False starts, peaks and troughs, and many, many draws - Interview
Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 10:44 by Clive Whittingham
A Millwall team we strongly fancied for a play-off push before the season begun has struggled to cough into any serious form during a campaign of 16 draws. We surveyed the mood at The Den with James Blewett.
How has Millwall’s season been overall?
It goes without saying it been a weird one. At times has football paled into insignificance with all else that been going on and I think like many I have struggled to remain engaged with the whole closed doors thing. It’s a bit like drinking alcohol free beer.
Millwall’s league results so far…
We really fancied you this year, it hasn’t materialised, why?
Like you we had high hopes this season but we have spent much of the season plodding along in mid table. There have been a couple of poor runs where you start looking over your shoulder and then on the other hand we seem to string a few good results together and think we might make an unlikely push for the play offs. The reality is we are a squad in transition and we are carrying too many players who are mediocre. I think we will see big changes this summer. Our defence has generally been strong but we have struggled to find the right combinations in midfield. Out biggest problem has been lack of goals. None of what is, on paper, a pretty strong set of strikers could find the net consistently and we have continually chopped and changed. Matt Smith has never let us down but has broken his foot so is out foot the rest of the season. Also, like many Championship teams with such a busy fixture schedule, we have really suffered with injuries and our squad is simply not big enough to ride these out.
Gary Rowett football, pretty attritional. Where is the general consensus with him?
The honeymoon period for Rowett is over and there are some fans who question how he sets the team up. There is a suspicion that some players look particularly mediocre because they are played out of position and his style does not really fit the personnel we have (hence a team in transition). I think the majority including me still want to give him the benefit of the doubt and recognise that he needs a couple of transfer windows before we can really pass judgement. Have to say though the football has not been pretty and I think your description of our play as "attritional" is quite flattering
Why didn’t Troy Parrott work out? Eye catching summer loan.
We had really high hopes of young Troy and he was ok but failed to really settle in and struggled to hold down a place in the first team. I don't think he was done any favours by being labelled the "next Harry Kane" who had a very successful loan spell at Millwall when he was young. To be honest it just felt like the Championship was a step up too far at this point.
Summer Ins >>> Mason Bennett, 24, AM, Derby, Undisclosed >>> Scott Malone, 29, LB, Derby, Loan >>> Ryan Woods, 26, DM, Stoke, Loan >>> Troy Parrott, 18, CF, Spurs, Loan >>> Kenneth Zohore, 26, CF, West Brom, Loan
Summer Outs >>> Jason McCarthy, 24, RB, Wycombe, Undisclosed >>> Aiden O’Brien, 26, LW, Sunderland, Free
Winter Ins >>> Maikel Kieftenbeld, 30, CM, Birmingham, Undisclosed >>> George Evans, 26, DM, Derby, Undisclosed
Winter Outs >>> Jiri Skalak, 28, LW, Mlada Boleslav (Czech Rep), Free >>> James Brown, 22, RB, St Johnston, Undisclosed
Player of the year candidates?
Scott Malone has been excellent this season and is responsible for much of the best movement in our side. Jed Wallace continues to be our most exciting player but too often takes the word on his shoulders and tried to win games on his own. Despite a few lapses Shaun Hutchinson is one of the best centre backs in this division.
Weak links in the team?
Ryan Woods plays some lovely balls from midfield but our midfield play is generally slow, they play very deep and we can often seem outnumbered and over run.
How do you see the rest of the season going?
I think we'll have a few more ups and downs and finish tenth. Historically that is just fine for MIllwall. We will then regroup over the summer improve the squad and return in August to a full Den. More than most clubs I think our team has really missed the atmosphere of especially the home games.
The Twitter @millwalljdb, @loftforwords
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