An eighth place finish, just two points off the Play-Off places doesn’t quite do justice to a season which saw a number of changes occur both on and off the field for Millwall.
The start of the 2019/20 campaign saw Neil Harris set about a squad revamp following his dissatisfaction at the level of commitment shown by some of his players at the end of the previous season.
The changes brought about the Lions’ best ever Championship start with seven points from their first three games before a seven game winless run – including poor performances in a 4-0 drubbing away at Fulham and a 2-1 home defeat to QPR – culminating in Harris’ resignation in early October.
It was clear that despite his best efforts, Harris had taken Millwall as far as he could during his four year tenure as Manager. He departed with his legacy intact and ultimately strong foundations for new-man Gary Rowett to build on.
Perversely, one of Millwall’s best performances of the season came during this managerial interlude when temporary boss Adam Barrett was in charge, picking up four points from three games, including victory over table-toppers Leeds United.
Nevertheless, the appointment of Rowett over another much-fancied candidate in Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth gave fans reason to dream of a top-six finish as he set about making Millwall a more fashionable outfit.
Barrett’s own dress rehearsal for the job saw him rewarded though, continuing as a member of Rowett’s backroom team and eventually stepping up as interim assistant manager following Callum Davidson’s departure.
However, as has so often been the case for the Lions at Championship level, scoring goals continually proved their downfall with only six teams, all of whom finished in the bottom eight, scoring less than them.
Despite impressive 3-0 and 4-1 humblings of Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield Town respectively, the truth is, Millwall’s forward line of Tom Bradshaw, Matt Smith and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson failed to convert enough of the chances that came their way.
Rowett already appears to have identified Millwall’s lack of a cutting edge with the loan signing of Tottenham youngster Troy Parrott this summer with potentially another forward arriving before the transfer window closes.
Rowett also argued his side struggle to handle pressure well following the 4-3 defeat at QPR that ultimately ended Millwall’s hopes of a top-six finish.
Such a critical approach is in stark contrast to predecessor Harris who would have played on Millwall being a small club who should be grateful to be making up the Championship numbers.
At times, this could be translated as a lack of ambition whereas Rowett wholeheartedly believes Millwall finished eighth because they deserved to – not because other teams consistently underperformed.
The shift in mentality was evident from the moment Rowett took charge and his ambition to guide the Lions up the table was a crucial factor in his immediate success.
With this new mentality and backing from the chairman and board, Millwall fans have every reason to be excited for the forthcoming season.
The 2019/20 season may not appear remarkable on paper, but it set solid foundations in which, with the right recruitment and a proposed stadium redevelopment, will surely see the club embark on an exciting new era with Rowett at the helm.