After a surge up the table earlier in the season, and an FA Cup semi-final, Kenny Jackett’s Millwall are battling for Championship safety. Alex Aldridge from News at Den tells us what to expect from the home side…
What’s the verdict on this season so far?
This season has been slightly crazy. Looking at it purely in terms of the Championship, Millwall are edging, albeit painfully slowly, towards Championship safety having been in the play-off hunt at the turn of the year. That rapid decline has been hard to take although pretty straightforward to explain in that, since strikers Chris Wood and Darius Henderson departed, the Lions simply haven’t been scoring enough goals.
This season has been the inverse of last, when Millwall made a slow start but a fast finish. Ultimately the end result looks like it will be about the same (59 points or so and another year in the division) but there is definitely a sense of frustration that there wasn’t this time last year.
Throw in an FA Cup semi-final and it’s quite hard to sum up the season as a whole. There are certainly a wide range of opinions amongst the fans as to whether it’s been a success, a failure or somewhere in between. My glass is more half-full than half-empty.
Will you be safe from relegation now?
I’m fairly confident Millwall will stay up, albeit probably by the skin of their teeth, and perhaps even because of other results rather than their own. One more point should be enough, although a win on Saturday would put everyone at ease.
How highly do the fans rate Kenny Jackett?
This is a hot topic at the moment. Millwall’s decline in the second-half of the season has lead some fans to question Jackett’s management and decisions in the transfer market, whilst others are more sympathetic due to circumstances and factors that, frankly, have been out of his control – injuries, suspensions, a comparatively small budget and a fixture pile-up as a result of the cup run.
The fact that Millwall were in the play-off positions at one stage naturally raised expectations and so a relegation battle has certainly come as a shock. I’d say, on the whole, the vast majority of supporters are behind Jackett and continue to rate him highly. There’s no doubt, though, that he has an important summer coming up in terms of rebuilding his squad and a few wins to finish the season would go a long way to lifting the mood.
What can we expect tactically?
With a fully-fit squad, Jackett’s choice of formation would probably be a 4-3-3, but central midfielders Liam Trotter and Richard Chaplow are both out injured, making that system less suitable given who he has available, so I think we’ll see a boring 4-4-2 on Saturday.
Who are the key players to watch out for?
It’s fairly slim pickings at the moment, with seven potential starters either injured or suspended. Winger James Henry has had an excellent season so far but, since returning from a knee injury, he hasn’t quite been able to rediscover his form. Nevertheless, with a run of games now under his belt, Saturday could be the day he fires again. It does seem like only a matter of time.
Liam Feeney, who has generally been on the fringes this season, impressed against Blackburn in the week and is likely to be handed another start on the other wing. Those two will be crucial if Millwall are to get a positive result.
What’s going to happen on Saturday?
Millwall have an appalling home record this year but have generally done well against teams in the top-half. I don’t think they have the firepower to win on Saturday, so I’ll predict a draw. 1-1.
You can follow Alex on Twitter: @accordingtoaldo
The latest championship betting odds have Forest as favourites for this match and a win will ensure they keep in the running for the play-offs.
Image: Richard Croft (CC-BY-SA-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons