MILLWALL are looking for their first Championship win since August 16 as Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United travel to The Den this weekend.
The Lions’ only league win this campaign was over Frank Lampard’s Derby County, though home performances have been encouraging despite conceding late on. Millwall have conceded six goals at home in the league, all of which have come in the 73rd minute or later, with the 85th minute being the average time.
Similar to Neil Harris, Blades boss Wilder is in charge of the club that he loves, though the ex-Northampton boss has a much larger budget to work with, despite finishing below his counterpart last season.
Lucas Ball spoke to Blades fan Dean Oakes this week.
Why do you support the Blades?
Sheffield United is a long family tradition for me and having been taken to Bramall Lane by my dad as a young lad in the late 1990’s and becoming hooked, there was never any doubt as to which club I would support
What’s been your favourite season following Sheffield United?
Promotion to the Premier League in 2006 was a great experience but as I was only a teenager at the time I didn’t fully appreciate it.
Winning the League One title in 2016-17 is my personal favourite. After five terrible years in the third tier, to watch a team playing free-flowing football and smashing our way to 100 points was a joy to behold
And the worst?
Without doubt the 2015-16 season under Nigel Adkins. Slow, pedestrian football from a team full of overpaid ex-Premier League and Championship players that didn’t care one jot about our club.
The result: an 11th-place finish in League One was our lowest finish in over 30 years
I’m assuming that this is a straightforward answer – is Chris Wilder the right man for the job?
Without doubt, 100 per cent.
After Neil Warnock left in 2007, the club had appointed eight different managers in nine years with little success between any of them.
To have a United fan as manager who understands the ethos of the club totally has been a breath of fresh air.
He has frustrated fans at times by tinkering with tactics while in winning positions, but I struggle to name a manager in world football better suited for our club right now
Wilder claims the money from the David Brooks sale to Bournemouth has yet to be delved into, so there will be money to spend in January – where do you need to strengthen?
The area that glaringly needs improving still is in the striker department. Unsuccessful bids were made for Martyn Waghorn, Scott Hogan and Sam Gallagher during the summer with Connor Washington and David McGoldrick arriving on frees. With Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke the wrong side of 30 and the only other options, we still lack a striker that will push this squad on to the next level.
What are you expectations for this season?
Tenth place last season felt like a slightly false position as after Paul Coutts’ injury in November we slipped into mid-table/bottom-half form.
Our strength in depth is definitely stronger this time around but after six years in League One, most fans would be happy with a similar position and finishing above Wednesday again.
Last year, a tactical change made the difference at The Den as Millwall won 3-1 – do the Blades face more problems when teams line up in or switch to match them in a 3-5-2?
That was definitely a theme last season as teams got used to the way we set up and Coutts’ injury deprived us of the player most adept at dictating the tempo of the game.
We saw a similar scenario at Bristol City two weeks ago, when after a first half of domination from United, Lee Johnson switched formation and personnel at half-time to match us up. In the second half it was completely different, resulting in a 1-0 defeat for United.
As we usually start off fast-paced and on the front foot, getting that early goal before the opposition settle down is vital to United
Which United players will the Lions have to be wary of?
Our midfield trio of Oli Norwood, John Fleck and Mark Duffy are vital to the way United play. Take any of the three out of the team and it simply doesn’t function the same.
Sharp continues to score goals despite his advancing years and McGoldrick has made an impressive start since signing in the summer.
Which of Harris’ players will Wilder’s men be keeping an eye on?
Your regular front two, Steve Morison and Lee Gregory, have been the scourge of many trips for United to The Den in recent seasons and though Tom Bradshaw has had a slow start at Millwall, he knows where the net is at this level.
Jed Wallace is a player that always impresses me and a player that Wilder previously tried to sign from Wolves before his Millwall move.
Also a slight worry that Ryan Leonard will come back to haunt us after a short, unsuccessful spell at Bramall Lane.
What are your thoughts on Millwall’s boss?
A manager that I like a lot, very similar to Chris Wilder in that he is managing the team he played for and loves.
He’s done a brilliant job, which has surprised me slightly as I recall he seemed to be under a bit of pressure going off a Vblog (video log) I watched when we beat you 2-0 in League One not too long ago.
If you could sign one Lions player, who would it be and why?
Jed Wallace, as he would add width and directness to a team that lacks it slightly. Also have a feeling that Lee Gregory may end up at his boyhood club at some stage
What’s your expected starting XI and formation?
It will be the usual team/formation that beat Preston barring any injuries.
Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Freeman, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Duffy; Sharp, McGoldrick.
Will you be at The Den on Saturday?
Unfortunately I won’t be there on Saturday as I have to pick and choose my away games at the moment due to cost. Probably a good job as our recent record at The Den has been terrible!
Finally, what’s your score prediction?
With Millwall in bad form at the moment and us winning five of the last seven league games, we probably won’t have visited The Den at a better time.
We traditionally have a knack of ending a team’s poor run, though, and it will be a tight game that could go either way.
I will go 2-1 to United but any sort of result at The Den is a bonus.