Morison defends Millwall's style of play

STEVE Morison acknowledges Millwall are in a “tough patch” but insists hard work will see them “come out the other side”.

Millwall’s 2-1 defeat to Walsall last Saturday week was their fourth successive league loss and sixth without a win.

The Lions started the season promisingly, and at the end of August a 3-1 victory at Chesterfield left them fifth in the table after five games.

That was their last win in the league, though, and with the international break Neil Harris’ side will have to wait until October 15 when they play Northampton to stop the current losing streak.

Morison believes they are capable of doing that, and that last May’s experience when they lost the League One play-off final to Barnsley before making a positive start to this season proves they have it within them to bounce back from disappointment.

He said: “It is what it is. You get sticky patches and this is one of them. We haven’t been great but it’s not the end of the world, we’ll survive and work over the international break to prepare for Northampton.

“Obviously people deal with it in their different ways. You try to keep everyone in good spirit but there’s not much you can do, you can’t dwell on it.

“We’ve had to deal with disappointment before at Wembley, but we came back and had a really good August. That’s maybe making this month worse because everyone thought we were going to walk the league after August. We’ve had a few bad results and suddenly it’s like the world’s going to end.

“We need to keep working hard, stick together and work as a group, which is what we do every day.

“We’ve been working hard in games but haven’t been clinical enough up front and at the back it’s been too easy to concede.

“That’s there for everybody to see. Obviously people sit there and talk a lot of rubbish about tactics, just wanting to find excuses. At the end of the day it’s the same group of players that played in August and were winning games. People have short memories.

“While we’re losing a few games it’s easy for people to jump on that bandwagon and they’re going to keep banging on about it. It served us alright for the last eighteen months. Just because we’ve lost a couple of games suddenly everything has to change, it’s amazing.

“It’s a tough patch but we’ll work hard to get through it and come out the other side.”

Millwall’s style of play has come in for serious criticism for the first time in Harris’ 18-month reign as they have dropped to 19th place in the table. But Morison thinks it is too simplistic an assessment.

Morison said: “People keep going on about the tactics, and playing ‘hoofball’ or long ball or whatever crap they talk about. But at the end of the day it’s not that. We play a game where we stay in our shape, we get the ball into good areas, we work on the second ball and it’s no different to what we did last year, so I don’t know why everyone is going on about it. It’s just an excuse because we’ve lost a few games.

“We do pass the ball, we play in the right areas. We don’t pass out from the back because, I’ll tell you what, our fans are the world’s worst if we give the ball away on the edge of our box trying to pass it out – they would go absolutely mental.

“So how they can sit there and say we should change the way we play? Well no, you get the ball up there and we’ll play once it’s up there, which is exactly what we do, which is exactly what we’ve always done. We ain’t going to start passing it out from the back, so they just need to stop using it as an excuse.

“Maybe we play a more direct style of play than what some teams play in this league, but it’s all about getting the ball in those areas and then we do go play and pass. That’s what we did on Saturday: we got the ball up there, won the first ball and picked up the second ball, it went out wide, then a cross and goal. And everyone said it was a great goal. It’s exactly the same thing we try every single time, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

“The last thing you want to do is give the ball away in the wrong areas so that’s why we do what we do. It’s just an excuse, it’s just something for people to moan about. When we win a game people seem to forget how we’ve won it. We’ll win games exactly the same way we’ve been playing.”

Millwall could be in the relegation zone before they face promoted Northampton, but Morison promised the “tide will turn” as he kept his perspective.

“In life you go through bad times and some people have a lot worse things going on than losing a few games of football,” Morison said. “If you’re going to rip up the rule book and start again every time you lose a few games you’re never going to get anywhere.

“We’ll stick to what we know, stick together as a team and keep fighting.

“Our performance wasn’t that bad on Saturday. They had two shots on goal and scored two goals. We had numerous opportunities and we didn’t put them away.

“But the tide will turn and we’ll get it right. And when we do I’m sure people will be saying how great we are and we’re going to win the league again.

“I can tell the boys: ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Stay in the middle somewhere and you won’t go far wrong.’

“We are working on it. When the gaffer says we’ve had a really good week at training, we’re working on it every day. It’s been boring playing up front the last few weeks in training because all we’ve done is defensive work.

“We’ve been working hard as a unit, but it’s just not happening at the minute for whatever reason. If we could put our finger on it exactly, then we’d put it right.

“We’ll be alright, things will change. Teams are not going to have two shots and score two goals every game. If we get the same chances again we’ll put them away.

“There’s not an exact science to it, we’ll just keep working hard as a group and defend from the front.”

*This article first appeared in Southwark News on October 6.

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly