Millwall boss explains what disappointed him more than keeper error in QPR defeat

MILLWALL boss Neil Harris felt his side deserved a point against QPR – but warned his players if they don’t perform “they don’t deserve the opportunity to play”.

On-loan Burnley forward Nahki Wells scored twice in the second half, either side of Shaun Hutchinson’s equaliser for the home side.

Wells’ second came after he intercepted Bart Bialkowski’s attempted pass to Jake Cooper.

Harris didn’t criticise the Polish international after his mistake.

“Football, that’s why we love it, one moment you’re up there, in the ascendancy, thinking 20 minutes to go at The Den, London derby, fans have found their voice, we’ve got a little bit of pressure on them, and then we make an individual error like that and the game’s gone,” Harris said.

“It’s frustrating. I feel for Bart, he’s a good lad, a good pro and a good goalkeeper. That’s football, isn’t it?

“First half we were the better team for 25 minutes. QPR were then the better team for 25 minutes but then we were getting our noses in front and got back on level terms.

“I thought we deserved a point out of the game. I thought it was feisty and scrappy and fast, but lacked a little bit of quality. I think when 3-5-2 plays against 3-5-2 it’s going to be like that. There are a lot of man-for-man battles.

“I can’t fault my players for lack of effort. I can fault them for giving the ball away cheaply, kicking the ball off the pitch. I’m more disappointed about things like that than about Bart for giving the goal away like he did.”

Harris brought back Hutchinson and handed Jason McCarthy a full debut at The Den as he switched to three at the back.

Harris explained: “It was to match them, to get Shaun Hutchinson back in the team as well. It enabled us to get a bit more pressure on them in key areas. It worked fine, the shape. We limited them to very few chances.

“Let’s be honest, the difference between the teams: we give the ball away for the second goal, it was a great finish from Nahki Wells for the first. We score a goal from a set-play but in open play we create four or five really good opportunities and haven’t got the quality to score.

“There you go. That’s it in a nutshell.

“I picked a system and I picked the best players to play in that system. We played Sheffield United a couple of times and changed to 3-5-2 and it’s always worked.

“Today I thought the shape worked to nullify QPR and their best four players, the front pairing and the midfield two, the attacking 10s. It worked the majority of the time barring just before half-time when they ran the game a little bit.

“Maybe I have to look at myself for a bit more consistency. I’ve never been a manager that tinkers with a team. I decided to because I thought the players deserved the opportunity, but if the players aren’t going to perform then they don’t deserve the opportunity to play.”

Harris was asked if he felt Jed Wallace’s shot which appeared to hit Marc Pugh’s hand should have been a penalty, and he replied: “I’m not here to talk about referees anymore, I’ve given up.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly