NEIL Harris said Steve Bruce is a “legend in the game” – after watching the former Manchester United defender’s last game in charge of Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
Bruce had a cabbage thrown at him as his side drew 3-3 with Preston, having to salvage a point in injury-time after his side had been 2-0 up at half-time.
Glenn Whelan then missed a 97th-minute penalty to leave one of the pre-season promotion favourites in 12th place in the Championship.
Bruce was sacked less than 24 hours later, with under-23 boss Kevin MacDonald placed in temporary charge. Names including Thierry Henry, Brendan Rodgers and Sam Allardyce are being mentioned among potential replacements.
Harris was asked after Millwall came from two goals down to earn a draw against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night if Bruce’s sacking made a difference ahead of Saturday’s game.
“Yes, of course it does,” he said. “I was at Villa Park [Tuesday night] and saw a very impressive first-half performance when they could have scored seven or eight goals. And then they lose their way in the second half because of a debatable penalty.
“A caretaker manager comes in, what team is he going to pick, what personnel does he have available, what formation is he going to play? We don’t know, so all we can do is focus on ourselves.
“We know as managers you’re always under pressure, of course you are. At the end of the day it’s so short, expectations, and fans turn up expecting you to win games of football. Our fans turn up expecting us to win, and it’s not easy. But that’s your job, that’s your reality, that’s why we love doing it, to win games of football. I’m a manager and I want to win games.
“We all know there is an element of being under pressure and you could lose your job. You feel for Steve because he’s a legend in the game and a good manager, he’s proved that over the years. And he’ll be back.
“Is it a tough one because Villa are a top side with some of the best players in the league? Yeah, definitely. But that’s why we’re in this division, and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Harris saw his team recover from two goals down with 20 minutes to go at the City Ground, after he had made four changes to his side from the 3-2 loss at home to Sheffield United last weekend.
“I thought the team was outstanding,” Harris said. “It’s not just the players that came into the team that performed. The players that started that are regulars haven’t played to the best of their ability [this season]. That’s no fault of their own, they’ve just not been on form.
“It’s always been told to me: form is temporary, class is permanent. The players have got class, but the form hasn’t been good enough individually and collectively. It’s a step in the right direction for some individuals [Wednesday night], and they know who they are.
“But it’s about putting back-to-back performances together, and we have to step into Saturday and be every bit as good as that if not better.”
Image: Millwall FC