How Millwall went back to go forward in February – as boss looks to transfer windows to upgrade

MILLWALL had to go back to go forward last month – as they posted their best goal return of the season in February. 

Gary Rowett ditched his preferred three-man attack for two up front and an extra player in midfield, and Millwall scored 10 league goals, two more than in any previous month this season.

One of Millwall’s big priorities in the summer transfer window will be to restructure their attack with signings.

But Rowett was pleased with the goal tally last month, as Millwall moved well clear of the bottom three.

“It’s ironic because we probably played the fewest attackers in those games,” Rowett said. “But it’s not just about chucking a load of attackers on the pitch to try to score goals, you’ve got to get the right framework and structure to score.

“We scored four goals against Sheffield Wednesday with a back five and three midfielders. It’s what those players do and how we play the game.

“It’s those clinical chances that we have to take. I can go to moments in nearly every game and ask us to be more clinical. That’s the key.

“In the Luton game we have a potential one-v-one before half-time and we don’t get a chance to shoot. Mason Bennett has a chance [to equalise] against Barnsley and does brilliantly and maybe should score.

Mason Bennett has hit goal-scoring form

“It’s not criticism, those are the moments that define the games. Against Sheffield Wednesday we were clinical in that game. We had no more chances than we had in other games but we scored goals in different ways.

“That’s what we’ve got to keep working towards and trying to improve. And of course future [transfer] windows will dictate how much and how quickly we’ll be able to improve that side of the game.”

Millwall are in a situation now in which relegation or reaching the play-offs appear unlikely outcomes this season.

But Rowett rejects the cliché his side can “take the shackles off” in their remaining 12 games.

Rowett said: “I think every game you have a go. It’s a difficult one, really, because sometimes people think taking the shackles off is playing gung-ho. If Championship football was that easy then everyone would play gung-ho football and games would be 7-6.

“It doesn’t work like that, you have to always look for the balance between attack and defence. That balance comes down to what players you’ve got, what are the strengths of your team.

“We’re not any different from a team at the bottom needing a win to get towards survival. You’re always playing for something. If you’re not playing to get to 50 points as quickly as you can you’re playing to get to 70 points to get a chance of the play-offs.

“I don’t think it changes.”

The Lions host Blackburn this Saturday

Millwall host Blackburn this weekend, a side that were in play-off contention at the end of last month before their form nosedived.

“They’ve got very good players in their team, they’re trying to get that consistency back,” Rowett said.

“We could go through virtually every team in this division and say at some point they’ve had a wobble. Depending on how big your wobble has been probably dictates where you are in the league or how good your players are to get through it.

“Blackburn are one of those sides capable of beating anyone on their day and maybe they’ve just found a little period where they can’t quite find the formula to get out of it.

“But there is plenty of the season to go and they’ve got the players that can score goals.

“Again, we know it’s going to be tough. Blackburn are one of those teams who have the firepower to be up around those play-off positions. They’re probably like all of us, trying to look for that right balance in their team and consistency, which is not easy.”

Image: Millwall FC