Two Millwall fans think that manager Neil Harris is learning fast and getting the best out of the players he has.
About the fans
Jamie: I’m 32 and went to my first game I believe in 1989. I’m one of the newest and youngest members of the Millwall Supporters Club having joined just over a year ago now.
Bob: My first match was Millwall 1-0 Bournemouth on the 12th April 1966. Since then we’ve had twelve relegations and promotions, we rarely stand still.
How do you expect your team to do this season?
Neil Harris seems to be getting the best out of the players he has. It’s not perfect but its getting better…
Jamie: Initially I felt a top-half finish was more than achievable and being around the play-offs was a possibility. But an unsteady start including a continuation of our dire home form has rocked a lot of confidence and a lot of fans are worried again. However, two wins on the spin including a home win in the JPT has seen a bit of confidence come back and manager Neil Harris seems to be getting the best out of the players he has. It’s not perfect but its getting better.
Bob: At the beginning of the season many fans’ expectations were high, but having seen many ‘Division 3’ campaigns I was hoping that our very young squad with a very young manager can consolidate and find their feet this season in this brute of a league. Mid-table. After such a shakey start, as long as we don’t get embroiled in the kind of relegation scrap we have endured for the last three years I’ll be happy. There are positive signs, so 15th.
Who should we watch out for?
Jamie: Aiden O’Brien has forced Lee Gregory out of the side and is a real livewire. His hat-trick on Saturday might see expectations rise a little high but hes a young player who does not stop working.
Fred Oneydinma is a talented player still trying to find his best role (he has been used wide but his defensive shortcomings put pressure on the full back) and teams have double marked him out of games. But give him half a chance and he can create.
Shaun Williams was named player of the month three months in a row last season before his form nosedived like the team’s. He’s coming back to form and is a talented midfielder when he’s on his game.
Bob: Aiden O’Brien is suddenly the man in form, having forced his way into the starting line up he scored a hat-trick on Saturday, Fred Onyedinma is a teenager who is getting a lot of attention, an attacking midfielder. But having said that, our team is not about the ‘stars’, it is more about a collective work ethic and producing a team which is bigger than the sum of its parts.
What are your thoughts on your manager?
Jamie: Signings have been in short supply. Whether that’s due to money or not being bold enough we don’t know. He’s brought in experienced heads in Steve Morison and Tony Craig while former loanee Jordan Archer has supplanted sometime Irish international David Forde in goal. The manager hasn’t been perfect but he is new and still learning. I’m hoping time will help his signings shine.
Bob: We have a rookie manager, a Millwall legend who has landed in the hot seat a lot faster than anyone could possibly have predicted. He is learning fast, although one thing he has NOT had to learn is ‘the Millwall way’. Signings have been pretty much as expected, not many. Ian Holloway (or Coco as we call him) signed loads of players, few of them any good, so the summer business has been more about players leaving than joining.
What are your thoughts on your board?
Sometimes expectations could be managed better, but instead bold statements are made which only make the fans feel let down…
The club needed to step back and re-evaluate. The club incurs significant losses year on year and the chairman and the board simply are not getting value for those financial losses. Trimming the squad was essential but sometimes expectations could be managed better, but instead bold statements are made which only make the fans feel let down.
The recruitment department has been overhauled from one man and his dog (almost literally) to a team using analytics and video. Hopefully this will enable the club to find hidden gems as its virtually impossible to compete on financial terms for a club like us. Credit also has to be given to the revamping of merchandise, we are a club who are unique in not wearing club colours or shirts etc and this makes it hard to get revenue from that area, but on all accounts sales keep increasing.
Bob: The board is very light on football people. The chairman John Berylson is American and was not involved in football until he got involved with Millwall. We have three other American directors and two other directors – one a lifelong Millwall fan and one not. All these people regularly put money into the club. We also have a Chief Executive, who came from Fulham and who now also sits on the Football League Board, and last but certainly not least we have a democratically elected Fan On the Board.
Many fans think that the club is run in a somewhat shambolic way, and undoubtedly they are not 100% wrong, but I look at other, similar clubs and they don’t look much better!
How do you expect Vale to do this season?
Jamie: Having done in-depth research of three mins I see Vale, like Millwall, are having to cut costs and live more within their means. Like our club then I expect there’ll be growing pains and inconsistency, but the league seems such that it’ll be tight for a long time and if you can hang around who knows?
Bob: You don’t look like obvious promotion candidates, neither do you look like relegation fodder, much the same as us then!
A score prediction?
Jamie: 1-1. You seem hard to beat and we’ve had two long away trips in a few days so expecting to win at a tough opponent is a bit much but Id like to think the growing confidence and unity in the squad will see us get something.
Bob: 1-1. Morison for Millwall and Ikpeazu for you.