Past connection to plenty in squad helped Neil Harris pull revitalised display out of Millwall’s players in win at Southampton

Neil Harris was asked how he had managed to so quickly pull out a ‘Millwall-type’ performance in today’s 2-1 win at Southampton – and admitted his previous connection to so many of the current players helped.

The 46-year-old was only appointed on Wednesday and had limited time on the training ground before the fixture at St Mary’s.

But Harris was celebrating at full-time as goals from Japhet Tanganga and Zian Flemming, from the penalty spot, secured a first victory since New Year’s Day.

“The eight or nine lads that are in that changing room that I gave their debuts to will do it for me,” said Harris, asked about the immediate transformation in energy levels and desire to grind out a vital three points. “It was lovely walking back into Calmont Road on Thursday morning and seeing them – because the last time I saw them at Calmont Road there were a lot of tears, the day I resigned.

“There were a lot of smiles this time, so that was a nice feeling.

“The lads that I have inherited that came after my first tenure have heard so much about me from the lads that they feel like they know me already!

“It will be different for them. I am a different character to the managers they’ve had recently. I do wear my heart on my sleeve – manage with spirit, laughter, character and personality. They are certainly going to enjoy themselves.

“I’ve been invited back to the football club to try and help – to support not just the football club but the group of players.

“We’ve got some good players, we’ve clearly got some good players and good lads. But, sometimes, that’s not just enough for Millwall – you need a Millwall way about you, a bit of guidance in that. I think I’m in quite a good position to offer that guidance and support.

“Today we saw that. What they have seen from me so far is not just about tactically trying to get it right – it’s about your character as well, your desire to want to win.

“The lads who don’t know me (before} have certainly seen my passion and my character already.

“Selfishly I’m delighted for me and my family. But it isn’t about me today. It’s a lovely start and it gives us a week to look forward to the next home game against Watford but all I care about is the club doing well.

“It’s the only reason that I’m here. I care about the club before myself first.

“I’m delighted for 3,000 fans to go home happy. I’m delighted for the 12,000 to 15,000 Millwall fans who will turn up next weekend excited about seeing their team.

“But the biggest thing for me is that I’m delighted for my changing room, my staff and the players in that changing room.”

Harris has managed in League Two, League One and the Championship this season.

His Gillingham side won 3-1 at Southampton in August.

“It was a similar game plan,” said Harris, asked if he had implemented the same tactics. “You can’t give up space in the middle of the pitch. Russ’ teams are too good, too organised and too structured – so good with the ball – you can’t give up space. We didn’t. They very rarely got through us. You have to invite wide but then they’ve got the best one-v-one players in the league, so you have to defend well.

“That’s why we picked the team we did, why I picked the full-backs I did against them – because I learned from earlier in the season. Different team today. No disrespect to Gillingham players but the players were better today – but similar game plan and similar outcome. We had to rely on the counter-attack and set-plays.

“It was a brave header (by Tanganga). There was an inswinging corner we should’ve scored from. We just get our timing wrong but we opened up the space that we identified. Today we had to go mid and low block – be structured and disciplined. The players had to trust in that, which they did, but then you have to find a way at the other end.

“We got a little bit of luck with the penalty. Was it going in, who knows? Possibly. Sometimes you have to appreciate and welcome that luck.”

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.