STEVE Morison believes the “frightening” level of spending of Premier League clubs this summer is being copied in the Championship – forcing Millwall to “do it a different way”.
The Lions have been one of the lowest spenders of second-tier clubs this summer, paying fees for three players and signing four on free transfers.
The average age of the new recruits is 24.5 and all have something to prove: Conor McLaughlin, James Meredith and Tom Elliott are all stepping up from League One; George Saville, Jed Wallace, Jake Cooper and Ryan Tunnicliffe found themselves on the fringes of first-team Championship squads or told they could leave.
When Millwall were last promoted, in 2009-10, QPR won the Championship title the following season having spent less than £5million.
Middlesbrough’s £43million outlay this summer puts that figure into context, and Morison feels the competition this season will reflect the increased spending by clubs.
“It gets better and better each year,” Morison said. “If you look at the players we’re signing compared to other teams, who are going out and spending £10million without a problem, it is the way it is going.
"Premier League spending on non-world-class players is frightening. It is starting to filter down now. The money that has been spent in the Championship…we have got a long way to get Millwall yet. It will take us a few years to get to some of those clubs.
“We have to try and do it a different way – having good competition in the group and good togetherness. That can take you a long way sometimes. We cannot compete on those fronts. All we can do is work hard week-in, week-out, upset the apple cart a few times and keep ourselves safe.
“We can do well. When we got promoted last time we were in with a play-off shout for a long time, so there is no reason why we cannot do well.”
Morison said immediately after the play-off final win over Bradford at Wembley in May that he would take fourth last this season if it was offered.
“It is just being realistic,” he said. “It is our first season in the Championship for a couple of years. Of course we would like to sit here and say we want to get into the play-offs, of course we do, but we have to be realistic.
“This season is about not getting relegated. Our aim is to finish as high as we can, but it we finish safe we will all be happy.”
Millwall will need Morison to repeat his form of the last two seasons if they are to make it more than a one-season stay in the Championship
As well as being key to how effective Millwall are, he scored 37 goals in the last two seasons, including the play-off final winner.
He will be 34 later this month, but he is confident he can keep up that form, even if he agrees there will be times when he needs to be rested.
“Definitely, but that is why the gaffer has bought Tom Elliott,” Morison said. “I have competition that maybe I have not had for the last couple of seasons. Hopefully that will bring the best out of me and the best out of him as well. It is going to be tough to keep my place. But I am in good shape and there is no reason why I cannot do that.
“I want to be playing [in the Championship] and there is no reason why I cannot score goals there. A team like ours, with the way we play and all play for each other, we're going to create chances. If we do that we have players who will score goals.”
Image: Millwall FC