Millwall are one of the shocks of the seasons so far; Kenny Jackett’s unfashionable team travel to Wolves tonight sitting 6th in the Championship and top of the form table, but the question is can they sustain their current form?
Millwall were as usual one of the pre-season favourites for the drop despite finishing a very respectable 16th in the Championship last season. The club looked to be set for another season in the bottom half of the table when they lost five of their first seven league games.
However Millwall are unbeaten since their home loss against Brighton and Hove Albion on September 22 and they’ve won five of their last six games. Millwall’s current 11-match unbeaten run is the longest they’ve gone without defeat since gaining promotion in 2010.
The Lions’s turnaround is largely down to shrewd business by Jackett in the loan market.
First Mark Beevers was borrowed from Sheffield Wednesday. The 22-year-old was frustrated with life on the bench at Hillsborough so he went on loan to the Lions and has formed a watertight central-defensive partnership with veteran vice-captain, Danny Shittu.
Prior to Beevers’s arrival the Lions had failed to keep a clean sheet in the league but Millwall have now only conceded two goals in their last six games. Beevers has added composure and confidence to the Millwall back 4 and he compliments Shittu brilliantly.
On November 1 Adam Smith was loaned to Millwall from Spurs in order for him to get more first team experience. Smith has shown himself to be a very capable right-back; defensively solid and an effective attacker.
Arguably the key addition was New Zealand international Chris Wood, who has scored seven goals in his last seven games. The on-loan Wes Brom striker has added potency to a Millwall’s functionality, with his height causing defences a lot of problems.
Kenny Jackett has shown foresight and planning in choosing young players who are hungry and eager to impress. But with all three scheduled to return to their parent clubs in the new year can Millwall sustain their promotion push beyond January?
Where can Millwall finish this season?
It will of course depend on whether they are able to keep hold of any of them, and if they are unable to keep hold of them, will they be able to replace them?
Millwall haven’t got the resources to compete financially with the league’s big spenders so it’s vitally important Jackett keeps making the best possible use of the loan market. This means selective borrowing and choosing players that will add an extra dimension to the team.
Millwall have a functional team, full of hard-working, determined players. In Kenny Jackett they have a calm, composed and competent manager, who understands the league and knows how to get the best out of his squad.
Millwall’s football isn’t pretty but it’s certainly effective and no team will look forward to travelling to the Den this season (although when has a team ever looked forward to playing at the Den?).
Over the course of a season it’ll be difficult for Millwall to maintain their promotion push.
The squad is still very small and with Wood, Beevers and Smith all leaving the Den for the second half of the season, will Millwall get the clean sheets or goals to keep up the push for a top 6 place.
What Millwall need to do now is take advantage of their current run of form to make the club more appealing for prospective signings. Millwall has always been a very unfashionable club for many reasons, but if they enter January riding high in the league perhaps they’ll be able to attract a higher calibre of player.
Where Millwall will finish this season depends a great deal on the business the club conducts in January. And who knows, with the right signings, Millwall may be able to compete for one of those prized play-off spots?