MILLWALL chairman John Berylson heaped the praise on manager Neil Harris as he targeted a long-term stay in the Championship after promotion at Wembley on Saturday.
Berylson appointed Harris, 39, after the sacking of Ian Holloway, and Millwall's record goal-scorer has led the club out of League One in just his second full season in charge.
Berylson was at Wembley to see Steve Morison score an 85th-minute winner against Bradford as Millwall matched the historical record of most promotions to the second tier.
“Neil and the team deserve all the credit,” Berylson said. “It’s been an exciting year. We’ve had ups and downs. But I think in the end all the players played a part at some point in the season.
“Look how well the veterans played [Saturday], and with the young kids coming up it’s a good mix and I’m very excited. We spent five years in the Championship, but this time our plan is to spend a lot more time there and get it right. We have a good mix of people and I think I have the best manager in the UK.
“Years ago when he was a player, he told me that when he was 50 years old he wanted to be the manager of Millwall. Now, who thought it would happen when he was 37? So I said, ‘are you going to do an Arsene Wenger kind of thing, can you do this for 25 years?’ And he said he could do it until he dies!
“Kenny [Jackett] was a great manager for us. Everybody knows, it took months for me to convince him to take the job. It took about 12 seconds for Neil to take the job. And look what he’s done: play-off final last year, promotion this year. I’ve watched Neil grow.
“When he was the interim manager, he made lots of mistakes. He didn't want any part of the manager’s job at the time, he wanted to be the youth coach. But now, he doesn't make mistakes. Look at the subs, it was perfect bringing Shane [Ferguson] on. He knows the players who are going to lift the team.”
Berylson revealed he did wonder about some of the tactical changes during an intense, tight contest, but was afterwards assured by Harris, who was confident in his substitutions.
Berylson said: “At 1-0, when he took Lee [Gregory] off, I said, ‘what if they’d scored, we wouldn't have had our top scorer?’ And he said, ‘they weren't going to score’.
“He told me that Calum [Butcher] wasn't going to give anything up today. With Freddie [Fred Onyedinma] and Steve up front, those two could waste a lot of time with the ball and they did. For five minutes extra-time, I was able to time it. And I could time the time we wasted. We wasted about two-and-a-half of the five minutes, which was key. You didn't see any dives, they played the game. When we got the ball, we held it."
Lions owner Berylson also took time to praise match-winner Morison, and Jordan Archer, who prevented Millwall going behind against the Bantams with a brilliant fingertip save to deny Billy Clarke in the first half.
“Jordan saved his best game for the last game,” Berylson said. “After last year, he had problems this year and he worked his way back. Thank God they gave him time to get less rusty, and in the play-offs he was magnificent.
“Steve Morison, who went through a drought, you could argue that he was in top form from the Bristol Rovers game.
“Someone said to me, “I knew the Silver Fox would score’. He came through for us and he controlled the Scunthorpe game, completely. He’s never had a hat-trick in his career and that was a game where he could've had one, but what did he do? He passed it to Gregory, who scored. He’s portrayed himself magnificently. He’s a leader."
Image: Millwall FC