Zian Flemming has saved a football club from the drop before…but Millwall attacker doesn’t want final day drama again


Zian Flemming has played the role of saviour in a relegation battle before but does not want to be put in that position again on May 4.

Millwall have 13 matches remaining to secure Championship safety and their precarious position just above the bottom three triggered a head coach change on Wednesday as Neil Harris replaced Joe Edwards.

Flemming’s 12th goal of the season earned Fortuna Sittard a 1-0 win at NEC Nijmegen in May 2022 to stave off the drop on the final day of  the Eredivisie season. And he also produced a goal-line clearance in stoppage time to ensure his final match before a £1.7million move to Millwall ended in positive style.

Flemming is determined that the stakes are not so high when the South Londoners head to Swansea City for the culmination of the 2023-24 campaign.

“Our main target now is just to stay up,” Flemming told the South London Press, speaking before the departure of Edwards. “If you are where we are in the league now then you are in a relegation battle.

“That doesn’t mean it is going to take all 13 games to stay up – it could do, but we still have the faith that we can get things turned around and sorted a lot earlier than that because we’re better than where we’re at in this moment.

“What happened at Fortuna was incredible. We had a whole season of being in and around the relegation battle – especially the last five or six months were really tough. We were struggling every day and every week.

“That goal and clearance off the line to make us safe made it all worth it. It was a big day but, right now, I don’t want it again.

“Our focus right now is not when we are safe but about getting safe. We’ve got a good group and quality in the squad to get that done but sometimes football is complex – it’s not as easy as just going ‘oh, you’ve got the quality – you should win’.

“If you look at our story throughout this season and include the previous season (when Millwall only missed out on a play-off place  on the final day) then you can see last year that things maybe fell our way and we nicked 1-0 wins at home and on the road.

“Those things have been going against us a little bit and taken us into a negative spiral. Unfortunately the last few games it has also turned our performances down – before that it was not our performance that was miles off it, it was just results didn’t come off.”

Millwall were 45 minutes away from sealing a top-six finish in their final fixture of last season but a 3-1 lead over Blackburn ended in a 4-3 reverse that led to scenes of devastation at The Den.

There is plenty at stake again but with the reward very different

“I’ve still got so much confidence that we will turn it around and that success could be around the corner,” said Flemming, the subject of multiple bids from Burnley in the close season.

“I think we might look back at this period like ‘do you remember how stressful that was? But deep down everyone knows that we will get this done’. That’s the feeling I get from the club.

“I don’t mean that in the way that everything is going to be alright because it doesn’t come out of nothing – we have to work really, really hard to turn this around.

“But we have got good quality players and good personalities. Everyone is in there to work their a*** off. We have to be a team out there.

“The guys up front are also speaking to the ones at the back: ‘How does it feel for you? What do you expect from us? What can we do differently to help? This is what we expect from you’.

“It is about grinding it out every day. There are going to be setbacks. We’re not going to win all 13 games unfortunately. I hope we do but, being realistic, that’s not going to happen.

“There might be a bad performance, there might be a loss or poor performance at home again – with The Den not being happy with us – it could all happen. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to do it.”

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