‘We still are in a precarious position’ – Millwall defender Bryan refusing to get carried away by strong form


Millwall’s fortunes have taken a serious upturn since Neil Harris walked back through the Den door but that doesn’t mean that Joe Bryan is about to start taking Championship survival as a given.

Japhet Tanganga’s late winner in Saturday’s home game against Birmingham City means the Lions have won three and drawn once since Harris replaced Joe Edwards as head coach.

The South Londoners have banked 10 points from four matches – including back-to-back successes on home turf.

It has added a layer of respectability to what had been a woeful record in SE16 – Millwall have lost nine home league games and the last time they crept into double figures was the 2014-15 campaign (11).

Asked if he had felt pressure going into some of their recent meetings with the likes of Southampton, Watford, Blackburn and the

Blues, Bryan told the South London Press: “Of course, of course…but that’s good. We were in a precarious position, and I suppose we still are.

“We are not getting carried away yet and saying we have got out of the relegation scrap because if you look at the league – especially this season – it’s incredible how tight it is.

“We need to enjoy the pressure, that is the main thing in football.

“We’re doing alright. We’ve had an up and down season – the 10 points we have picked up in the last four games have been brilliant.”

Millwall have kept the fourth most clean sheets in the division (12) behind Sunday’s opponents Leeds United (17), West Bromwich Albion (15) and Leicester City (13).

Matija Sarkic has been in goal for eight of the Lions’ shutouts – five at home and three on the road.

“We’ve kind of gone back to what as a club we are about – fighting, grit and determination,” said Bryan, twice a promotion-winner from England’s second tier with Fulham.

“We’re not going to get too excited. We know how quickly things can change – both ways – in this league.

“Not conceding goals is something the club, for a very long time, has taken pride in. That is the basis of a good team – so we’ve got the starting blocks. We just need to focus on scoring a few more goals and achieving at the other end of the pitch.”

Bryan joined Millwall at the start of July after his Fulham contract expired.

At the time the South Londoners were still coming to terms with missing out on a play-off place on the final day of the 2022-23 season.

It seems safe to say that Bryan did not envisage that what lay in store with the Lions was a scrap to pull away from trouble?

“No – definitely not,” said the 30-year-old. “But in this league I don’t think anything gets decided until the last two weeks of April – because it is always so tight.

“We’ve been a bit disappointed with the way we have performed at times this season but all we can do now, with nine games left, is pick up as many points as we can – get the club into a comfortable place.”

Millwall’s resurgence under Harris is set for stern scrutiny by a Leeds side that are in the second automatic promotion spot.

“The atmosphere there is always good,” said Bryan. “It’s always a very, very tough place to go but one we will relish – you like playing at places that are proper English football grounds. We enjoy those kind of fights.”

The start of the Lions’ unbeaten run started at Southampton, another club who were in the top flight until the start of this campaign.

“In this league, especially, you can’t ever go and fear a team,” said Bryan.

“Myself, as a defender, I will defend as best that I can and attack as best that I can – run around.

“If all 11 players of ours do that then we might come away with a result. We might not, but that’s just the way football works – we can only go in with no fear and try our best to win the match.

“I was defensively happy with how I performed against Birmingham. I’m always priding myself a little bit more if I can provide a solid defensive display and then add some attacking outlet – I didn’t really get the chance to go forward.

“The first thing to do is get a clean sheet and be solid defensively. The right winger (Koji Miyoshi) is a dangerous player and I think I did alright to lock him up. Luckily Japh nodded one in at the end.”

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