JAKE Cooper admitted it was a “much more relaxed” atmosphere when the players returned to training on Tuesday after four points in their previous two games lifted them out of the Championship’s relegation zone before the international break.
The Lions were on a run of three losses in a row before the last break, and after a transfer window that had unsettled the squad.
Millwall’s mini-resurgence was triggered after a two-goal comeback at Nottingham Forest last week, before they piled on the misery for Aston Villa with a 2-1 win at The Den.
Cooper said the fixture at the City Ground felt like a “free hit”, with big-spending Forest expected to comfortably pick up three points against a side that hadn’t won in seven league games.
But the Lions’ late rally stunned their hosts, and Neil Harris’ side brought the belief from that game into the Villa fixture.
“It’s much nicer, much more relaxed and there is a better feeling around the squad after getting those results and boosting our confidence a bit after the run we were on,” Cooper said.
“It’s not a bad time to have a little break and work on a few things in training before we play Reading.
“The Forest game for us was almost like a free hit because we were playing a top side away from home. We’d been on a bad run and no one really expected much of us.
“The manager changed the team around a bit and we went out there and gave it the best we could like we have been every game. Fortunately the luck went our way a bit more and we pushed on last Saturday and hopefully we can keep going that way.
“Even during the Forest game we always felt in control, it was probably our best performance of the season so far. They scored two great goals from outside the box, there wasn’t too much we could do about that. We just carried on and pushed in the last 20 minutes, and I felt we were going to get something out of that game.
“We’ve dealt with things not going our way. Yeah we gave away an early goal against Villa but we made sure we were in the right place in our minds and on the pitch to go and put it right and get the three points, which we thoroughly deserved.”
Millwall’s next league game is against Cooper’s former club Reading, who are a place and a point below them in the table.
Cooper added: “I can’t really say too much about what’s happened there because it’s a while since I was there. I think there’s been a massive turnaround of people at the club and things are run a lot differently from when I was there.”
“I know a few people there and they are great lads and I’m sure they will be doing everything they can to get out of where they are.”
*Read a longer interview with the Lions defender in tomorrow's Southwark News, where he talks about how his biggest weakness became his biggest strength and pays tribute to the Reading coach who gave him the belief he could make it in professional football.
Image: Millwall FC