Five things we learned: Millwall 1-5 Middlesbrough

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

#1: Millwall must be proactive and decisive in January

The Lions have less than a month until the transfer window opens and plans have to be put in place now for what will be a crucial stage of the season.

Ian Holloway says he has too many players to select from and, within his bloated squad, 24 are coming to the end of their contracts.

If Millwall's current run of form continues and the second half of the campaign descends into a relegation dogfight, these players need to know where they stand.



It would be a huge risk to allow uncertainty to brew at a time when everyone needs to be in the same boat.

So that could mean moving players on in the New Year – not just making them available for transfer, but by proactively touting them around.

Holloway knows that he needs a smaller group to work with so trimming back the wage bill has to be a priority.



But in a market where clubs are looking to save money and reduce their squad sizes, selling players is becoming increasingly difficult.

That's why a lot of effort, focus and pre-planning has to go into this. Otherwise nothing will happen.

Holloway was able to move on Andy Keogh, Liam Trotter and Liam Feeney last January and he’ll need to make some equally important decisions next month.

#2: Missed opportunities in transfer market prove costly

Ricardo Fuller has never been a targetman – he's big and strong but wants the ball to feet. So that's why some weeks he looks suited to the battering-ram role and others he doesn’t.

In the second half against Bournemouth, Fuller caused mayhem with his physicality but Middlesbrough's centre backs marked him out of the game yesterday.

It's unfair to rely on Fuller to win every header because that's not his strength. His effort is unquestionable and he'll put himself about but nothing came off for him on Saturday.

And that only served to underline Millwall's failure to add another big striker to their squad both in the summer and before the loan deadline.

The Lions missed out on Matt Smith in August and he was still their number one target come the end of November.

As with getting players out, this is something Millwall must get right in January.

Holloway has discussed the possibility of looking overseas for new signings and a different approach is certainly needed.

#3: Lions falling between two stalls

Without an out-and-out target man – someone who can dominate opposition defenders in the air – Millwall will struggle to play direct, back-to-front football.

If they can't hold the ball up, it will come straight back at them.

But patient passing hasn't proved fruitful either – so the Lions are neither here nor there at the moment.

The Middlesbrough performance was powderpuff. There was no purpose or intent to Millwall’s play and too many balls were pumped forward aimlessly.

The Lions are lacking an identity at the moment. They need to settle on an approach, stick to it and recruit players appropriately.

A lack of wingers means Holloway is reluctant to play 4-4-2 but, as discussed above, Millwall don't have that lone focal point up front either.

The Lions are falling painfully between two stalls.

#4: Time to bring back Abdou?

Jimmy Abdou played a key role in Millwall's encouraging start to the season but has not featured since October.

The Lions were over-run in midfield yesterday and were crying out for someone with Abdou's legs to break up play and track runners.

Abdou's distribution and ball retention will never be the best but over 200 Lions appearances shows that he has the qualities to succeed at this club.

Last week he was dropped to the U21s but Holloway admitted after this mauling that he needs "players who know how to play for Millwall".

In a three-man midfield, there is definitely a space for someone with Abdou's attributes and he should be considered for a starting berth at Brighton.

#5: Gueye has done enough to earn a start

Magaye Gueye came on at half time and his performance was one of few positives to take from an otherwise bleak day.

Gueye, fresh from scoring the Lions' equaliser at Bournemouth, was sharp, quick, strong and confident. He had a swagger about him.

Were it not for a last-ditch block by a Boro defender, Gueye would have scored his second goal in as many appearances.

Holloway had been concerned about the Frenchman's fitness but says his efforts in training are improving all the time.

And with Gueye only under contract until the summer, the Lions are running out of time to get the best out of a player who clearly has talent.

