NEIL Harris has given a searing interview after Millwall’s last home game this season – revealing some players have told him they don’t want to play for the club again.
The Lions lost 2-1 to Bristol City on Tuesday night, but it was the season as a whole that was under the spotlight, with Harris making that startling revelation.
He hinted at a lack of professionalism from certain players, and insisted he would be “ruthless” making changes this summer.
“I picked a team I knew that was going to work for me, that care. I put the three young lads on the bench because they care,” Harris said.
“We’re short of numbers because of injuries. The young lads have done well in the younger teams.
“There will be a lot of change in the summer, a lot of change. Some players have really let me down this year, have let the football club down. There’s been a lot that won’t come out that has made it difficult.
“A lot goes on that people don’t see. What I want is a group of players that I’ve had in the past that we’ve not had at times this year. A group of players that show commitment to the cause, that are good in the dressing room, that are professional within the football club, have a winning mentality and want to be better and learn.
“Players this year haven’t had that, that have told me they don’t ever want to play for this club again.
“We have to invest and get better players in over the course of the summer, because the Championship is getting better and if we don’t then we’ll get further away. That was evident this year.”
Harris was asked for more detail on the kinds of problems he was referring to.
He said: “I won’t answer that at the moment. I cannot be any clearer, I can only have people that want to be at this football club within my changing room. People that put their professionalism and their job and their love for the game before anything else.
“Footballers are no different to society, no different to your friends when they have issues. The level of performance from some individuals this year has been nowhere near good enough.
“I’m the guy that has to stand on the touchline and take the brunt of it because I always back my players – but they’ve let me down at times this year individually and I won’t accept that moving forward.
“The time for change hasn’t been in January, hasn’t been in February or March. The time for change is in the summer – and I will change it.
“I don’t know exactly [how many players will be recruited] because of contract situations. I’m going to be ruthless this summer. I know exactly what I want to do.
“We’ve had a great period at this club. I took over at a time when relegation was inevitable. I changed the personnel because there were too many senior players on a lot of money that didn’t care about the club. I managed to get them out and bring new players through.
“We’ve just completed a four-year cycle. I’m not going to end up in that situation again.
“We’ve had two play-off finals culminating in promotion. We came eighth in the Championship last year on the smallest budget in the division. Two FA Cup quarter-finals. I’m not going to allow that to disappear without having the opportunity to build a new team, we have to build a new squad.
“We need better players than what we’ve got, better personalities than what we’ve got. That’s what I’ll be telling everybody.
“I don’t do social media so I don’t need to hazard a guess what’s on it. I know my players better than anybody, I know my group mentality better than anybody. I know what needs to change. I know what players need to go and I know the players that need to come in. I’ll be doing my damnedest to change it.
“People have had an opinion this year, fair play to them, that’s fine, but I won’t allow people to question me or my changing room next season if it’s not right.”
Harris was then asked if it was to do with recruitment last summer.
He responded: “The game changes, the game moves on. Players get older. They get egotistic, they get self-important. That’s not just my players, I’m talking about in general. Players do get older, you do have to change things. Players are in form, out of form. Class is permanent for a period of time, form is temporary. If they don’t come out of that bad form you’ve got to change them.”
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