IAN Holloway was encouraged by Millwall's display against Huddersfield Town despite suffering defeat in his first game in charge.
Record Terriers signing Nahki Wells struck a dramatic late winner on his debut to settle a tight encounter at the John Smith's Stadium.
But Holloway felt his new charges were worthy of a point and was largely pleased with their performance.
"I feel for the lads," he said. "I do not think they deserved that. We have come a long, long way in a short time after losing to Southend last weekend – and against a good side.
"Huddersfield's structure and shape is very awkward and very different, but I thought we coped with them well.
"That's only the second game I've seen these lads play – I watched the DVD of the Southend game and that's been it. I asked for certain things and all I can say is that I saw them, so I feel for the players. I'm proud of the group and how well they worked and fought."
Wells' winner came after Jack Smith flicked on Adam Clayton's pass towards his own goal.
"We didn't close them down at the right time," Holloway said. "We let someone play the ball forward in the last minute of the game, behind our defence, and if we're going to do that, then not every area of my time is functioning correctly.
"I don't blame the fella [Smith] who had to back peddle, I blame the people who didn't quite get there and I've got to teach them how to get there.
"It was a square ball to Clayton and he was given time to look up [and pick his pass]. He had far too long – you try to get there within four seconds. You don't, at that time of the game, allow your back four to come under that kind of pressure.
"There's not a lot of confidence but I saw all sorts of promising things. Unfortunately we got zero points but on that performance we deserved at least a draw.
"To be honest I was delighted with the effort and organisation."
Holloway reiterated that he is relishing the challenge of turning the Lions' fortunes around.
"I've got so much to do – it's fantastic," he added. "I've got to get my staff sorted, look at a training game we have planned for Tuesday and make quick decisions to bring people in to help if I can. First off I've got to see the rest of the squad play during the week.
"I'll introduce my regime of training, what time the players come into training every day and I'll up our tempo – people won't look so tired. We've got a home game next and I really can't wait for it. I'm full of pride and passion and so is this wonderful club.
"I've got to stop the rot and get some points but we ran Huddersfield very close – and they've been thumping people lately."