Millwall captain Steve Morison on not starting games, his future and why he has not thrown himself into coaching

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Steve Morison admits that not being a starter for Millwall is a new experience – even if it has only been for two games.

The Lions captain has always been in Neil Harris’ starting 11 when fit but Tom Elliott and Lee Gregory have been paired together for the most recent Championship action.

Morison has played 304 times for Millwall in all competitions and he is on course to overhaul assistant manager David Livermore and Nicky Chatterton, who both managed 312.

The striker, who turns 36 in August, is on 264 Football League matches. Tony Craig (270) and Livermore (273) are in his sights.

“I’ve said it a million times and people can believe it or not – all I care about is us winning games of football,” said Morison. “At the moment that’s with me not in the team.

“That hasn’t happened in my career and it is going to be the toughest thing for me to deal with. People take a swipe at me at Leeds, but I played there as well when I was fit.

“People talk, you know what it is like, and ask: ‘How long do you think you’ve got left?’ It’s annoying in the sense that only five months ago we were on a 17-game unbeaten run – nothing has happened.

It’s not like I’ve gone to bed like Sleeping Beauty and woken up not being able to move.

Millwall’s Steve Morison

“We’ll see how long it lasts. I might be playing on Saturday! I don’t know yet. We’ve had a good couple of results. T [Tom Elliott] was brilliant [against Villa] and so was Gregs [Lee Gregory].

“It’s a different one because when you’re a forward you are still kind of always involved and getting on. I came on at Forest when there was something to play for. I was desperate to get on against Villa because I wanted to help us see the game out.

“I was talking to Webby [Byron Webster] and saying it is so difficult as a centre-half or goalkeeper – you only really come on because of an injury. It’s not so regular.

“When results don’t go well, people start looking for excuses. I’ve always been quick to take the brunt. I remember when I was here before it would be because I didn’t want to be here, I had been linked with a move away. That’s just life.

“The best thing is people have an opinion who have no background in football. They’ve never kicked a ball in their life – but they get themselves an audience and suddenly they are football experts. They have opinions on the team, partnerships in it and on individuals.

“Forest looked like they just felt they had to turn up to win and Villa had a defence of full-backs. That’s bread and butter to us – perfect. It’s not always going to be as easy as that.

“But when it isn’t, and teams change to stop us doing what we do, everything is questioned. Did we change being physical and on the front foot for Forest and Villa? No. But no-one questions it now.

“We’ve had many a meeting in here [the briefing room at their Calmont Road training ground] after drawing or losing in the final 15 minutes and said we just need to be better and more consistent with it.

“The difference in the Villa game was that we did it for 90 minutes. We were brilliant for 70 minutes against Swansea and Sheffield United – you don’t get leads if you don’t play well – but it wasn’t for the full 90.”

Harris told the South London Press earlier this week that there is no doubt Morison will be at the club as a player again in 2019-20. His current terms run until June.

“That’s nice to hear,” said the former Wales international. “It’s been out of my hands this time. Before I knew I had to get to 20 games or whatever it was [to trigger an extension]. It was automatically in place.”

Another deal will only make it more likely that Morison finishes his career at The Den.

“Unless someone offered me something extraordinary to go and play elsewhere – I live in Northampton  – then you’d contemplate it,” he said. “I’m still waiting to wake up and feel different, if I’m brutally honest with you.

“People can make assumptions but I’m waiting to feel different – to not want to get out of bed and come football. To not want to be here, to not want to travel and be a part of it.

“I do my stuff off the pitch to make sure I feel the best I can feel.”

Morison is due to finish his UEFA Pro Licence course next September. He is on it with Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder, West Ham U16 coach Jack Collison and Sam Ricketts, now managing National League Wrexham.

“I do my coaching to have those boxes ticked, for as and when an opportunity arises. But I only do what I need to, because I don’t want it to take away from me playing.

“I don’t want to go coaching on a Monday, Thursday or Friday night, spend two or three hours out, because that is rest and recovery time to make sure I’m right for training the next day.

“Me and the gaffer had the conversation when I first joined – he asked if I wanted to flip in and out [of coaching] but he hasn’t mentioned it for three or four years.

“Once I cross the line, I cross the line. I don’t do anything by halves – I’m all in, or I’m not.

“If I get my deal I’ll nearly be 37 by the time next season finishes. That would be a good achievement.”

The question is whether Gregory, who has formed such a successful frontline partnership with Morison, will still be here for the following campaign. The Sheffield-raised goal-grabber is inside the final eight months of his contract.

Morison said: “It would be great [if he stays], wouldn’t it? But obviously everyone has got a different situation.

“I have zero clue, by the way, if a contract has been offered or if it hasn’t. Gregs has been brilliant for this football club for the last three or four years. The fans love him, and the boys love him. But with success becomes problems for a club like Millwall, as we’ve seen with Sav [George Saville].

“It’s going to be an interesting one to watch. Thankfully it’s not something I have to worry about.”
South London News