The Gary Rowett era begins this Satruday, and could it have been written any better than against his former club who also have Millwall FC's most recent of the MFC Player of the Year award, Lee Gregory, in their squad?
Although Adam Barrett did well to stabiise the ship, it has been a topsy-turvy few weeks in South Bermondsey and the home fans will be delighted that the Millwall board have done so well to tie down such an experienced manager with the pedigree of Rowett. After a slow start to the season which saw them nearly be cut adrift and a in a relegation battle, the Potters have seemed to have got back on track and will be looking to come to The Den and nick a positive result in Zampa Road.
The league head-to-heads lean in the away side's favour, with 18 wins to Millwall's 14 and 10 draws between the two, although with Stoke being so inconsistent and the Lions inspired by their new manager's arrival, this could be a home win in the capital.
Haven't we met before?...
Millwall 0-0 Stoke City, Saturday 27th April 2019 – This may have been a disappointing home draw in a relegation battle for Neil Harris' side, but results elsewhere meant that this was an important point that secured Millwall's Championship status. Stoke came close in the first half with James McLean's effort bounced off the bar, but the Lions had their own chances from Jed Wallace, Mahlon Romeo and Lee Gregory, however these were all off target and ensured that Jack Butland had an away clean sheet.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding continues to be out for the Lions, as does Ryan Leonard who is also still recovering after coming off with an injury before the international break.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tom Edwards and Peter Etebo are doubts for this fixture, as is Bruno Martins Indi who missed the last fixture with Sheffield Wednesday through injury.
THE ONE TO WATCH -
Who else would it be? The former Millwall marksman was a very popular of the squad both on and off the pitch and although he has not found the back of the net on a regular basis for his new club, his work effort and determination have already made him popular with the Stoke fans. If he scored, would he celebrate or not? The jury is out on that one, but either way, Lee Gregory will be looking to get his shooting boots back on and again find the back of the net at The Den - but this time in away colours.
WHO ARE YA?
For this weeks 'Who are ya?' we sit down with Simon Lowe, a Stoke fan who loves sport, music, comedy, theatre, films, Stoke and many other things. This week we ask Simon, how he thinks the season has started, what reception Gary Rowett will get and how Lee Gregory has got on at the Bet 365 stadium.
1. It’s been a slow start to the season at Stoke, what has been happening at the bet365 stadium?
We have lurched from one disaster to another within games,mainly thanks to a huge number of individual mistakes from players such as Jack Butland, Joe Allen and Liam Lindsay. But manager Nathan Jones's summer recruitment and tactics have also been called deeply into question. It simply hasn't been going well.
2. Nathan Jones said towards the end of last season that there were a number of players he wanted out as they didn’t have the best interest of Stoke City at heart. Do you feel he has progressed with this? How do the fans view the former Luton man?
Actually we have divested ourselves of the vast majority of the outcasts, with the likes of Saido Berahino, Giannelli Imbula and Kevin Wimmer all departing, although not always on loan. Some former fans favourites like Bojan and Erik Pieters have also gone, though, so we are inside whether they were on Jones's shortlist or they just wanted to move on after Stoke sunk so far so quickly.
3. Benik Afobe is one of the big players who has left on loan, although he didn’t get as many goals as he wanted to last season, was a move the correct decision?
Sadly Afobe's move to Bristol Coty was the best thing for all concerned. He didn't fire at Stoke either under the manager who bought him, new Millwall boss Gary Rowett, or current incumbent Jones, who got very frustrated with him. Afibe is a goalscorer but we never really played to his strengths, although he also never really gave his all either. The fact he scored several goals for Bristol.before getting injured tells you all you need to know.
4. A former Stoke boss is now at the helm at The Den. Is it safe to say Gary Rowett isn’t very popular with the fans? What are you thoughts on the new Millwall manager?
Strangely his popularity has come back a bit since things have gone even more downhill after he departed. However, he promised promotion after splurging around £60m in the summer of 2018 and left us in mid table after a run of games where we barely had a shot. He also took to having a go at the fans in public when unrest was shown at the situation. In interviews since Rowett has said how much he learned from the situation so I wouldn't expect him to make the same mistakes twice, although the likelihood of anyone ever giving him £60m to spend again is small.
5. All eyes will be on Lee Gregory, who won Millwall’s Player of the Season last year? How has the former Lions striker settled in?
Lee Gregory is the one summer 2019 signing who has settled in and shown some form. His display last Satirday against Fulham was the individual performance of the season thus far from a Stoke player. And he netted a penalty to boot. We've had some trouble converting from 12 yards over the past three years. That was just our third successful penalty out of the last 14!
6. Which players do Millwall need to look out for?
Our misfield is really starting to purr with African stars Peter Etebo and Badou N'Diaye proving a mighty fine pairing in the middle. Jones's tactics mean we play without width in midfield so we also.have Sam Clucas and Joe Allen in the centre. It can be quite tight at times but they have generally got on top of opposition midfield in the last few games. Tyrese Campbell is a fast raw striker who scored his first league goal last Saturday aged just 19.
7. What do you think the score will be?
I can see this being a 1-1 draw. Stoke have kept just two clean sheets all season and are prone to giving silly goals away but you just know Gregory's going to score, don't you?! It will certainly be tight as we are scrapping for everything we can possibly get at the moment.
PREDICTION: MILLWALL 2-1 STOKE CITY
This game can go either way, but with the new manager feel and the fact we don't know which Stoke will turn up, I can see this being a home win for the Lions. Lee Gregory may score, but lets hope it's a bitter sweet consolation moment for the former Millwall man.
Come on you Lions.