BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Shaun Williams signed a new Millwall contract last week – and manager Neil Harris reckons the midfielder is getting better with age.
The 31-year-old recently won international recognition with the Republic of Ireland and has played 204 times for the South London club.
Vice-captain Williams recently scored his first goal for his country against Wales and has penned a fresh deal until the summer of 2020.
“Willo is a wonderful competitor and a winner,” said Harris. “Sometimes he is a man of few words but he spoke very well after the game on Saturday [the 2-0 loss at West Brom] to the players.
“He has grown into a leadership role and doesn’t always lead with his voice but with his actions on the pitch.
“He was an important member of our squad when I first took over. He wasn’t necessarily a crowd favourite at the start, maybe our fanbase didn’t always appreciate what he brings to the team.
“He glues us together in so many ways. As he gets older he is getting a better and better player. He realises what he is good at and what he can’t do. It is about understanding that – it is a strength and not a weakness.
“He is not trying to be something he’s not.
“I just felt with Willo, even at 31, the way he plays in the modern game means he is not a player who relies on his pace. He relies on his touch, vision and the technical side of his game. His positional sense is excellent.
“He is a team player and we talk about us as a group – we are a team. Individually we are never going to be the best team at this level.”
Millwall dropped into the Championship bottom three after the weekend defeat at The Hawthorns.
It is six league games without a win for the Lions and they have taken one point from a possible 18.
They also went the same amount of games early last season waiting for a victory but did pick up three draws. A superb 17-game unbeaten run from the start of 2018 saw them finish eighth.
“I’m always honest and we are searching for that formula,” said Harris. “I’ve certainly got a huge amount of faith in my players – individually and collectively. They have done it over a long period, 40 months, proving themselves to be good Millwall players.
“We will just focus on the next game, it is what we have done in my time here and it has stood us in good stead. When things are going against you you have to rely on the group culture and mentality, which has been excellent in the last few weeks.
“We have to continue in that vein. We have to keep believing in what we are doing and that the performance and result will come. Performances are nearly there, we’re so close.”