Sport Gary Rowett delivers verdict on Millwall’s play-off chances
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Millwall boss Gary Rowett believes his side can achieve a play-off finish this season if they can raise their performance levels, as he revealed this ambition to the.
The Lions currently sit in 10th position and just six points off the top six after a respectable start to their 2021/22 campaign, building well on their 11th-place finish from last term.
Sitting above the likes of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest at this stage with less resources than the trio, the south-east London side will be content with their current standing despite knowing just two points separate them and Millwall in 17th place.
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They will be especially relieved after going winless in their last four games, losing just five of their opening 20 Championship matches of the campaign but failing to turn enough of their draws into wins to separate themselves from the middle pack.
With their top-half status on the line going into this weekend’s home tie against Birmingham City, a team that will leapfrog them with a win tomorrow afternoon, the pressure will be on them to secure a positive result at The Den tomorrow.
They may be the draw specialists with nine this term, a trend that has continued from last season, but they need to buck the trend tomorrow and for the remainder of the season to give them the best opportunity of achieving Rowett’s play-off aim.
Speaking about his side’s chances of accomplishing this goal, the 47-year-old: “Historically we’ve been a team whose form has been better over the second half of the season. So I’m not overly concerned.
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“We were one point off three games ago and then because we have drawn two and lost one then, of course, you just lose a little bit of ground.
“But it is more about concentrating on our consistency and concentrating on how we can add some more wins and certainly not create more losses, like we did at Hull. We have to make sure we’re hard to beat and hard to play against.
“The rest, for me, takes care of itself.
“You look at the average to reach the play-offs in the last 10 years and we’d be about three or four points off that, rather than six in the current moment.
“It’s about us maintaining the levels and raising them. If we raise them then we’ll give ourselves a chance over the 46 games.
“If we can’t then we’ll probably be in the same position as the last two or three seasons.”
You almost feel their league position won’t be determined by themselves, but by the form of other teams because at this stage, many teams still have time to introduce themselves into the promotion mix.
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The teams mentioned previously in Forest, Boro and the Blades all have a good chance of reaching the top six despite their slow starts to the season.
Steve Cooper has provided the former with a new lease of life in the East Midlands and as a manager that managed to guide Swansea City to the play-offs in the two seasons prior to his arrival at the City Ground, there’s no reason why he can’t achieve a similar finish.
Chris Wilder seems to be doing a similar job at the Riverside, changing the playing style, dominating the ball and having the confidence to take the game to the opposition. As a previous promotion-winner, the 54-year-old will be hungry for more second-tier success.
And Paul Heckingbottom is likely to have a good short-term impact after coming in for predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic.
As Rowett has pointed out, consistency is needed. Being ‘hard to beat’ is a good asset to have, but sometimes they need to take more chances in their quest to be more successful, especially if Jed Wallace leaves the club because they have been slightly reliant on him in recent seasons.
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