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No egos at Millwall, says the boss

"People come because they're proud of what they see"

25 May 2018

Neil Harris has stated that whilst Millwall fans can feel a sense of pride at what they have seen from their team in 2017/18, there must be a sense of realism ahead of the new campaign.

The Lions stormed up the table post-Christmas, embarking on a 17-match unbeaten run - with six consecutive away League wins in the process - to finish just outside the Play-Off places.

However, a second, potentially tougher, season awaits the club in 2018/19, with The Lions' budget being in and around the bottom three in the division.

Touching on the last campaign, Harris told that Millwall's home form has built a "solid foundation" for success and rebuilt relationships.

"The best people to judge [the relationship] is the fanbase. They've certainly judged that in their voice and their numbers recently. That's not just at The Den, that's away, too. The Den is hugely important for us - I've never made bones about that. For us to be successful at this club you have to have a solid foundation at home. Barring Coventry in my first home game, when we got beat 4-0, we've done that.

"To finish the season with four sell-outs shows how far we've come as a football club. On the road, too, it's important we recognise the fact we've travelled in huge numbers to games. I'm fully aware that you can't get trains home from Manchester after evening games and that they have to drive home or pay their own money to stay over. It's appreciated.

"We're not a football club where the team has egos. It has a perspective to what the value of money is. For the fans to have spent like they have has been important to us this year. People come because they're proud of what they see - they see a Millwall team on the pitch.

"I ask my players to play for my fanbase and say 'if that was a fan in your shirt, what would they do?' They might give the ball away, but they'd run and get it back. They'd compete for a 50/50 ball. They would do the best they can."

Attentions, though, have already turned to the next Sky Bet Championship campaign - one that will be "extremely tough," according to the manager. 

"It's going to very difficult, to be honest. Extremely tough. Planning started a long time ago in recruitment, on the pitch and off the pitch, trying to improve standards. It's not a phrase I'd like to use and not to sound disrespectful to the players, but we've overachieved this year.

"To do it again will be extremely tough. I want to have a better squad, I want to have better players, so we have to look at different ways of doing it. Every loan player that has come to the club in my time has signed permanently or certainly wanted to come and sign permanently.

"We have to keep using the loan market in our favour with a long-term strategy of signing players.

"There has to be a sense of realism as well. That stood out in three games for me this past season. Hull at home, when my team got booed off at 0-0. I was very disappointed in that. I think it was a reality check for all of us, getting judged against a team that had just come out of the Premier League and being expected to be beating them at half-time.

"The other two were at the end of the season, Fulham and Middlesbrough. Fulham blew us away in the second half - it was a realisation that we've still got a way to go to mix with the top sides, while Middlesbrough was so dominant and strong despite everything we threw at them.

"I was talking to Tony Pulis afterwards about strength in depth and it gave me the realisation of - without sounding negative - that we've got to strive to be better. We're not going to go from eighth to second next year, or maybe not even eighth to sixth. We've got to realise that we are going to have a bottom three budget in the division next year and we've got to compete.

"The aim at the start of next season will be to get to 50 points as quickly as possible and then see where it takes us."

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