Jake Cooper has highlighted the need to maintain good performances for 90 minutes following Millwall’s exit from the Carabao Cup against Fulham on Tuesday night.
Cooper - who captained the side for the night - firstly commended the ‘class’ of The Cottagers in their 3-1 victory at The Den, claiming that Cyrus Christie’s stunning strike made things difficult during a period The Lions were dominating.
“I think we played against a top side who were promoted to the Premier League last season,” the towering defender stated.
“They showed their class with a couple of goals tonight. I think we used half-time well, performed a lot better in the second half and changed formation, playing man-to-man with them. [Fulham] played a formation where they could overload us in areas of the pitch – especially out wide – and as I say, they’re great players who can switch it really well, they are comfortable on the ball and they penned us back in.
“After we scored, we thought we’d maybe have the chance to get back in it. But they scored a great third goal, and the game ran away from us.”
The change of formation at the break saw manager Neil Harris switch to a wing-back system, a setup Cooper said the team are comfortable with; and went on to emphasise the importance of keeping up good spells for entire matches.
“The 4-4-2 was very effective last season, and I think we’re comfortable in the 3-5-2 – it’s something we have spoken about, and we’re happy to operate in any formation regardless of the team the gaffer picks.
“It’s difficult to say [why form has dropped].
“I think we’ve put in some good performances in halves of games or for 60 minutes, we just haven’t quite played to our standard from last season across 90 minutes. It’s all about putting in a full performance like we know we can, and that will help us move forward.”
The centre-back denied that having to turn focus to cup competitions is distracting, claiming it has been beneficial to maintain the squad’s match sharpness.
“I don’t think [the Carabao Cup] is a distraction, I think it’s an opportunity for some players to play and get some game time and prove that they can play in the team on Saturday.
“It’s a good chance to play against great players and test where we’re at.”
Cooper concluded by calling on fans to remember the early stage of the season, and that there remains time to begin an improved run and have a positive campaign.
“It’s still very early [in the season].
“Last year we didn’t have a great start, and I believe even the season before that. We’ve got a long time this season to turn things around, and as I’ve said, performances have been there in parts of games. Once we can put that in for a whole 90 minutes, we believe we can then get on a run.”