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Five things we learned from Millwall 0-1 Rotherham United

© Keith Gillard
© Keith Gillard

#1: Lions need a like-for-like replacement for Fuller

Ian Holloway has been after another targetman all summer, dedicating most of his efforts to Leeds United's Matt Smith, and his reasons for doing so became clear on Saturday.

Without Ricardo Fuller, the Lions would be four points worse off – he created Millwall's goals against Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday – but yesterday wasn't his day.

As can happen to any frontman, Fuller was kept under wraps by Rotherham's centre-back pairing of Craig Morgan and Kári Arnason, winning only 45% of his headers.

The Jamaican did get on the end of a couple of dangerous crosses into the box – Lee Martin's floated delivery to the back post being the pick of them – but he couldn't capitalise.

When the 35-year-old did win a header, there weren't enough bodies around him to feed off the scraps. He was very isolated and in many ways was doing a thankless task.

Fuller has already proven his worth by making key contributions to Millwall's promising start to the season but Holloway needs a like-for-like replacement up his sleeve.

Millers frontman Alex Revell kept the Lions' back four occupied all afternoon and Holloway – as he has been for several months – will be in the market for a similar type of player.

#2: Expectation is still a killer for Millwall

The Lions were overwhelming favourites to beat Rotherham but regular visitors to The Den will have taken their seats before yesterday's game braced for the worst.

In recent seasons, Millwall have struggled to win at home when they are expected to. It seems as though a sense of anticipation brings a different type of pressure.

The 'surprise' defeat to the Millers was actually quite predictable, based on recent history. Yeovil Town on the opening day of the 2013-14 campaign instantly comes to mind.

Holloway spoke before the game about Rotherham's "dangerous" attacking players and the misfortune of their midweek loss to Watford, so he knew this was going to be a tough test.

It cannot be said that the Lions did not give it their all on Saturday, but they still seem to lack the nous and creativity to break down a side that puts ten men behind the ball.

Tactically, Millwall are better suited to playing away from home on the counter attack.

So when the likes of Rotherham set up first and foremost to defend, the Lions struggle to break them down and get frustrated. They managed just one shot on target.

The visit of Blackpool to SE16 next weekend will pose similar problems.

#3: Bailey and Upson can't return soon enough

Millwall are light on creative options in midfield so Nicky Bailey and Ed Upson can't return to full fitness soon enough.

Scott McDonald is still adapting to playing as a no.10 and he looked fatigued against Rotherham, having played every minute of every game for the Lions so far this season.

Holloway would like to rotate his squad to cope with a heavy fixture load and admitted after the game that he probably should have made more changes to his starting XI.

But in truth his hands were tied by injuries: in the most physically-demanding area of the team, the Lions boss has been unable to select two would-be starters in Bailey and Upson.

Richard Chaplow has also been sidelined, though he is back in training now.

Even Jimmy Abdou, who never seems to run out of energy, couldn't start against the Millers because it was deemed he needed a rest after a draining start to the season.

Bailey and Upson are unlikely to be available again until after the two-week international break in September, but having them back will make such a big difference.

#4: Evans' winger switch wins tactical battle

The key moment of yesterday's game was Steve Evans' decision to switch his two wingers – Ben Pringle and Paul Taylor – at half time.

Taylor and Pringle swapped flanks at the interval and the change paid off instantly, with the former crossing for the latter to score the game's only goal within three minutes.

Having been quiet in the opening 45 minutes, Taylor came to life in the second period, drilling a dangerous shot into the side netting 90 seconds before creating the goal.

Scott Malone and Carlos Edwards looked comfortable early on, with Malone marshalling Taylor and Edwards containing Pringle, but they seemed unsettled after the switch.

Pringle, Evans revealed, was under instruction to drift inside when possible – and after bagging the opener, he forced David Forde into a full-stretch save from a central position.

And Rotherham's widemen did a good job of pressing high up the field, preventing the Lions full-backs from bombing forward on the overlap.

It was a simple but effective change and was a pivotal factor in the final result.

#5: Lions could do without Southampton tie

The last thing the Lions need right now is a 90-minute workout against a Premier League team who pride themselves on keeping the ball – and are very good at it.

Holloway, who blasted his side's hectic fixture schedule before the start of the season, said several of his players looked "tired" against Rotherham.

So he could do without Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie against Southampton.

Admittedly the Millwall boss will make changes for the game – he has hinted that youngster Jack Powell could start in midfield – but surely he would prefer a free week.

Regardless of the result against the Saints, progress in the Championship is the top priority this season and seven points from four games should be regarded as a good start.

