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Harris upbeat after Sociedad thriller

Manager reflects on pre-season and looks ahead to next week’s League kick-off

27 July 2019

Neil Harris has analysed Millwall’s 3-3 pre-season finale against Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon, and is full of praise for both sides.

Jed Wallace’s penalty opened the scoring in the first half, before the Spaniards fought back to twice lead. Superb goals from Ben Thompson and Connor Mahoney earned the draw in the second half for The Lions.

“I’m really pleased with the workout,” Harris says.

“This is a team who finished ninth in La Liga last year and beat Real Madrid home and away, and we likened them to the standard of the likes of Everton. They’re a club with a rich history and quality players, and I thought some of their play today was excellent. They were very sharp and bright in the middle of the park and in the final third, and we knew it would be the perfect test for us.

“Possession stats will have been quite low for us, but I thought in particular the first 30 minutes we showed excellent decision making. We were perhaps a bit leggy in the opening 15-20 minutes of the second half and we did struggle at times to get out of our half, and that’s when you need to do something off the cuff – we had firstly a great strike by Ben, and then a great move for the final goal.”

The boss was very upbeat as he reflected on the pre-season schedule, and continued to elaborate on the events of the afternoon at The Den.

“It’s probably been the best pre-season this club has had in a while in terms of opposition – it’s been great for us.

“Some of the quality we showed and some of our play that we produced – and the goals from Thommo and Connor being first-class – that’s the quality we want.

“Our shape was really tested today. We fell short a couple of times, we’re a bit disappointed with the positional play for a couple of the goals, but you can’t have it all in pre-season. There are elements to work on, and because of the work of the starting players I made my substitutions earlier than planned.”

The Sky Bet Championship season unfolds next weekend with The Lions back at SE16 against Preston North End – and Harris claims to have a lot to contemplate in terms of who features.

“We go into Preston next week really pleased with what we’ve done. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more signings before next weekend with one very close, and the squad’s taking shape.

“Some of the boys will play [in a Millwall XI] at Dover on Monday night to get a top-up of minutes, and everyone else will be training at Calmont.

“On Saturday, it will be tough to pick an XI – it won’t necessarily be the same as in the Sociedad game. Some of the players have shown some excellent individual performances over the course of pre-season, and players who may not have predominantly figured last season could now be at the forefront of my mind. On the other hand, some assuming to play may not be on the teamsheet next week.”

The manager finally expresses his excitement of what he describes as a “new era” at The Den, and is delighted with the stead the club currently stands in as 2019/20 fast approaches.

“The mood appears very good around the whole club. Coming into the ground for this game, everyone was buzzing in the team meeting and the dressing room. The players and fans were excited.

“We have to forget last year, forget the seasons before, and start again. I’ve started a rebuild by letting players leave and bringing new ones in, and this is a new era and a new start for our football club.

“Fortunately, we start the new era in the Championship, which is one of the five best leagues in the world. We really look forward to the challenge starting next week.”

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