Millwall boss on 4-3-3: 'I've wanted to use it for a while – it's a system we can use again'

MILLWALL boss Neil Harris said his side’s performance in the 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday was “the best of the season”.

The Lions led Boro for the second time this season going into the 90th minute when Steve Morison was penalised for a push on Daniel Ayala and Jordan Hugill levelled from the spot.

It was harsh on Millwall who surprised Boro with a 4-3-3 formation, Ben Thompson making his first-ever Championship start with Jed Wallace – who scored the 22nd-minute opener – and Ben Marshall supporting lone striker Lee Gregory from the flanks.

Gregory assisted Wallace for the opener while Thompson also got forward from a central midfield that also included Ryan Leonard and Shaun Williams.

"It's a system I've wanted to use for a while,” Harris explained. “I haven't had Shaun Williams fit and haven't had Ben Thompson in the building, so now I feel it's a system we can use, certainly on the road.

"With Tom Elliott not available, and wanting to save Steve’s legs for later in the game, it led us to using that formation.

"I thought we could break on Boro with Marshy and Jed's ability, and the way the midfield three can use the football I felt we could keep possession and frustrate the home crowd. Everything I expected from the performance was there, but for the decision at the end."

In relation to the preparation of his own team for the game, Harris referenced Marcelo Bielsa’s press conference on Tuesday when in the wake of the spying controversy the Leeds boss detailed his and his staff's level of analysis, including over 200 hours video analysis of Derby.

Harris said: "We've been working on [the tactical plan] since Tuesday. Marcelo Bielsa has spoken about his video analysis. I'll speak about how hard my players have worked this week on a game plan on the training pitch and with our video presentations, individually and collectively.

"We don't just turn up. That's been four training sessions, two video sessions, various team meetings, and the players putting in the hard yards.

"The team were organised, disciplined and full of energy. It's not necessarily a system we can use all the time, but with our personnel today we executed the game plan.

"The performance from the players was outstanding, probably the best of the season.

"The levels of performance from the midfielders, the wide players, Lee Gregory with his link-up play, was excellent.

“To almost get a clean sheet shows how well we marshalled the set-plays, and marshalled the centre-forwards that Middlesbrough have spent a lot of money on.

"Some of our build-up and counter-attacking play, and our use of the ball, was as good as I can remember for a long time. We created chances, we should have been out of sight at half-time, and then we had the opportunities to kill the game before conceding."

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly