Millwall have longed for promotion to the Premier League for so many years, occasionally threatening to break into the play-offs before falling away when push comes to shove. Indeed, the club recently found themselves back in League One following relegation, but the goal now is to eventually earn promotion to the Premier League for the first time.
With Gary Rowett at the helm, there have been positive signs at The Den that a good season may be on the cards. Strong early performances have left them in a good position in the Championship table, albeit at this early stage, so perhaps it’s time to take Millwall a little more seriously in the Championship odds.
Last season represented a solid campaign for the club, although there was an air of disappointment surrounding the fact that the team failed to make it in to the Championship play-offs. Unfortunately, an eighth-place finish was all that Millwall could muster, mirroring their 2017-18 campaign, when the finished eighth in their first season back in the Championship after two terms in League One.
Of course, last season saw the end of Neil Harris’s tenure at The Den. After the team flirted with relegation in the 2018-19 season, it was deemed that a change was needed, and Rowett was soon brought in with the aim of improving the squad as a whole.
The Englishman has done just that so far, and their start to this season bears that out. A recent victory over fellow strong starters Luton Town brought Millwall into the play-off places, and while there is of course a very long way to go in this Championship season, there are early signs that this could be the year for Millwall to break that glass ceiling and make it into the play-offs at least.
The south London outfit haven’t played in the top flight since they were relegated from the old Division One in 1990, two years before the Premier League was formed. Since then, they’ve flitted between the second and third tiers, occasionally coming close to either winning promotion to the Premier League or at least challenging for the play-offs.
The closest Millwall came was in the 2001-02 season. After winning the Division Two title the year before, the Lions continued their excellent form into their Division One campaign, ultimately finishing fourth in the table. Unfortunately, heartbreak awaited Millwall in the play-off semi-finals, as a late Stern John winner in their second leg tie against Birmingham City denied them a trip to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to contest the final.
If Millwall are to launch a bid for promotion this season, the goal will be to exorcise those painful memories and create a golden moment for their fans to savour. After all, there are few more passionate fan-bases in English football than Millwall’s, and those fans deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty down the years.
One of the striking things about Millwall’s squad is how little it changes year on year. All the familiar faces are there each season, and that creates a level of trust between players and supporters. There isn’t the yearly upheaval at Millwall like there is at other clubs, and it could prove that this sense of unity could make the difference when push comes to shove this season.
It’s too early to say whether glory awaits Millwall at last in this current campaign. Their fans have been hurt too many times in the past to count their chickens before they’ve hatched. But the signs are positive, and in Rowett they know they have a manager who will give his all to earn success.