Date: 16th April 2015 at 8:55pm
Written by:

Manager Neil Harris has talked of the importance of returning The Den to being a real fortress not just in the remainder of this season but for the foreseeable future.

He also talked about his own future at the club.

In quotes carried by the official site ahead of this weekend’s game against Cardiff City, Harris took time out to talk of the importance of making the The Den a fortress but making it so for years to come, not just a handful of games.

The importance of that is obvious, Harris has picked up two wins out of four since taking charge and making a shift somewhat back to Millwall basics, and prior to that we had gone 13 without a win.

‘It’s about this group of players realising that this is our home. I played in teams when nobody wanted to come and play here. You would beat teams before they turned up and it has to go back to that mentality. It’s about next season and the season after. We’ve gone back to Millwall basics and in two high pressure games – Charlton, a local derby, and Wigan, for what it meant to both clubs – I’m proud of the fact we’ve scored goals and won both games.’

As for his own future in the managerial hotseat, Harris is also quoted by the South London Press as saying should this role not work out, he would be more than happy to step back into the Development Squad manager role and continue his own coaching learning curve that way and then he would see what the future brought.

‘I feel I can offer the club more than I could a year ago. I have 12 months` more experience, with a different group. Whether it will be the same in three weeks` time, we will have to see. If not, I will go back to what the club needs me to do. And I would be delighted to do that, because I believe in the philosophy we have been implementing there. Until then, the situation is really relaxed about who is where.’

Our record leading goalscorer went on to joke that he was actually the last one to know about his appointment, but he couldn’t have been more pleased with the reaction that he’s received from both the players but also very importantly the fans.

‘I was the last to know about being appointed. The board asked me if I would be happy to do it – and I said if that was needed, that`s fine, no problem. I will help the players until the end of the season – to get their belief back – then take one step at a time. Last year, I had only been a coach six months and was still feeling my way. I made it clear I was not keen to do it long-term. This time, I want to be involved. I am enjoying it as much as I do the U21s and watching those lads develop.’

Harris goes on to say obviously he’s learning something new everyday, some big things, some small things – but whatever happens with survival this season he knows he’ll be better equipped in the future for this extended experience this time around, and he also feels that Millwall will be better equipped in the future as well after what has been a testing time for all involved over the past few seasons.

‘I am learning every day what it involves in being a big part of running a football club. You are working more on your own in the U21s and with more limited staff available. The younger players need more attention as a rule. You are more like a friend for them, whereas the first team is more about preparing for every training session and every game. But I feel I am in a better position now – more capable, and with 12 months` more experience. I feel I can affect the future of this club. That is me, David Livermore, Kevin Pressman and Bobby Bacic. But we also have to think about the long-term future. We have a lot of players out of contract and a recruitment department in place and have to look at that, whether it is me or someone else in this role next season. We have a duty to make sure the club is in the best possible position by the end of June.’

Defining Millwall further from any other club, he again repeated it’s about the mentality, it’s about what you are prepared to give and for him formations are a guide for a line up, not the be all and end all, and even though we’ve lined up 442 for him it’s about moving players five yards to find success – not then calling it 433 or 424 – it’s about what that particular player can give ‘extra’ and then still do their other duties.

‘I have ideas about that but things can easily be adjusted by players moving five yards. Whether it`s 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formations – they are very similar. We have mostly played 4-4-2, which is a telltale sign. But it is more about what the players give – because how you play for other clubs is not how you play for Millwall. This is a unique club and it is about building relationships between the players and the fans. Our supporters want to identify with those on the pitch.’

Going on to say that it’s the ‘style’ that defines Millwall and too often this season, for whatever reason – he apportions no blame – that style hasn’t come through often enough.

But successful sides over the years have embraced that style and mentality, and that’s what he calls going back to the basics which he’s tried to do since coming in.

‘We are going back to basics. We have to be quick and physical and need players that can do that. The main thing is that everyone is in this battle together, from the terraces to the pitch. And now we have something to build on. If it gets us to safety, great. If not, it has to be the basis for next year. We will have a real go and hope people are happy supporting us again – and the team are happy playing in front of them. All I care about is that the club progresses.’

Ending the interview Harris was also under no illusions that his past with the club and the regard that fans hold for him does buy him time and courtesy even in the hardest of games – but he’s know he cannot take that for granted and he certainly doesn’t want to lose or blow that connection by failing to perform in this role.

He also knows with some calls he makes, it won’t leave him bullet proof as fans are knowledgeable and are entitled to their opinion if they think he’s called it wrong.

‘I am ready for the criticism of team selection and tactics. You get that whether it is the first team or the U18s. I am fully aware of that. Even with the relationship I have with the supporters, and I appreciate it, at some stage, some people will think ‘that`s a strange decision`. Everyone who buys a ticket is entitled to do that. Football is a game of opinions. It will be my opinion. And they will know anything I decide is in the short-term and long-term interests of the club – to win games but also as part of a long-term plan. At the moment, we need to stay in this division. I believe that means picking teams to play a style that works for Millwall.’

Vital Millwall on: facebook

Vital Millwall on: twitter

Join The Vital Debate