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 Lucas Ball, an up-and-coming Sports Journalist who has spent last season collating every stat you can imagine!
Last season was poor and - at only 18 - one of the worst seasons I remember following Millwall. Constantly conceding late goals, failing to hold onto leads and missing big chances contributed to a 21st-placed finish. We have to improve, massively. Injuries certainly didn’t help us but that’s why you need a deeper squad.
I agree with him taking criticism until we were safe, and like the way he has since handled the poor behaviour of numerous players this season. Tactically, he needs to be more astute and adaptable but the ability to do so may have been limited by players kicking up a fuss if that were the case. We have to improve when we go ahead and either push for more or learn how to defend a lead.
The biggest high of the season was certainly victory over Everton, with my low the feeling of the sucker punch as Dave Martin let Solly March’s free kick fall into the net against Brighton. A friend jumping on my back as we celebrated Murray Wallace’s winner against the Toffees meant celebrations were brilliant, with none of us quite believing we’d done it again.
Lee Gregory and Shane Ferguson are two of few players that played to the best of their abilities. Gregory maybe should get more goals, but his overall ability is up there, and his work rate second to none. Jake Cooper contributed hugely but made some errors defensively. James Meredith’s season was hugely disappointing, whilst Shaun Hutchinson couldn’t reach the highs of 2017/18. Jed Wallace’s end product let him down, but his ability was still clear to see. In midfield, Ryan Leonard hasn’t yet lived up to his club record fee.
We need two goalkeepers, a right back, two left backs, two right wingers, a central midfielder and two strikers. That’s a big ask for the recruitment team but without something close to that amount of signings we will struggle to stay up. Dan Bentley would be one of my keeper targets as well as Aaron Ramsdale on loan. Specific targets are hard to predict on our budget.
I think the reason we often start seasons slowly is because we play such uninspiring opposition in pre-season. Getting better friendly opponents would provide a greater challenge and mean the players are in better touch come the start of the league campaign, though I assume we are limited in terms of which teams are willing to face off against us. It’s nice to see some different names for a change, though they still aren’t making me overly enthusiastic.
I’d take 21st place now [next season] with our current lack of activity and slow movement on the transfer front. A squad overhaul will mean players need time to bed in and that could take a while - so staying up again with the aim of improvement in 2020/21 is a more realistic goal for me. Performances have to be better though and there needs to be a greater level of togetherness within the squad visible with the fans to restore the connection with the fans.