Millwall star on 'ridiculously underrated' Cardiff City boss

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Millwall star on 'ridiculously underrated' Cardiff City boss

Postby Forever Blue » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:15 pm

'A father figure' – Millwall star on 'ridiculously underrated' Cardiff City boss Neil Harris and wanting to haunt him

The Bluebirds manager is a club icon at The Den, for his exploits as both a player and a manager, but will go back in the opposite dugout for the first time this weekend


By Glen Williams

Friday 20th November 2020


Millwall's star man Jed Wallace has lavished praise on Cardiff City boss Neil Harris and admitted he was "lucky to play for him" at The Den.

Wallace, who scored the last time he faced the Bluebirds in a 1-1 draw back on Boxing Day, will come up against his former manager this weekend when the Bluebirds travel to south London to face the Lions on Saturday.

It was be familiar surroundings, of course, for Neil Harris, who played almost 300 games for the club, is their record goalscorer and managed there for four years, but the lack of fans will be anything but familiar at a ground which is renowned for its intimidating atmosphere.

So it will be a strange homecoming for the former Millwall boss, but make no mistake that those in attendance will be very pleased to see him.

Harris, who won promotion to the Championship with the Lions, is deemed a huge success at Millwall and Wallace believes the job he did at The Den is "ridiculously underrated".

Jed Wallace has spoken about how Neil Harris gave him back his confidence, with the Millwall attacker coming up against his former boss on Saturday afternoon.

Wallace had two loan stays with the Lions – the first of those in 2016 between January and March before winning promotion from League One the following year. He signed a permanent deal in June 2017.




JED WALLACE:

“You can just feel that genuine belief in you straight away," he said of Harris to South London Press.

“You came into the environment that Chopper [Harris] created and you loved it. You wanted to come back. That’s why so many players who came on loan signed for Millwall.

“The man, for me, is a Millwall icon – as a player and as a manager. I was lucky to play for him.

“He is one of the most highly-thought of managers. There are always going to be players who talk bad – mostly through bitterness of their own circumstance - but Neil is one who there are very few players, whether they are in or out of the team, who will have a bad word to say.

"We all loved and respected him. That showed over the four years – how much success we had.

“The job he did at Millwall was ridiculously underrated, when you break it down. They had just been relegated from the Championship, then you get the euphoria of getting to the play-off final – but losing. Then you get promoted.

“I don’t know if it’s because he was only at Millwall that it went under the radar. But you see these more stylish coaches who do half the job that Chopper did and they are the best thing since sliced bread.

“He fully deserved a go at a so-called bigger club in Cardiff. There is going to be a lot said this season about who can keep their best players fit. If Cardiff do that and we finish above them then I think we’ll be right where we want to be, which is that top six.”



Wallace praised how Harris instilled confidence in his players and filled them with belief.

A lack of self-belief is something he has referenced this season with Cardiff City, who currently sit in 15th position after a stuttering start to the campaign, and will hope to put that right this weekend and moving forward.

Wallace referenced how Harris went above and beyond for midfielder Ben Thompson, who tragically lost his 16-year-old brother back in December 2014. Harris immediately called off training and drove Thompson all the way to Dover, where his brother had passed away. Thompson later referred to him as his "second dad".

And that is just how Wallace sees him, too, not only a coach but a father figure to many.

“He gave me his word that if we got promoted he would sign me – and he was on the phone the day after the play-off final trying to make it happen," Wallace recalls of his second loan spell at Millwall from Wolves.

"As a footballer, you don’t forget things like that. When people show loyalty to you it makes you want to give loyalty back.

“You can see the relationship he had with Thommo after what he went through [losing his brother]. To a lot of the lads he was a father figure.”


But, heading into Saturday's match, there is no doubting that Wallace is keen on spoiling Harris' homecoming.

“I’m look forward to it,” Wallace added. “I think a lot of managers fear their former players coming back to haunt them, and he might have felt like that last year.

“They’ve got a strong squad there. They’ve had a bit of a slow start, but I certainly expect them to be towards the top half of the table.”

Harris, of course, is also fully focussed on the job at hand this weekend, but you cannot underestimate, on a human level, the affinity he has with Millwall and Saturday's clash will be a real mix of emotions for him.

He has certainly made a lasting mark on his former club and is working hard to ensure that is the case with the Bluebirds.



"I'm really looking forward to it, looking forward to seeing a lot of faces I know well, staff, players I brought in and a manager I know extremely well. I’m really looking forward to that," Harris said.

"I'm really focused with wanting to going there to get the points. It would give me huge pride in going back there and getting three points for Cardiff City.

"I feel reinvigorated after the break, after watching the Bristol game back a couple of times. On the back of the Barnsley victory and, to a certain extent, the second half against QPR, I'm really looking forward to it and getting going again.

"Spending time with the players on and off the pitch is vitally important for me and having that in the last 15 days has been massive and, as a group, we can't wait for Saturday."
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Millwall star on 'ridiculously underrated' Cardiff City boss

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