Millwall August Review: first win secured

With a two-week break from the Championship for internationals, this is a good time to review how all 24 teams have looked in their first five league games. Here’s our assessment of  Millwall.

What we said in pre-season

“Millwall won promotion last season largely based on aggression, power and Shaun Williams’ deliveries for Steve Morrison, but they could struggle against tactically better rounded sides. Neil Harris, who manages permanently at this level for the first time, is now at a budgetary disadvantage. If the League One champions got relegated last season, then the sixth-best team is surely in for a tough ride. 24th

Have they surprised us so far?

Their direct style of play hasn’t surprised us, but what has is the number of chances they have created through it. They missed four or five sitters at Nottingham Forest on the opening day, then saw Morison’s goal ruled out. They controlled the game against Bolton the following week but drew, then should have got more out of Ipswich.

The positives

The Lions are thus far proving that old-school methods have a place in the modern Championship game. Byron Webster and Shaun Hutchinson might not have the best pass completion ratios, but they are proving a sturdy centre-back pairing. Morison has won 35 aerial duels, more than any striker in the division bar one. Lee Gregory has been a grateful recipient of those knock-downs for the last two years in League One. He opened his account for the Championship season in last week’s excellent 4-0 win over Norwich, which boosted confidence before the international break.

The negatives

The clinical nature of that win over the Canaries was out of keeping with their first four league games. As well as the aforementioned missed chances, they were also the more creative side in the draw at Bristol City, but failed to score from 14 shots. Poor finishing might seem an unusual criticism of a team that has scored eight goals in five – more than any team outside the top eight – but it could have been so much more.

Late business

Harris is typically loyal to his favoured players, so it is hard to see Morison or Gregory being displaced. However, 18-year-old forward Krystian Brymora joins from Australia after impressing on a trial. Midfielder Calum Butcher has not kicked a ball in the league and he has joined Mansfield, after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

The Football Lab’s Grade

If performances continue, we’ll have to eat some humble pie. With a more battle-hardened camp than most, Millwall are holding their own at this level. B