After picking up three points against Wigan Athletic in the midweek fixture and leaping out of the relegation zone, Neil Harris' Millwall welcome Ipswich Town to The Den. It has been a busy few days for the Tractor Boys, as the Suffolk side find themselves with Bryan Klug in temporary charge after dismissing Paul Hurst on Thursday afternoon.
The form guide is heavily against the Portman Road side, who have recorded just the one win in the fourteen Championship games so far this season. Millwall's form over the past few months may've been rocky, but the South London side seem to be back on track after two wins, one draw and one defeat in their last four fixtures.
This one may be too early to call a six-pointer or say it's a game that is a relegation dog-fight, but both sides will be looking for the the win before it's too late. Victory for either side may not see much movement in the table, but it will take some of the recent pressure and tension away from either side.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 1-0 Ipswich Town, Saturday 18th January 2014 – Ryan Fredericks' only goal on his debut was just enough for Ian Holloway to record his first victory as Millwall manager. Aside from a Tommy Smith's header that was cleared off the goal line, the home team were by the better side and could've been 2-0 up if Lee Martin's close range effort wasn't hit over the bar. The win saw Millwall leapfrog out of the relegation zone and leave the Lions one point outside the bottom three.
Neil Harris is not the type of manager who changes winning starting line-ups, however both Aiden O'Brien and Steve Morison were very impressive from the bench for the home side, with the former winning a second half penalty and the latter scoring the winning goal against Wigan Athletic. Another who may feature for Millwall is the returning Shaun Hutchinson, whose recent appearances have been cameos from the substitute's bench.
Gwion Edwards, Grant Ward and Trevoh Chalobah could be included in the match day squad for Ipswich, but Myles Kenlock and Ellis Harrison will not be featuring due to injury.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Shane Ferguson had been out of the Millwall squad for several months and transfer windows would open and close with speculation that the Northern Ireland International would be on his way out of the side, however that all changed in the away fixture at Nottingham Forest. Since the 2-2 draw, Ferguson has been an ever-present in the team and more importantly he has been a vital member of the starting eleven. With a key goal against Aston Villa and a Man of the Match performance against Wigan Athletic, the former Newcastle United man will be looking to continue his fine form going into this game.
WHO ARE YA?
For this week's 'Who Are Ya?', we speak with the ITFC Bible. This week we ask whether the departure of Mick McCarthy was really the right move, did they expect to be bottom of the table after fourteen games and whether Paul Lambert would be the right man to take over the helm at Portman Road.
1. Last season may not have gone the way you would’ve expected, but I bet even the most pessimistic fan wouldn’t have predicted being bottom of the table. In hindsight, was Mick McCarthy leaving the right choice?
I don't think there are many Ipswich fans who could have foreseen them being bottom of the table 14 games in with only 1 win. To add to the misery, yet another first round League Cup exit to a much lower ranked team (Exeter). However regardless of the position they find themselves in, Mick McCarthy's departure was still the right thing to do. The relationship between the fans and him had become irreparable, and the football on the pitch hadn't improved since the season they made the playoffs. In hindsight he did do a good job initially, however his stubbornness to pick "top blokes" over some of our more technical youngsters was probably the last straw for most fans.
2. Paul Hurst was brought in but has just been dismissed after one win in fourteen. Was it a case it was too big a step for the manager or could the players just not adapt to his style?
You would have to say this was a step too big for him, but more than anything, his choice of recruiting almost exclusively from League 1&2 certainly didn't help. Selling off experienced Championship players and asking so many players from lower Leagues to step up to the tough challenge of the Championship has been just too much. As for adapting to his style, I think they have tried too but again mostly failed in doing so.
3. You have had some big names such as Martyn Waghorn and David McGoldrick leave in the summer and not replaced with players of equal quality, but is it purely down to the lack of goals that has caused to the current demise?
I think for the most part the lack of goals has indeed been one of the biggest problems. Without goals, confidence becomes completely shot and suddenly almost all the pressure is on the defence having to make sure they don't make mistakes and without goals there's no buffer or room for error. In the first couple of games of the season against newly promoted Blackburn and Rotherham there were chances to score more goals however they were not taken. If they'd gone on to win those first 2 games, we really may not be in the situation we are in. It's gone so far now that it really does feel like confidence is all but gone and the need of an experience striker upfront to help out the new players is in my opinion a priority.
4. Paul Lambert is being touted as a replacement for the hot-seat. After playing one dimensional football last season proved to be an issue, it is the right decision to go back to this style with Lambert?
Right now, I think almost all Ipswich fans just want to see the team grinding out wins and moving out of the relegation zone as soon as possible. If that means the quality and style of football takes a backseat for a few months, then so be it! I have no issues at all with an ex-Norwich manager taking over the helm, especially if he can get the winning mentality back into the players head like he did when he took Norwich from League 1 to the Championship and then to the Premier League. We have no expectations of a return to the Premier League any time soon, however if we can just remember how to win, and eventually win back to back games, that would be a great start.
5. What player(s) do the Millwall fans need to look out for?
Right now in all honesty there's not too much to be worried about! The team is really weak in so many places it's hard to see where the strengths lie. I'd say if I had to say one player could potentially make a difference on the break it would be Kayden Jackson. If he gets the better of a defender he is very fast, but on the flip side he doesn't really have the confidence in front of the goal at the moment.
6. What is your score prediction?
As I refuse to ever predict a loss, I will go with 1-1. Good luck!
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 2-0 IPSWICH TOWN
There seems to be a degree of positivity slowly starting to swirl around the home fans again and Neil Harris was full of praise for his side's leadership and ability to dig deep to get a result after the midweek victory. Teams normally perform better when they have new managers or a caretaker in place, but with the players Ipswich have at their disposal, I do not think they are at the same calibre of the Lions. A comfortable home win and three more points on the board is my prediction for this one.
Come on you Lions.