Millwall boss Neil Harris on the trick of finding a “magic formula” for away games – and balancing attack and defence


Neil Harris has talked about Millwall finding a “magic formula” away as they get ready for a travel-heavy period of Championship action.

The Lions are at Blackburn on Saturday and after a home derby against QPR they are back on the road for matches at Huddersfield Town and Luton Town.

“We’ve had a real difficult spell on the road,” said Harris. “Not just the volume of away games but also the quality of opponent we’ve faced.

“In some ways it is good to get some of the bigger games out of the way early on, but it has been a difficult little spell.

“There is definitely an opportunity to get the first away win of the season. It is always important at this level to try and win an away game early.

“We want to rely on our home form but we do have to win a certain amount of away games to make life easier when we are back at The Den.

“We have to find the magic formula away from home of trying to be really tough to beat, really hard-working and being difficult for an opponent to play on their own patch but having quality to our play.

“It is always tough in the Championship to keep a clean sheet and be a threat as well. That’s what we’ve got to try and master.

“At Boro we gave very little away and created quite a lot. At West Brom we got a really good draw in a game where we gave next to nothing away but didn’t create a lot until the last 15 minutes.

Millwall manager Neil Harris

“We do try to create but it is whether you look to be solid for 60 minutes with a view to going and winning the game.

“It’s something I have got to consider from fixture to fixture. Middlesbrough and Blackburn are totally different. It’s about picking players to execute a gameplan.”

The Lions did not win away until New Year’s Day last season – at rock bottom Ipswich Town.

Their other successes on the road both saw them keep clean sheets, a 1-0 victory at Derby and 2-0 at Birmingham City.

But being frugal at the back often takes away on the attacking side – almost a case of taking one option or another.

“We can use England as an example the other night [beat Kosovo 5-3),” said Harris. “They were really open and ultimately won the game because they have got better players.

“If Kosovo had better players they would’ve won the game. When you play that way it is down to who is more clinical, who makes less errors.

Millwall manager, Neil Harris (centre)

“If you play more open and go man to man the better team normally win the game – because they have got better, because of their quality.

“That is the balance. You might score more goals being open but you are also going to concede a lot of goals.

“Or you can be really solid, disciplined and difficult to play against – aggressive in your approach – and when chances come along in a game you have to make them count.

“We haven’t given a lot of chances away barring Fulham [a 4-0 loss] but everything that night went for them. We still didn’t give them a lot of chances. We gave away a lot of possession – but not a lot of chances.

“The disappointment after Hull was that we had enough of the ball and creative players on the pitch to create more than we did.

“The hardest part of football is scoring goals and creating chances, that’s why we have to keep working at it.”

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