NEIL Harris understands why the bookies don’t fancy Millwall’s Championship chances – but he is determined to “upset” some of the big sides again this season.
The Lions are currently 5/1 to go down according to Championship sponsors Sky Bet. They are 14/1 for promotion, with only QPR, Reading, Ipswich, Bolton and Rotherham below them in that field. Newly promoted Wigan have been given a better chance of going up.
Millwall were one of the favourites to go down last season before a surge in the new year saw them go close to finishing in the top six.
Millwall start at home to Middlesbrough, who are one of the favourites for the title.
“Nothing changes from last year for us, we’re going to be the underdog again in this league,” Harris said. “You know, probably rightly so to a certain extent. The bookies base a lot of it on financial clout, so no surprise to see us, Rotherham, Bolton down there.
“That won’t change between now and the start of the season. We enjoyed proving people wrong last year. The challenge for us is simple: we’ve got to try to emulate what we did last year. That’s why it doesn’t change for us.
“Our challenge is to get to 50 points as quickly as possible. We want to try to build every month, have 10-point targets, and try to upset some of the bigger teams.
“We certainly made The Den a fortress last year. We could point to points we should have got, but also games when we got something from them when maybe we hadn’t deserved that little bit of luck.
“We’ll be looking to impose ourselves in a really tough start and get some points on the board.”
Millwall were back for the start of pre-season training on Monday, new defender Murray Wallace getting the chance to meet his team-mates.
They underwent various physical tests overseen by head of sports science Laurence Bloom and the club doctor Vicann During, before running and ball work on the pitches at Calmont Road in the afternoon.
“The biggest thing for me is the next six weeks and trying to bed in, and also offer reminders,” Harris said. “Murray is in the building now, there will be under-18s stepping up to the 23s and 23s to the senior squad. Hopefully there will be a couple of other players coming in along the way.
“We also need to keep people free from injury.
“The first few days it’s important for me to be around the players and catch up with them. I love the social side of it with them, the chats and dealing with issues they might have, helping them.
“The first part of the week is around the sports science side of things and making sure the players have been well rested and got rid of niggles, but not too well rested.
“They have to be in a fit condition to come back and work. If they’re not and need a slight bit extra then they’ll get that extra work, early starts and so on. But that’s very rare in the modern game.
“Sometimes people are coming back from injury or illness and haven’t been able to do as much work before the start of pre-season.
“It’s a perfect few days to see where the players are at. Some are more naturally fit than others, some need to be pushed a bit more because they’re less natural of an athlete.
“That’s down to Bloomy to find the strengths and weaknesses of people and make sure that come August 4 we have a squad that are all fit and healthy and pushing for a start.”
Image: Millwall FC