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

42 thoughts on “Five things we learned: Millwall 1-5 Middlesbrough

  • December 7, 2014 at 14:24
    Permalink

    Brighton are vunerable at the min, would be great to see Gregory and Gueye up top together.. pace and power. Mcdonald just behind to interlink. Let these 3 do the work up top and keep it dour and working in midfield. Abdou williams and martinez if fit. If not even put briggs in midfield to add a bit of defensive cover. Rely on our lads up top and keep it tight in midfield and defence as if we let brighton have to many attacks we will lose.

    Like (34)
    Dislike (0)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 14:30
    Permalink

    I think Gregory and Gueye up front would be a tasty combo and obviously slot Abdou back in the squad.

    Like (44)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 14:31
    Permalink

    1 = were s***
    2= defence s***
    3=need a forward to play alongside Gregory
    4= 2 wingers required to feed above
    5= new manager

    Like (16)
    Dislike (35)
    Reply
    • December 8, 2014 at 07:38
      Permalink

      @dpendet: A lot of fans on here are seeing something in Gregory that I am not. Andre Gray showed us what you can get from the Conference if we had been prepared to pay a bit more money (which we could have done if we had had the much needed clear out of all the dead wood). Gregory looks light weight to me and out of his depth.

      Like (4)
      Dislike (14)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 14:56
    Permalink

    1. Get the formation right and stick to it. For me, that's 4-4-2 in this division.
    2. Drop Alan Dunne. He is barely good enough for the right back berth, especially with Wilkinson available, but is a complete liability as a centre half (apart from the occasional exceptional game).
    3. Play Shittu and Beevers as centre halves. Webster is a good player but is clearly struggling to play with Dunne and in a 3-5-2 formation he looks clueless and lacking confidence. Shittu is a leader on the pitch (More so than Dunne) and Beevers is the best of the rest. We do need to get another experienced centre half in at Christmas though - just on loan to shore things up till the end of the season. Someone in the Wilkinson mould will do fine.
    4. Play Gueye from the start. It's the only way he will get match fit anyway, up front with another player who can read his game. Gregory, or maybe Easter.
    5. Buy or loan a proven goalscorer in the January window. Age not important, but it has to be someone who scores near a goal every two games.

    Like (31)
    Dislike (4)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 15:04
      Permalink

      @junkmale: number 5 is not going to happen unless we break the bank, as clubs will not release a player who scores a goal every 2 games!
      Steve Morison would work well with Gregory, or Chris Wood.

      Like (16)
      Dislike (2)
      Reply
      • December 8, 2014 at 08:14
        Permalink

        @dpendet: Shittu only seems a good solution because of the lack of options in our squad. Our best centre backs are Webster/Beevers and Williams, Dunne and Shittu are no longer Championship standard in that position.

        Like (2)
        Dislike (7)
        Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 14:59
    Permalink

    Aldo, you've missed out the main thing most of us are worrying about after yesterday - the manager.

    If he's still here in January should the club really trust his judgement on new players? On previous evidence I don't think so. Personally, I think the club will persevere with Holloway for the time being because they don't want to lose faith over admitting another poor managerial appointment. But I don’t know any other Millwall fans who still think Holloway is the man for the job.

    Like (17)
    Dislike (32)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 15:12
    Permalink

    There's are LOADS mate

    Like (23)
    Dislike (6)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 15:43
      Permalink

      @bordersarebest0170: Well, good luck to them, but they'll be watching Holloway's brand of 'total football' in Division One next season.

      Like (14)
      Dislike (4)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:01
    Permalink

    I can't remember when Gueye was purchased but it was some time in the summer.

    I seriously cannot believe that he is not fit enough after 3, 4 or 5 months.

    If that is the case, then sack all of the coaching staff because getting players fit especially when they have not had a horrendous injury, must be the first thing on the agenda.

    Honestly the rubbish that is spouted by our club is beyond comprehension.

