Daniel Marsh’s takeaways from Millwall’s season – Chopper enhances legendary status with potentially high-profile casualties in summer transfer window

Millwall’s 2023-24 Championship season had highs, lows and plenty of changes – on and off the pitch. Here DAN MARSH picks out his main takeaways from the campaign.


For a club which has been the epitome of stability since returning to the Championship in 2017, Millwall have endured an uncharacteristically turbulent year.

The departure of Gary Rowett saw the club roll the dice in a bid to evolve under Joe Edwards but his position soon became untenable after overseeing just four wins in three-and-a-half months.

The failed Edwards experiment left Millwall staring down the barrel with relegation to League One a real possibility. Enter club legend Neil Harris.

Even the most optimistic of Millwall fans would admit that Harris has exceeded all expectations since his return.

Only Ipswich Town, automatically promoted to the Premier League, have amassed more points – 27- than the 26 Millwall have banked under Harris, who ended up steering the Lions to a 13th-placed finish in the Championship.

There were eyebrows raised at the prospect of Harris taking charge for the 2024-25 campaign, but those have disintegrated over the past few weeks.

Five wins on the bounce – and eight from 13 matches overall – levels out as promotion form over a season. Make no bones about it, Harris has more than earned a stab at taking the club forward.

People querying whether Harris is the right option long-term are missing the point.

Modern football management is anything but a long-term gig.

An 18-month contract is anything but a long-term gig. Harris has already made it clear his role is to leave the club in a healthier position than the situation he inherited, regardless of when that may be.

Harris has not only proven that he was the ideal person to get the club back on an even keel, but also that he may well be the best person to take things forward.

And if not? At the very least he has cemented his status as one of the club’s all-time greats, if that were ever in doubt.


It won’t have been lost on Harris that the majority of the familiar faces who greeted him on his first day back at Calmont Road were players signed during his previous reign.

Times have moved on. Millwall, in some cases, arguably haven’t. But Harris’ early comments on recruitment indicate that there will be no room for sentiment heading into next season.

The likes of Jake Cooper, George Saville, Ryan Leonard and Tom Bradshaw have all featured regularly since Harris’ return. But others may be vulnerable to the summer transfer churn.

This is a squad which was built to play a 3-5-2 by Rowett. Harris has alluded to the fact that will probably not be the system he will deploy next year.
Relatively big names could fall foul in the coming months. Some already have.

Bartosz Bialkowski has already taken his Den bow after losing the number one spot to Matija Sarkic, who, rather fittingly, produced a stellar performance complete with a penalty save to coincide with Bialkowski’s final afternoon as a Lion.

Shaun Hutchinson could follow him out the door with his contract up. Murray Wallace, another Lions stalwart, has also had spells out of the team, like Hutchinson, and could find himself down the pecking order.

The jury is still out on summer signings Joe Bryan and Kevin Nisbet, too, while the club will likely be presented with further opportunities to cash in on a prized asset, such as Zian Flemming, to fund additional business.

Millwall have made their move early for Japhet Tanganga, which is positive, although it remains to be seen if they can convince him to become a fully-fledged Lion.

If Harris can bring in Tanganga and Ryan Longman, another loan star that is wanted on a permanent basis, then it would be a promising start to a big summer.

Either way, big, big decisions, lie ahead – and that could lead to some high-profile casualties.


After months of rotten results at The Den, Millwall have rediscovered the winning formula under Harris.

Home form has been the bedrock of Millwall’s play-off pushes in recent campaigns but for large periods of the season, the Lions have been unusually charitable on their own patch.

But if there was any Millwall manager you’d pick to win a one-off home game in SE16, it would be Harris. So it should come as no surprise he quickly turned things around at home.

The Lions only won nine of their 23 matches at The Den this season. Remarkably, five of them came under Harris.

Make no mistake, not many of the teams who enjoyed a nice afternoon in the capital this season will relish the idea of coming back to The Den with him back in tow.

And that’s just as well considering crowds have been impressive again throughout the season with a number of home sell-outs.

That impressive support, coupled with a positive update on the New Bermondsey redevelopment scheme, makes for a positive future.


Another positive has been the performance of Millwall’s academy teams.

Last year the Lions’ U21s won the PDL – a feat they’ve repeated this term. The U18s also enjoyed a superb run to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals, where they eventually succumbed to Leeds.

The challenge now has to be harnessing some of that young talent into the first-team environment.

It’s no coincidence that some of Millwall’s best periods of success have occurred with a strong homegrown element to their teams.

It’s been a difficult year for the likes of Romain Esse and Aidomo Emakhu, who haven’t hit the heights either would have liked since that opening day win at Middlesbrough. But they, and some of those below them, have to have a big part to play going forward, particularly if the Lions will continue to operate with a smaller squad.


While John Berylson was mourned heavily following his death in the summer, it feels as though the impact his passing has had on the season has been underestimated.

Even in his absence, Berylson continues to guide. It was ultimately his influence, after all, which saved Millwall this year given Harris’ promise to return in the club’s hour of need. How fitting is that?

It’s been a challenging start for his son, James, in his role as chairman. Fighting relegation and three head coaches is one hell of a baptism of fire, but the Lions chief has carried himself well.

The last week has seen significant changes take place off the field -Steve Kavanagh, Alex Aldridge and Billy Taylor have all exited the club with Steve Gallen fronting football operations and Mark Fairbrother the non-football side of the business.

Regardless of whether or not you were pro-Kavanagh or pro-Aldridge, I’d argue further turmoil was the last thing we needed headed into the summer break.

Implementing such a significant clean sweep – Kavanagh, Aldridge and Taylor were three senior members of staff – sent shockwaves through SE16 last week.

James Berylson and Steve Kavanagh unveil John Berylson Way – formerly Zampa Road (Picture: Brian Tonks/Millwall FC)

The decision to part company with Kavanagh, a seasoned Championship operator, and replace him with somebody who was previously at the club in a different capacity, has thrown up more questions than answers.

Aldridge probably had more hits than misses recruitment wise while Charlton, where Gallen divided opinion, remain entrenched in League One – the same division they spent most of his tenure in.

Change was guaranteed both on and off the pitch with Jimmy’s feet now under the table.

But change isn’t always a good thing. Only time will tell whether the right ones have been made.

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