In the modern day, many people put success down to how wealthy a club is and the ability to spend endlessly on top talent. Neil Harris’ Millwall are the polar opposite, a low budget has seemingly strangled the club from progression from the outside, but on the inside, the club shows great promise.
The success of the Lions last year came towards the backend of the season, when a 17 game unbeaten run in the league, stretching from January to April saw them soar up the table after a slow start, resulting in them narrowly missing out on the playoffs.
Fans would have been optimistic for the new season ahead and with an injection of cash and faith from the board, the Londoners would have been early favourites to make the playoffs. This didn’t happen, with the club spending around £1m this summer in total, fans were left in dismay at what seemed to be a missed opportunity.
Contrary to this statement however and If early season indications are anything to go off, things could be interesting once again at The Den this season, unbeaten in four, Harris’ decision not to panic/bulk buy in the summer could be key.
So many clubs make the executive decision to spend profusely, making signing after signing, take Stoke City, for example, recently relegated from the Premier League, they have already fallen into a similar trap as the likes of Middlesbrough, QPR and Aston Villa.
Villa could be on a similar path as the R’s, whose past transfer flurries have come back to cripple the club with a transfer embargo. If Stoke continue the way they have started, the Potters could be looking at immense failur this season, which could jeopardise the club financially.
So many clubs underestimate the difficulty of the Championship, with sides such as Cardiff, Bournemouth and Swansea prevailing against the odds in the past. The familiarity within the ranks at Millwall is impeccable, the key players for the Lions are those who battled the bogs of League One – Steve Morison, Lee Gregory, Aiden O’Brien and Jed Wallace; to name a few have all played together, week in week out for the past few years and their chemistry on the field is blatantly obvious.
Bolton are a team in a similar position as Millwall, a recently promoted club with a minuscule budget, the difference is Bolton have once again fallen guilty of stockpiling deadwood within their team. There were no less than 17 new arrivals at the Macron this season, including 12 free transfers. Granted, Bolton have started the season brilliantly with seven points from a possible nine, but Phil Parkinson would do an unbelievable job to keep that going. The likes of Gary O’Neil, Jack Hobbs and Clayton Donaldson were all released from their clubs for good reason, and no disrespect to those who have arrived at the Macron, but their squad largely consists of ageing players past their best.
Neil Harris and his close-knit group of players are serious contenders this season and their home form will once again prove to be priceless, even against the better sides in this league.