BASED on the season we have had so far, it would be very easy to succumb to negativity and believe the doom and gloom merchants – of which, at times, I have been one.
Throw in the towel, accept relegation and start planning next season’s trips to Griffin Park and Brisbane Road. Perhaps supporters of a different club in our position would already be doing those things.
But there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Most importantly, Millwall aren’t in the bottom three as of now and we haven’t been since October 18, 2011. If the season ended tomorrow we’d be safe. Portsmouth’s recent points deduction moved us up to 19th place – how many of us would bite the hand off of anyone offering us that position come April 28?
There are clearly a number of poor teams in the league this season – all we have to do is be is the best of the worst. There’s no reason to suggest why teams below us will suddenly overtake us; the recent form of the teams below us, as well as Peterborough just above, is in most cases worse or only marginally better than ours.
We’re a stronger squad than we were in December. It gives me great confidence that we have strengthened whilst teams around us in the danger zone have been weakened by the departure of key individuals. We have gained a striker of some Championship pedigree; both Doncaster and Bristol City lost their top scorers. In a scenario where goal difference could easily be the difference between positions, every goal is gold dust.
If our rivals aren’t scoring with the regularity they did before the window then that can only be good news for us. A lot will depend on the speed at which Andy Keogh and Darius Henderson can form a partnership, although the fact both have scored in our last two league games bodes well.
We’ve survived the biggest threat to the club as a whole this season in the form of the two fixtures against West Ham. Despite the ludicrously low ticket allocation, diabolical officiating and attempts of every news outlet to over-hype the rivalry, both games passed off without a mention of crowd trouble and the costly legal bills that brings.
I’m sure the only league we’ll top this year is the FA Bottle Chucking Table, but I doubt we will be splashed across the back pages (no pun intended) for an errant bottle of warm Carlsberg. If John Berlyson is to get his wish (or is it demand?) of higher gates then we can’t afford to be in the press for the wrong reasons.
We’re in this together. There is undoubted unity at the club. From the ball boys to the fans to the players and the manager, everyone’s clear aim is staying in the Championship. The majority of the supporters in attendance at home games are vocally behind the manager and players, responding positively to even the smallest sign of effort and quality in an attempt to spur the team on. The Den faithful have not turned at the first sign of danger. The few serious outpourings of disapproval have not been a result of isolated, individual errors, but prolonged periods of inadequacy (e.g. the first half against Middlesbrough and all 90 minutes of Dagenham away).
We’re never better than when people have written us off. The most unsettling thing about our stay in League One was the expectation to win every game and the troubles that pressure brought. Millwall are an underdog team – we don’t suit the favourites tag and never will. We left it too late against Boro, but the performance of the team and backing from the fans in the second half proved that nobody is giving up.
The sight of Jimmy Abdou returning from injury was a welcome one and his presence improved the performances of those around him – especially young Harry Kane, who put in a couple of challenges in that second period that get you knighted in SE16. It’s not a fight we wanted to be in and getting out of it won’t be pretty, but we have the players for a scrap, we have the manager for a scrap and we certainly have fans that won’t back down from one.
And anyway, when have Millwall ever done anything the easy way?