JED Wallace revealed Neil Harris put Millwall’s three Championship defeats before the international break into context for the squad – and also took them paintballing.
Wallace said Harris “keeps us calm” and the winger admitted the break came at a good time for him as it gave him the chance to “get back to basics” after losses against Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Swansea.
The Lions looked reinvigorated against Leeds on Saturday, and were within minutes of ending their opponents’ unbeaten league run this season before Jack Harrison’s 89th-minute goal after Wallace’s earlier opener.
“It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for the whole group, myself included,” Wallace said. “You guys that know me know I’m very honest. I just needed to get back to basics, get two weeks on the training ground and get working hard.
“The manager pulled the group together. We went paintballing, did this, that and the other.
“Today we were the Millwall team that fans love to watch. And if I were a Millwall fan I have always maintained I would love to watch this team. The boys were flying into tackles, and that’s what you want.
“The manager broke it down to us, he’s the one who keeps us calm, really, because we are a very passionate group. He said, ‘Listen, the reality is you’ve lost two away games, in Yorkshire, and we’ve lost a home game’.
“I think people are so used to seeing us winning games that when we don’t win it’s ‘woah’. It’s a reality check for everyone. It’s Millwall Football Club in the Championship, at the end of the day.
“We had an amazing season and we want to be in the top half of the table again. Are we going to win the league when other people are spending £20million on players? Probably not.
“Are we going to fight for every ball, run our hearts out, are we going to stick together as a group? Definitely, and we’ll see where it gets us.
“I believe we’re a good team. We’ve shown that for three years and we’ll show it again this year.
“The international break came at a good time, for me personally and the group, to get back together, back to the fundamentals of what we built our success on, which is togetherness as a group.
“I think people saw [against Leeds] that we’re always going to give everything we can. We ain’t the best team in the world but we fight for every ball.
“This was the perfect game for us after the spell we had, and Wednesday [against QPR] is perfect again. Big London derby and big rivals.
“We’ve added strength in depth, which we needed. The captain said that, the manager said that.
“When you sign new players the boys that are here go up 10 per cent. Manchester City won 100 games last year and added [Riyad] Mahrez to the group.
“Timmy [Cahill] and Marshy [Ben Marshall] came in last year and it made the rest of us play better. It’s happened again with the likes of Lenny [Ryan Leonard], Jem [Karacan] with his experience. Jiri [Skalak] is getting the minutes in and looking sharper.
“I’ve always maintained that under Neil Harris Millwall will be moving in the right direction, especially with the players we’ve got. That’s something I’m happy to be a part of.”
Wallace scored for the first time this season on Saturday, before Harrison spoiled the party in front of a season-high Den crowd of 17,195.
“It sums our season up so far, really,” Wallace continued. “We gave it everything we could, didn’t win the game but to get clapped off shows the togetherness of the group, of the manager, of the fans.
“It was a kick in the nuts. We’re doing all the right things and I don’t know how we didn’t get the winner at the end. It shows the character in the group, we concede in the 90th minute and then still look to go get that goal.
“It wasn’t meant to be. Should have won the game, story of our season so far. If we keep doing the right things we’ll win more games than we lose.”
Wallace’s goal came from a long throw-in by debutant Leonard that was flicked on at the near post by Jake Cooper.
Wallace admitted he didn't know Leonard was a long-throw specialist. “I didn’t even realise until Thursday. I said to him now I know why he has been signed!
“Considering the guy’s not played any football, playing for Millwall against Leeds, it ain’t an easy one to come into. I was blowing out there, let alone if I hadn’t played for six months.
“I thought he had a really good debut and he’s going to be a player that the Millwall fans are going to like watching.”
Image: Millwall FC