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 Frankie Christou, a young Millwall fan and journalist who has covered Millwall, the Millwall Lionesses and a number of other London teams throughout the course of last season.
Last season was an oxymoron. For me it was a good bad season, because if I am totally honest I half expected us to be in and around the relegation zone. Second season syndrome hits most newly-promoted teams with small budgets and we was lucky enough that there was three clubs worse than us last season.
The FA Cup run took some of the sting out of the relegation battle which was a nice distraction for us all, but I think it definitely played a part in us not picking up enough points as it is no coincidence that we lost two, and drew one after each round.
With the years of Ian Holloway and Steve Lomas still fresh in my memory, Neil Harris is the perfect man for the Millwall job and I still think he will be in a decade. He is still young in managerial terms so is going to make mistakes, but he is a realist and more times than not he gets things spot on. A prime example for me is the Sheffield United and Leeds United away games. He played a 4-2-3-1 in both, and we managed to close the gulf in quality by doing so.
However, his stubbornness to play the ‘Millwall way’ with 4-4-2 has also seen us lose points. Teams gauged our style of play early on, and adapted to quell the long ball. Albeit, he has been open to changes as we saw at the later end of the season so hopefully next season his tactics are less rigid and more flexible.
I speak on behalf of all Millwall fans when I say the best moment of the season was Jake Cooper’s goal against Everton in the FA Cup and the worst being David Martin’s mishap against Brighton in the next round. But the standout moment for me was Ryan Tunnicliffe’s acrobatic effort against Nottingham Forrest which ensured a 1-0 win and a vital three points.
I think Jed Wallace was an unsung hero this season. It is obviously easy to say that Lee Gregory was our best player, alongside Jake Cooper and Shane Ferguson but the flamboyancy of the ex-Wolves man gives us an extra dimension. He always gives 100%, and this season he has added defensive discipline to his game. Mahlon Romeo made huge strides in his development as well, and if he can improve his quality in the final third I can see him playing in the Premier League.
I think James Meredith has peaked and Ryan Leonard still has more to give in a Millwall shirt. Shaun Williams has a big season ahead of him too, as I think he too has plateaued.
This is going to be the biggest transfer window in Millwall’s history. We need a massive overhaul, obviously a goalkeeper is a priority but there are loads currently on the market so I am sure we can get two in who can do a job.
Tom Bradshaw is more than capable of filling Lee Gregory’s shoes but he desperately needs a a partner and some competition. Sam Winnall would be a really good buy, and we have been linked with him as would Tom Eaves or John Marquis.
It is clear that Neil Harris has cherry-picked those pre-season games, one being in his hometown and the other against his former club. I think it is good to stay local as you do not want to be travelling too much so I think it is a perfect schedule. Playing a La Liga team who finished 9th and got the double over Real Madrid will put the squad through their paces a week before the season starts.
It is hard to predict where we will be next season without knowing who is going to come through the door. It could either be a mid-table season if the recruitment is good but it could also end in a 24th placed finish if it is bad. A fresh start and faces is needed but anything between 21st and 15th will be a good season.