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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Millwall

John Kelly of Southwark News previews the visit of Millwall from a Lions' perspective

18 October 2019

They’ve probably drawn more matches than they’d have liked and sit 15th as we come to the end of the second international break. What have you made of what you’ve seen so far?

They got seven points from three games and after all the signings in the summer, re-shaping the squad, it was a good start - very encouraging. But then it hit something of a dip. There was no particular reason for it, but they went on a winless run before the Leeds win.

At Middlesbrough, they should have won, against Hull they were frustrated and conceded a freak free-kick, and QPR at home was just really bad. I’d noticed on social media that the criticism of Neil Harris was just getting more and more intense. That QPR game was a real low. After a good start it just felt like things were the same as last season in terms of the performances and the results.

As you touched on, at the beginning of the month, Lions legend Neil Harris resigned from his position as manager after four years in the job. How did the fans react to the news?

I think people were very surprised and the general mood was that fans felt him stepping away now was the best thing. They didn’t want to see his legacy tarnished, being the club’s record goalscorer and turning around the club’s fortunes because they were a mess when he came in in 2015.

I thought they got two decent away points at Huddersfield and Luton. The Terriers were on a new manager high with the Cowleys coming in, Luton are settling into the Championship really well. Harris said the same in his press conference, they probably should have won the game, but conceding late goals is too reminiscent of last season.

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The surprise 2-1 win over Leeds at The Den two weeks ago was the first time the club had scored more than one goal in a game this term. Is that proving a worry? 

That stat had cropped up and we’d mentioned it in the media. They scored two against Oxford and West Brom in the Carabao Cup, but I think it was the first time in 18 league games that they’d scored more than one goal in a game.

The worry was more about the goals coming from open play, as most of them were set pieces. A lot of it was on the shoulders of Jed Wallace to make things happen. The thing about it was that there was never any lack of fight from players, nothing where the players downed tools. As I said, they fought well at Huddersfield and Luton to get two good points and then carried that into Leeds, but attacking-wise, they did struggle.

Which player has impressed you most to date?

I mentioned Jed Wallace and he’s been excellent and was really good against Leeds. Tom Bradshaw has got four goals this season; two goals in his last two games and two great finishes inside the box where he’s really dangerous. He missed most of last season so he’s just looking like he’s getting back into form now.

Matt Smith has got three goals, too. When the delivery is right from corners and free-kicks, he’s a real handful in the box. Harris had been changing his line-ups and formations, so it was difficult to tell, week-to-week, what the starting XI was going to look like. In fairness, at the start of the season, he did say he would make changes to his side, even if they had done well.

Shaun Hutchinson has come back into the side in the last few games and looked solid, and I like the look of the Ireland U21 captain Jayson Molumby in midfield. If a new manager comes in and wants to play a little bit more football, someone like Molumby could prosper.

How are Millwall likely to set up at Griffin Park?

A couple of local reporters spoke to caretaker boss Adam Barrett last week and we asked if he thought he’d be in charge for the Brentford game and he said he hadn’t had that conversation yet.

The one thing notable from the kick-off against Leeds was that, usually, the ball goes back to a centre-back and then there’s a long-ball forward. This time, they took a short kick-off and went straight into the Leeds half, which was almost saying that they were going to take the game to Leeds straight away. Other than that, it was a performance they could’ve given under Harris, had he still been there. 

They really had to dig in after the break, even though Leeds had 10 men, and they defended incredibly well. In terms of style, what the fans will want to see is a little bit more football being played, without losing the Millwall way of being aggressive, getting stuck in and causing problems in the opposition’s half.

What’s your score prediction?

They should be going into it with confidence, whoever is in charge at the time of the game, so I’ll say 1-1.


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