Updated: Jan 5, 2021
On a cold, gloomy, awful Saturday afternoon in SE16 it was Coventry who bought some fire and passion to proceedings as they unfortunately for me, completely annihilated the home side. When I say unfortunate I dont mean that to sound biased because believe me, I wont be. But I am writing this as a Millwall fan who has watched his side put in one of the worst performances I have seen by a Home side in a long time.
I wont write an in depth match report, fuck re-living that, instead I will just quickly tell you about the goals within a brief summary of the game before getting on to my thoughts on our current form/situation.
The game started brightly for the away side, they were passing and moving well in possession, closing down quickly and in pairs without the ball, and looking like causing Gary Rowett's side problems from the off.
The first goal came bang on 20 minutes, Murray Wallace tried to play the ball down the left flank but Coventry's Dabo was there to block the pass. Two passes later the ball was in the back of the net after a shot came back off the post and hit Jake Cooper before flying into the goal. It was a shit goal to concede but one that our start to the game fully deserved.
6 minutes later it was 2-0. Gustavo Hamer hit a free kick into the Millwall wall, the ball rebounded back to him on the edge of the box and he hit a shot that deflected off the again unfortunate Jake Cooper, before heading into the far bottom corner. Millwall keeper Bart had no chance, the away side were loving life at The Den. Now, the next 40 odd minutes were just embarrassing for any Millwall fan watching. We were piss poor in every department bar the outstanding Polish beast that is Bart Bialkowski in goal. If that man was younger by about 5/6 years than his current age of 33 , he would be a Premier League keeper without a shadow. If it wasn't for him, and the fact the woodwork came to our rescue on 2 occasions, it literally could have been 6/7/8/9 - 1 to Mark Robins Coventry side. Bare in mind this was a side who hadn't scored a goal in 4 games til today, you can understand my anger at the fact they could of nearly had double figures at The Den, a place where traditionally it is a hard place to come and get a result.
Millwall did score on 74 mins, Troy Parrott used his body well to win a penalty and Jed Wallace stepped up and finished his penalty well to make it 2-1.
Now... we did then at least have a go, we looked a lot better when Parrott and Zohore were up top together, a combination we have not yet been able to use or work on as they have both been injured. So that is the 1 positive to come out the game. But that said, Coventry nearly scored again a few times even at 2-1! They were simply quality today, Callum O'Hare being a standout for me personally. I thought the CM controlled the game well. A shout out goes to Coventry winger Dabo too, who ruined Murray Wallace all afternoon and looked dangerous..... Game over - MILLWALL 1 COVENTRY 2
Now, onto Millwall and our situation.
Let me start by saying I like Gary Rowett and really want him to succeed.
The fact is though I am getting fucked off massively with our overall form, and particularly our shocking home form. It is simply not good enough for a club like us to have only three wins in our last 23 home league games. That is relegation form and it is nowhere near good enough. You could half accept it if there were positive performances to speak about, but there aren't. "I thought we were really poor" is a phrase that should be eventually stuck on Gary Rowett's headstone when he eventually pegs it, the amount of times he has said that phrase since being our manager is notching up massively.
I am also fed up of people who keep saying that our home form is down to the fact that supporters are not allowed in stadiums, that is complete rubbish, even when we had fans before all of this COVID shit we were not picking up wins at home. This is something that has followed Gary Rowett throughout his managerial career, particularly in the Championship.
There were warnings from fans of Derby and Stoke that he played a negative style of football, a boring style of football and it didn’t bring results at home due to the negative defensive attitude.. Now, we are not a Derby or a Stoke, we do not have the same expectations as those two clubs and nor should we given our resources and our budget. But we are a club who don’t suffer shit, we don’t suffer bad football if it’s not bringing results. We can tolerate bad football with results, as we did with legend Neil Harris, his legendary status also cutting him some more slack than others might get... but ultimately he got forced out by fans. That is a fact. We weren’t playing well, we weren’t picking up results and his time had ran out.
Gary Rowett turned up and was a breath of fresh air.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THAT GARY ROWETT!?
When he first came to the club he was making 2/3 substitutions at a time, he was using different squad members, trying different formations, rotating the side but keeping enough regular starters to have a good balance. Most importantly though he had more than a plan A... he changed things during a game, he changed formations from one game to a next to suit our game plan against various opponents, there is none of this now. Players seemed to have more energy after his arrival, now they look lethargic and lazy.
