Millwall boss Harris on facing Charlton Athletic again – and the challenge facing newly-promoted Addicks

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Millwall boss Neil Harris is looking forward to renewing South London rivalry with Charlton this season.

The two clubs are in the same division again after the Addicks won League One promotion via the play-offs at the end of May.

Charlton have not beaten Millwall since March 1996. There was a gap of 13 years after that before they faced each other again.

There have been 10 meetings since that 2-0 win for the Addicks – current boss Lee Bowyer scoring along with Carl Leaburn – with the Lions winning five of them.

Millwall manager Neil Harris said: “I’m really pleased for Lee Bowyer, Johnnie Jackson and Andy Marshall as staff, because they are really good lads. They are young, up-and-coming English coaching staff. I’m really pleased for them.

“Charlton deserved it, the same as us when we went up through the play-offs. They had a late surge to get themselves into a really strong position. They took that form into the play-offs and were worthy winners in the end.

“It’s been a few years where our fans have had the bragging rights in South London with regards to being in a higher division than Charlton. It’s about time we evened it out again and welcomed back that derby. They are great games to be involved in and great games to prepare for. 

“They are great games for the fans to look forward to when the fixtures come out. When you lose a game like Villa, with them going up, it’s great to be able to replace with something like a Charlton.

“It’s great to have a couple of southern teams back in the division in Charlton, Luton and Fulham. It gives an opportunity for the fans, in large numbers, to travel away.

“I’m really pleased to renew that rivalry next season.”

Millwall finished eighth in their first season in the Championship but were gripped in a relegation battle in 2018-19.

Lee Bowyer told the South London Press recently that Charlton will have the lowest budget in the second tier next season.

Asked how promoted teams can handle the Championship, Harris said: “We’ve seen it with Sheffield United, albeit slightly different levels in terms of the money they’ve had to invest.

“They came up with us and came ninth or tenth the first season we came up, and they’ve gone to the next level. It’s doable to sustain and challenge in the Championship.

“Charlton, unless they get investment, are not going to be able to be a team that invest large amounts of money into the squad.

“Therefore they will have to find their feet and build from within. But it is difficult, the Charlton guys will see that in the three years they have been away – they’ll realise the magnitude of how the league has moved on.

“It’s a wonderful league to be involved in – the games, the stadia and fanbases – but it is relentless, ruthless and difficult to compete.

“Charlton, Luton and Barnsley will find that as they go. If they can add to their squad that has got them into great positions then they’ll be fine. If they can’t add to their squad it becomes very difficult to compete.”