CHAIRMAN John Berylson is adamant Millwall supporters will grow to love new manager Steve Lomas – despite his close affinity with bitter rivals West Ham.
Lomas, who spent eight years with the Hammers as a player, has been appointed as Kenny Jackett's successor on a 12-month rolling contract following a month-long search.
And Berylson is confident that Lions fans with mixed feelings about the appointment will overcome their initial scepticism – and see the ex-St Johnstone boss as one of their own.
"I'm thrilled to have Steve," he said. "I couldn't care less about the West Ham connection – I think he's the right man for the job and a Millwall type, regardless of who he played for.
"He's going to be great with the fans and he will win any doubters over. They ought to give him a chance because he wants everything they do. His passion and enthusiasm really stood out – he really, really wanted this job in particular."
A small minority of fans have threatened to stop attending games with Lomas in charge. But Berylson said: "Go right ahead. That's stupid. That doesn't say much about being a fan.
"Where he played is irrelevant. It is irrelevant. What matters now is Millwall. If anything I imagine West Ham fans will think less of him for coming here – isn't that a positive?
"He's thick-skinned and he wants to succeed here."
Lomas was the board's unanimous choice to fill the vacant hotseat and Berylson says the 39-year-old demonstrated a number of qualities that distinguished him from other candidates.
"Steve communicates well and I like his attitude," Berylson said. "He comes with extremely good recommendations having worked wonders with a small budget at St Johnstone.
"I knew what I was looking for – I didn't want someone who was massively intellectual about tactics or who focused too much on diagrams. I just don't think that would have worked. I wanted a manager not a coach.
"Steve has a great feel for the game because he's played it. He is very intuitive and reacts quickly to problems on the pitch – he'll take risks to try to win games with substitutions.
"He won't hesitate to change things. I don't know Steve that well yet but I think we are going to be able to communicate very well. He'll be very influential in the dressing room and I expect he'll be very successful. I hope he's here for a long time."
The process of strengthening Millwall's squad will begin in earnest – and Berylson will afford Lomas the same financial backing as he did his predecessor Jackett.
Berylson said: "Steve has identified the people he'd like to sign for us. I like his ideas.
"I don't believe the board got enough credit for the way we backed Kenny in terms of the payroll. The fact is, he had a bigger wage budget in the second half of last season than he'd ever had before.
"That will all be available to Steve. I know what we need – more goals – but that is for him to fix. He's got to get that done. I think if we have the right combination of staff around him it's going to be very exciting.
"Steve is going to bring in some players and we will enable him to do that. I expect a much better team this season."