GRAFT IS KEY TO AID RE­COV­ERY

O’Brien backs Har­ris to re­vive Mill­wall

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Josh Mur­ray

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.

Goals

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.

Clever

“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.

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