Millwall claimed their first win in six Championship games as they cruised to a 4-0 victory at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
The Lions eased past a hapless Sheffield Wednesday side who even at this early stage look set for a swift return to League One.
Murray Wallace opened his account for the season from a George Honeyman corner and George Saville added a thumping second before the break as the Lions took control of the contest before half time.
Wes Harding added his third goal in four games following some woeful Wednesday defending from another set-piece. Brooke Norton-Cuffy added a fourth with a fine solo effort.
Here are Alex Grace’s four takeaways from the rout.
EDWARDS DEBUTS WITH A THUMPING WIN
Millwall had been searching for a victory since Gary Rowett’s departure with just two points taken from four games during Adam Barrett’s caretaker spell.
The Lions ended that wait with aplomb at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon. Yes, you could say that Sheffield Wednesday were poor – but Millwall exploited that to devastating levels, something that perhaps would not have happened under the previous management.
It looked like Edwards had taken the shackles off the team and allowed them to go out there and play with freedom.
It may have been his way of finding out what his side is capable of, in terms of what they can deliver and in what styles they can play. We already know that he wants to change the style of play and that will happen in a gradual manner but this was certainly a statement victory. I am pretty sure if you ask even the most diehard Lions fans they would not have expected the result that came at Hillsborough.
This was Millwall’s biggest away win in the second tier since a 4-0 win at Stockport in October 2001. We all know this is a side that has not scored many goals but Edwards said in his post-match press conference that he knew how clinical this team can be. Could this just be the start of a huge shift in goalscoring from this side?
MOUNTAIN MURRAY OFF THE MARK AS SET-PIECE GOALS RETURN
Millwall are a side that should be scoring more goals from set-pieces and they had been very strong in that area over the last few years. However this season we have seen that dwindle a little. The Lions had not scored from a corner in the current campaign until Wes Harding’s goal at Watford. Now that has happened, could we again see the goals flow from these situations?
Wallace did not have the strongest 2022-23. He went from being the Player of the Season to being heavily-criticised throughout the next. He is another who has always been a threat from set-pieces but before Saturday’s goal he had not scored in 56 league games. It was clear to see how much it meant to the Scotsman.
Much of the focus after the game with the Millwall head coach was on playing to his side’s strengths. Millwall have scored 11 goals from open play and eight from set-pieces. We saw a mixture of both in the four goals scored at the weekend.
Norton-Cuffy looks like he has been unleashed.
Adam Barrett had spotted something in the Arsenal loanee as he moved him to the more attacking role of right-wing for the game at Watford and it worked with great success. A big part of Edwards’ philosophy is going to be getting everyone pushing higher up the pitch – this will only benefit the likes of Norton-Cuffy, Danny McNamara and Joe Bryan, all of whom like to attack and be part of the forward plans.
Norton-Cuffy looked very comfortable on Saturday. He had been pushed back to right-back but the attacking intent that Edwards had instilled in his first week as head coach was evident through his performance.
His goal was brilliant as well. He had been getting down that right side very well and it was only going to be a matter of time before he caused a real problem. His ability to get past his man and then fire a shot into the bottom corner was superb. That could well be something we see more of from the England U21 international going forward.
Some would argue that an international break after a 4-0 win is not ideal but I would argue against that in this case.
The expectation levels will now rise after this result and performance in Edwards’ first game but there are things that need to be remembered. This was against Sheffield Wednesday, a team that have scored just seven goals and were hopelessly bad at defending. Millwall will not be coming up against this level of opposition every single week – they will be coming up against far stiffer challenges.
This two-week period will give Edwards plenty of time to work on the training pitch and put his ideas across to his players. It will be very interesting to see not only how the Lions line up against Coventry but also how they play. We saw some of the Edwards elements on Saturday – the defence pushing up more and playing out from the back with the two centre-halves distributing the ball deep into midfield.
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