Neil Harris has emphasised the importance of Millwall’s trip to Huddersfield Town, claiming it is a huge contest for a September fixture in the Sky Bet Championship.
The manager delves into depth about the mindset and preparation of the team for the visit to the John Smith’s Stadium, as The Lions seek a first away victory against the basement side.
“It’s quite a big game for early in the season,” Harris said to millwallfc.co.uk.
“The game’s certainly a big one for Huddersfield – their second home match since Danny and Nicky [Cowley] have gone in there to try and turn things around for them. For us, it’s important to get back to winning ways, but it’s no easy task going somewhere just because they’re bottom of the League. You only have to look at their playing squad to realise the talent they have, and it’s up to us to go and impose ourselves there and make sure their struggles continue.
“There is an expectation on them, because there’s an expectation to beat Millwall from everyone in this division – so I think the onus is on them to set their stall out and come at us. We have to start solidly, because they’ll look to start on the front foot, that’s for sure – as they did against Sheffield Wednesday. We have to make sure that we get back to being that reliable team with a solid foundation, that being honest has been there for the majority of the season so far. We have to be consistent with that.”
Harris gives an honest take on recent criticism, and explains the message to the squad leading into the weekend.
“I think over the last 7-10 days, there has been a lot of negativity from some quarters towards the group, which I think has been completely unjust.
“You can’t expect to win every game at this level, and if we don’t win games, the lads give their all. You have to hope that there are enough good individual performances to make it a good team performance, and look at who we’ve faced. Six of the top half already, which is very unfortunate, including QPR where we shouldn’t have lost the game. Middlesbrough and Hull, we should have won the game.
“There are a lot of positives and I’ve told the boys to just take a step back into reality a bit, we’re a new group and we’ve done very well at times. We have to find that consistency across the 90 minutes and not just in spells. We should probably look to get back to basics a little bit, but then again our game is ‘basic’. We changed shape last week which helped us but didn’t get us the result, so the message is clear to the players that whatever shape we play at Huddersfield, we are the best we can be individually – minor individual errors will hurt you at this level. From there, the team will flourish and we have a big week ahead.”
The boss says the squad will be thoroughly required over the course of the coming week following the Terriers meeting, and claims it is time to get back to the Millwall model.
“It’s about looking up the table rather than down. We’ve had a bit of a transitional period although we’ve had a bit of a settled team so far, and we do look for stability and continuity – though this can be hard to find when we play different sides with different systems.
“We certainly look at the squad rotation within that and the general formation of the team – that starts this weekend. What have Millwall always been under myself? Hard to break down, and hard to rival in terms of work ethic. Then, the forward play, whether it be direct or through the lines. The plan is to return to that this weekend.
“We have a few knocks from last week and a couple of boys not training, and we look to try and get them into the best shape possible for Saturday. But we have three games in a week, and the whole squad will be needed.”