The Lions can ram home their advantage with a win over struggling Blackpool next weekend but the Southampton game will put further strain on a fatigued group of players.

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

55 thoughts on “Five things we learned from Millwall 0-1 Rotherham United

  • August 24, 2014 at 13:13
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    Who gives a f*** about five things we learned about from losing at home to a small shitty team like Rotherham!!!!!

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  • August 24, 2014 at 13:36
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    onwards and upwards

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  • August 24, 2014 at 13:51
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    Somebody got it right yesterday say the 5 things we learned were :
    1) We need another Striker.
    2) We need a goalscorer.
    3) We need a striker that can score regularly.
    4) We need a 15-20 goals a season striker.
    5) We need a Striker.

    Without one I can only see another struggle.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 20:36
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      @Longfield Lion: that was me long field, but you said it better than me mate

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          • August 26, 2014 at 10:13
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            @Geoff the lion: Longfield said ''Somebody got it right yesterday saying the 5 things we learned . . .'' It was Rhinos_Nan who posted at 5.23pm on Saturday. Sorry, so pedantic I know but credit where credit is due.

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          • August 26, 2014 at 11:16
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            @Geoff the lion: you are right mate, he did say that on a different post! Didn't see it or I wouldn't have said it. Can only put it down to great minds think alike

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          • August 26, 2014 at 11:57
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            @Geoff the lion: Totally agree Geoff. Certainly great Millwall minds anyway! Don't think anything of it, as I said earlier it's just me being oh, so pedantic.
            By the way. The site wouldn't let me reply to your last post, so I've had to go back to your previous post . . . if that makes sense?
            Good luck to the boys tonight.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 13:51
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    #6 Josh Wight is not, has never been and never will be good enough to play in the Championship.

    #7 Ricardo Fuller IS too old. We all said so when he was signed and he looked knackered in the pre-match warm-up. Thanks for the 2 assists but should be an impact sub.

    #8 We lacked movement in the final third so resorted to high balls to Fuller. We had someone who Holloway said makes "fantastic runs" sitting on the bench for 85 minutes.

    #9 Molly Malone is a very improved player but has been less effective this season and his loss of concentration yet again left Pringle unmarked at the far post for their goal. Give Briggs a chance.

    #10 We are not yet the real deal. A finish above the bottom 6 will be success this season.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 14:01
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      @Mr Den: Your not wrong,Gregory should have come on at half time or started. I forgot we cant spot his runs get him a high vis kit.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 13:54
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    For a team that was so fit pre season fatigued players makes me laugh. Five games in and we are done. If we are not worried about the cup game play the kids and concentrate on the league. Oh and buy a f****** striker.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 15:20
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      @LETEMCOME: rest the team for saints match, we would struggle against them even without fatigue and it will give the rest of the squad a run out. League must take priority and Blackpool is another game we would expect to win therefore will end up being a tricky match and they can't remain pointless forever.

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      • August 24, 2014 at 15:28
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        @MFC Lion: Too true bud. Just hope that pointless run doesn't end at our place.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 14:27
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    A like for like striker is the last thing we need right now!! We need one that can smash a ball in the net regularly. We've got Easter fuller and mcmidget.. Not a goal anywhere! The new lad Gregory only got 5 mins at the death. What's the point? Should have come on at half time for McDonald who yet again didn't once look like scoring. Also Martin caused them probs in the first half gets taken off? Baffled

    Fitness and fatigue shouldn't even be mentioned this early in the season. If they can't manage 4 games on the trot there in the wrong game. Rotherham didn't seem knackerd.

    Changing the team too much stinks of last season when we were all over the place. At least start with a winning team and if there tired (which they shouldn't be) then have a change.

    Other than that I thought we looked ok at the back, Edwards and Martin stood out for me. Also what news of young Fred? If the 'seniors' are too old give young blood a run out at half time, rant over

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    • August 25, 2014 at 10:59
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      @brockleysfinest: Totally agree I thought Martin was our best player and was our most creative. Woolford has been pretty quiet, Easter I'm sorry but I just don't see the point and Malone really needs to mark up better NOLU WDC

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  • August 24, 2014 at 14:39
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    I don't understand the expectation part, it's a mindset! If they small and shitty, crush them! No matter who arrives at the den , they get the same treatment! Like a lot of you, I don't think it's a major deal , it would've been good to grab 3 pts but they just have to get stronger in the head when it comes to disposing of teams. Everyone be demanding always but stay positive .

