BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris has stepped down as Millwall manager with immediate effect.
The 42-year-old was the seventh longest-serving boss in England’s top four divisions.
Harris’ assistant manager David Livermore has also left his role.
First-team coach Adam Barrett will take charge of Saturday’s home game against Leeds United.
Millwall chairman John Berylson told the club’s official website: “Firstly I would like to place on record my sincere gratitude to Neil for all of his hard work, commitment, determination and inarguable success as manager of this great football club.
“During his time in charge we have achieved so much and so many of his greatest moments as manager will live long in the memory of all Millwall fans fortunate to have seen and enjoyed them.
“Neil’s achievements ensure that he is listed alongside some of the club’s greatest-ever managers, furthering his legendary standing at Millwall.
“Alongside his coaching staff, Neil worked tirelessly to establish a culture both on and off the pitch which was befitting of the club’s history and heritage and this has undoubtedly been achieved. He has laid tremendous foundations from which the club can continue to build on in the months and years ahead.
“Neil’s name is synonymous with Millwall and he has always had the very best interests of the club at heart, managing with great pride, honour and integrity, and he departs with the best wishes of everyone connected with the Lions.
“Both Neil and David leave with their heads held high, forever friends of the club, and I wish them both every success in their future careers. They will always be welcome at The Den.”
Millwall’s statement said they “will now conduct a thorough recruitment process for a new manager. No further comment will be made until this is complete.”
Harris has been in charge for four years and 199 days at The Den and won the 2017 League One play-offs with the Lions.
The club’s first season in the Championship saw them finish eighth in the table – narrowly missing out on a play-off berth after a superb run of form in the first half of 2018.
Last season proved more of a struggle for Millwall, although they did reach the FA Cup quarter-final and were leading 2-1 against Brighton at The Den until David Martin’s mistake cost them dearly – misjudging Solly March’s effort in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Albion went on to win 5-4 on penalties after extra time.
Millwall secured their Championship safety with two games left to spare and Harris spoke about major changes being needed over the summer to prevent the struggles to survive continuing.
The Lions legend oversaw nine incoming transfers with 10 players moving on – including established first-teamers such as Steve Morison, Lee Gregory, Jordan Archer, James Meredith and Martin.
Millwall won three of their opening four matches in the 2019-20 – including a decent point at West Bromwich Albion – but are winless since a 4-0 hammering at Fulham on August 21.
They have drawn four of the next six and there was criticism directed at Harris and his players during Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw at Luton Town.
Harris, the club’s all-time record goalscorer, replaced Ian Holloway as manager in March 2015 – the Lions already too far gone to prevent relegation from the Championship. Harris initially took the role as caretaker but was confirmed permanently in the role on April 29, the day after they were mathematically down.
He took apart a bloated and demotivated squad and fashioned them straight into a side challenging for promotion back to England’s second tier.
Millwall were beaten by Barnsley in the League One final just over 12 months later but managed to go one better the next campaign, Steve Morison heading the winner against Bradford at Wembley. That season also saw a stirring FA Cup run which included dumping out reigning Premier League champions Leicester City, AFC Bournemouth and Watford before a 6-0 loss to Tottenham in the last eight of the tournament.
Harris has supplied stability at The Den but now the work will begin over the international break to secure a successor.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.