Opposition view: FA Cup quarter-final won’t distract Millwall ahead of City clash
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Ahead of today’s battle with Norwich City at The Den, Michael Avery of the Millwall Supporters Club is accentuating the positives as the Lions’ season enters crunch time.
How’s the mood in the camp following Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss at Hull City?
It’s a bit of a mixed at the moment, but if I’m honest I think we’re leaning more on the side of worry. We have been very unlucky with injuries to key players at the wrong time, but consistently playing players who are not on form when there are more deserving on the bench is also an issue. No-one will ever question whether Neil Harris is the right man for the job and he has the full backing of the fan base, but he needs to sort it out and quickly!
With a home FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton to look forward to, are you worried that could distract from staying clear of relegation trouble?
Millwall have always had a special connection with the FA Cup and apart from the season where we made the final in 2004, cup runs never really affect our league form. We use the results from cup competitions as catalysts to improve our league position – try to keep the momentum going if we win and try not to repeat the mistakes if we lose, so the cup run won’t affect our mentality.
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After such an impressive return to the Championship last season, where have things been going wrong in this campaign?
I think what fans outside SE16 need to realise is that last season was not the status quo. Yes, it was a fantastic season and being within touching distance of the play-offs was wonderful, but where we are now is a fair reflection of where we are as a club. We have one of the smallest budgets in the league, one of the lowest wage bills and revenue from ticket sales isn’t huge as our attendances are around 10,000 to 15,000. We cannot afford strikers who are in the £10-15million bracket which other clubs at this level can and there are a number of teams who still receive parachute payments from the Premier League. I wouldn’t necessarily say this season has gone wrong, people outside the club just need to realign expectations.
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No wins in the last four home league games, is The Den not as intimidating as it used to be?
Ask Everton if they found it intimidating or not!! In all seriousness, The Den is still a hostile place to go for an away fan and team, but the performances on the pitch haven’t matched the passion of the fans in the stands. This isn’t through lack of effort, it just follows on from the above answer where we don’t have the resources a lot of other clubs have.
Which players have impressed so far this season?
Shane Ferguson was a player who was finished at Millwall at the start of the season and told in no uncertain terms by Harris that he can look for another club, but since he has been back in the side he has grabbed the bull by the horns and has been a revelation. He is arguably player of the season and there has been recent outrage when he has been dropped for Ben Marshall, who returned to the club on loan. Another player who has impressed me is Ben Thompson since he returned from his loan at Portsmouth. He seems a different player since he came back and I can see now why Pompey were desperate to make the loan permanent.
How has Ben Marshall been getting on since returning on loan from the Canaries?
If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all. Next question....
Former City striker Steve Morison is 35 now, is he still a decent Championship player?
He certainly cannot start games as he doesn’t have the legs for the pace anymore, but he is a great player to bring on for the last 20-30 minutes when we need a goal or hold-up play.
Are you worried Norwich will be fired up to avenge last season’s 4-0 thrashing at The Den?
The Canaries are flying at the moment. If we don’t get this right, it can be a repeat of the Preston game where we were taught a lesson (losing 3-1 at home last weekend).
And finally, what is your prediction?
I’m going with my heart, an inspired 2-0 win for Millwall, come on you Lions!