BY ALEX GRACE
Gary Rowett has accepted that his Millwall side are set for another season in the second tier after the latest round of Championship results left them 10 points behind sixth-placed Bournemouth.
The Lions chief was speaking before most of the rest of the division played on Saturday following a 3-0 loss to Swansea City in the lunchtime kick-off slot.
“When the games occur today, I’m pretty sure we will be further away from the top six than we were at the start of the day and if that’s the case then realistically our chances are over,” said Rowett.
“I don’t think we ever really focussed on that [getting into the top six]. I don’t think we really ever looked at that as an option that’s within our grasp. We just wanted to keep the season going and see if someone slipped up in those positions. We didn’t do our bit, we will see after today’s games but we didn’t do our bit which was to perform well. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to beat Swansea, they are a good side. They played well today.
Despite Millwall’s play-off hopes appearing to be over the Lions chief will not accept his side switching off for the remainder of the season.
“If it means realistically that the gap is too big then we just have to finish the season strongly. It’s been a long season for everyone so far, I spoke to Steve [Cooper] earlier and we agreed it’s been a tough season in many ways – so I can forgive the players every now and then for not performing with the same level that we have done in recent weeks.”
Millwall won just two of 17 games between November and the start of February. They were 16th and just seven points above the bottom three after the 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest in mid January. Overall the Lions boss is fairly happy with their season to date but also admits there is frustration that they didn’t take their opportunity.
“I’m pretty pleased,” he said. “There are plenty of teams below us in the league that would expect to be above us, with the expectations of their fans and the money they have spent on players. For us it’s about trying to improve all the time, but that doesn’t mean because we finished eighth last season that we have to finish better than eighth. It’s a solid Championship side.
“What you have seen in recent weeks is that we are a good Championship side but we need that little bit extra to be a really good side and I thought that showed today at times. We’re happy with what we’ve done but when you’re there and you’ve got an opportunity it’s hard not to feel to disappointed when you don’t take it in the fashion we did today. “
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