NEIL Harris says Millwall are now looking like a “proper” team after climbing into the top half of the Sky Bet League One table with victory over Port Vale this week.
Harris witnessed a display of vigour from his side as the Lions should have been well clear by half-time at Vale Park.
Millwall came under more pressure from Port Vale in the second period but had the energy to defend stoutly after Mark Beevers’ opener and then clinch the three points in injury time through Lee Gregory.
“That’s down to the boys,” Harris said. “It’s the preparation and us leaving no stone unturned to make sure we maximise every bit of recovery and preparation we can.
“The boys are confident and that started with the home win over Peterborough – that was a big step for us.
“That gave the boys the confidence to go to Crewe and realise that at times we don’t have to have the football to be the best team on the pitch.
“On Saturday and (Tuesday) we dominated the first half possession-wise because we had the energy and the movement, we wanted to get on the ball.
“We have a strict gameplan in and out of possession but they also have to have freedom to make their own decisions. They are men and they are good players.
“We’re going to get some wrong, we’re going to give the ball away at times but then that’s where it becomes important that we defend as a unit and people like Jimmy Abdou have the recovery powers to use pace and energy to get back and win us the ball back and we start again.
“At the moment we’re looking like a proper team.”
Attentions have turned to the visit of Southend to The Den on Saturday with Millwall still looking for a first league win at home after a miserable August.
Harris said he expects a big attendance at the weekend in a fixture that, along with Gillingham, qualifies as the closest Lions fans will get to a ‘derby’ this season.
Expectations have been raised after a run of three successive wins, but the Millwall manager again stressed the need for calmness against a side that dropped into the League One relegation zone last weekend.
Harris explained: “I’m asking for patience from the players. When the other team have got it for a period of time we’re not fussed because we’ll win the ball back.
“And we will give the ball away because we’ve got some players who are exciting. But we will create chances and I think that’s what we have seen in the last three fixtures.
“The other team can have the ball but we will win it back and create chances and score goals.
Meanwhile, asked after Tuesday night’s game at Vale Park if he was enjoying the experience of being manager, the 38-year-old said: “Yes, I enjoy every day with these players, every moment I spend with them because of the banter, the spirit – they’re a proper group of players.
“I share their frustration as a manager, and as a fan to a certain degree over the years. I’m frustrated when we don’t win and we don’t do it right, but they’re never going to let me down on effort.
“They haven’t let me down this season or last season on effort. It’s never going to be that from this group of players. We’ll lose games of football, but we’ll also win games and we’ll be exciting.”