Football Season Preview 2009/10

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So we’re warming up for the new football season here in the UK, with teams across the country getting in some pre-season friendlies and generally trying to get fit again.

Millwall have the potential hangover of a playoff final defeat lingering but the signs seem good so far in pre-season.

One problem we will have is with our defence depending on how the next few days/weeks pan out.

Zak Whitbread

With our captain Paul Robinson and right back Danny Senda both injured it doesn’t help that Zak Whitbread wants a transfer (not takers so far though) as it effectively leaves us with 4 or 5 defenders to fill 4 positions… which just isn’t enough. Hopefully we may sign a few more players before the season starts on Saturday.

And it’s a tough game, Southampton away – one of the ‘big three’ (Southampton, Norwich, Charlton) who were relegated from the Championship last year.

MK Dons

Add in Leeds, MK Dons, Tranmere and Oldham (amongst others) and League One is shaping up to be very competetive indeed.

I’m tipping Leeds and MK Dons for automatic and hoping we can make the playoffs again and maybe win it this time.

In the Championship it’s all about Newcastle – either they are tipped for the title or generally being laughed at. 🙂 I don’t think they will get automatic but they have enough strength in depth to make the playoffs… depending on who they put in charge.

Alves

For the other teams that came down I expect West Brom will be up there and for Middlesbrough I think it hinges on the impact of Alves and new signing Leroy Lita. If those two fire there is no reason they can’t push for promotion straight back up.

Reading and Derby will both be dangerous and it’ll be interesting to see what Roy Keane gets out of the players at Ipswich.

In the Premier League the apparent loss of Alonso at Liverpool will really hurt their title chances despite the threat of Gerrard and Torres.

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Manchester United will have to work extra hard to retain the title, although the shrewd signing of Michael Owen could tip the balance in their favour if he stays fit. Chelsea‘s new coach has a lot of work to do but has the squad to push even harder for the title in 2010, along with that elusive Champions League trophy.

You can never write off Arsenal but their 4th place is really under threat from the likes of Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and even Spurs.

I suspect Hull have had their time in the Premier League unless Jimmy Bullard returns in top form and I’d tip Burnley (as much as I’d love them to stay up) and Wolves or Wigan to join them in the drop – but there will be plenty of teams dragged into the fight.

Jimmy Bullard

Down in League Two it seems to be another competitive, tight league and I suspect you’ll be looking at three from Barnet, Bournemouth, Dagenham & Redbridge, Crewe, Rotherham, and Bradford for the promotion places but I expect Northampton and Port Vale to also be strong.

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Grimsby need a change of fortunes to avoid being sucked out of the league along with Shrewsbury who have been treading water in League Two of late.

It’ll be interesting to see if Burton and Torquay can survive, with the latter looking more likely.

 

It’s looking like a great season ahead in all the leagues and I’ll be keeping an interested eye on everything that’s going on as the season progresses.

Doo Doo Doo, Gary Alexander

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Millwall 2 – Scunthorpe 3

What a game. As our hopes of climbing back into the Championship disappeared on Sunday I couldn’t help but be impressed by the occasion.

45,000 odd Millwall fans singing and laughing before kick off, mingling with the Scunthorpe fans – everyone was out to enjoy their clubs day in the sunshine. 🙂

Wembley itself was very impressive and our seats (£60) had a great view of the action.

It was great during the build up to see how much everyone was enjoying the occasion and the Scunthorpe fans, though lower in numbers, did make the odd chant inbetween us lot.

The game started at a fair old pace and Millwall looked like they were still on the team bus – 1-0 down in 5 minutes to a nicely worked goal.

It seemed to take about half an hour for us to get started and then a moment of inspiration from Gary Alexander sent us into rapture.

Chesting a throw in towards goal he struck an exquiste half volley that looped over the Scunthorpe keeper and into the net. 😎

A split second of disbelief hit the crowd before the place erupted. The noise was immense and I think that goal was celebrated just as much as Timmy Cahill’s against Sunderland in the FA Cup semi final back in 2004. Everyone was jumping up and down screaming ‘what a goal! What a goal!’ 😆

All of sudden we were taking the game to Scunthorpe, pressuring them all over the pitch and just two minutes later a cross floated in and Alexander rose highest to nod the ball goalwards. Their keeper spilled it into the goal and again Wembley roared. 😎

We made it to half time intact and the second half started with a quick flurry of Scunthorpe chances. We got back into it again and had a few great chances.

