GRAFT IS KEY TO AID RECOVERY
O’Brien backs Harris to revive Millwall
AIDEN O’Brien says Millwall need to go back to basics if they are to avoid relegation to League One – admitting they can do that by harnessing the belief of interim manager Neil Harris.
The Lions have had a terrible season and manager Ian Holloway was shown the door earlier this month with the club second from bottom of the Championship after five defeats in six games.
While wins have proven hard to come by, goals have been their achilles heel.The Lions have netted just 33 goals in their 39 Championship matches. Striker O’Brien has suffered more than most in front of goal, but the 21-year-old did
open his account for the club in yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Brentford.
Even then, Millwall’s day could have been so much better – they squandered a 2-0 lead late on.
But with Lions legend, and fellow forward, Harris now in caretaker charge, O’Brien senses an escape is possible. And after making his own transition from reserve team regular to first-teamer, Republic of Ireland U21 international O’Brien insists the mood at The Den is changing.
“The Millwall way is passion, pride and work ethic,” said O’Brien, who has come through the ranks. “Give it your all here and the fans will back you, that’s all they want. That is what the boss has been saying – show you want it, work together and hopefully the results will come, and the fans will be behind you.
“He’s given us the belief, he’s told us exactly what we are doing, there are no grey areas. This is how we are doing it – if you don’t like it, see you later. He has done that and everyone has got it straight away.
“Personally, I feel like I can do what I do in the reserves for the first team now and that I’m going to add something to the first team.”
O’Brien came in from the cold in the last throes of Holloway’s tenure having spent the majority of the winter in the reserves.
The Islington-born frontman’s first appearance since the start of November came in the goalless draw against Fulham at the end of February. Since then, he has been a regular in the matchday squad and performed well.
“It’s been great to be playing these games recently,” added O’Brien, who was on loan at Aldershot and Torquay last season. “I was moved out wide by Ian Holloway. He believed I could perform out there and I believe that as well.
“I can beat a player and I am clever enough to drift into areas where guys can’t pick me up. It has paid off because I am enjoying my football at the minute.
“As a forward player you’ve got to keep getting those chances and it’s great that I’m off the mark. Hopefully there are a lot more to come.”
Born: Orsett, Essex, 1977 (Age 37) Playing Career: A striker, Harris started his career playing Non-League football for Great Wakering Rovers, Maldon Town and Cambridge City before joining Millwall for £30,000 in 1998. An instant success, he scored 98 goals in 233 games in six years at the Den. During that time he won the 1999 Millwall player of the year award, promotion to Division One, the golden boot in 2000-01 and played in the Lions’ 3-0 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United in 2003. After a loan spell at Cardiff and three disappointing seasons at Nottingham Forest under Gary Megson, Harris rejoined Millwall in 2007. He swiftly returned to form, breaking Teddy Sheringham’s record of 111 goals to become the Lions’ all-time leading scorer in January 2009. He would play a further four seasons and win a second promotion to the Championship in 2010, eventually leaving in 2011 with a total of 138 goals in 431 appearances. Harris retired in 2013 after two years with hometown club Southend. Coaching Career: Following his retirement, Harris returned to Millwall as part of Steve Lomas’ coaching staff in 2013. Retained by Ian Holloway, he was asked to take caretaker charge following Ollie’s dismissal earlier this month and will remain in charge until the end of the season.