    Like (39)
    Dislike (0)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:01
    Permalink

    Not in favour of getting rid of Holloway as we have all seen in the past what instability can do to the club.
    Just a thought, should we be trying to change Holloway to the 'Millwall' way, rather than the other way round?
    He has been successful in the past with his team playing this type of football, and I thought that Blackpool were one of the more attractive teams in our division prior to their promotion. However our current team doesn't have an Ince or Fletcher.
    He certainly needs bite in midfield, sadly lacking yesterday, so bring back Abdou. I also wish we had a younger version of Shittu, and Beevers is without doubt our most skilful centre back. He also has failed to find a replacement for Morison, whose style suited Millwall perfectly.
    I do wish that Holloway would stop changing the team week in, week out. It must be unsettling for the players.
    We do need additions in January as it is my opinion that a significant number of the current squad are not of Championship standard.

    Like (24)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:03
    Permalink

    Jimmy Abdou must be installed back in the team as top priority !

    Like (17)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
    • December 8, 2014 at 08:23
      Permalink

      @Lion: olly doesnt get jimmy unlike people who have watched him over the last few years

      Like (2)
      Dislike (1)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:08
    Permalink

    I'm with you thinking Ollies appointment was good. He kept us up last year and hope he can do the same this term. But he does not instil in me any optimism about the future. Come the end of the season 15 key players' contracts will be up for negotiation. The players and managements' decision will be made for them if we end up in Div 1 which I strongly suspect we will. The players are good enough, I think but they obvioudly aren't gelling as a team, sometines you need a new broom to galvanise the players you have access to. Ian , I'm sure has done his best bht I think its time to re-think his strategy or his future as our manager. The players attitude stinks and they seem to be accepting defeat even before the match starts. I'm very worried for the future of my football club.

    Like (5)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:21
    Permalink

    IH looked a decent appointment but so far he does not his best team,his tactics are strange and he talks rubbish half the time and unless we get rid of a load of players in the next window, we wont get new ones in. We all know we dont have money to spend so whats the answer. I cant see how things are going to improve. If we get beat by brighton and beaten badly then IH isnt the man for the job, he has to start taking the blame at some point.

    Like (16)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 16:51
      Permalink

      @LETEMCOME:
      he needs to stop talking to press and everyone other than the team, I don't want to hear about how great the oppo are, what theatre he went to, how unfit a player is, I don't want a peep out of him until we are out the poo. I don't care what formation or what player he uses i just want to see the same team and formation 5 games in a row

      Like (23)
      Dislike (1)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 16:42
    Permalink

    Bring robbo back in January ,
    Play 4-4-2 at home
    4-5-1 away
    Stick to it

    Like (10)
    Dislike (11)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 17:57
      Permalink

      @Luvofmylife: Robbo back ?
      You must be joking.Did you see him the other day for Pompey,he was all the over place.He will not play for Millwall again.

      Like (10)
      Dislike (1)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 17:32
    Permalink

    Five things we learnt?

    1.Holloway is clueless
    2 One win in fifteen is relegation form
    3 Holloway still does not know what his best team is
    4. He talks too much
    5. He should go asap

    Like (10)
    Dislike (10)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 17:55
    Permalink

    5 things we learned from Boro.

    THE SAME 5 THINGS WE FIND OUT AFTRR EVERY GAME BUT STILL FAIL TO LEARN FROM.

    Sort it out IH.

    Like (14)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 18:00
    Permalink

    Make Abdou csptain

    Like (5)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 18:05
    Permalink

    why does he keep going on about squad size pick your best 22 those out of contract in the summer offer them new deals stick with that 22 settled side and either loan out or pay up the others contracts and use the u21s t fill in when needed .

    Like (3)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 18:23
    Permalink

    5 things we also learned from saturdays debacle
    1:the defence is s****
    2: the midfield are s****
    3: the wingers are s****
    4: the attackers are s****
    5: the management are s****

    that'll leave Fordey then. Perhaps we can build a team around him before he retires or f?"ks off. Rant over!

