The Lions' Roar: West Ham defeat sickens Millwall
By Ian Toal, Millwall Supporters' Club.
The defeat at Upton Park was an extremely disappointing result. To have West Ham down to 10 men after just nine minutes of the game after a crude challenge by Kevin Nolan on Jack Smith meant the West Ham captain would play no further part in the game.
After the sending off you would have thought we would have really taken the game to West Ham, stretched them by getting the ball out to the wings and as the 10 men eventually tired from chasing the ball we would have created enough opportunities to have taken the three points that were desperately needed.
That didn't happen as we were too pedestrian in our build up play and too many people had off games. It seems that when Liam Trotter does not have a good match himself we cannot win games. He seems to be the driving force behind the team.
With our first and second choice left wingers Bouazza and Henry out injured, Liam Feeney looking fatigued and seemingly down on confidence and Barron, Ward, Forde and Dunne performed below the level we expect at the moment and it is making it very difficult to win games.
We just cannot carry this amount of players not operating somewhere near their best. True, West Ham's winner should have been a foul on goalkeeper Forde but he opts to punch far too often and was made to pay for that decision on this occasion.
Manager Kenny Jackett is going to have to try something different possibly by giving a start to ball-playing centre-midfielder Josh Wright and giving a place on the bench to winger Chris Hackett so he can replace Feeney when he starts to fade in games. We need goals to stay up and are just not creating enough to win games, 28 league goals from 29 games is a poor return.
If we stay up this season it will be a decent achievement. We did so well last season with our momentum carrying us through to remaining in the hunt for the play-offs right up until the last couple of matches.
This season it has been a real struggle. If you look at the size of our crowds and finances available to Kenny Jackett we are one of the smallest teams in the division but that does not mean we expect to be relegated. We like to punch above our weight and to grow the club as best we can, the trouble is we need to grow it quicker than we are currently.
Last week Chairman John Berylson urged Lions fans to "bring a friend" along to The Den because "only bigger crowds will help keep the club in the Championship."
Berylson believes Millwall need to find another 2,000 supporters each game to sustain current spending. According to the press release his investment topped £20million after adding Shane Lowry and Andy Keogh before the transfer window closed last week.
He said these signings will not damage the club, but that "we are taking a calculated risk to make sure we stay up, but this level of investment cannot carry on if crowds at The Den do not rise.... Otherwise the club will become too much of a drain on the resources of the board and the existing fans to sustain us in the Championship. Only more supporters coming through the turnstiles can do that."
Trouble is our crowds have hardly been higher in the last 40 years. If you look at the stats this will be probably be our fourth best average attendance since 1971/72 and given how bad we have been playing lately it is going to be very hard to increase our crowds more in the short term.