Saturday, September 23, 2017
Millwall chief Harris relishing chance to pit his wits against ex-Lions boss...

Millwall chief Harris relishing chance to pit his wits against ex-Lions boss Holloway and close pal Bircham

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Queens Park Rangers First Team Coach Marc Bircham, manager Ian Holloway and Assistant Manager Curtis Fleming

Neil Harris is looking forward to sharing the touchline with Ian Holloway tonight – as Millwall come face to face again with their former boss.

Holloway was appointed as Lions manager in January 2014 and although he initially kept them in the Championship he was sacked 14 months later with the club’s relegation to League One a formality.

The 54-year-old is set to get a rough reception from the travelling support at Loftus Road, with the full allocation of 1,545 tickets snapped up.

But Harris was delighted when Holloway made a managerial return to Queens Park Rangers in November 2016. Marc Bircham, who had a six-year spell as a player at Millwall, is first-team coach.

“Football is a better place with Ian Holloway as a manager,” said Harris, who became part of the Lions backroom team in 2013 after retiring. “It is great to pit my wits against Ollie and Birch. I worked very closely with both and learned a lot.

“It’s a great challenge. I understand the importance to the fans – that they want a good Millwall performance on the night. But to me it makes no difference who we are playing and who is managing – I want to win every game. It adds spice but we’ll be preparing diligently, as we do for all our fixtures.

Neil Harris
Photo: Keith Gillard

“I was delighted he [Holloway] got the QPR job. He is a real football man who has had a lot of success in the leagues and deserves to be in the game.

“He was a great entertainer on Sky. Having shared an office with him I really enjoyed listening to him. Ollie and Birch love QPR. When you consider what they did there as players and coaching staff it seemed a natural step.

“Birch was one of my closest friends at Millwall from the moment I signed. We became travelling partners and have got children of similar ages.

“Marc can be eccentric at times, but that is what makes him such a good coach as well.

“I’ve not come up against Birch on the sidelines before, David Livermore [Millwall assistant boss] knows him very well as well.

“I’ll normally speak to him a couple of times a week. We might speak briefly before the match but it will be general chit-chat rather than about the game. Then it becomes work mode and focus on three points.

“Ollie and Birch are winners – myself and David are the same. It will certainly be passionate down there. There will be moments of outbursts but we try and leave the fourth official and referee alone.

“We’ll try and just worry about our team but sometimes in a derby it can be slightly different – things crank up a notch.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my players’ reaction. We were okay on Saturday, it wasn’t a great performance.”

Sports Editor | South London Press sports editor since 2007 who has covered huge sporting events for the paper – Crystal Palace’s Championship play-off final, two trips to Wembley in the FA Cup and David Haye’s world heavyweight unification fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Previously sub-edited on the Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Sport First. Former ClubCall deputy editor.

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Millwall chief Harris relishing chance to pit his wits against ex-Lions boss...