BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris asked his Millwall players if they had done enough to shake up his plans for Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United after their EFL Cup exit tonight.
The Lions were outplayed by Fulham and lost 3-1. Tom Elliott had halved the deficit in the second half.
Harris made eight changes for the visit of the Premier League outfit.
“I said to them in the dressing room: ‘Did everybody do enough tonight to warrant a place on Saturday?’ It wasn’t harsh words, just a serious question and just a little thinking time for the players.
“I am searching for the formula and I will get it right. I will get us on the front foot and we will start winning games.
“I thought some of my players performed. We have to be respectful to the opposition and say they are good players. The timing of the goals was key.
“For the first and second goals, did we do enough? Did we defend properly? Whatever our shape, the fundamentals don’t change. We have to defend properly. We have to play with real vigour, determination and get the ball forward at the right times and right areas – whatever system we used today. Did we do enough?”
Ben Amos made two vital saves to keep Millwall only trailing by one at the break – a blistering strike by Joe Bryan.
“They [Fulham] were very good first half, weren’t they?” admitted Harris. “They showed their class. We know they have got good players, expensive players, but they showed their class without the ball as well – the way they pressed hard to get the ball back. Their execution of passes and movement was sharp and crisp.
“The moments we did get some relief we weren’t good enough with the ball in those areas to really threaten, hence why we changed at half-time. I felt we had to change shape to try and get after the ball a little higher up the pitch. I was a lot happier in the second half. We imposed ourselves more. Yes, they are good players and a good team – they deservedly won. But the third goal was a real killer. The timing of all three was disappointing.”
Harris has predominantly played 4-4-2 in his time at charge – with plenty of success. And 3-5-2 is not out of the equation.
“It is something we might consider but then the personnel becomes key – who is fit and who is not. When you play against good players, if you match them up player for player they can be better than you but if you are not man for man they can hurt you anyway. It was important we changed to get a higher press on the ball. In the first half we couldn’t get near enough to to the ball to make the challenges.”