We are now days away from the Football League kicking off, as we welcome the mighty Oldham Athletic to The Den for our first game of the season. Having had our last scheduled home game against Oldham, it would be a good indication of how far both sides have improved, or failed to improve during the close season.
As always in the build up to the opening day, the question which is most debated is what place we will finish in the league this season. Looking back to last season, expectations were pretty low in what was viewed as a transitional season for the club. We saw many players leave and new additions to the first team from within our own academy and externally from other clubs. To be fair, I think I got my prediction for last season spot on…
However this time around, with a stable squad kept together after losing in the play-off final, and three additions which seemed to have improved the squad. You can’t help but have an increase in expectations from everyone involved, both fans and the club itself. Ultimately, the goal this season has to be promotion to The Championship, a statement echoed by Harris himself when asked the question at the start of pre-season. The average age of the squad is still very young, however with the experience of last season, and with players like Thompson, Onyedinma and O’Brien with 30+ games under their belt, an improvement on last season should be a big possibility.
The key for Harris will be to replicate our form after the turn of the year. Not only were we picking up consistent points away from home, Harris also oversaw the turnaround of our form at The Den, where we suffered only one defeat in the league at home to Scunthorpe. Our home form in recent seasons before the last has been terrible, however if we are able to carry the form continuing into next season, we will be one step closer to achieving the goal of promotion. Players didn’t want to play at The Den, and fans were becoming inpatient (rightly so) however Harris deserves full credit for the turnaround, with the club facing in the right direction.
Another important factor to consider is the future of Lee Gregory, contributing 27 goals last season Gregory is a player who the club have decided to hold onto despite interest from the division above. Not only did Gregory finish as top goal scorer, along with Steve Morison the pair have formed probably the strongest partnership in the division. With both on form so far in pre-season, it will be important for the pair to hit the ground running to allow us to get points on the board during the early stages of the season.
My honest prediction for the coming season, while trying to not go with just my heart is for us to go on and challenge right at the very top and earn automatic promotion. I just feel with the squad of players we have, we shouldn’t have many off days and barring injuries our starting XI is a match of any side in this division. We have talented players such as Jordan Archer and Mahlon Romeo who I haven’t even mentioned yet, players who have that experience in an academy of a Premier League club and show that bit of class you need in a successful side.
Some of you reading this might think I’m being way too deluded and over confident on this, however on my Twitter Poll you’ll find below, a lot of you seem to agree with me. The only worry which always lurks in the back of my mind is that we’re Millwall, and we thrive on being the underdog and if that bit of pressure is on the team, how might we actually do? I do believe under Harris we should get out of the division this season – my #RequestABet with SkyBet was also accepted with 66/1 on Gregory top goal scorer and Millwall to win the league. Surely worth a punt on that, and I’ll take a share when it comes through!
Can this actually be our season?