SEVERAL statistical measures of Millwall’s season are not being reflected in results – as Lions boss Neil Harris insisted his players are working “tirelessly” to cut down on the mistakes that are costing them goals.
The Lions are third from bottom of the Championship going into Saturday’s clash at Stoke, but rank in the top half in shots, shots in the box and shots on target.
In Expected Goals – an increasingly popular measure for analysts and clubs which measures the statistical likelihood of a shot resulting in a goal – Millwall are 11th.
Harris, though, has pointed out the frequency with which Millwall fall behind in games (11 times in the last 13 Championship fixtures) and admits the defensive record is not good enough. Only Sheffield Wednesday (40) in the Championship have conceded more than Millwall’s 38 goals this season.
“We can go on about…I was going to say a negative, but it’s a reality,” Harris said. “We find ourselves in the bottom three approaching Christmas. We’re there because we’ve conceded too many goals.
“Timing of goals has also been key. We’ve conceded the first goal too many times. You flip that with the positive: we’ve scored more goals, we’ve created more chances than we’ve ever done. We’ve played very good football at times whether that is with a direct style or with a passing style.
“The majority of the games, 17 out of the 22, we’ve had more shots than the opponent and given up fewer chances. But ultimately we’ve conceded a lot of goals.
“We’ve made individual errors over the course of the season so far. Players are working tirelessly to eradicate them. It has to be a group culture, I’ve always talked about the group culture with us, winning and losing as a team, defending and attacking as a team.
“It’s not the time for blaming people. It’s the time for working hard and nailing it.
“Football is simple: you win games or you don’t. We need to win games. We need to continue with our theme of trying to work tirelessly on the training pitch to make us better defensively as a team and as individuals, and continuing to have the attacking threat that we pose.
“Certainly second half last Saturday was outstanding with the chances that we created. Goals we should have scored, could have scored…but it counts for nothing if you’re not keeping clean sheets.”
Millwall in the Championship 2018/19 (ratio rankings):
21st – League position
9th – Shots
8th – Shots on-target
5th – Shots in the box
11th – xG
16th – xG from open play
1st – Touches in the box
1st – Deep completions
1st – Very deep completions
— Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) December 11, 2018
Image: Millwall FC