Millwall return to The Den this Saturday afternoon, in what is The Lions’ first match after the close to the reign of Neil Harris as manager. As caretaker manager Adam Barrett takes his place at the forefront of the dugout at The Den, we take on second-placed Leeds United in the Sky Bet Championship.
Under Barrett’s guidance, The Lions seek to return to winning ways at The Den against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side, who got back into winning form on Tuesday night with a narrow victory over West Brom at Elland Road. Millwall sit 18th in the division after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Luton, with our West Yorkshire opponents a point behind League leaders Swansea.
This season represents Leeds’ 10th of their current spell at Championship level. Three seasons in League One preceded the run, with The Whites managing three top-half finishes and their first Play-Off campaign since promotion coming last season – Bielsa’s side beaten 4-3 on aggregate by Derby. Leeds boast a vastly decorated history, having dominated English football and been one of Europe’s biggest forces in the Don Revie era. Across the 1960s and ‘70s, the club won two League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup apiece, two Fairs Cups and reached the European Cup Final, beaten in Paris by Bayern Munich. Leeds’ third and final League title to date arrived in 1992, the last English campaign before the top division’s rebranding as the Premier League.
Following Leeds’ unsuccessful shot at promotion last term, the club acted heavily in the transfer market over the summer. The loan system served Bielsa and his team very well, bringing in Jack Harrison for another season, along with the likes of Helder Costa, Eddie Nketiah and Ben White. Jack Clarke departed in a big-money move to Spurs before returning to Elland Road on loan, with a multitude of players being moved on including Kemar Roofe, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Pontus Jansson.
Experienced coach Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Elland Road ahead of last season after managing Lille. The 64-year-old carries a wealth of coaching pedigree, having taken on his first role on the sidelines in his native Argentina in 1990. Formerly of Athletic Bilbao and Lazio, Bielsa spent a six-year spell as his national side’s manager, reaching the Copa America Final in 2004, as well as leading the nation to Olympic Gold in the same year. He then took the reins of Chile, guiding the team to the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup. Lauded for his tactical nous and boldness in his approach to games, Bielsa has gone some way to revolutionising Argentine football and has overseen the development of former players into high-profile managers, such as Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone. Bielsa steered Leeds to the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals in his debut campaign.