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We need evolution at Millwall under Lomas, not revolution
1:51pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Sport
MILLWALL kept up their excellent recent record against Leeds United at The Den with a 2-0 win which almost felt like a watershed between Kenny Jackett era Millwall and Steve Lomas’ new Lions.
In the first half, it was a typical Millwall v Leeds game - scrappy and all about imposing yourself physically and trying to grind your opponents down by sheer determination.
This is something that Jackett Millwall sides were excellent at, but somewhere along the way we hit a brick wall and started to be undone by smarter footballing sides, which by the end of his reign felt pretty much like the entire division.
However, on Saturday we were the team that were able to change tact with a clever tactical change in the second half, which allowed us to play around the rigid Leeds players with some pretty and effective passing moves, two of which ended in quite lovely team goals.
It felt like we had witnessed an evolution of sorts, where Millwall had finally stepped up to the Championship plate.
We were not only up to the task physically, but also had enough in our footballing locker to see off the Yorkshiremen quite comfortably in the end.
For this Lomas deserves praise.
Critics of the manager can talk about the Blackpool team we thrashed being overly confident, or the Charlton side we beat being extremely poor, and Leeds looking utterly toothless.
But at the end day, I never saw Jackett get us playing the kind of football we saw against both Blackpool and Leeds in all of his five years in SE16.
It’s remarkable to think Millwall have spent eight out of the last 10 seasons in the same division as Leeds United, and as a real rival to the Elland Road side.
This is a club that can genuinely claim to be one of the giants of the English game.
When the likes of Leicester City talk about being a big club they mean compared to us and Barnsley, but when Leeds fans say it they mean compared to everyone.
Yet little old Millwall have been able to keep pace with them over the last few years, and that has all been down to Jackett and the organisation and team spirit he gave us.
But now it seems the club are looking to make the step up to the next level, that is to say to become more than just hardworking spoilers.
However, it should be noted Millwall's recent upturn in fortunes has also coincided with the return of Jackett and Lions stalwarts in Jimmy Abdou, Paul Robinson and David Forde.
This perhaps suggests we should always retain a bit of that industry and grit which has in many ways defined us as a club.
It would have certainly come in handy last night, as all the progress made in the last three games was wiped out by another horror show, this time a 4-0 hammering at the hands of a distinctly average Birmingham City side.
Talk about coming crashing back down to earth with a bang!
The Leeds game showed a perfect blend of grit and silk, and was hopefully an indication of the direction that Lomas wants to take us in.
But all the good work from that game seemed to go out the window as soon as we set foot onto the St. Andrews' pitch.
We need players who have skill, but are also willing to put in a good shift for us to really make an impact on this division.
Which makes the departure of James Henry on loan to Wolves, with a view to a permanent move in January, all the more disappointing, as I think he is a great example of a player that combines those exact qualities.
But sometimes things like that are out of the club and manager’s hands, so we move on.
Moving on from last night will take more than a shrug of the shoulders, though, as it requires Lomas going back to the drawing board and finding a way to make this transition from organised plodders to football wizards less painful.
I’m going to try and put a positive spin on things by reminding myself Millwall have no right to be challenging at the top end of this division, and there’s no pressure to do so from fans or the board.
Therefore we do have the luxury of being able to make mistakes along the way, without the recriminations seen at Derby County this week.
So if we accept it's going to be an up and down season, but see more and more of the football we saw against Brighton, Blackpool and Leeds as the season progresses, then I think most of us will be happy in the long-run.
The three wins on the bounce have bought Lomas the breathing space to work on setbacks like last night, and I think we have enough about us to allow Lomas a whole season to see if this transition can be completed successfully.
What we need to try and achieve is evolution, not revolution.
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