Millwall 1-0 Ipswich ~ Match Musings

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Hello again, dear readers, I am returning from a bit of a self-enforced sabbatical from jotting down my musings (or ramblings, as some may say) due to real life taking over from my imaginary world that live in when sitting in front of my laptop guiding my arthritic digits over the keyboard in the vain hope that what comes out on the screen makes some sort of sense to others who may have the misfortune to stumble upon it.

So, what’s new in the world of Millwall then? Fucking hell, did Father Christmas over shoot the festive period and land us with a belated Christmas present or what! Ian Holloway as Millwall’s manager? Did any of you see that one coming as I certainly didn’t? His name has been mentioned before as a sort of “perfect fit” for Millwall but I never thought the day would come when he would be at the helm at the Den.

But he is here and like the proverbial breath of fresh air, he has come in like a West Country whirlwind to add his infectious encouragement, enthusiasm and downright enjoyment of watching a football team that he is in charge of.

I was fortunate enough to get a insight into our new manager’s way of thinking as me and MrsB joined my brother and his two sons in the executive lounge as match ball sponsors.

Mr Holloway came up before the teams were announced and held court for about fifteen minutes explaining his way of doing things and what his immediate plans are.

I can tell you, he is as mad a box of frogs but he has bundles and bundles of energy and his footballing brain is extremely acute and he was deadly serious in telling us how he intends to change our fortunes. No quick fixes, no magic wands, just hard work, getting our unfit players fit for purpose and cutting away any dead wood that we have dragging the good ones down.

He very quickly endeared himself to everyone with a clever bit of manipulation by having his reasoning as to why he and the Lions are a match made in heaven. He said in the footballing world, no one likes him and he don’t care…he also said that over the coming months or even years he will take all the critism we can throw at him when things go wrong but he added that we should never ever criticise his team for it will never be their fault IF THEY DO WHAT HE HAS ASKED THEM TO DO!. Simple and effective and he reiterated that any players that either are not capable of what he wants or are not interested in trying to do what he wants will be shown the door.

Refreshing sentiments indeed.

He also stated categorically that our lot are about as unfit as is humanly possible for a team of professional Championship players. The Portugal trip is not a jolly, it is a preseason training session. He didn’t criticise Lomas or Lomas’ staff, he just said that he was glad it happened because if it didn’t then he wouldn’t be standing there talking to us now. Total honesty.

His team for the visit of Ipswich was going to be set up as a 4-2-3-1 so we had Forde in goal (he’s the one wearing the gloves according to Mr Holloway) at the back, new signing Ryan Fredericks (this boy is quick, like a man with his dinner ticket running before they close), Shittu (a knee like a pineapple with half a bottle of wine being poured into it that has to be drained off) and Lowry (good left foot) as centree backs (not a typo, he really did say cen-tree) with Scotty Malone ‘bombin’ down the left flank.

He likes his full backs quick. Overlapping his wide men but just as quick to get back and defend. He sees Bailey as his holding midfielder, his position is in front of the back four and he will not be venturing too far forward because he is not that type of player, that is Trotter’s job and that leaves Keogh, McDonald and Martin as his forward three with Morison in front of them as the out and out striker.

Be prepared for them to run out of steam, he warned, the fitness levels really are piss poor and they are not currently capable of playing the high tempo football Mr Holloway will be demanding.

He also made a point of telling us that when they get the ball we will hound them to make them give the ball to their weak leak and then our lot will back off so don’t worry when we see this happening as it is part of the plan, he told us that this player was useless and would either give us the ball or put it out of play.

His effervescence really rubbed off on everyone and as we settled down to see if what he had told us would happen, the atmosphere around the ground was picking up nicely. Being out in the centre circle having photos taken with captain Shittu, the noise was quite something, what hair remains on my bald pate was standing up on end, you really don’t feel this from the stands, no wonder the players say it lifts them.

We went at them from the start, the up tempo harrying and scurrying was clearly in evidence and players who might be considered also rans were suddenly front runners as the fast pace clearly caught out erstwhile Lions manager McCarthy and his tractor boys.