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    • August 24, 2014 at 14:53
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      @grassgrower: Fair point but with me its not expectation I just want us to win and get excited when we are on a run but its not all doom and gloom over one loss when we had the majority of play. I still think we will prove the doubters wrong once we get that striker. UP THE WALL.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 14:56
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    I would play O'Brien instead of Mcdonald. I remember him doing well in that role in pre-season. And give Gregory 90 mins. Nothing less.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 15:06
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    Real WALL players don't get fatigued after 5 games,i remember Kevin Bremner running around on his knees away at reading once,when players were not as fit as there are now??

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  • August 24, 2014 at 15:39
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    I wonder what Rhino thought of that game yesterday? We do not need someone like Fuller up front. We need the exact opposite. Someone who can score goals. So disappointed in yesterday's performance. No point saying we're more suited away from home as that's only half of the season. Wr should start going for it at home with strikers on from the start rather than the last 5 minutes with Beavers thrown up there for good measure. Sort it out IH. Get a striker at the club.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 18:33
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      @southlondon1885: I'm not a massive fuller fan but he's being played as a lone front man that's being marked out the game. Unless the midfield gets up quicker to support him, he's on a thankless task

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  • August 24, 2014 at 17:37
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    Some other points to consider

    1) Strikers need service: doesn't matter how good a striker is he is nothing without service/support.

    2) We need to learn to play at home: we seem to be more comfortable away from home but we need to learn how to beat teams who effectively 'park the bus'

    3) Easter is a poacher: Playing Easter in the wide formation doesn't work, he is a poacher in the box type striker

    4) Patience is a virtue: We played some good football in the first half without effectively hurting Rotherham but we controlled the game. As soon as we went a goal behind we went route one and played straight into Rotherhams hands

    5) We need to be more effective in the final third: This doesn't mean the strikers are ineffective but as a unit we need to be playing the ball to the edge of the final third and then looking to thread balls behind the defence.

    Rotherham was always going to be a tricky game but lets learn from it and move on.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 18:35
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      @Vinny Shell: what a great assessment, totally agree

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    • August 25, 2014 at 11:40
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      @Vinny Shell: couldn't agree more. One thing I would like to mention is the distribution from Forde. Instead of punting to the wide areas, I noted that both centre backs dropped wide and deep. Why not roll or throw a more accurate ball to these players. Then let them pass the ball on the ground to the full backs or deeper midfielders. And do it quickly.

      I remember the difference maik Taylor made when he came into the team and did just that.

      I also do not understand why we lumped - particularly by beevers - the ball forward straight to their centre backs with fuller getting no support from the attacking midfielders. Just keep the ball and allow the team to push up together, then there will be more options in the final third.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 18:29
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    I dont agree with point 2, We were even money on the coupons to win.Hardly odds on favourites with them odds. Unless we play 2 up front at home we will struggle to win games but Holloway seems to prefer the one striker. I cant see the point of bringing another striker if he isnt going to play.Gregory has a habit of scoring give him a go playing off of Fuller.

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  • August 24, 2014 at 18:30
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    Leave aside the lack luster performance yesterday, we are struggling with the formation and tactics ollie is trying to employ. As with any team, if you play one up front he needs to be the mutts nuts, and even then he won't be the top scorer. Fuller is best playing with another striker, and as on only man up front, we should just expect assists and the midfield just aren't getting in on the attack quick enough. Yesterday's result didn't come as a surprise. Forrest half against Leeds we were excellent as they were disorganised, First half against Fulham was good but we only got through that on passion and fight. Could've easily lost that one. Sheffield was a good draw but in all three games I couldn't see where the goals would come from! I think people got carried away with our good start and yesterday was a reality check.

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    • August 24, 2014 at 18:51
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      Good post Geoff, That loss yesterday could be the wake up call we needed, I don't think we will play that poorly again this season. We also missed a Bailey or Abdou type character with some bite. Josh Wright is not the solution.

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      • August 24, 2014 at 20:42
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        @Eightieswall: right back at you mate. Whilst we are lacking overall skill and technical understanding of what ollie is trying to do, we need to make up with hard work and guts, which is what jimmy and nicky will give us. Keep the faith mate

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    • August 24, 2014 at 21:28
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      @Geoff the lion: Good post Geoff.I agree it was a reality check and we must learn from it.I have said it once and will say again - do not like the Fuller on his own upfront as it doe not work and he certainly is not the man for that particular job.

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      • August 24, 2014 at 21:35
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        @Longfield Lion: we need to have a bear mate, at least we get the bigger picture

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  • August 24, 2014 at 21:06
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    The dislikes seem better these last few days - are they now only for registered users?

