It was bitterly disappointing for Millwall FC to surrender the opportunity to return to winning ways by losing 3-1 at Southend United on Saturday.
Southend have had a difficult start to the season having won just once before Saturday and having not won at home since March.
We beat Southend twice at Roots Hall last season and if we want to be challenging at the top of the table we really need to be beating sides like Southend – especially when they are in such a bad run of form.
That defeat will have hurt manager Neil Harris – he is an Essex boy, living close to Southend and a former player at Roots Hall.
He will have been fed up with the lack of fight from the team at both ends of the pitch. We are conceding too many goals and will have to sort that out quickly. Defending is a collective responsibility and all the players are performing below the level of last season.
Millwall took nearly 2,000 supporters to the Essex coast so it was an opportunity lost to capitalise on great away support which should have taken us a long way to securing the points.
Trouble is when our players drop a fraction off their best levels that is enough to lose the matches we were winning last season.
Losing hurts but it is how we respond to defeats and even below-par draws that is important. We cannot let bad runs develop and miss out on points that the best teams will be taking.
We entertain Rochdale on Saturday on the back of their victory against Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Although it is early in the season, we must beat Rochdale otherwise we will be short of confidence going into tougher away matches at Port Vale and Walsall.
Rochdale will almost certainly be fighting at the wrong end of the table come the end of the season. They are just a small club at this level and to stay up is achievement enough at this point in time for them. We however, have higher ambitions and must push on towards the top of the table to be deemed successful this season.
What the manager said
Talking to the club's website , Neil Harris said:
"The goals we conceded were really poor and we should have more pride in defending than that. As a unit, as a team and as a squad, we are far too easy to score against. We have got to be stronger physically and mentally and get back to a clean sheet mentality.
"The boys have to come into work every day with hunger and desire to be better. We have a great group of lads and a real good spirit, but that needs to translate onto the pitch.
"We got to where we did last year with great spirit and togetherness, being hard to score against and a strong mentality that was aggressive in our approach. Scoring goals isn't a problem at the moment, it's keeping them out at the other end that is."