Date: 26th February 2024 at 12:45pm
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It has been another poor season for largely long suffering Millwall fans, and with news last week that 37 year old gaffer Joe Edwards had now been relieved his duties after we more than dropped into the Championship relegation dog fight, speculation that we had made now former gaffer Neil Harris our top option probably came as a surprise to many.

Chopper’s history at The Den needs no explaining for any proper fan, or probably even a more casual one, and although the theory in football is ‘you should never return’, Harris did just that during his playing days and it did not seem to do the club legend any harm at all but few on The Punters Page would have seen this move coming.

Given his caretaker spells in charge earlier in his career, just over a year later after his three games in charge, he took on the role for the first time properly back in 2015, and he has undoubtedly learned a lot given his time with us, and the wider experience he now has, will make him a more rounded manager.

With 245 games between 2015 and 2019, he did register 102 wins and 66 draws, and since then he has had different experiences with Cardiff City, Gillingham and Cambridge United (who he joins us from).

He has more than hit the ground running as his third dug out debut saw us take a 2-1 away win over promotion chasing Southampton, and the travelling fans certainly welcomed him back in quite a vocal style.

For the Millwall squad it was the perfect response as it drew a line under recent poor performances and results, and there might be some kind of irony in the fact that with Harris being our historic leading goalscorer, his first game back sees us take our first win since New Year’s Day.

Plenty will hope that this is a sign of future things to come, and Harris will be confident as well. On a win percentage front, despite managing a far greater number of games, Millwall remains his highest win ratio as a manager and for those with very long memories his opening day victory was out first win against Southampton since August 1989 back when they were at The Dell.

Harris was under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead of him, and although he knew it was almost the perfect start back at the club he knows he ‘clicks with’ it was far from a great performance, but it was a typical ‘very Millwall like’ showing against a tough opponent, and that was what seemed to please him most in terms of the reaction from the players.

They followed the game plan, dug in, showed some grit, desire and a backbone and the fans once again thoroughly responded to their efforts to try and drive them on even further.

Despite his pleasure at the ‘back to basics’ approach and the connection he again saw with the fans, Harris undoubtedly had issues in the performance that he dearly wants to address, and one of the first ones he mentioned was having more of the ball, being a little bit more on the front foot with less fear so we created more chances on goal, and potentially holding a higher line in defence, but whilst that is where he might want to take us in the months to come – sometimes you have to be wise enough to protect your backside and look to capitalise on the counter attack and this game, with their form, was very much one of those.

“You have to pay so much respect to teams like this. We had to do what we had to do get a result. I asked the players to buy-in. Fair play to the group.”

He ended his interview by stating that leaving Cambridge had been a tough decision, and it was only a question because Millwall came knocking once again.

Let us hope he betters his success with us last time and goes on to achieve more this time around.

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