Honesty the best policy, says Millwall boss

NEIL Harris will continue to have stern words with his squad if he thinks it’s needed – because he believes players respect an honest approach.

The Millwall boss was unimpressed with the performance in the 5-1 defeat at Peterborough last Tuesday night, and publicly berated his players afterwards.

But the Lions bounced back at the weekend with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sheffield United after Steve Morison had scored an 89th-minute winner from the penalty spot.

Asked if there was a concern some players could have reacted negatively to his criticism last week, Harris said: “I think that’s where respect comes in, and trust. That the players respect me and trust me and that if I criticise them to their face, and to you guys (the media), there’s no intent of a grudge – it’s just honesty.

“And to be honest some players like honesty. Some don’t, some do and the ones that do are the ones that’ll take it on the chin and bounce back.

“I think you saw a squad and a team that bounced back with the right attitude. I can be scathing after a game and critical but if I’m honest with them and help them in the days following then they’ll learn.”

Harris admitted he lost his temper with the side after the game at ABAX Stadium, but he was confident he would get the right collective response against Sheffield United.

“The group were down Tuesday night after the game because we’d played really badly,” Harris said. “Forget the outside influences of everyone connected to the club, they let themselves down.

“They were disappointed in each other. But I promised a reaction, I promised the players that we’d win the game on Saturday against Sheffield United because I know my players, they have the ability to bounce back and do that.

“We came in the days following Tuesday night to learn. I did lose my temper with some. But I promised them they come in to work before Saturday to improve, and we did.

“We try and have an element of fun in training, you can still work hard and learn with a smile on your face. My players’ response from Tuesday night was first class. Everything we expect as a club and I expect as a manager I got from my players leading up to and in the game.”

Shaun Williams put Millwall ahead in the 14th minute on Saturday, but Stefan Scougall equalised for the Blades seven minutes later and Millwall were on the back foot for most of the first half.

There were some boos after referee Andy Woolmer blew the half-time whistle, and Harris admitted that reaction was an eye-opener for summer recruits Shaun Hutchinson, Gregg Wylde and David Worrall.

“I was disappointed at half-time, we hadn’t particularly played well, but the reaction of some people, considering we haven’t been beaten at home since February, was poor and harsh on my players,” Harris said.

“We know we can play slightly better but we were leading through a very good goal and we’d conceded through a cross again so…I said to the new boys, ‘Welcome to Millwall!’. Hutch was in the dressing room, Gregg didn’t get on and Wozza – who I thought was outstanding in the second half, by the way – I said that’s us. TC and Moro and Jimmy said to the boys, ‘Look, come on, that’s us, we can’t do anything about it, you have to embrace it and enjoy it’.

“And I thought in the second half we were very good.”

John Kelly