Millwall manager Holloway looking forward to the new season - and beyond

Millwall manager Ian Holloway. Picture by Edmund Boyden

Millwall manager Ian Holloway. Picture by Edmund Boyden

First published in Sport
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , Millwall reporter

Millwall boss Ian Holloway is hoping the Lions can start the new season how they finished the last ahead of Saturday’s Championship opener.

The Lions host Leeds United in what is well on the way to being a sold-out Den, and Ollie feels his team know how to win after “dodging a bullet” in avoiding relegation last season.

An eight game unbeaten run in the final eight games of the season saw Millwall finish 19th and four points clear of the drop.

And Holloway admits Millwall have him in his prime as he plan an assault on the top end of the Championship - and even making it into the Premier League

“I’ve been in football a long, long time now,” Holloway said. “This will be my 19th season as a manager.”

I’ve learned a few things in that time - about how to do it and how not to do it.

“I believe I’m in the best form of my life. I managed to do something last year that I’d never done before, which is keep a struggling team up.

“It was close and I dodged a bullet but I think that gives us some strength.

“The lads now believe that we can win. We’ve made some acquisitions that will make us stronger because there is better competition in the squad.”

The 51-year-old took the Lions job after a phone call from former Millwall boss, Kenny Jackett, now head coach at Championship rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, and feels that he is in the perfect environment to improve the club.

And Holloway reiterated his determination and commitment to Millwall, underlining he will be here for as long as possible.

“I’ve never been at a club that works this well,” Holloway explained. “Myself and Andy Ambler have an excellent relationship.”

“We report back to the chairman and we’ve got board members who come down to the training ground to try to help us. I’ve been given everything I’ve asked for.  “What I’m trying to do is get a better structure and move things forward - by improving the dressing rooms, our offices and the training ground.

“If you care and put that little bit extra into something you’ll get three times as much in return - I think those are the rules of the universe.”

Holloway added:“I won’t get fed up with this club or feel like I want to move on because in the past I’ve been there, seen it, done it, got the t-shirt and the t-shirt stinks.

“Some of the t-shirts stink - they do. But here I have the chance to have an input in every single bit of my club. Every time you come to The Den, you’re treated like a king - it’s unbelievable.

“Every member of staff here does Millwall proud.

“It’s an attitude, an understanding of what you do at certain times and how you boss games.

“We’ve had so much to learn and talk about over the summer and I’ve been focusing on our organisation and how we transition between different phases in a game.

“If we get a bloke sent off, we know how to defend that now.

“If the other team get a bloke sent off, we’ve already practised that.

“Hopefully the boys will stay focused on their jobs, which is what they did last year.”

Many Lions fans would have been forgiven for thinking they were all but relegated after conceding a last minute equaliser to draw with Blackburn Rovers, leaving Millwall staring down the barrel.

But Holloway feels the lapses in concentration are a thing of the past as his side head into Saturday’s clash, and has offered encouraging words to supporters as Millwall look to extend their eight game unbeaten run.

And Holloway added that small set-backs will not detract him and his players to gatecrashing England’s Elite division in the near future.

“It was a horrendous three minutes which nearly cost us our place in the Championship,” Holloway recalled.

“Again ten men, we went 1-0 up and let a goal in. We then went 2-1 up let another goal in.

“It was rubbish, to be honest. We should have easily solved that. We lost our focus - but that won’t happen again.

“We’ve got a wonderful reputation of being an honest, hard-working club who no-one likes, and I want to embrace that and make it better.

“I want people to be jealous of us and how we make it a family experience at The Den.

Holloway added: “Some clubs are so up themselves they won’t bother to do this. Some players won’t bother to give the fans the time that my lot do.

“It’s really important that you show you are just a person doing a job that you love. Our lads have bought into that this summer.

“If we get thumped by Leeds, if we get thumped by Wycombe and if we get thumped by Fulham, we’ll still be fighting because we’re here for the long term. Do I believe those things will happen? No. Do I hope that we’ll get better results than that? Yeah, I do, but it’s all talk.

“This is just the start. I know where I want to end up. We are going to be there one day.

“I don’t know when that day will come, but one day Millwall will be in the Premier League.

“I want to be fighting at the other end of the table this season.

“But if that doesn’t happen, I know my chairman won’t be blaming me like these other owners who buy a club and think they can guarantee results.

“It doesn’t work that way. You have to believe in what you’re doing, walk the talk and hope that your players and fans will follow you.

“It’s going to start with the way we move the ball and the way we’re going to play - and I’m already seeing that develop.”

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