We speak to young Lions supporter Jack Roberts ahead of Saturday’s match between Watford and Millwall
Jack Roberts is a 15-year-old Millwall supporter. We spoke to him about his history with the Lions, where he thinks things went right and wrong over the past couple of seasons, and what he expects from Saturday`s game against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Vital Watford: Tell us a bit about your Millwall supporting history. Will you be going to the game on Saturday?
Jack Roberts: I`ve supported Millwall for 10 years, and have been a season ticket holder and gone home and away for eight of those years.
My favourite Millwall player has got to be Neil Harris because he was my first real hero of a football player, and, being our all-time leading goal scorer, how can he not be my hero? He is also such a nice person to meet in real life.
My favourite ever memory of the Lions has got to be either the League One Play Off final in 2010 against Swindon where we won 1-0 – the only time I`ve cried at football, it was just so surreal seeing your team get promotion at Wembley! My other favourite memory is the Europa League game at home against Ferencvaros because it will probably be the only time I`ll see my team in Europe and even though I was only five it was so good to be part of a rare occasion.
As per usual, I will be making the short journey up to Watford on Saturday.
VW: Ian Holloway took over in January, guiding you to the safety of 19th place in the Championship last season. What do you think of Holloway at the Den? Do you see him a a long-term option, and what is the majority view of his tenure so far?
JR: It has definitely been a roller coaster ride so far with Holloway in charge. His appointment gave the whole fan base renewed optimism but it was a difficult start to his reign.
Millwall have traditionally been a 4-4-2 long ball type team and to see a passing game being played is refreshing, but to say the least some of his team selections and subs have been bizarre. But we do seem to have a stability with him that no manager could have got before.
Ollie is one for the long-term, he wants to build the club from the foundations upwards in his own style and the majority of us are happy for him to do that. The majority see his reign so far as something of a success from getting us from bottom of the league with eight games to go to safety by four points, and so far this season we have seen massive improvements within the team and the whole fan base is grateful for that.
VW: Finishing outside the relegation spots last season was portrayed in the media as a real success, and it certainly looked that way given your rotten form at various points. Was safety always your aim last year or did you have your sights set a little higher?
JR: When Steve Lomas took over last season and bought some rather high profile players we were hoping for the Play Offs but how wrong were we?
After the 3-2 defeat to Birmingham last April if you asked anyone in the ground where we would finish all you would hear is “relegation”, but after that to go eight games unbeaten and end up staying up is, in our eyes, a miracle. One of those eight games unbeaten was the 2-2 against Watford where we scored a 93rd minute equaliser!
VW: Oh trust me, I remember that game well? You weren`t the only side to salvage a point or take the win against us in stoppage time at the tail end of last season?
You currently sit in 15th, perhaps the definition of lower mid table – six points adrift of the Play Off places and six points clear of the first relegation spot. Would you be pleased with a mid table finish like that this season?
JR: Lower mid table would be a really good achievement to build on compared to last season, but when we had that brilliant start in August with 10 points from five games, the more optimistic of us were dreaming of the Play Offs. Maybe that still is the aim for some fans but for the majority of us finishing where we are now would be more than satisfactory and a massive improvement to build on further.
VW: You`ve mentioned Holloway`s tendency to play a passing game, but it sounds like you stifled Cardiff City last time out by playing a more direct style, eventually winning 1-0. Is there a particular way that this season’s Millwall likes to play, and how do you expect to set up against Watford on Saturday?
JR: The direct style is often used by Millwall as a Plan B when the possession and passing style are not working – for the press to come out and say we played direct last week is just pure irony. The Holloway Millwall team likes to play with the ball – passing and possession is Holloway`s particular style of play and we love it!
I expect the team to set up in the 4-1-2-3 formation that has been played of late as we had success with it, but we may go back to 4-2-3-1 depending on injuries and suspensions. We are useless with one up front though!
VW: Who would you say is your most influential player at the moment? Who should we keep an eye on?
JR: The main man in the team at the moment has to be defensive midfielder Shaun Williams. The team is built around him and his passes are often vital and the ones that create attacking opportunities.
As well as this, our winger Lee Martin is influential as he always works for the team. Our drop in form actually coincided with him being out of the team.
Both of these players are magicians of their position and often a handful for other teams.
VW: Finally, what is your score prediction for Saturday and how do you think the game will pan out?
JR: My prediction is 1-1. I think our attack will prove a handful for the Watford defence and vice-versa. Our former non-league striker [Lee Gregory] to score the Millwall goal, and I also expect Millwall to start the game with quite a bit of momentum with the midfield dominating things but ultimately I think it is how Troy Deeney plays on the day which will decide what the result is!
VW: Okay, fair enough. I`ll wait until we publish our big preview article before I comment on your prediction and make my own.
Hope you have a good day out at Vicarage Road, and make sure you arrive a good ten minutes early so that you can witness and be a part of the pre-match ‘Rememberance Matchday` plans.
Thanks again to Jack Roberts for speaking to us. You can keep up with Jack`s thoughts on Twitter here.