IT was obvious Shaun Williams was enjoying his post-match interview at The Den on Saturday.
Normally players are fairly guarded in front of the media in these situations and often understandably so. They don't want to give away too much, and really they just want to get it done and go home.
But Williams had a glint in his eye and a quip ready on his lips.
He had set up the first goal against Frank Lampard’s Derby County and then scored the second when his 30-yard strike deflected in off Rams centre-back Fikayo Tomori.
Lampard said the shot was going 20 yards wide.
“It’s a goal, isn’t it?” Williams said when that was mentioned to him. He was asked if he had a goal bonus in his contract. He joked: “No, but I will have soon.”
Tomori, 20, is on loan at Derby from Lampard’s old club Chelsea. Lampard also picked 18-year-old Jayden Bogle to play at right-back.
Williams more than hinted this hadn’t escaped Millwall’s attention. “The right-back today was making his Football League debut, so he was in for it. Maybe the left-sided centre-half was targeted as well,” Williams said, adding with a smile: “You never know.”
It’s not rocket science at this stage that Millwall work on and play to their strengths – as well as the opponents’ weakness.
“What we work on week-in, week-out is trying to improve ourselves,” Williams continued. “I don’t want to give away any secrets but we work every day on the opposition, different tactics, and they paid off.
“We picked up where we left off at the end of last season. Obviously we had two defeats towards the end but the confidence is there and the performances are there and I see no reason why we can’t continue that form for the season.
“There are a lot of good players in our squad. Everyone has different attributes but the main attribute that everyone brings to the team is hard work. You can have as much talent in the world but if you don’t work hard it’s not going to flourish.
“It goes hand in hand at Millwall, you’ve got to give 110 per cent every time you put the jersey on.
“The underdog tag suits us perfectly. There are teams spending millions and millions on players and on wages and we’re just a bunch of hardworking lads that love playing with each other and fighting for each other.
“At the start of the season we just wanted to get to 50 points as quickly as possible and take it from there. Last year once we got into the safe area, not that it took pressure off us, but it gave us the freedom to play. This season I don’t think it’s any different.
“You look on paper, the teams that have spent money are presumably going to be there, but I see no reason why we can’t do what we did last year and fight our way up.
“For us to get one over on Derby who are paying whatever millions they have paid…if you don’t come down here with the right attitude, you ain’t going to walk away with the points.
“We won. It doesn’t matter how you play once you win. Someone could have a stinker but the type of team we are we all dig in and help each other.
“But I don’t think anyone had a bad day today and that’s why we won.
“We beat one of the promotion favourites. We’re one of the relegation favourites so it’s a great result for us. We’re not going to be jumping around hugging each other. It’s just another game. We’ll look to Wednesday (against Sheffield Wednesday) and try to do the same again.”
For a second Saturday in a row in a league game at The Den Millwall dominated one of the promotion favourites and biggest spenders in the division to go two goals up.
Derby paid a reported £8million for striker Martyn Waghorn, who was taken off as Lampard sought a different way to break down the Lions defence.
At the other end of the pitch, Lee Gregory – who had claims on the first goal when he flicked on Williams’ free-kick before Jake Cooper appeared to get the final touch to send the ball into the bottom corner – cost £250,000 from Halifax four years ago.
“Gregs has been here a long time and I’d like to see how much he’d be worth now,” Williams said. “There’s a difference in prices paid for players and that’s why we’re all here, because we’re worth a certain price.
“Everyone is just flourishing in this environment.
“You can only show how much you’re worth on the day. If someone cost £10-15million they ain’t going to be any different to you, because you both play in the same league.”
Williams wasn’t done being mischievous as he was asked about the next visitors in the league to south Bermondsey, Swansea City, who drew 0-0 at Birmingham City on Friday night.
“I watched them on TV last night and I don’t think they should be looking to over-achieve and get back to the Premier League, because they weren’t any great shakes,” Williams said.
“It’ll be a different game for them when they come down to The Den. They’ve a lot of young boys who haven’t played here before. It’ll be an eye-opener for them.
“I don’t want to give away too many tactics but, yeah…you know what I mean…it’s not a nice ground to come and make your debut at.”
Image: Millwall FC