    Like (7)
    Dislike (4)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 19:54
      Permalink

      @wallchef:

      not that forde is any good!!!!!!!

      Ollie fits the players with some kind of tracking device in training , doesn't he , that assesses work rate and fitness - that is why he is always talking about what the data tells him - I don't believe Pele or Zidane or Maradonna had a tracking device

      I don't think there is ant doubt that he over complicates things

      Like (4)
      Dislike (1)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 20:44
    Permalink

    Brighton are worse than use but I guarantee they will put 2/3 goals past us because any team in a worse position than us finish up turning us over and after yesterday's result we are there for the taking it was a total disgrace to those who pulled on a Millwall shirt
    Hope they can look there self in the mirror or is all about the bank balance because it's certainly not about what Millwall stands for

    Like (3)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 21:06
    Permalink

    What a weekend firstly on the p*** all day 2. We get slaughtered. 3. Two bloggers hav a right go. 4 boro scum on our site. 5 Ollie saying sorry AGAIN. What other site has all this.

    Like (4)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 21:21
    Permalink

    1. We're s***
    2. We're s***
    3. We're s***
    4. We're s***
    5. We're s***

    Like (2)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 21:27
    Permalink

    I agree Tim, IH over complicates things, I though we were heading for a settled side with Gregory,Woolford, Martin & Macdonald as the diamond, Upson & Williams, it did not matter which back four he picked they either kept a clean sheet or let lots of goals in so the change to 3-5-2 was a worry as other managers have said it takes a long time for players to come to terms with it, the Fulham manager said after their 0-5 result on Friday night that " we are only looking at it as 3 points dropped" perhaps we should look at it that way because Middlesborough will probably win the league so Imo we should revert back to the diamond and bring in Abdou with Williams as the holding midfield for the Brighton game, win that game and get to January and sign Eoin Doyle

    Like (1)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 21:38
    Permalink

    Said it here before, the lunatic likes to mess around too much with players and keeps too many players on the books. He did the same at other clubs and left them in trouble. Nice bloke, but please f**k him off now! We are worse off than this time last year and still leaking goals. Ollie didn't save us at the end of last season, our players played a solid team, pretty much unchanged for the last few games and we relied on the misfortune of other teams to help us out. He hasn't set the team on fire this season and for a "pedigree" manager, hasn't exactly impressed with his unfit and for the most part, aging signings. Don't agree with keeping the faith in this media whore. He would walk away from us just as easily as he has done to so many other teams.

    Like (7)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
    • December 7, 2014 at 23:47
      Permalink

      @DavyLion: agreed.Ollie didn't save us last season..he fannied about from Christmas onwards,bizarre non-tactics and triple substitutions,Morison on the wing etc ,and it went right down to the wire.I thought he was gonna pick it up this season and now he's saying next season.So far we've beaten the limpest Leeds team of all time,Fulham ,led by the delusional Magath .Blackpool who like the other 2,were in complete disarray(and they nearly turned us over when the rapist came on) and one good win against Cardiff,

      Like (2)
      Dislike (1)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 21:47
    Permalink

    Eoin Doyle is a great shout but will we pay the money for him? I think not and anyone who scores 19 in 22 games has to be worth more than we can afford. But would Love to see him in the shirt up top with Gregory(who needs more goals) and gueye at top of the diamond I agree with the 3-5-2 may aswell try something different and go sh*t or bust for a few games. Couldn't possibly get any worse loosing 5-1 at home ok borough a good side but we made it easy. IH must change something soon and stick to a regular 11. Fancy us to beat Brighton on Friday 2-0 to the wall!

    Like (0)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 22:38
    Permalink

    I am sorry Alex but for all of this season and a good part of last season I have read 'Five Things We have Learned' but it would seem that the team, manager and players alike, have learned nothing, It may be that there are too many players, not normally a problem except if the players are not good enough. Otherwise there is a managerial issue and if there is, historically it is the the manager that will ultimately carry the can.