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    • August 24, 2014 at 21:50
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      @SE14: that's cos the grown ups are online mate

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  • August 24, 2014 at 22:08
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    Sorry this crap about fatigue just dosent wash this there job and they should be able to produce the goods its the same for every team hiding behind this excuse is an insult to us fans that work long hours
    Please IH don't put out these statements and wall players would you like to spend a week doing my job toughen up and face the challenge

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    • August 24, 2014 at 22:34
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      @southstand: agreed south stand , I'm ex army and fatigue doesn't come into it. They are paid to be at that level of fitness and paid more than I was! 90 minutes twice a week is a f#####g doddle. Man up wall and be a fraction of what we are in the stands

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      • August 24, 2014 at 22:50
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        @Geoff the lion: Well said Geoff,its such a poor excuse. Imagine if the rest of us could pull that one we would all be on a three day week.

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        • August 24, 2014 at 23:11
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          @LETEMCOME: well said mate. One thing about millwall is our fans, legends to the last, as the slogan goes' we fear no foe we're we go, that's all we want from our team. Miiiiiiiiiiiiii

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  • August 24, 2014 at 23:42
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    Only in the world of professional football could you come out with s**** like fatigue and tiredness before the season is a month old. These people are supposed to be at the peak of their fitness. We had a bad day and most Millwall fans will accept that happens, but don't treat us like f****** idiots. We've got politicians for that.

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  • August 25, 2014 at 08:55
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    fatigue dont make me laugh, fuller should be the only one with it as pkaying up front and chasing long thankless balls whilst not having a wall player within 20 yards of him and at his age is a joke. play gregory with him ffs, or get a striker now. steve morison or the watford lad but lets at least give gregory a run. play a second 11 at sagainst southampton all the youngsters should be given a game and then IH can see if they cut at that level.whats happened to fred?

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  • August 25, 2014 at 08:59
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    Just a thought...

    Ollie told hoffmaier to do one after he rejected an offer...ok he thought he was worthy of a premiership team which was quickly extinguished..he came back to Millwall and was quickly told to do one...was this a mistake or could we have git him on an even cheaper wage ?

    I think we are missing someone of his size and I think quality in our price range....could be why I gave up my 5 season tickets this year !!

    I would have him in my team at the moment....

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  • August 25, 2014 at 09:13
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    oh and try 12 hour shifts 4 nights on the bounce and then see what fatigue is. so next year Ollie dont bother wasting all that money sending them to portugal just send them to work with some millwall lads that should be an eye opener for the players

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    • August 25, 2014 at 11:06
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      @DELBOY64: You know what DELBOY64? You are probably right in what you have just 'Posted' ( well done, mate ) .

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    • August 25, 2014 at 13:57
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      @DELBOY64: f*** me I'd like to see that! A few pretty boys lumping tools and materials around a site for 10 hours!! "Sorry I can't make it in Tuesday, I broke a nail holding some plaster board on Monday!" Wouldn't last a week

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  • August 25, 2014 at 10:02
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    We need to play two up front, at least at home and against a team like Rotherham. Gregory must get more starts, otherwise what's the point of buying him. He's the only one we have who has scored loads of goals, so lets see if he can do it at this level sooner rather than later. He looks like he has goals in him and has good movement, ffs give him a proper run alongside an experienced striker. He should play alongside Fuller, at least at home, and lets see what happens. Otherwise Berylson really needs to put his hand in his pocket to buy a proven goalscorer.

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  • August 25, 2014 at 10:14
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    ngog has been released so why not him? hes awkward and tall and played top level

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  • August 25, 2014 at 10:25
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    I think we should get used to the same players playing every week. Pre-season he was blahing on about burnley being promoted with near enought the same team, so that's what he's trying. It's obvious which players would be knackered. But low and behold he still plays them. The usual suspects weve seen so far will be the team throughout the season I think

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  • August 25, 2014 at 11:17
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    Going of on another track ,Aldo or anybody no what's happened to des ,ollie,s right hand man , ain't seen him at any games recent , used to be in dug out

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    • August 25, 2014 at 11:47
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      @Luvofmylife: I would imagine he is scouting future oppo. But it's only a guess. Bircham seems to be the assistant on match days.

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  • August 25, 2014 at 23:50
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    Six games into the season and the players are suffering from fatigue, can someone tell me why?.

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    • August 26, 2014 at 00:26
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      caravan the reason is because the managment are putting it in their mind's,it then become's an excuse for some player's.
      I remember the don revie leeds team at their height playing 3 games a week, when asked about their hectic schedual billy bremner said "we dont train hard just do tacticle work,the games are our training".

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