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Millwall fans prefer blood and thunder displays to finesse and patience
10:59am Wednesday 26th September 2012 in Sport
LIONS columnist MATT LITTLE is convinced his side can’t simply pass their way out of trouble and that Millwall have tried to change their playing style far too quickly, something which risks alienating the club’s regular supporters.
IT seems every time we stray away from our core values down at Millwall we hit the rocks.
We are a very uncomplicated football club in most senses and any deviation from our intrinsic sense of self often leads to disaster.
Funny enough, the most difficult job down at Millwall is Andy Ambler’s and he carries that out simply and effectively.
However, the insipid dross that is being served up on the pitch is so far removed from what Millwall is all about it is making the disaster of relegation loom large on the horizon.
This doesn’t make Kenny Jackett a bad manager, after all Bruce Rioch went on to propel Bolton Wanderers through the leagues and into the Premier League, as well as manage Arsenal after being sacked by us for trying to play pretty football.
But as the Rioch example demonstrates The Den really isn’t the place for experiments.
We played some great stuff at times, but the fans never really bought into it and without the financial muscle to bring in the right kind of players we floundered, even with Teddy Sheringham up front.
Indeed, Neil Warnock’s very robust Notts County side fought and scrapped their way to promotion, while we were bullied out of the play-offs by Saturday’s opponents Brighton.
The most recent defeat by Brighton was just as embarrassing.
I’m sorry, I do not care if they are top of the table, or they now get 25,000 former armchair fans from Sussex at their shiny new bowl out in the countryside, or they are willing to pay players more than a packet of Fruit Pastels to play for them.
They did not look like a team up for a scrap, as proved by their rabbits in the headlights impression after we went down to 10 men and finally went back to some good old fashioned Millwall values.
Brighton are a good side, but I think they’d have had to work a damn sight harder for their three points if we’d have got in their faces from the off.
This is The Den for heaven’s sake, the clichéd hard ground to come too. Or it used to be.
The hordes from affluent Sussex in the away end should have been given a rude awakening as they watched a few of their preening posers in Albion tops smashed into the sidelines as the home support cheered like blood-thirsty Romans watching Christians being fed to the lions.
John Berylson wonders why people aren’t turning up to watch games.
Well, it’s because we are not getting what we want to see.
Millwall fans prefer blood and thunder to finesse and patience. Our home record has been appalling for more than a year now.
We have meekly let nothing teams like Crystal Palace of all clubs stroll around and leave The Den with all three points without even breaking sweat.
If the Romans had of taken the lions' claws and teeth out to give the Christians a fighting chance, the Coliseum would have been half empty too.
Not that Jackett is necessarily trying to do a bad thing.
Football has evolved, but unless he gets the backing from the chairman to bring in the quality to implement his plan, then it’s doomed and crowds will continue to drop like a stone.
The club brought in League One players to try and play La Liga football when perhaps what we should have done with our budget is bring in improvements on the Andy Frampton and Tony Craig style players who have always served us so well in the past.
It is clear the evolution of Millwall is taking place too fast.
We need to establish ourselves in this division first and foremost and with our limited resources, this means making The Den a fortress and getting the fans to feed off an aggressive and direct team.
If the chairman wants to give Jackett a few million to bring in the type of quality footballer Brighton are fielding then great.
And if they perform to Brighton’s present level then he’ll get his dream and will see a packed out Den.
However, if he wants to run the club on a budget, which is his prerogative, then he and Jackett both need to reassess how we are approaching things.
We have a loyal but small hardcore of about 15,000 fans, just under half are season ticket holders and the rest try to get to The Den when they can.
Yet the un-Millwall like home displays are making more and more of those keep their money in their pockets and give SE16 a miss.
In my last blog I said I took nothing from our game against Cardiff, however, that wasn’t totally true.
The injury to Nicky Maynard did spark the ground into life and lifted the players for a bit, proving The Den can still be a bear-pit if - to use a favourite Jackett phrase - the crowd are brought into play.
The same happened when Chris Taylor was harshly sent-off on Saturday and we nearly snatched an unlikely point because of the change in mood.
We can compete in this division, but it needs to be on our own terms and with Millwall values - values which have served us pretty well for 127 years.
Jackett isn’t suddenly a bad manager.
Let’s just hope he’s not a stubborn one.
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