By RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris is looking for his Millwall side to halt their wait for a Championship win – and reckons there is “huge pressure” on tomorrow’s opponents Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers have got just one point this season and only won once in 2019. It throws up the possibility they could suffer back-to-back relegations after losing their Premier League status in May.
Hudderfield appointed Lincoln’s Danny Cowley as their manager on September 9 with his brother Nicky taking on the number two role. Since then they have lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday and 4-2 at West Brom on Sunday.
Millwall have taken two points from a possible 15.
Harris said: “A good time to play them would have been a couple of weeks ago, before the Cowleys went in.
“Let’s get it right – it will change, they will win games. We have to be at our very best on Saturday to make it as difficult for them to become the team I’m sure they will become in the future.
“We have to play on the fact they haven’t won a game for a very long time.
“We’ve won a couple and up until Blackburn everyone was talking about how good a side we are. We had a great start. We’ve lost the last two but have got to remember we’re still the same team with the same players.
“Huddersfield are a big club at this level. The expectation was for them to be in the top six. The league table is taking shape now. Everyone would have expected Huddersfield and Stoke to swap places with QPR and Charlton. That’s no disrespect to QPR and Charlton – I don’t mean they should be at the bottom of the league. I mean the teams expected to be at the top. Does that naturally put pressure on Huddersfield? Yeah, definitely. Huge, huge pressure.
“If you’re a Huddersfield fan you expect them to beat Millwall at the weekend. We have got to transform our form back to the start of the season, and we will do. We have to make sure we do it quickly.
“We have got three games in a week. Huddersfield and Luton are ones I think we can pick points up in. A Millwall team playing Leeds at home is always a free hit – you just go to war against Leeds.
“We can focus on that once we get to 10 o’clock on Wednesday night. The focus now is on two away games where I expect my players to deliver points.”
Millwall lost 2-1 to QPR last weekend and there was a smattering of boos at the break – even though the derby was goalless at that point.
There was an angrier reception from the stands at full-time, with criticism following on social media.
“Ten days ago we’d had a brilliant start,” said Harris. “Roll forward 10 days and it’s: ‘ooph, I’m not so sure now”. And I do understand that. I do get it. It’s a results-driven business.
“Everybody just needs to take a bit of a reality check. We are just what we are. We’re trying to evolve, we’re trying to be better.
“The league doesn’t change. Well it does – it gets better every year. But it stays a ruthless division. If you don’t win games when you’re on top and you’re a smaller club at this level it comes back and bites you on the bum.
“You have to accept that down time to go again.
“Not beating Middlesbrough and Hull, I knew at the time when we had a little dip we were going to pay for that.
“Then when you go to Blackburn and get beaten in a nothing game and then beaten at home in a London derby it kills you – because you should have won at Middlesbrough and beaten Hull.
“The importance for me is the group understanding when you are on top at stages this season, you have to win those games. You have to be clinical and ruthless. That’s where we have fallen short.
“Goals change games. You saw that at Fulham. We came out in the second half like a steam train. We should score from the restart – then we give a penalty away the other end. The game is finished.
“If that goes 2-1 it is a completely different ballgame. On Saturday if we stay 1-1 for five minutes, then we saw how we ended the game – we had five chances. I bet if that stays 1-1 and we do that then one of those efforts goes into the net, especially with the atmosphere in the stadium.
“That’s why we love the game. because one minute you’re up there [moves his hand high], the next you’re down there [moves his hand low]. That’s the drug of football.
“It’s why I understand that one minute the fanbase are full of euphoria – because we look great – and the next they are down there. That’s football. I want it all to be rosy and positive but it doesn’t work that way in modern day football anymore, certainly not in England.
“We roll on to Saturday. The challenge for me and my staff is to get the best out of the players and be better.”
Harris looks as if he could change personnel in the search for a first victory since August 17.
“The message is clear to the players – we go again against Huddersfield, then Luton and then Leeds before the next international break,” he said. “Prior to the last international break we were a team being raved about, sitting in the top half of the division.
“Since the break we have lost two games – that’s how fickle football and society is now that you go from a real positive to a negative.
“My message to the players is we have to be positive and build. When you are building you go back to basics – reboot. What do the players know and understand? What are they good at? That’s what I’ll be doing this week to get them ready for Huddersfield.
“We have to pick points up on the road to take the pressure off the home games. We’ve played six of the top 11 teams in the league – that’s just bloody bad luck! You want to play teams on downward spirals rather than an upward ones.
“We have to respond at the weekend. I’ll pick players who are in form, that’s important. There were players I wanted to stick with at the weekend but who maybe have had a little dip. I’ll pick the ones I think deserve to play.”
PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS