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Millwall are back, but is it for good? Interview
Monday, 11th Sep 2017 20:55 by Clive Whittingham

A two year stint in League One ended in Wembley play-off success in May, now Neil Harris’ Millwall side are focusing on consolidation says Lions regular James Blewett.

Neil Harris was a club legend as a player, what's he like as a manager?

JB: An intelligent young manager who has grown into the role and really developed in the two+ years since he took over the mess left behind by Ian Holloway. As a club legend, he has a lot of credit in the bank with the fans who have generally shown patience during the inevitable bumpy periods that come a long now and then. He has been criticised for being too rigid in his tactics and he is still learning the role. However, overall he has done extremely well. Most of us expected to be back in League One for more than two seasons.

Who came and went in the summer, how did you rate your business?

JB: We did good business in the summer upgrading the team effectively within our limited means. We signed two players from Wolves, George Saville and Jed Wallace who both underachieved for them but did well for us on loan. We also signed two new full backs, Meredith from Bradford and McLaughlin from Fleetwood. Up front we brought in Tom Elliiot from Wimbledon. When we were last in the Championship we signed a lot of very expensive aging players and it backfired. This time we have brought in players who have done well in League One and have something to prove. The early signs are promising although only time will tell whether we have enough quality in the squad, particularly up front.

Lots of shots, but mixed results, what have you made of the start to the season?

JB: I have been pleasantly surprised how well we have adjusted and our performances have (apart from Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Wolves) been very good. It has been worrying that we have not converted dominating matches territorially into points and we need to eradicate mistakes at the back and be more clinical up front (if only it were that simple). We put foru past Norwich ten days ago and on our day we can trouble most teams.

Pre-season tips of Millwall to struggle just lazy punditry or are you apprehensive?

JB: Still apprehensive to be honest and I’ll be happy with survival. We spent around £1m on fees in the summer. On Saturday we were playing a Wolves team with players on loan from Atletico Madrid and a striker who cost more than £15m. Our transfer record is nearly 30 years old and so we will have to rely on good organisation, team spirit and a bit of luck.

What's the latest with the Lewisham Council nonsense?

JB: An excellent campaign (particularly on social media) threw the council onto the defensive and removed the immediate threat to the ground pending an extremely expensive indent inquiry (in the context of massive council cuts)., There are new mayoral elections next year and only one candidate is supporting a compulsory purchase order on the land around our ground. I think most fans are still very wary though. It feels like it is inevitable that the area is going to undergo some serious gentrification in the coming years and I am not sure new posh residents would relish the Den at the heart of their community.

Full story here.

Star players and weak links?

JB: Wallace is dangerous, Saville has been excellent in midfield, our full backs have been getting forward well and nobody seems to like playing against the old war horse, Steve Morison. In terms of weaknesses our goalkeeper’s form has been a bit erratic.

The Twitter @loftforwords, @millwalljdb

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