THERE was probably only one person connected with Millwall who didn’t re-live Steve Morison’s winner against Watford last Sunday – and that was the goal scorer himself.
Morison struck five minutes from time to send the Lions through to the last 16 of the FA Cup, with his late goal worth £90,000, the standard payment to all fourth-round winners.
The game was live on BBC One with highlights on Match of the Day later, but Morison revealed this week: “I hate watching myself.”
As probably the most outspoken member of the Millwall squad – and the most entertaining given how little he cares about what other people think of what he says – Morison had been in high demand the week leading up to the game and was the focus of Sunday newspaper features.
Millwall were also in the spotlight on Sunday after Lewisham Council’s decision to abandon a compulsory purchase order process that had been attracting more and more national headlines.
Given how central Morison is to most things that Millwall do on the pitch and how much he enjoys confrontation there is a certain irony then in how he avoids watching it all back.
Morison was required for a number of interviews after his golden moment against the Hornets, but all he was interested in was making sure his team-mates turned their concentration to preparations for Millwall’s League One clash with Walsall this week.
“All the players knew that we needed to focus on Wednesday night,” he said. “I said it in my interview on TV afterwards. The league is the bread and butter and the FA Cup is a bit of a sideshow.
“But we don’t have to worry about that for a while now, it’s done and dusted and we’ll concentrate on the league.
“I’m one of those people that as soon as the game is done I just want to get home. It’s done and you move on to the next one.
“I don’t watch it back. Obviously if it’s on TV and you’re watching Sky Sports News or Match of the Day you see it there. But I’m not going to sit down and watch it over and over again and all that kind of stuff.
“At the minute everyone is on a high but if you don’t perform it can soon all come crashing down. I always try to stay somewhere in the middle.
“I hate watching myself – I hate it! I don’t like listening to myself, don’t like watching myself. I’m happy to let other people do that and I’ll watch other people.
“It’s just a mindset. I know how quickly you can fall. We were on a massive high but we had two games to prepare for (this week). That was the main thing. Get the formalities out of the way. It sounds cliché as hell, being professional and all that, but it is true.”
After the game, Watford boss Walter Mazzarri was critical of Millwall, saying his side hadn’t deserved to lose and likening it to a “war” and a “wrestling match”.
He received little sympathy for his complaints with Millwall clearly deserving the result. And Morison revealed he even shared a joke with referee Martin Atkinson over some Watford’s players’ complaints about Millwall’s approach.
“On the pitch they didn’t like you touching them, they had plenty to say about it,” Morison explained. “Ben Watson was good for them, he didn’t have anything to say. Troy Deeney as well. You could see that they’ve played in those kinds of games and were used to the football.
“We didn’t do anything different to what we do every week. It was a much less physical game than what you’re normally involved in.
“It was funny, the ref was even laughing about it on the pitch with me because there was absolutely nothing going on. There were only three yellow cards in the game, there weren’t even that many fouls but I think they were looking for excuses for them not performing.
“They spent a lot of time worrying about us, we didn’t worry about them and ran over the top of them. It was a comfortable win.”
“I think they’ve got a slightly different mentality. Foreign coaches as well do things differently, I’ve worked under a few of them and it’s a lot different.
“I can never understand it but everyone is different. If you’re coming to Millwall you can’t moan about things like that because those kinds of things are going to happen.
“It was a good team for us to play, a team that didn’t really match us on the day. It was a good weekend.
“With it being on TV, on an afternoon on a Sunday obviously it affected the numbers. But to be fair the people that turned up made a hell of a lot of noise. It was a great atmosphere and it’s even better when you win late doors because everyone leaves on a high.”
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who was pitchside for the BBC’s coverage of the fixture, said post-match: “Steve Morison was immense for Millwall. He epitomised everything Millwall were about.”
But Morison, typically, downplays that kind of praise.
“When you play football I think that’s the minimum,” Morison said. “When you’re not overly talented then that’s what you’ve got to do, work hard and if you have got ability it’ll come out when it needs to.
“First and foremost you have to work.
“We come in and we do enjoy ourselves. We spend a lot of time together and enjoy each other’s company. But sometimes it spills over onto the training pitch and you’ve got to try to not let that happen too much. It is just us enjoying ourselves and being happy but when it’s work time it’s work time.
“The day before a game especially is one of those. As soon as we go out to warm up on match-day, it’s the same again. It’s about getting the balance right and at the minute we’ve got it.”
Facing nine games in February, Millwall boss Neil Harris added defender Jake Cooper and winger Jed Wallace to his squad during last month’s transfer window.
Morison believes that added depth in defensive and attacking areas could be crucial as they look to move into the top six in League One.
“With them in we’re a different proposition and we want to carry it on,” Morison said.
“February is a massive month with Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday fixtures. If we can come out of that in the top six then we can look confidently at March.
“What we’re going to do is pretty much set in stone. We know how we’re going to play and the opposition probably do as well. They know what team we’re going to pick, more or less, so we just have to concentrate on nullifying their threats.
“Our game and our shape takes care of itself.”
Image: Millwall FC