JED Wallace isn’t going to curb his natural instincts to try and beat players – but admitted he needs to be more “mature” in certain situations.
Wallace, nominated for Championship player and goal of the month for December, has been enjoying his best season in a Lions shirt, but had a low point against Barnsley in December when he was dispossessed in the 94th minute and Patrick Schmidt scored a winner seconds later.
Wallace said that Lions manager Gary Rowett didn’t give out to him for the mistake, but instead encourages risk-taking.
Wallace also revealed captain Alex Pearce’s reaction after the 3-1 win over Luton on New Year’s Day, and how it illustrates the ethos at the club.
Pearce had been tactically substituted three minutes before half-time in Millwall’s live TV game against the Hatters.
“There ain’t too many like Pearcey now,” Wallace said. “On Sky Sports he gets taken off [in the first half] and after the game he’s going around saying ‘well done’ to the boys. That’s what sets the tone throughout the whole club.
“The 23s are winning games at the moment because it’s set right through the training ground. That comes from the manager with his mentality, down to Pearcey and through the group.
“We’ve been doing bloody well recently so the manager would say he hasn’t needed to shout! At half-time against Luton he said, ‘if we’re going to lose, let’s lose the right way. Let’s have a go.’
“As a player that takes the pressure off you. He didn’t once say to me after the Barnsley game where I made a mistake, ‘you can’t do that’. He knows nine times out of 10 I do beat someone. It’s more just myself recognising it.
“He’s been prepared for us to lose, for us to win, which has been refreshing. He’s happy for me to have four shots if I put the fifth one in. Football now and those moments of quality, you need to be able to fail to be able to win.
“That’s sort of his mentality, which is why we’ve won a lot of games since he’s come in. We’ve been brave enough to put our foot on the ball, take risks in the right areas for the greater good, and we’ve pushed up the table doing that.”
Wallace reflected on that error against Barnsley, and pointed out he scored that nominated goal against Cardiff in the following game.
He said: “It was an immature moment for me, probably, I’ve played enough football at my age to know I should just clear it. But my argument would be I did the same thing against Stoke and ran down the other end and got a penalty.
“It’s just picking the right moments, when to do it, when not to do it. For me moving forward it’s identifying, actually on the day we haven’t played well as a team, so let’s just take a point, keep the unbeaten run going and move on.
“I put my hands up straightaway, I should have been mature enough to clear my lines. Everyone makes mistakes throughout the season – but the next week I got a free-kick and put it in the top corner from 40 yards!
“You take the good with the bad.”
*Read a longer interview with Jed Wallace in this Thursday’s Southwark News, in which he talks about the different leadership characteristics of players past and present at Millwall.
Wallace: “Moro was an interesting one because he took all the pressure on himself, which helped a lot of the players. That worked for Moro and against him because when we didn’t win it would be Moro’s fault. He’s been the iconic Millwall player of the last generation.
“Moro had real mental toughness when it wasn’t going well. He’d be doubted but he’d come back and that’s what made him such a good player, even at the age of 34 or 35.”
Image: Millwall FC