Millwall manager Neil Harris has highlighted the importance of taking the positives from Saturday’s match with Leeds United into Wednesday night’s clash at Queens Park Rangers (7:45pm).
The Lions make the trip across to West London having shown an encouraging display against the Sky Bet Championship leaders, which the boss says should be used as a ‘stepping stone’ to continue performing well.
“We have to take the performance and the atmosphere from the Leeds game into QPR as a stepping stone,” Harris explains.
“The boys are excited for it, but we showed last year that even getting onto a long unbeaten record, you have to take it one game at a time.
“It was definitely [a good point against Leeds]. Going into a game on the back of three narrow but disappointing defeats, we wanted to go and put on a good account of ourselves to a sold-out Den, and also come away with something. It was a really good performance, and a game we should clearly have won – even when it got back to 1-1, we should have got ourselves a winner in injury time.”
The manager claims that Millwall have not had the lion’s share of luck so far this campaign, having been inches away from picking up additional points in several previous matches.
“You can look at the positives and say we had some good individual performances on Saturday, a really good Millwall display in a brilliant atmosphere with which the fans played their part.
“We should see the game out, but when it’s not going for you – which it isn’t for us at either end of the pitch – then you have to hold your hands up and go with the football gods. I can point straight away to Sheffield Wednesday, to Swansea and to Saturday, when we’ve hit the inside of the woodwork in injury time not to get points; then at the other end, the ball ends up in our net.
“We’ll take it on the chin – what goes around in football tends to come around. We saw that last year when it didn’t go for us at the start of the season, but it clearly did in the second half of the campaign.”
Harris has credited the recent improvement in mentality as a factor which can help the team build and move up the table.
“My pleasing aspect is that the group mentality is back, it has been brilliant at the training ground, and we look forward now to the QPR game. I think we have to be honest with ourselves and say that our concentration has to be better.
“It’s not through a lack of desire or caring, we know that, but we’ll hold our hands up and say we can be better. Then we have to say that luck is involved and it’s not going for us – I’d rather look at the positive of it and say that we played four top sides who could end up in the top four or top six, and we look at saying we should have 12 points.
“We’ve competed in those games and been the better team in each of them, so we have to transfer that home form and the training ground spirit to the away games we have in the coming days.”
Wednesday’s game against Steve McClaren’s side represents the first of six games in just 17 days, with Harris still undecided as to how to approach the busy schedule in terms of player rotation.
“We’ll be utilising our squad over a period, changes are possible in the short-term which I’ll look at closer to kick-off. But we had a really good performance at the weekend which you don’t always want to change too much from.
“Then again, we have to look at the run of fixtures we have, and it’s not just the number of fixtures but the quality of our opponents as well. We’ve had a tough start which continues this week, but we look forward to playing these teams.
“Playing QPR under the lights at Loftus Road in a London derby with a sold-out away allocation will be a great atmosphere, and then we go to West Brom, who are a big club with great players. It doesn’t get better than that.”
The boss concludes that The Hoops are certainly a force to be reckoned with, with our opponents coming into the game on the back of three unbeaten League matches, having lost their opening four.
“[QPR] have certainly been an improved side over the last few games compared to how they started the season,” Harris states.
“I think their first three or four matches saw a bit of uncertainty around the financial future of the club during a transition period for them. But that has obviously changed as they have brought in two centre-forwards on huge money.
“They’ve obviously got the spending power back, the consistency back in their performances and they’ve picked some points up, so we know, as ever, it will be a tough game. They have some quality individual players in attacking areas, but we also know we’re capable of beating anybody on our day.”