Fresh coat for Jackett’s Lions
Millwall enjoyed a fine spring run to pull clear of the relegation places last term but in a division which has arguably become stronger still, the Lions face another battle to compete…
Barnsley ｜ Birmingham ｜ Blackburn ｜ Blackpool
Bolton ｜ Brighton ｜ Bristol City ｜ Burnley
Cardiff ｜ Charlton ｜ Crystal Palace ｜ Derby
Huddersfield ｜ Hull ｜ Ipswich ｜ Leeds
Leicester ｜ Middlesbrough ｜ Millwall ｜ Nott'm Forest
Peterborough ｜ Sheff Wed ｜ Watford ｜ Wolves
After almost five years in charge, Millwall boss Kenny Jackett is the Championship’s longest-serving manager. His time at the helm coupled with the stable off-field situation, prompted by the club’s American investors, has made the Lions one of the more settled Football League outfits. It wasn’t quite enough to keep the South Londoners clear of the relegation places during 2011/12 but a fine late burst saw them finish the campaign comfortably safe of trouble.
Jackett endured a few nervous moments last season: the Lions went ten league games without a victory between August and October and slumped again over the festive period. The manager’s position was said to be under threat after the difficult winter but the 50-year-old eventually dragged his side through, masterminding a run of five straight wins during April.
Having guided the club into the Championship in 2010 and leading them to a ninth-placed finish a year later, Jackett has earned himself breathing space. He may not always be the most charismatic presence but the Welshman is a dependable and even-mannered leader.
The end-of-season run has engendered a certain degree of optimism at the Den but the sluggish start to the campaign has not been forgotten. Jackett must build not only on the momentum of the spring but also the footballing culture – the Lions were rudderless in the winter but loan signings prompted a slicker style. However, with Harry Kane now back at Tottenham and the future of talismanic striker Darius Henderson still in the balance, Jackett’s use of the transfer window will be crucial.
The arrivals of Scott Malone from Bournemouth and midfielder Chris Taylor from Oldham have piqued interest, while Andy Keogh begins his first full season with the club having impressed in the run-in. But the concern may be that it took the threat of relegation to bring the best out of the Lions last term, and that was an upturn driven in no small part by the fresh legs of loan arrivals.
The core of Jackett’s squad has been together for a significant spell, including keeper David Forde, skipper Paul Robinson and last season’s player of the year Jimmy Abdou, and if the manager can integrate the new arrivals to suitable effect the Lions have reason to believe. But with ambitious trio Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield joining the division, casting aside the threat of relegation will once again be the priority for Millwall.
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