Matija Sarkic: Neil Harris has simplified Millwall’s game and given players extra clarity

Matija Sarkic says that new Millwall head coach Neil Harris has “simplified” aspects of the team’s play.

The summer signing from Wolves kept his first clean sheet since the win at Bristol City on New Year’s Day in Saturday’s victory by the same scoreline against Watford.

“It was a tough game, a lot of pressure in the second half,” said Sarkic. “I’m tired, even though I didn’t have much to do. I’m tired mentally – it takes a toll.

“It was a really good result for us.

“The gaffer has come in and taken us to a back four. He’s just given us clarity and simplified a lot of things. For myself, he’s just simplified my game, really. That helps – everyone is on the same page. I’m not saying we weren’t before but when we are struggling a bit you go back to basics and build from there.”

So what does simplifying Sarkic’s game mean?

“When you play a bit more expansive football more is required and demanded from you,” he said. “Playing out, being an option, helping organise my players and also defending my goal – there is a lot more for me to focus on. Whereas being more direct and compact at the back kind of takes away a few of the things I need to focus on. It means I can focus solely on defending the goal a bit more.”

Millwall have picked up two wins since Harris replaced Joe Edwards but are still only a point above the Championship bottom three after other strugglers have also produced an upturn in results.

Just six points separates Stoke in 22nd and Watford in 12th.

It has dragged more clubs into the battle.

“We want to get clear from it but the only thing we can do is focus on our results and our games,” said Sarkic. “I don’t want to look at the table too much and start overthinking things.

“It’s in our hands.”

Sarkic also made a vital late save at Southampton the weekend before to deny Alan Armstrong. Harris had talked about that moment being every bit as important as the goals from Japhet Tanganga and Zian Flemming.

Told he had a good couple of matches, Sarkic said: “I think so. We’ve had two good results and everyone’s confidence is going to be better.

“When you do have a good performance then you are confident and things tend to be a little bit easier. Confidence is always massive, it helps you.”

Harris has talked about the Millwall group getting used to a different approach than some of his predecessors at The Den.

Sarkic, asked how he has found working with the new boss, said: “Yeah, really good. A lot of energy and very loud. He keeps the boys on their toes – that is a good thing, to keep standards high. He is driving us in training and on the pitch as well.”

Millwall were once again backed by vocal support.

Sarkic said it “definitely” helped but added: “It doesn’t help me because I can’t speak to my players – it is too loud! Definitely we love it and want more of it.”

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