With the season just over a month away, I thought it would be a good idea to preview three players that, in my opinion, can become crucial players for our side. The last few seasons haven’t been great viewing for us as fans, constantly fighting against the inevitable relegation. Harris has promised changes this season, with a young attacking team. This was evident towards the end of last season, however with little to play for and no added pressure. Now, with a month and a half with his squad of players, including a week in Portugal, Harris has the chance to stamp his identity on the side. We’ve seen three new players come in; Tony Craig, Jordan Archer and Joe Martin on free transfers. Of course we’ve missed out on two further targets but for now Harris has his core of players to work with. Our first game of Pre-Season is less than a week away, and it’s in these games that you will see Harris experiment, not only with players but also formations. Anyway, lets get on with this post…
Having originally joined the Lions at the start of Holloway’s tenure, Upson was said to be the dynamic box to box midfielder to carry the ball from defense to attack, with an eye for goal also. We did see glimpses of this during his first games, however going into last season Holloway looked to have changed his opinion on Upson, deciding to go with Scott McDonald in the attacking midfield role. We did see the occasional goal; away to Huddersfield and Bournemouth, showing his ability in and around the box but otherwise not much more. Towards the end of his spell Holloway saw Upson as a squad player, the player himself often vented his frustration on Twitter, I for one like seeing this as a fan. It shows to me he cares that he is not playing, and also believes he could help the team if he was. Of course there is certain comments that shouldn’t be made as players to undermine the manager but showing frustration is good signs as fans.
It will be interesting to see where he will play in the team, towards the end of last season he was one of the stand outs for his effort and ability on the ball, however he was playing on the right hand-side of a four man midfield. I believe to get the best out of Upson, he would be in a central midfield as the ‘Advanced Playmaker’, away to Brentford he laid on a superb assist for Lee Gregory with a first time pass. He also has the energy to play in the middle, however it seems Harris prefers Williams and Abdou in the middle. I personally see Ed having a great season with us, contributing massively with assists and goals, whether that be on the right or centrally in the midfield.
Fred has been the most promising players to come through our ranks for a long while. Going a few years back he won the school boy of the year award, nominated by then manager Kenny Jackett. He then committed his future to us despite having interest from the big clubs of the Premier League. Returning from his loan with Wycombe, scoring 8 goals during their pursuit of promotion he has shown his ability to play anywhere across the attacking positions of the pitch. Similar to Upson, Fred’s best position is behind the striker, he himself even stated to this in a recent interview. However, with the pace he possesses, we shouldn’t be surprised if Harris uses Fred as a winger on either the left or right hand side. Having once again committed to the club in the summer, Fred is a player with a load of potential, and more importantly, he wants to fufil this with Millwall Football Club. Harris knows about his game, having been his mentor for two years like O’Brien, Nelson and Powell.
Having proved he can score goals for both the U21’s and with Wycombe, I predict Fred to finish the season with 10 or more goals; providing he goes injury free. More importantly, Fred will bring the pace and flair into our side which we’ve previously had a lack off, looking at our current squad Fred, Lee Martin and PCH present our pacy outlet in the side. I personally believe we need a left footed option to come into the side also, such as Adam Reach from Middlesbrough, last season he was available on loan and went to Bradford. Not the fastest however provides width and has a good delivery of the ball.
Last but by no means least, we look at Lee Gregory. The Yorkshire forward arrived at Millwall last summer for £250,000 from Halifax Town. Having scored 77 goals in 126 appearances for the conference side, Lee was subject to interest from numerous Championship sides, but it was Holloway who got their first. He started well, in his first game for us he won the penalty which was converted by Shaun Williams, in the opening day win against Leeds. His first goal came towards the end of September at home to Birmingham, however he was then unable to kick on from this and while under Holloway only scored 5 goals. I myself was critical of Gregory, he had chances in games that could have changed the out come, it was our luck that Gregory would miss the chance, and a minute later the opposition would score. Perhaps as I was at every game and witnessed our fall, like a lot of other fans we were looking for answers. Often in the Championship you might only get one chance a game, and you need a forward in top form to take those chances.
Since Harris’ appointment he has given Gregory the most backing in the public of all players, he quickly rectified the issue of the front man playing on his own up top, and Gregory repaid the faith shown in him by scoring 4 goals in 10 games. Again, not statistics to get you off your seat, but it has been clear to see the transformation in his style of play and confidence with Harris as manager. On the last line of defence and pressuring the back four into mistakes, these are two elements of Gregory’s game that earned him his move from Halifax last summer. Now in a lower division, you’d expect Gregory to get more chances in games, and I hope he delivers now he has had a year to get used to the demands of League football. Harris last season promised Gregory would score 20+ goals this season, I guess we should wait and see. With a target man on the list of transfer targets, it should provide the perfect element to the front line that could see Gregory fufil his potential.
As always, it would be great to hear your opinions and views on what was discussed today.