    I will pass over yesterday's debacle but against Bournemouth we could have easily been four down at half time, our manager agreed, but for some reason they failed to come out for the second half. That allied to our change in formation gave us half a chance, which we grabbed, rather fortunately given they were two on one against Forde, so much rejoicing on the train back to Waterloo. This only encouraged the manager to play a similar formation against Middlesbrough, with dire consequences.

    Other posters to this site have recognised, rightly, that we are a lower half of the division Championship side and it is obvious that we can't keep doing a Harry Houdini act every end of season. My conclusion is that despite the size of the squad, we are very likely to be relegated in May. The most alarming fact is that after twenty games our top scorer has three goals, of which two were scored in one game, I think.

    Like (1)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
    • December 8, 2014 at 09:42
      Permalink

      @sierraleone: That is probably why there is no contract negotiations going on at the moment as we are unsure what division we will be in next season and who we can afford to keep. Personally I have little doubt where we will be.

      Like (2)
      Dislike (0)
      Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 23:00
    Permalink

    The responsibility for the results is with the manager, constant rotation of the team does not work he seems to be the only one at the Den who can not see that. There was no ball winner in the middle of the park to brake down Middlesborough playmakers Jimmy is a must for Brighton. Stop this nonsense of team rotation pick your best team and stick with it.
    I understand he is meant to be a good tactician, the problem is his tatics play well in his head but not on the field. Against Middlesborough he changed the formation 3 times , totally confusing his own players. In this division and with the standard of players we have, 4-4-2 or4-3-3 go with one or other and stick with it . I was embarrassed to see a sheet of paper being passed around by player telling them what to do last Saturday, what are the doing all week at the training ground?

    Like (4)
    Dislike (0)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 23:31
    Permalink

    I find it impossible to understand why IH persist's with fuller he cant run ,he cant win header's,he cant win a foul even when he is being fouled,move's break down when he is involved,Dunne is another who should not be in the team,come on Ollie start to make the correct decision's please.

    Like (4)
    Dislike (2)
    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 23:40
    Permalink

    I have no faith in the coaching staff or the scouting staff. A club with our finances and gates needs a good scouting network to find the unpolished diamonds. Then a decent coaching set up to bring them on, and the youngsters through to the next level. I would have no trouble having Holloway as the manager, dealing with the press and managing the football club, looking in on all aspects of training from the kids to the first team. Then i would like to see a head coach, not Bircham, in charge of the coaching staff. Dave Kemp or Steve Thompson (I think he was with Holloway at Blackpool). Whoever it would be would have to have the gonads to stand up to Holloway and tell him when he was talking rubbish. Good coaches can get the best out of mediocre players. The best example of this in my time was the Clough/Taylor partnership. Taylor the coach, Clough the scary headmaster motivator. I believe a good scouting and coaching network would cost far less than the journeyman wage thief's, and would also help the clubs finances with sell on's.

    Like (6)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 8, 2014 at 07:33
    Permalink

    Never mind what Aldo or the rest of us learn from these games. Does Holloway ever learn anything from them? It appears not!

    Like (4)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 8, 2014 at 08:48
    Permalink

    Lomas must be laughing he's head off.

    Like (2)
    Dislike (1)
    Reply
  • December 8, 2014 at 09:47
    Permalink

    Not sure the time is right to change the manager. Last time we had a sequence of manager changes (after Wise) we took years to recover. The players were poor on Saturday and the responsibility lies fair and square on Holloway for his tinkering and inconsistent tactics. However, if he can learn the lessons he will still be a good manager for us long term. When we avoided relegation last season we did so by having a consistent team playing a consistent formation. Holloway needs to go back to that and we can avoid the drop. Saturday was a nightmare but there is a long way to go and our squad is good enough to stay up IF they are managed effectively. An experienced centre back and a striker in the transfer window would help too.

    Like (2)
    Dislike (0)
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *