Millwall's O'Brien highlights manager's role after dip in form

© Edmund Boyden
© Edmund Boyden

MILLWALL ATTACKER Aiden O’Brien has praised his boss Neil Harris for the advice he received after he suffered a dip in form this season.

O’Brien scored 10 goals between September and December, but then struggled for a starting place in the side after Harris signed Jed Wallace and Chris Taylor on loan.

An injury to Lee Gregory has given him his chance to play up front recently, and though he regrets doubting himself when he was out of the team, he said his manager’s encouragement was crucial.

I was scoring a lot and thinking, ‘This is what it’s all about, winning games for your team, for your manager and your supporters’,” O’Brien said.

“I was scoring winning goals, hat-tricks. Scoring goals is what I dream about and then it kind of just faded out. And I was thinking, ‘Okay, that’s fine’, but a couple of games later I still hadn’t scored.

“So I kind of wondered what was going on. Now I think that was wrong of me because I shouldn’t have questioned my ability, I should have carried on playing with a smile on my face to get back my form.

“But the man-management from the gaffer was spot on. He kept saying, ‘Look at what you’ve done this season, class is permanent, form is temporary’. I kept that in my head and I knew he was right. I’m not going to be on form all the time, I’m going to have dips.

“As much as I can be on my game, that’s all I want to do, whether it’s working for the team, scoring goals, getting assists, defending, I just want to be part of a winning team and keep my place in it.”

O’Brien explained his father, David, is also a vital influence in shaping his career.

“My dad is a massive role model for me,” O’Brien said. “Anything I’m in doubt about on or off the pitch I turn to him and ask him his opinion, he’s always been honest with me. If I were to score two goals in a game at The Den but my ball retention, for example, was 20 per cent, he would tell me straight out that it wasn’t good enough.

“And I like that, I like criticism. I don’t think you can learn from people telling you you’ve done well every time when you haven’t. My dad is key to that.”

John Kelly