Purposeful, I think the right adjective is; we looked like a unit of players, at long last and with Mr Holloway calling the the shots in the most animated fashion, it was quite a revelation to the absolute drivel we have been served up thus far this season.

Another astonishing site was Liam Trotter going hell for leather into tackles and a robust challenge after about ten minutes saw poor Tabb get carted off on a stretcher and then soon after the big midfielder came perilously close to opening the scoring when he hit a curling effort that went narrowly wide.

Forde was called into action so it wasn’t all one way traffic but he was more than a match for the efforts aimed at his goal,

The crosses were coming in from the lively Lions at a regular rate, the end product clearly needing some fine tuning but with about five minutes of the half remaining new Loan signing Fredericks moved along the right flank and lofted a cross that looked like it was going too far but it caught everyone out including the hapless Gerken in the Ipswich goal as the ball dropped straight into the net. 1-0 and the place erupted.

It was no more than we deserved for the way had set about the task but the half ended in a worrying way with David Forde coming off injured, his replacement, Bywater getting a bit of a mixed reception but he had little work to do to see the half out and the lads went off with some very appreciative cheers and applause ringing in their ears.

The second half saw much the same from Millwall but the fatigue was starting to rear its ugly head and the visitors were finding a few chinks in the armour but a resolute Danny Shittu was in imperious form at the back and even when he was beaten to a high ball his defensive team mates were willing and able to step up to the plate.

It was actually Lee Martin we all had to thank next as he proved his defensive game was working when he headed a Smith header off the line as Ipswich strove for parity as the game wore on.

Martin went from hero to villain soon after as he missed the best chance of the game. He benefitted from some good link up play between McDonald and Keogh and worked his way into the box and after creating acres of room he unaccountably fired his shot over the bar from six yards with just Gerken to beat.

Bailey and Trotter were replaced by Wright and Abdou respectively as the tired legs began to show and we had the bizarre situation when Shittu went down after a tackle followed by Fredericks and Malone who all needed treatment with no subs left to come on. Thankfully a touch of cramp was about as serious as it got.

Bywater did his bit as well, saving a one on one with Taylor as it seemed certain the Tractor boys were going to get an undeserved equaliser and then the loose ball was quickly dealt with as the sighs of relief reverberated around the Den.

When the final whistle went, the cheers and celebrations were, to be blunt, way over the top but no one cared and no one wanted to leave, the new manager was out on the pitch cuddling his team and anyone else who was near him including the groundsmen.

With Status Quo back on the turntable and the gramophone set to 45 r.p.m. it was just like the old days again, the infectious spirit of Mr Holloway permeating through every pore of the Den faithful as the belief started is oh so slow journey through the torturous souls left haggard and shredded by the Lomas era.

We made our way back to the executive lounge and the place was buzzing with uncontrolled excitement, Shittu was feted like a mahogany God as he was given a rousing welcome as he collected the MOTM award, it was quite emotional.

And speaking of emotional, the rest of the day went swimmingly well as my brother’s benefit party was well attended by loads of fellow Millwall fans and the surrealist moment of my particular day was when me and Kevan had to go and collect a certain Mr Terry Hurlock from the Stanley and ferried him back to the social club where a good time was had by all.

If this is just the start of the Holloway era then I for one am strapping myself in and getting ready for the ride, it is going to be, shall we say, quite interesting?

Correct observation followed by meticulous deduction and the precise visualization of goals is vital to the success of any enterprise ~ Terry Pratchett
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    Brilliant! Like reliving the day, with a few added extras thrown in.

    So glad you and you Brother and the rest of the family had a day to remember.

    Captured it perfectly!
    Great account - thanks!
    Fantastic mate what a great day out that was my two grandsons where there as well and loved every minute.
    Excellent as always.
    Another well written piece which is therapeutic to us, your readers, and, we hope, you too. Welcome back and thank you.
    Beautifully written as usual, and an interesting insight into the workings of the new guv'nor. Thanks Don
    Jay Tabb was the rather rotund sub that came on.
    Brilliant, you have just made my heart beat faster.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gazza
    Jay Tabb was the rather rotund sub that came on.
    Fuck 'em, they are the opposition and I take no notice of them :-)