What can we expect from Millwall and Neil Harris this season?by Mike Holden / 03 August 2017, 16:43Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Neil Harris and Millwall ahead of the 2017/18 Championship season.
Neil Harris secured a return to the Championship at the second time of asking, as Millwall recovered from the pain of a play-off final in 2016 by grinding out wins when they really mattered. They weren’t nearly as impressive as the year before but three Premier League scalps in the FA Cup first illustrated their capacity to thrive in death-or-glory scenarios. The captures of Conor McLaughlin, James Meredith, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Tom Elliott - along with a trio of successful loanees of permanent deals - represents a good transfer window.
This is arguably the finest example of cultural fit between manager and club you’re ever likely to witness. Not only is Harris extremely proud and honoured to manage the club for whom he remains the all-time record goalscorer but he understands the power of positive reinforcement as a self-fulfilling prophecy, constantly reminding everyone of the club’s unique identity. A performance isn’t just a performance, it’s a Millwall performance. Nowadays, he just says the word Millwall and it’s shorthand for whatever he wants: hard work, tenacity, spirit, aggression.
"Millwall are the underdog, that's when we are at our best. We’ve been compiling a squad over the last couple of years with quality, young Millwall-type players that deserve the opportunity at the next level. We won’t be fazed by it, we look forward to it. We are going to have a right go. What we lack in finances we make up for in spirit, determination, desire and team ethic. We showed that time and time again in the FA Cup last season."
A shorter summer on the back of a successful play-off campaign isn’t necessarily a problem, considering the core of the team has been together for the past two years. The Lions have done some excellent transfer business, adding players of proven League One pedigree who will be desperate to show they can cut it at this level. The squad has good depth and balance. In essence, you’re looking at Burton last season but with a fanbase that gives them a significantly better home advantage.
Prediction: bottom half