We aren’t closing teams down, we aren’t battling, there is nothing about this side whatsoever. We look devoid of any idea going forward and cannot score more than one goal on a regular occurrence. Go back to when Rowett first took over, we were scoring goals for fun, we were going into every game home and away attacking it with everything we had. These are the same players as he had then and you have to add into the fact that he has also since brought in his own players, players that have cost the club big money on wages. Even our usually solid defense are losing the plot as the season is going on.
A side like MIllwall who aren’t blessed with technical talent need to play to our strengths, and our strengths are not keeping possession of the ball doing tippy tippy passes, trying to over play, boring teams and our fans into submission, playing 5 at the back at home being defensive. Maybe sometimes sure, against the right opponent, but not as often as we have seen. The negativity is a joke. We need 2 strikers on the pitch at home, or at the minimum 1 just behind a lone forward. We need wingers that will do what wingers are supposed to do, run with the ball towards the opposition goal and get a cross in or a shot away. Our central midfield need to be able to tackle, pass, head the ball and shoot. I cant slag our defence, they have been great until recently. But most of all we want hard work and players that will graft for 90 mins. I dont think this is too much to ask from a Championship football side. WE ARE NOT GETTING THIS! The worst thing is though I believe we have the players who could solve the issue and at least see our form pick up, but Rowett is too stubborn to use them. Players like Ryan Leonard, who was dropped after 2 decent performances, players like Ben Thompson who run their bollocks off for the club and do things that Millwall centre midfielders are supposed to do, players like Matt Smith who at least give us something to aim for when he is on the pitch, an experienced forward at this level who many of the new age defenders just cannot cope with, even the likes of Shane Ferguson, who whilst isn't top Championship standard at least has a work ethic that befits our club and the basic attributes to succeed in a side that plays to its strengths.
Another big problem is Ryan Woods who is not a Millwall player and never will be as long as I’ve got a hole up my arse. He would look good in any of the topsides in this division I’m sure, a side that like to pass the ball backwards and sidewards and play a possession based game, therefore he needs to get over his obsession with the ex Brentford midfielder as we dont need him in this current squad, he is a luxury we cant afford. When the chips are down, players like him are a waste of time.
Another issue for me is his reluctance to use Matt Smith. The big striker is our only proper threat, other than main man Jed Wallace, and has been overlooked for some time now given our lack of goals and lack of options up top. He finished last season as our top scorer but cannot get a look-in due to the fact Rowett wants to play a certain style of play. But that style of play is not working and hasn’t been for a long long time, so why Matt Smith is not getting a fair crack of the whip is anyone’s guess. He isn’t quick, he isn’t that mobile but he is affective, he scores goals and causes problems for defenders. In my opinion Gary Rowett has been massively missing a trick by not playing him.
Now I am not one for sacking managers prematurely but I really do not know how much longer I can suffer this awful form. Amongst my friends I am the pessimistic one, but even the optimists are starting to get more negative as the weeks go on. I have called for the managers head on WhatsApp groups, I have discussed his future with my old man. In all reality do I think he should get the sack now? After spending a long time thinking before writing this, NO I do not. But that said, I do expect results to pick up very soon. Now we have a transfer window we need to use it. Now we have Parrott and Zohore fit, we need to use them.
The sad thing is though, I think the writing is on the wall and we are looking set for a relegation battle in the second half of the season. The board will not sack Rowett, they are very loyal behind the scenes. I do think though that Gary Rowett has the dignity and respect to walk away from the club should this poor form carry on for too much longer. I don’t know the man personally but I do get the impression he is a decent human being who does only want to do well and succeed for the club, as you would only expect. Yeah sure you can say he’s only after the £££ and will ride it out as long as he can, but I don’t think so, I think he would walk away if he felt he couldn’t do no more for the club. That time could be coming.
My final take is this... I will resist calls for Rowett to be sacked from now until the end of February. That allows him a transfer window and a month after it closes to get some consistency. Out of respect for the gaffer and the problems he has faced since becoming our boss, I have decided that maybe I owe him that much. If things don't turn around though then by the beginning of March I would bring in a caretaker to try and revive the situation late in the season like Ian Holloway once did, and like Neil Harris nearly did following on from him.13 games would be remaining at that point, enough time to gain a bounce and pick up a few possibly required wins to keep us in this division.
A potential banana skin and trip to Boreham Wood this Saturday in the FA cup awaits us. Cant wait!
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