By Jake Sanders
GARY Rowett admitted that the warm reception that he received from Millwall fans "meant everything to him" and praised them for lifting his players in the latter stages during their victory over Stoke City on Saturday.
The 45-year-old, who took over from Neil Harris on Monday evening, was given a warm ovation from the Lions faithful, who were chanting 'there's only one Gary Rowett' by the full-time whistle.
"It means everything," Rowett said. "We are really excited to be here. I think if there is an example of a club welcoming a manager and new staff into the wings, this club have been absolutely unbelievable, they couldn't have done any more.
"Everyone is so friendly, everyone wants to work, everyone wants to help, it has been a brilliant first week. It's like anything, what you hope is you end that week with a good result.
"I actually think the Stoke fans were really good as well, they didn't give me too much stick, which I'd like to thank them for. But the Millwall fans were brilliant, we know our fans will get behind the team.
"The biggest thing for me today is when we needed them, when we were deep, when we were struggling to get out, they got behind the players and they were lifted by that little bit of energy and that in turn lifted the players energy. That is going to be important moving forward."
Ben Thompson's first goal of the season put Millwall in front before Jed Wallace was fouled and smashed home the resulting penalty to double the lead and ensure Rowett got his Lions reign off to the perfect start.
He said: "It is certainly a very good start and I think when you have had a day and a half with the players it is difficult because you do not want to overload them with too much information but you want them to obviously get the idea of what you want them to do.
"We did a lot of work on switching play against Stoke's diamond and I felt first half it worked really really well. We got Mahlon [Romeo] out into space and Mahlon was a real threat stepping into that space and I think Stoke changed their formation quite a few times in the game to try and stop it.
"I thought Thommo [Ben Thompson], Jed [Wallace] and Fergie [Shane Ferguson] had some real good movement, Bradshaw, so I am really really pleased.
"I think their first shot on target was 85 minutes, which was just a header looping into his hands, but to fair to Bart [Bartosz Bialkowski], he has had to claim a few crosses and he had to go and dominate his box, which he done really well.
"We didn't start very well second half it was always my concern after being so good first half that we wouldn't be able to play with that intensity. We are were always mindful of that and when you are 1-0 down and a good side like Stoke can play with a little bit more freedom, their midfielders were always the ones that were going to be difficult to stop.
"We forced it wide, we dealt with the ball in the box – you know with the two centre-halves that we have got, a ball in the box shouldn't really lead to a free header and should not really hurt us.
"I would like us to get out a bit quicker, I would like us to be a little bit more aggressive when we get into that deep shape, but I actually felt that because the crowd got behind us and supported us it made us finish strongly and actually for the last 25 minutes we finished really well and created more chances and maybe could have nicked another one."
Wallace's penalty was his fifth goal of the campaign and Rowett was surprised that the Lions winger had enough energy to take the spot-kick after the lung-busting run that led to him being brought down in the box.
"He has been fantastic for two days training, like everyone, it just shows what the team is. They have got great energy and great desire and I am pleased that we are able to show that we can play a little bit in certain areas. Jed is the one that can get you up the pitch. He is that little bit of pace down the side and he showed it for the goal.
"He picked the ball up on the edge of the box, a great run. He just gets in front of [Badou] Ndiaye, [Liam] Lindsay just tried to stick his leg out to foul him but he has just took a touch to open the angle and knocked it past him. It was a great little bit of movement and Ndiaye ends up catching up and Badou is quick, but Jed showed his pace as well, the only thing I was surprised about is that he had any energy at all to get up and take it.
"But when I think you are someone who likes goals then I don't think that is too much of a problem. He took the penalty great and it settled us down I thought we saw the game out fairly comfortably."
Image: Millwall FC