Millwall Season Preview: repeating the heroics

With the 2018-19 Championship season coming up, The Football Lab spoke to Millwall fan Andrew Strachan (@themaninblock11).

You certainly confounded your doubters last season, moving from 16th to sixth in the space of three months before just missing out on the play-offs. Was it the 4-3 win at Leeds in January that kick-started that memorable campaign?

That combined with Tim Cahill’s return. That win versus Leeds was our first away win of the season, while Tim’s return shortly afterwards seemed to influence the side off-the-pitch, if not quite on it. If our away form wasn’t so poor before the Leeds match, we’d have made the playoffs with ease.

Steve Morison only scored five goals last season, and yet we naturally think of him as being such an influential part of the team. Do his leadership qualities and aerial proficiency outweigh any imperfections in front of goal?

We had so many attacking threats last season that he just played a different role, and played it very well. Everything seemed to go through him on the attack, and he’d draw players out wide, creating space for others in the box. Our record with Morison in the squad compared to without him in the squad spoke volumes.

You clearly played a lot of those diagonal balls into Morison last season, but you seem to have at least one technically capable midfielder in George Saville. Would you like the team to look for the midfield options more often to vary the approach play?

Not at all – I thought we were stacked in midfield, with different threats across the pitch and options off the bench. Going into the season you felt Ben Thompson and Fred Onyedima were going to get a lot of playing time, and they barely got a look in due to how well others were playing.

Goalkeeper Jordan Archer seems to divide opinion, although his saves at Barnsley and Sheffield United stood out to me. Can Ben Amos challenge him for the number one spot?

I think so. Archer seems the most unsettled of anyone in the side. The most frustrating thing is he clearly has the ability, his mind just seems to wander at times.

Mahlon Romeo strikes me as a tad raw and rash at times. With Conor McLaughlin having one or two fitness issues, do you see right-back as an area that you could potentially strengthen?

Possibly, but only to support Romeo rather than replace him. He’s come along really well in the past couple of years and doesn’t concern me as a 1st choice option this season.

James Meredith seems a tidy, intelligent left-back. Are you surprised he didn’t feature for Australia at the World Cup?

Stunned. He had a great season for Millwall last season, and was Bradford’s player of the season the year before. He should have got some playing time.

You’ve added Murray Wallace, who was regarded as a very consistent performer at Scunthorpe. Are you hoping he’ll step up from League One as well as Shaun Hutchinson and Jake Cooper did?

Harris has done a great job so far of identifying players who will fit into the side. I’m sure Murray Wallace will play a role.

Talking of Wallaces, Jed really caught my eye last season. You must have been excited to have someone as direct as he is charging down that right flank?

He’s the most flair player in the side and fun to watch. If only he’d cut down on his “to hell with it, I’ll just shoot from here” attitude.

A few summers ago, you described Shaun Williams as somebody who could be brilliant one match and not so good the next. Has he added consistency to his game over the last few years?

Yes, but I think a lot of that probably stems from Harris simplifying the system and giving people clear roles. Williams probably had no idea what Holloway wanted him to do at any given time, or where other players would be.

Left-wing would seem like an area to look at with Ben Marshall opting for Norwich this summer. Are you hoping Neil Harris brings somebody in before the Boro game?

Yes, but I’d make a forward a higher priority.

There’s rumours of Lee Gregory moving on… Did Tom Elliott do enough in his cameo appearances last season to suggest that he could step up, or is another forward needed?

Another forward is needed. Elliott stepped up occassionally but couldn’t be counted on for an extended run. I’m hoping Aiden O’Brien finally challenges for a regular position up front, but I feel like I’ve said this a few years now.

Lions aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the Championship season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

I’m genuinely concerned this is the year that Leeds stopping shooting themselves in the foot and get promoted. Hopefully they’ll do something so improbably messed up in January that we could have never seen it coming, even from them, but at the moment…eeesh.

Where will you finish?

14th. It’ll still be a great season relatively for the size of the club, but it’ll be interesting to see if any “Harris has taken us as far as he can” grumbles arise (they won’t be from me).

Thanks to Andrew for his answers. The Football Lab’s verdict on Millwall can be found on We Love Betting.