Millwall began life under Ian Holloway with a last-gasp defeat at Huddersfield. It continued a rotten run of form that has seen the Lions take just one point from the previous six Championship games, as well as last Saturday’s humiliating 4-1 FA Cup exit at League 2 Southend United, a result which some fans claimed flattered their own team rather than the Shrimpers.
Nevertheless, Holloway, on paper at least, looks a shrewd replacement for Steve Lomas, who was sacked on Boxing Day. Lomas, who took charge at the beginning of this season, had it tough from the beginning with the double burden of his West Ham connections and the fact he had to follow the popular, long-serving Kenny Jackett.
Holloway’s quirky soundbites, wacky humour and overall enthusiasm could be the perfect tonic needed for taming the Lions fans in the short-term at least, and promotions with Blackpool and Crystal Palace show actions speak louder than mere column inches. “I want to be brave and be a coach who develops players to pass and move,” Holloway told the Press before the weekend. “I have to assess and try and get a blend and a balance that fits them. Then I have got to get them having a positive mindset and a togetherness.”
Holloway’s first priority will be keeping his new side in the Championship this season and despite the recent run, Millwall remain above the relegation zone for now, albeit by a single point over Doncaster, who were beaten by Blackburn. Yeovil were also defeated at home to Burnley, while Barnsley were powerless in their attempt to move off the bottom after their game at Charlton was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the Valley.
That’s become a somewhat recurring theme this season; Charlton’s FA Cup tie against Oxford last weekend was called off for the same reason, and earlier this season the league clash with Doncaster had to be abandoned after the Valley pitch suffered again. Should the heavens remain closed the Barnsley game will take place on Tuesday.
The performance of the weekend came on Saturday lunchtime at Hillsborough, where Sheffield Wednesday hit Leeds for six in the Yorkshire derby. Leeds are undoing the great work they did last month; having been sixth on Boxing Day, they now find themselves 11th.
At the top of the table, Leicester threw down the gauntlet to their rivals on Friday evening with a hugely impressive win over Derby, their fifth on the trot. Burnley and QPR responded with wins, however, to keep the gap at the top to four points.
More significantly, the results have reduced the promotion battle back to three clubs, with Derby now six points adrift of the automatic spots. Nottingham Forest remain fifth, while Brighton hold onto sixth spot after a 1-0 win over Birmingham.
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