MUCH of the discussion ahead of Millwall’s clash with Sheffield United on Saturday has been around whether the Lions will change their formation to match the Blades – but Neil Harris said that was not the main reason the home side won the corresponding fixture last season.
Harris has switched to 3-5-2 at half-time in two of the last three games against Sheffield United, and last season scored his side second-half goals through wing-back Mahlon Romeo and Jake Cooper to seal a 3-1 win.
Romeo’s goal came after a mistake by Jack O’Connell, when he was dispossessed bringing the ball out of defence by Lee Gregory, who then slid a sumptuous ball through for Romeo to score his second league goal for the club.
Only once in Harris’ three-and-a-half years in charge have Millwall not started a league game in a 4-4-2 formation – a 0-0 draw at Scunthorpe in August 2015 when Steve Morison and Fred Onyedinma played either side of Lee Gregory in a 4-3-3.
Millwall are looking for their first win in seven league games, against a Blades side that have won five of their last seven Championship fixtures.
“They’re another huge club in a big game for us at The Den. The volume and quality of the fixtures at The Den so far this season has been immense,” Harris said.
“We’ve had some great games against Sheffield United in recent years. We’ve played two different shapes against them trying to find a way. Games have swung with either team and I don’t expect it to be any different this weekend.
“They’ve got really good players, depth in their squad now and they continue to score goals but also concede goals.
“We have to make sure that our home form is good over the 90-plus minutes, not over the course of 80 or 85 – until the final whistle.
“We have to be bang on form.
“We try to be flexible, we changed shape last weekend [at West Brom] chasing the game. Sometimes it’s difficult changing shape because when you’re so drilled at doing one it’s hard to come away from that.
“The odd club might change shape, some gambling managers might change to throw caution to the wind, but most teams even in the Premier League don’t change shape, they change personnel.
“We’ve got different players like Jiri Skalak and Aiden O’Brien: one’s an out-and-out winger and wants to cross the ball, one likes to get on the ball inside.
“We have to look at personnel as well as shape. We did change shape against Sheffield United at The Den last year for the second half, but if you watch the game it wasn’t any different between the first half and second half. It was even, but we won the game and that’s what sticks in people’s minds.
“Actually the game was won after a defensive error.”
Image: Millwall FC