NEIL Harris is planning for a long-term Millwall team after relegation to League One.
Harris, along with chairman John Berylson, has admitted the Lions have been too short-sighted when planning for a new season.
And with 18 players being released at the end of their contracts, planning for the long haul can commence with the Lions' youngsters at the heart of Harris's plans going forward.
“For too long we’ve been worrying about tomorrow without looking far enough ahead,” Harris said. “We’re spending a lot of money on the academy and on the future players of the club, and they have to be the focus of what we put into place.
“If it’s not an immediate success with results on the pitch next season, that’s because these boys need more experience. We’ve seen with Sid Nelson and Aiden O’Brien that they’re not the finished article. They need time to develop.”
The Grange Hotel in Watford was the venue for Millwall's end of season meeting on Wednesday, and Harris revealed it was a learning curve to be privy to boardroom decisions.
“It was eye-opening,” Harris said. “To see for myself the difficult decisions that have to be taken at boardroom level.
“I don’t think any of us can really imagine what goes on behind-closed-doors and the decisions the board have to make on behalf of the club, especially after relegation.
“But it really was a fantastic couple of days. We’ve got a chairman and a board who are fully committed to supporting the club, and it was a time for us to get together and plan for the next few months and the next few years as well.
“I’m certainly not taking it as a given that I’ll be sitting here in two years as manager – although I certainly hope to be – but for the long-term future of the club, the board are desperate to plan for the future. They don’t want an overnight fix.”
Harris says his optimism for the future is shared by the decision-makers at The Den.
“All of the directors – those who have supported the club for years and those who’ve come on board during John Berylson’s reign – are really positive,” he said.
He added: “What helps them is that we’ve got a really positive fan base at the moment. But we certainly have to be careful not to get carried away because it’s not as if we won every game at the end of the season.
“We had some positive performances, big results and a semi-feel-good factor because we were using our own players we have to be patient with these boys because they are young and naive. We have to be fully aware of that.”