2018-19 was a tough season for the Lions, both on and off the pitch. There has been a lot said from the media, football experts and the club itself. But what do you, the Millwall Fans think of the most recent campaign and what we can do going forward? For this edition of Fans’ Thoughts, we sit down with Stephen Jones, a Millwall supporting cricket fan and get his opinions of what was good, bad and the ugly…
The league table doesn’t lie, we had a poor and miserable league campaign. We picked up injuries all throughout the season (something that didn’t really happen in 17/18 season) which didn’t help the cause, but we were poor for large parts of the season and fortunate to stay up. The Cup was a nice distraction and fantastic for everyone at the club, it was just a shame we couldn’t quite make it to Wembley (again!).
Sending Thompson out on loan was a great move, he come back unbelievably better then when he left us and also the signing of Alex Pearce was good business. When he finally broke into the side we looked better defensively and he brought the best out of Cooper. Sadly, Harris made quite a few mistakes throughout the season - persisting with Archer/Amos in goal when mistakes were being made, playing the same 4-4-2 system for long spells during the campaign and only changing when we were forced to and not getting in a striker in January - this could have easily backfired and sent us down. I believe Harris has had a tough year both on and off the field, but I think he’ll be better next season and is the right man for the job.
The high moments were few and far between but Everton at home in the cup was special. The performance was fantastic and the crowd and players were united as one which ultimately got us through. Also, the equaliser at Sheffield United was a brilliant. It wasn’t decisive as such, but it really was a great moment. The biggest low for me was losing at Bolton. At the time I thought we were going down, it was such a disappointing performance and most of the fan base had effectively given up hope at that point. Obviously, the Brighton game was horrendous for the supporters especially coming so close to going through.
Stand out players for me last season and probably the majority of Millwall supporters were Cooper and Ferguson, both had outstanding seasons - especially Ferguson who was very much a forgotten man, looked certain to be leaving and then coming back and being superb. It’s very difficult to pick names on players who didn’t really live up to potential as so many were very poor - Meredith, Leonard, Williams, O’Brien and Hutchinson were all way below par and were lucky we were limited in options to replace them. I also was a little disappointed with Jed Wallace, he’s by far our most exciting player and gives everything to the shirt but he just wasn’t at his best during most games and cut a frustrated figure most weeks. I do think he’ll be much better next season though.
Where do you start [on the transfer in’s and out’s]? The squad is threadbare at the moment and it is slightly worrying that we aren’t really close to signing anyone. Firstly, we need a keeper - being in the situation where we don’t have one is quite simply ridiculous. The squad is also in desperate need of some pace in wide and forward areas and of course the one thing everybody wants - a goal scorer. Bradshaw could be the answer to the goalscoring problem, but he’ll need support and others chipping in.
A lot has been made of the pre-season fixtures and whilst they aren’t the most glamorous, they are an improvement on the usual Dartford away! I don’t think the standard of opposition in friendlies really matters as it’s about fitness levels and getting the players through the games injury free. It would be nice to play against a premier league side or big foreign team but we all know that will never happen.
I hate to sit on the fence but at this stage I really don’t think you can tell [how next season will go]. The squad is going to change dramatically with incomings and a few outgoings still. I am optimist Bradshaw will be a good striker at this level next season and don’t think the campaign will be as bad as last season. If I had to, I’d say a finish between 14th -18th.