BY DANIEL MARSH
Ryan Leonard has hailed the impact of Gary Rowett after he clocked up a year in charge as Millwall manager.
Rowett arrived in SE16 just over a year ago, with the Lions flourishing under his leadership. Since he took charge, only Brentford and Leeds – prior to their promotion – have won more points in the Championship than Millwall.
Leonard opened up on what’s been a “really enjoyable year” when asked about how much of an impact Rowett has had at the Den.
“[He’s] just tried to be positive, really. He’s got us playing a certain way – we’ve got a little bit of everything. We can play out [from the back] when we need to, we’re strong from set-pieces and we can play up to the front as well and play off the second ball. The gaffer’s got us playing in a really good way, whether we mix it up and go longer or go shorter.
“On a personal note, it’s been a really enjoyable year. Obviously it was difficult to start with for me, but since then I’ve really enjoyed playing under the gaffer and long may it continue. He’s got us on a good run at the moment and if we can keep producing [good] performances and results then great.
“We’ve added a bit of quality at the top end of the pitch as well as the midfield and the back. We’re just going to try and push on and improve from last year – if that takes us any higher [than last year’s eight placed finish] then great. But the biggest thing is we want to improve our performances and points from last year, and if that can get us higher in the league then it gets us higher in the league. As a group, we just want to improve. We’re not really setting any big aims, we’ve not said we want to finish here or here, we just want to improve each year and wherever that takes us then great.”
A number of Lions players have praised the team spirit, with some even going as far to claim it’s the best dressing room they’ve been a part of. Leonard was quick to share similar praise when discussing his team-mates, including this year’s new additions.
“We try to get a good team spirit in the changing room. We’ve got a really brilliant set of lads – everyone buys into it and it’s good fun. It’s a good changing room to be in. We have a laugh everyday off the pitch and on the pitch we work really hard and we try and get each other going, especially with no fans. We’re like brothers really, so it’s an easy changing room to come into if you don’t know anyone or you’ve not been around any of these lads. For us, that’s half the battle. We want to get everyone onside and when we’re out there we fight for each other and we run for each other – that’s a big thing for us. “
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