BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall were staying tight-lipped yesterday over their plans to replace Neil Harris – only indicating they will take their time to find the right successor.
Harris, 42, quit as Lions manager last Thursday – he had been the seventh-longest serving boss in England’s top four divisions.
With assistant David Livemore also departing it left first-team coach Adam Barrett to take temporary charge for Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Leeds.
Bookies had Roy Keane as the favourite for the Den vacancy as our paper went to press yesterday with three former Lions players also priced up – Tim Cahill, Kevin Muscat and Steve Morison.
Gary Rowett and Chris Hughton – both unattached – have also been mooted along with Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth and Motherwell’s Stephen Robinson.
Rowett was on punditry duty over the weekend, both for Sky Sports and Quest’s EFL coverage, and was asked about the Millwall job. The former Stoke, Birmingham and Burton Albion boss had moved to the bookies’ favourite by this morning.
Rowett has spoken to Harris, pictured below, since he stepped down and told Quest’s presenter Colin Murray: “I think he just felt perhaps, when you look at the statement that he put out, that when you’ve been there for four-and-a-half years it wears you down – it takes a lot of energy.
“He’s a Millwall person and he genuinely feels him stepping down will give the club the best possible chance to progress – which is remarkable given he is the one who has made fantastic strides with the team and the club.
“It is going to be a difficult test for anybody. But if you look at the likes of Preston, and the development they have had with a lower budget…it shows teams can challenge for that top six and break into the top six.
“It is a difficult job to take forward and progress, because Neil has done a really good job.”
Rowett was also a pundit for Sky Sports on Friday night – watching his old club Birmingham City win 2-1 against Middlesbrough. He was asked directly about his interest in the vacancy and joked: “Firstly, I’m not going to fight Roy Keane and Kevin Muscat for the job, that’s for sure!
“When a job comes up, that’s got a very strong fanbase and a really good tradition about the club, loads of people are going to be interested.
“I’m good friends with Neil, so I don’t want to be disrespectful. You’ve asked me this eight times already this season [about available jobs], so I’m going to look a little bit desperate if I keep saying yes!
“I was very surprised when I read the statement. I felt it was a really honest and brave decision from Neil, there isn’t many managers that would walk away from that position. He probably feels like he’s walked at the right time for him and his family.”
“It’s certainly a difficult situation, one I’m sure the club probably didn’t expect because, as I said, he’s done a really good job.”