MILLWALL are a win away from breaking the club record of successive league victories on the road – against a side with little left to play for this season.
There is not only that latter fact in the Lions' favour, but also that Mick McCarthy knows he will be leaving Ipswich at the end of the season.
Former Millwall boss McCarthy insisted after the Tractor Boys’ 1-0 defeat at Birmingham on Saturday that he and his assistant Terry Connor were still fully focussed and determined on the job, but also expressed some doubt as to the mindset of his players, who know they will be playing for someone different next season.
“It was just surreal really. It’s a strange feeling,” McCarthy told local media after the defeat at St Andrew’s. “We’ve done everything as we would normally do. Me and TC were jumping up and down like a couple of mad men, screaming, shouting, encouraging, cajoling, b******ing, organising.
“All these 26 years in management and I’m experiencing something new.”
“I want to be as bothered as I always am. And I wanted to win that game. If you watched me and TC on that sideline then you’d have seen that.
“But there is something that has gone, certainly, for sure. I wish I could articulate it better, but I am a football player, coach, manager – not a poet.”
“We’re not going up, we’re not going down. Maybe it should have been done in the international break and somebody else could have come in and done the last eight games. Maybe that would have inspired everybody a bit more.
“When I’m barking at the lads and in their faces saying, ‘don’t be a baby, play properly, put your foot in…’ I don’t know how they are feeling. They might go, ‘p*** off gaffer, do me a favour, you’re not going to be here next year’.
“I’ve told them if they do that I’ll be rolling around on the turf with you! I am still the manager and they are still respecting everything I’ve said and I’m still respecting them, immensely.
“I do believe myself and TC are good workers and good professionals and it’s important we keep doing things the right way until they get another manager in.
“During the game I’m not thinking, ‘what am I going to be doing?’ There’s none of that. All the focus is on the competitive edge of the game. You must have seen that today. Second half the lads kept pushing.
“The players and I have got huge respect for each other. If you watched the game today then they’ve answered that question out there on the pitch.
“Ask them. They are disappointed. They are a little bit shell-shocked. There are players looking for contracts, players on loan and players wondering what’s going to happen for them next season and if a new man won’t fancy them.
“That does put a real element of doubt in their heads. There has been one constant over the last five or six years and that’s been me and TC. We’ve done the same things and they know what to expect. It’s the unknown for them now.
“Not quite feeling the same doesn’t quite equate to not doing the job properly. Sometimes you might not feel great with flu, but you still do the job properly.
“It’s just an odd feeling today. I’ve never had it. But you’ve all watched that game and the lads have played well. Me and TC have been exactly the same and that’s how it will continue to be.”
Ipswich will have a day less to recover than Millwall. Lions boss Neil Harris has named the same side in seven of the last eight games. Aiden O’Brien, Tom Elliott, Fred Onyedinma and Ryan Tunnicliffe are the obvious options if Harris decides to freshen up his side.
Millwall lost 4-3 at home to Ipswich in August when Harris called the performance "unacceptable". Now they are aiming to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 14 games, and know a win could take them into the top six with six games left.
Millwall record against Ipswich
Won 19 Drew 13 Lost 21
Probable Millwall team
4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Saville, Williams, Marshall; Gregory, Morison.
Ipswich 23/10 Draw 21/10 Millwall 5/4
Image: Millwall FC