BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Jed Wallace has pinned the blame for Millwall’s disappointing form firmly at the feet of the players.
And the Lions winger, 26, reckons nobody could gripe if they were dropped by manager Gary Rowett.
The SE16 side lost 2-1 at home to Coventry City last weekend. They have won once at The Den in the Championship this season and taken 10 points from a possible 39 from their last 13 fixtures.
Wallace, who leads the club’s scoring charts with six goals, said: “We’ve had a difficult 10, 11-game block – I don’t think individually anyone is playing well.
“We certainly need to have a look at ourselves. As individuals, and I include myself, we have to perform better and that will help us get more positive results.
“We don’t want to be in the position we are in now. We want to climb the table. It’s still very tight. If we can put a run together then you climb the table very quickly.
“Saturday is an opportunity to try and get a bit of confidence that we’re probably lacking at the moment.
“We need to be hungry. I’ve played non-league myself and I know how difficult these games are. We’ll need to be at 110 per cent, otherwise we’ll come up short.
“We were well below our standards in the first half against Coventry – nothing to do with how we were set up. It was a case of individually we didn’t turn up in the first half. In the second half we played with a bit more pride and passion. Ultimately it was too little, too late.
“We’ve got a really good squad and a really good manager. I know we can improve.
“Over the course of 50 games under the manager we have looked a really good team. I’m hoping we can get back to that soon.
“Sometimes you need a bit of luck – like at Bristol City. Bradders [Tom Bradshaw] nicks a little touch and it goes in. But Coventry get an own goal and a deflected goal. It can be those fine lines which give you a bit of a boost, which is what we’re looking for. We have to make our own luck.
“It’s about being clinical in those moments. It’s what separates an average team from a really good team. Ultimately that’s nothing to do with formations, tactics or anything we do from Monday to Friday.”
The whole lockdown experience has been unenjoyable for the Lions.
The absence of their vocal and hostile home support – which can rattle their own players out of lethargy as much as intimidate the opposition – has been keenly felt.
And Millwall also saw their matches over the Christmas period called off with an outbreak of Covid-19 in the squad.
Wallace said: “It’s not ideal when you’re talking about players who don’t train for seven or eight days and they lose seven or eight pounds in that period – they’ve been really ill. It’s going to be difficult for them to perform to their normal standards. But it’s a squad game and we need other people to step up. Too many of us are not playing as well as we can.
“I don’t think anyone is playing to the high standards that we’ve set over the past couple of seasons.
“The Covid thing is not ideal, but plenty of teams are in a similar boat. They probably didn’t have as many cases as we did – having to shut the training ground.
“It’s been a bit of a mad transition period but we’ve been talking about it for too long – especially missing the fans at home. But they are probably not going to be there for the next couple of months, so we need to start improving performances there and getting The Den back to what it always has been – largely a fortress in the last four or five years.”
The poor performances against Coventry and Middlesbrough have put a more negative slant on results since the end of October.
There have been seven draws – Millwall have lost as many games as Middlesbrough and Stoke, both just outside the play-off zone.
“The reality is we’ve been very close to doing very well – in terms of the draws,” said Wallace. “There are games we should’ve won.
“Sheffield Wednesday we had two or three huge chances. Cardiff at home we gave away a poor goal. Blackburn we gave away a poor goal.
“How many of those draws are technically good draws? Not many. I’d say Stoke at home, where we didn’t really ever get going, and Norwich away. A lot have been bad draws, which is probably the same as last season – it cost us a lot of times. Barnsley at home we had great chances but couldn’t get that second goal.
“Confidence is not as high as we’d probably like it but it’s down to us to turn that around. There are plenty of teams in this league in a much worse position and it can change quickly.
“When you’re in adversity the only thing you can do is puff your chest out, try harder and train harder – give even more, if that is possible.
“We’ve had a week on the training pitch to work on a few things. It’s down to us to do better in those key moments – defend better, make better key passes, run harder and score more goals.”
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