Paul Newman: Shrewd Jackett continues to work wonders

The Football League Column

When Millwall were languishing second from bottom in the table on the first day of this month, some of the Championship cognoscenti were no doubt exchanging "I told you so" glances. Kenny Jackett's unfancied team had worked wonders in their first season following promotion from League One, finishing in ninth place, but many observers expected them to find life much tougher second time around.

Eight matches without a League win, which had followed a promising start in which they had drawn at Reading and beaten Nottingham Forest, suggested that the bubble might have burst, but Millwall have responded in spirited fashion in their last four matches, all against would-be promotion contenders.

Draws at Middlesbrough and at home to Brighton have been followed by two resounding victories. Jackett's men trounced Leicester City 3-0 at the Walkers Stadium nine days ago and followed that with a 4-1 dismantling of Ipswich Town at the Den on Saturday. Tomorrow's home match against Coventry City, who are in the relegation zone, offers the chance of further progress up the table.

"To get back-to-back wins in Leicester away and Ipswich at home is big for us," Jackett said. "The table is still tight points-wise so hopefully this little run will give the boys confidence. We want to continue playing well, scoring goals and pushing up the table. The players are a determined bunch and don't want to be down the bottom of the league. There are no poor teams in the Championship so you have to be on your game to get a result."

In a division that is always competitive, Jackett will know that his team still have plenty of work to do, but the last month has shown that Millwall have it in them to prosper in the Championship. With an average crowd of under 12,000, the south London club operate on a tight budget, but Jackett has consistently proved what a shrewd operator he can be in the transfer market.

The sale this summer of Steve Morison to Norwich City appeared to be a significant blow, the former Stevenage Borough striker having scored 36 League goals in the previous two seasons, but Jackett's recruitment of Darius Henderson has been a particular success.

The 30-year-old striker, whose contract with Sheffield United expired at the end of last season, is a highly experienced target-man, having played for a total of seven clubs. He has quickly made his mark at the Den, scoring six goals in his first 10 appearances, including a hat-trick at Leicester. Nevertheless, keeping him fit and in-form could be a challenge: since making his League debut for Reading 12 seasons ago, Henderson has made more than 30 appearances in a campaign only once.

A loan signing, meanwhile, was the key to Saturday's victory. Jay Simpson, who is on Hull City's books, scored twice and had a hand in the two other goals. Simpson, who had Premier League experience with West Bromwich Albion, is in his second loan spell at the Den, having won the PFA fans' player of the year award at the end his year-long stay at the club in the 2007-08 season.

Hameur Bouazza, an Algerian international who originally joined on a short-term contract from the French club Arles-Avignon in January, has since become a permanent signing. Like Liam Trotter and Liam Feeney, who was a deadline day recruit from Bournemouth, Bouazza has contributed important goals from midfield this season.

"Jay Simpson has progressed well, his fitness has come on and, with that, confidence and it's always good for strikers to score and make goals," Jackett said. "The start he's made for us has been a good one and the partnership of Jay and Darius Henderson is starting to come together. Liam Feeney's done well since he's been here too."

Jackett is the longest serving manager currently working in the Championship. The former Watford player will celebrate the fourth anniversary of his appointment next weekend; Simon Grayson, who has been at Leeds for less than three years, is the next longest-serving. Jackett took Millwall into the Championship in 2010 alongside Norwich City and Leeds United. Keeping them there would be just as significant an achievement.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss