most games in the Championship, so do you believe they could’ve mounted a meaningful challenge had they killed off a few more opponents?
Yes, absolutely. I think they were fourth favourites to go down to League One, but they could end up finishing around sixth now, it’s just unbelievable. They lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest on the opening day but it was one of the most ridiculous games I’ve seen in terms of the amount of chances Millwall created, it was absolutely absurd. They had something like 25 shots on goal with seven or eight of those being really, really good chances and they genuinely could’ve beaten Forest 6-1 - even Mark Warburton said that they were fortunate to get the win. Millwall went to Bristol City and could’ve won that, Brentford away they scored just as the referee was blowing the whistle and then Lee Gregory missed a penalty, and at Queens Park Rangers they went 2-0 up and were pegged back. That’s eight points I’ve just mentioned that would put them in the top six at this stage. Even though they are overachieving this season, they could actually be a lot higher if they’d taken more chances and maybe had a few more refereeing decisions go in their favour.
Tim Cahill made his fairy-tale return to the Den at the end of January – how much of a boost has he been to the squad?
It’s such a cliché but it’s been huge and every player that I’ve spoken to has said it’s been brilliant. Jed Wallace and Shaun Williams travel together and they’ve said they look at him and marvel. He’s 38-years-old, probably doesn’t need to make any more money from football, played in three World Cups and yet he’s been training in the snow at Millwall and training as well as anybody else too, pushing everybody along the way. He’s been massively popular already and is a really down to earth guy; Millwall have this thing called the ‘Thursday Club’ where they go for a kebab on a Thursday evening and Cahill has already been made a part of that group. It was an unusual signing for the club as it was so high profile, but at the same time, it was someone Neil Harris knew would come in and bring unbelievable professional standards. The standards were already pretty high, but this has just given them another boost. It’s probably no coincidence that they haven’t been beaten since he’s come in.
Before the last meeting in October, you said George Saville and Shaun Williams were the two standout players – is that still the case six months later?
Saville has scored eight goals this season and has been excellent and Shaun Williams has been very, very solid but in terms of attacking players that Brentford have to watch for, Jed Wallace has been brilliant. He’s been very consistent all season and can get stuck in and make Millwall work, he’s very quick and was involved in the first goal the other night at Hull. The two who’ve been perhaps the most consistent all season, though, are Lee Gregory and Steve Morison. It’s probably more difficult for strikers to perform at a consistent level, but a lot of opposition managers have noted how difficult they are to manage.
How are Millwall likely to set up?
It’ll be 4-4-2. Before the game at Hull, Harris hadn’t changed his line-up for four games before he swapped Morison for Elliott, but I’m sure the former will come back in this weekend. Based on that, the likely line-up will be Archer in goal, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith along the back four, Wallace, Saville, Williams and Marshall in the middle and Morison and Gregory up top. Brentford will have more of the ball in the game and Millwall will sit in, be very organised and look to hit on the break.
What’s your score prediction for Saturday’s game?
I’m tempted to go for a draw, but I’m going to go for a 2-1 Millwall win.