Millwall 2021/22 Season Review: A rollercoaster campaign that almost delivered the impossible

6 min

Millwall may have fallen short of the Championship Play-Offs at the final hurdle in what was a rollercoaster campaign, but that disappointment was quickly replaced by a renewed sense of optimism and connection between the club and its fan base.

The relentless battling spirit shown by Gary Rowett and his squad, which brought the side within one game of finishing in the top six, is the epitome of what Millwall fans want to see from their side. 

After this season’s battle until the final day, it feels as though the club and its supporters are truly reconnected after the coronavirus pandemic.

Since his appointment as manager, Gary Rowett has made it clear his objective is to turn the Lions into genuine Play-Off contenders with the previous season’s 11th place finish in a campaign that fizzled out with apathy showing there was a long way to go.

However, shrewd early signings definitely made it seem Millwall meant business this year, bringing in proven goalscorer Benik Afobe to a side that struggled in front of goal last term. 

Daniel Ballard was another stand-out performer with the Arsenal loanee clearly destined for a bright future while fellow Northern Ireland international George Saville’s return was also a smart acquisition.

Although Saville did not contribute the goals some would have expected, he was a mainstay in the centre of the park, adding experience and bite alongside youngster Billy Mitchell.

Despite the drama towards the end of the season, Millwall’s season will be defined by its streaks.

After one win from their opening nine games, the Lions were 19th and once again looking like the draw specialists of the division. Some had already predicted that Rowett wouldn’t last the season, playing defence-first, low-scoring football.

However, six wins from the next eight, bookended by trademark 1-0 wins over Bristol City and Reading soon saw the Lions back on track and looking towards the top end of the table.

Rowett began to show a tactical flexibility, changing more readily in game to provide his side with attacking impetus; Tom Bradshaw and Afobe dovetailed nicely, with loanee Sheyi Ojo starting to show glimpses of what he could offer.

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Unfortunately, much like the previous season, injuries began to take their toll and, heading into December, the squad was down to its bare bones. 

Even in adversity, filling the matchday squad with academy players, the Lions memorably came through 1-0 winners away to Coventry, a game that saw 15-year-old Zak Lovelace become their youngest ever player.

The injuries kept mounting though, with Bradshaw, Ojo, Jed Wallace, Mason Bennett, Shaun Hutchinson, Ballard, Ryan Leonard, Connor Mahoney and Scott Malone all facing lengthy periods on the sidelines.

January proved to be a difficult month in which pressure again mounted on Rowett. Despite the Lions clearly needing reinforcements, finances were a hindrance and the club were more focussed on the outgoings as they prepared for next summer. 

A rumour-filled month coincided with four straight losses as Millwall slipped into the bottom half of the table for the first time since October. The late additions of Oliver Burke and Luke Freeman appeared underwhelming and when the latter was ruled out for the season after only 13 minutes of game time, it seemed Millwall’s luck may never turn.

A 3-0 defeat away to Fulham in early February seemed to signal the end of Millwall’s season, with another mid-table finish on the cards.

Seemingly out of nowhere though, Rowett’s side responded and produced the form of the season – a five game winning streak during an eight game unbeaten run, including a memorable 2-0 victory against Huddersfield Town propelling the side into touching distance of the top six.

Millwall battled for the rest of the season, but had left too much to be done to catch the other Play-Off contenders. 

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Credit to them, they managed to stay in the running until the final day of the season, the closest they have come since regaining promotion to the second tier in 2017 and the character they displayed, as well as the genuine attacking football towards the end of the season, generated a buzz in SE16, with The Den regularly packed out.

Even though there is disappointment that the Lions couldn’t get over the line, no fan will be disappointed with the effort shown, when the side so often looked out of the race.

This mentality was summed up by Player of the Season winner Murray Wallace, whose work ethic, versatility and unexpected flair typify what Millwall fans want to see.

Although there is a lot of work required this summer, with key players leaving, none more important than Jed Wallace, there is still positivity for Millwall fans. 

Youngsters Tyler Burey, Billy Mitchell and Danny McNamara all showed that they will play big roles next season, and with returning loanees Alex Mitchell and Isaac Olaofe, Millwall look set to have a core of homegrown talent at their disposal.

The class of 2021/22 came close to delivering one of the most memorable seasons in Millwall’s recent history and, with a bit of hard work in the summer, can perhaps go one better next year.


Liaising with the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club (UKUSSC) and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), London Football Scene has launched ‘London Football Unites for Ukraine’ –  a fundraising campaign to provide as much relief to those in need.

We are urging all the Capital’s clubs, players and fans to raise as much money as possible for British-Ukrainian Aid (registered charity No. 1164472).

Please visit our JustGiving Page to give as much as you can and look out for more events and fundraising activities over the coming few weeks.

London Football Unites for Ukraine:

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