Millwall Season Preview

millwallThe Football Lab interviewed Millwall supporter Andrew Strachan, ahead of the new season. You can follow him on Twitter @themaninblock11

Millwall suffered relegation last season, despite a reasonable improvement after Neil Harris took over from Ian Holloway. Had that change been made earlier, do you think you would have stayed up?

Without a doubt. It’s a change that should have happened in January when Millwall lost 4-0 to Bradford. At that point, there was still a chance of turning it around. The side had decent (well…sufficient) players, they just needed consistent tactics, squad selection and man-management. The further damage he did between that match and eventually leaving was catastrophic.

Harris was prepared to give some of the youngsters a chance last season, most notably centre-back Sid Nelson and forward Aiden O’Brien. Do you expect to see a more youthful Millwall team this season?

Certainly – I think a lot of the reasoning behind appointing Harris as manager is the expectation there will be a lot of academy players coming through this year, so bring in the person who knows them best. As well as Sid and Aiden, I’d expect to see John Marquis (23), Fred Onyedinma (18), Jack Powell (21) and Jamie Philpot (18) to get a lot of match time this season.

In the Championship, Millwall have always been a club looking to punch above their financial weight. Once the obvious disappointment of relegation has died down, could it make a refreshing change to be one of the bigger clubs in a division?

It’ll definitely be a refreshing change to go to a match and expect to win. We went five months without a home victory last season. I’m actually looking forward to this season more than if we stayed up.

Long-serving David Forde looks to be past his best, but the only other keeper of note Millwall have is new signing Jordan Archer, who Northampton Town fans were glad to see leave. Are you worried about the goalkeeper position?

Not at all. I don’t think Forde is past his best – he’s only one season off being the Fans’ Player of the Year, and ‘only’ 35. Being a keeper is hard enough at the best of times, without Holloway tactics and Alan Dunne in front of you. I’m confident he’ll rebound this season.

New signing Tony Craig has already spent a total of 9 years at Millwall in previous spells. With Danny Shittu and Alan Dunne having left, (perhaps rightly?), do you feel Craig is somebody who can build that connection with the supporters?

Certainly. As soon as they announced he was resigning, it was a near unanimous view that he should be made captain. It’ll be good to get someone in who has a lot of Millwall experience to draw upon, but wasn’t part of the poisonous last couple of seasons.

Who do you think will start at right-back – Shaun Cummings or new signing Mahlon Romeo?

Shaun Cummings will almost certainly start, but I don’t think it will take much for Mahlon to start being used instead. Shaun’s performances were mixed at best last season.

Midfielder Nadjim Abdou has been at Millwall for 7 years now. As one of the few experienced players remaining, do you feel he will play an important role this season season?

Huge. Abdou will be expected to anchor the midfield. I expect him to be our most important player this season.

Midfielder Shaun Williams is perhaps not a classic Millwall player in terms of bravery and commitment, but he does seem composed on the ball. Do you think he will dominate midfields in League One?

Occassionally, but not regularly. I can’t think of any other player since Scott Malone left that could be so brilliant one match, and so appalling the next. We didn’t see him play under Harris last season, but I’m hoping a new manager can get more commitment and reliability out of him.

Martyn Woolford has left Millwall this summer, opting to join Nigel Adkins at Sheffield United. Is there an opportunity for Fred Onyedinma or Paris Cowan-Hall to pick up a regular starting place in his absence?

There are big expectations for Fred his season. He made a significant impression toward the end of the season a couple of years ago, and I think a lot of people were surprised he was loaned out for an entire season last year. Paris on the other hand we’d just like to see walk 10 steps without breaking something, and then we’ll raise expectations from there.

Lee Gregory looks a decent finisher, having scored a hat-trick in the final home game last year against Derby. Do you think he could form a good strike-partnership with target man John Marquis?

Because it’s the summer I’ve taken a bit of a break from my daily Twitter ranting, so it may have been forgotten, but it sounds like I need to start again: Lee Gregory is super shit. The worst. His hat trick was two penalties and a scuff. Next question.

Millwall aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the League One season as a whole? Who do you think will do well? Which teams might struggle?

My pre-dominant thought is I’m going to see a lot more of the north than I had ever hoped to! Sheffield United should run away with the title, and Bradford will do well. Blackpool I fully expect to continue their free-fall into oblivion.

You predicted a 14th place finish in the Championship for Millwall last season, and they went down. What is your prediction for this campaign?

9th. I think Millwall will start well, but they’re expecting a lot of academy players to jump straight into a 50 match season, and I expect the results to fade in the 2nd half.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Although Millwall suffered relegation last season, there is now a sense of positivity around the club, thanks to the appointment of club legend Neil Harris. Exciting young talents will be led by stalwarts such as Tony Craig and Nadjim Abdou, as the Lions come roaring back into the Championship. 1st

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