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Then came the leveller around the 75 minute mark, some really sloppy defending leaving the Scunthorpe forward with an open goal to pop the ball into. 😡

After that we got back on the offensive and our chance to win it came when Hackett crossed for Alexander, who somehow headed wide from a couple of yards out. I think we knew then it was a chance we should’ve taken.

And with five minutes left some even more shoddy defending let Scunthorpe net the winner, this time a tame shot going under the body of keeper David Forde.

Even then we had a chance to equalise when Neil Harris found himself through but his weak shot was palmed away for a corner and the game was over.

Congratulations to Scunthorpe, I clapped them as they received the trophy. Either team could’ve taken this game and it came down to the chances we missed and the ones Scunthorpe took.

It was quite an odd atmosphere at the final whistle – apart from the players no-one really seemed to care? The singing continued and the applause was great.

All the way home there was singing – all back up Wembley Way and on the tube journey right back to London Bridge. I suspect if passers by didn’t know the score they would’ve thought we’d won! 😆

I suppose it was the effort of the players, we weren’t outplayed or well beaten, just unlucky and if Gary Alexander’s header had skidded into the goal rather than past it we might have been celebrating a win.

Next season will be extremely tough, there are a host of teams who could go for it and I think we’ll struggle.

We have no major goalscorer. Yes, Harris and Alexander will get 10 or 12 each but we’d need a lot more than that to aim for the playoffs.

Realistically I can see Charlton, Norwich, MK Dons, Leeds, Tranmere, Oldham, Brentford and Gillingham all finishing above us. 

If we can make the top ten, consolidate and then push on from there we will be on the right track.

Kenny Jackett is most certainly the right man for us – under him we’ve been great and played some lovely football. It just goes to show what having a proper manager can do for a team.

A good start next season is imperitive though, otherwise we’ll find ourselves dragged into a relegation dogfight. 😮

Tales Of The Unexpected (Millwall Edition)

Jimi

Well I can honestly say that I didn’t expect to be sitting here the morning after the 2nd leg of Millwall’s playoff semi-final against Leeds writing about an upcoming trip to Wembley! 😎

Making club history with our first EVER playoff win in the the first leg was one thing but Leeds would turn it around in the return leg at their ground wouldn’t they? That was the general opinion.

37,000 were expected to go to the game, with just 1,000 of them Millwall fans due to strict security.

We made it intact to halftime and then just after the break Leeds were awarded a penalty, their star striker Jermaine Beckford hit a weak shot which was easily saved by the Millwall keeper.

I remember thinking ‘I wonder if that’ll gee us up or spur Leeds on’? Didn’t have to wait long to find out… 1-0 to Leeds a few minutes later. So it was 1-1 on aggregate.

But being completely honest I gave up there and then – no way would we beat them now. The crowd would be behind them and the best we could do was weather the storm and try for penalties.

Only no-one told our players who promptly scored ten minutes from the end and, despite an astonishing amount of injury time, Millwall hung on for a famous victory.

So we are heading to Wembley for the final – what a day that promises to be, win or lose it will be great. We face the winner of MK Dons and Scunthorpe who play tonight.

In other football matters the Premiership is drawing to a close and it appears Man Utd have the title again, however it’s nice to see a different team (Liverpool) in 2nd place.

Next season should be interesting, especially with the possible improvement of Man City and Spurs. What will become of Arsenal? Can they challenge again? I don’t think they are as far away as everyone says but they definitely need a few signings to step back up.

BorovNewcastle

At the bottom West Brom and Boro are having the last rites read to them. The 3-1 defeat that lifted Newcastle out of the drop zone was a hammer blow to Boro but the Magpies seem to have grasped their chance of survival. Stranger things have happened though and it could all come to down to the last game as the results come in.

In the Championship it’s nice to see Wolves finally get up to the Premier again, and in Alex McLeish Birmingham have themselves a really good manager so it’ll be with interest that I watch the newly promoted clubs next year.

McLeish

I’d love to see Burnley win the playoffs just to have another different name up there in the top division.

With Charlton, Southampton and Norwich all dropping to League One it means next season in the third tier will be tougher than ever. Add to that Leeds, Tranmere and even newly promoted Brentford & Wycombe and you have the makings of a cracker of a league.

Let’s just hope Millwall’s name isn’t in there as well after the Playoff Final on May 24th 🙂