Harris: ‘We set standards against Leeds – and so did Millwall fans’

NEIL Harris believes his players and Lions supporters combined on Saturday to create a perfect “Millwall environment”.

The biggest attendance for a league game at The Den in Harris’ time in charge saw Millwall defeat Leeds United 1-0 through Aiden O’Brien’s second goal of the season.

Millwall received plenty of praise for their display against the Championship table-toppers, but Harris explained it was more than just what happened on the pitch that satisfied him.

“A lot has been made of the performance,” Harris said. “I think the result was very good, beating a team that were unbeaten in seven, had conceded four goals in nine games in all competitions, scored a lot of goals.

“The clean sheet was key, the result was hugely satisfying for us all.

Neil Harris celebrates a job well done with his assistant Dave Livermore.

“But I don’t think it was just the performance that stood out for me. It was the whole Millwall environment. By that I mean the atmosphere in the stadium, the fans played their part getting behind the team.

“Yes, of course the team have to put on a performance to get the fans going, but what comes first? Is it the fans turning up in numbers and making noise from the kick-off and there’s energy and excitement in the stadium, or is it the players’ performance from the first whistle?

“One needs to drive the other. In these games – the Leeds game, the Charlton game last year, the play-off games – those elements have come together.

“I thought it was a special atmosphere, a special performance by the team for 90 minutes. We’ve set standards now, but so have the fans. They set standards in the Norwich game as well, coming to support their team.

“Millwall fans as well as the players are at their best when they are the underdog. Fans love to come to see us cause an upset. I know it sounds crazy to talk about causing upsets playing against teams in the same league, but they are.

“We saw that last year, teams playing against us at The Den and away from home raising their game to beat us.

“This year we’re the underdog and that’s when we are at our best. That’s the environment we need against Reading and Barnsley at home.

“We have to have to same environment, same atmosphere and same performance on the pitch."

Aiden O'Brien got the winner in front of the Cold Blow Lane.

Harris also knows Lions fans will make themselves heard at Deepdale on Saturday when Millwall take on Preston.

He said: “Away from home the fans have been unbelievable, travelling in their numbers and the noise they make, partly because the team has played so well.

“We have to put in that level of performance again on Saturday because having watched Preston three times in the last 24 hours they are one hell of a side.

“They play very Millwall-like, they’re very workmanlike and aggressive, a very big side.

“We have to make sure that we are as 100 per cent as focused on Saturday as we have been in the past.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly