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Fan Focus: What can Sunderland expect today from Millwall? Lions fan Ben spills the beans

Ahead of Sunderland’s trip to The Den, we spoke to Millwall fan Ben Green from That Millwall Podcast to discuss their new manager, as well as ex-Mackems Duncan Watmore and George Honeyman!

Photo by Ben Roberts Photo/Getty Images

I guess we have to start with the departure of Gary Rowett in October, what were the factors in the board deciding it was time for a change?

Firstly, Rowett did a great job for us over the 4 years he was in charge of the Lions. We quickly established ourselves as a solid top half championship side. I think from all angles it was just time to freshen it up.

Rowett had a very distinct way of playing – which is fine when you’re grinding out results but when you’re not it was frustrating to watch at times. We had a couple of bad defeats early on this season and coupled with the hangover from Blackburn he probably felt like he couldn’t take us any further.

I think it was the right time for everyone, Rowett, the fans and the club to go in a different direction.

The man who replaced him is Frank Lampard’s former assistant, Joe Edwards, where did his appointment come from and how has he got on so far?

Your guess is as good as ours!

Edwards was a very late name into the hat. We had the likes of Warnock, Muscat and Nathan Jones all mentioned over the 2/3 week period of us being without a manager – so when Edwards was mentioned it was a name out of nowhere.

To say we’d appoint a former Chelsea and England coach was a big surprise. He couldn’t have started his Millwall career any better with a 4-0 win away to Sheffield Wednesday. but since then it's been tough.

We played Coventry who beat us 3-0 at The Den and we got a bit of a lesson from Ipswich 3-1 in midweek. So it's very much been an all-or-nothing start!

Real Madrid v Chelsea FC: Quarterfinal First Leg - UEFA Champions League
Joe Edwards worked with Frank Lampard at both Chelsea and Everton.
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Usually a fortress and a highly intimidating place to go, Millwall have lost six out of nine home matches this season - why do you think the team are struggling so much at home?

We’ve struggled at The Den for a while now and it’s something the Joe Edwards will need to sort out quickly.

I don’t think there’s been a particular reason for our fortunes changing but under Rowett our play style was very much suited to playing away from home where teams would come onto us more and at home, we don’t have that luxury.

Edwards has spoken about the home form in nearly every interview he has done so it’s something everyone is aware of. Hopefully, it starts Saturday….

Duncan Watmore is always a player that Sunderland fans will look out for, how would you summarise his time with Millwall so far?

I don’t think you’ll be surprised by me saying that his Millwall career has been stop-start due to injury.

When Watmore is fit he’ll be a real asset to the squad, but we’ve really not had him fit long enough for him to force a regular place in the team.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Sky Bet Leauge One
Duncan Watmore scored 8 goals and assisted 11 in 87 appearances for Sunderland.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Another ex-Sunderland head is George Honeyman, who is yet to complete 90 minutes this season - has he been struggling with injuries?

Honeyman is a player I like but seems to split the fans.

He always gives 100% and for me will be an important player for Edwards moving forward given his willingness to work hard off the ball.

He got injured back end of last year and I felt like we really missed him in that playoff push. The one question mark we all have with Honeyman is where his best position is.

Looking at your summer signings, Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian), Joe Bryan (Fulham) and Wes Harding (Rotherham) all came in, out of all your signings, who has impressed and who has underwhelmed?

The summer signings have been interesting.

Nisbet we were all excited about but was recovering from a bad knee injury last year when at Hibs – he then got injured for us and is just starting to get back to full fitness. I’d expect him to start Saturday after his goal against Ipswich.

Joe Bryan, when he has played has looked like a decent player. He is highly experienced at this level and I think will be an asset to Joe Edwards but again has struggled with injuries since signing.

Wes ‘Maldini’ Harding we all thought was signing as a squad player but injuries to Hutchinson and a general lack of depth at centre half has seen him play regular football and he’s been brilliant.

He’s been a real threat from attacking set pieces and he’s nearly our top goal scorer! That being said he had his worst performance of the season against Ipswich so it’ll be interesting to see if he starts Saturday.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship
Ellis Simms scored the winner in a 3-0 victory for Sunderland against Millwall last season, with Alex Pritchard and Amad also scoring.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Aside from the above-mentioned players, who should Sunderland be wary of?

Zian Flemming if on a good day, but he’s been in and out of form since last season.

What style of play can we expect from Edwards’ side?

The style change is an interesting one. When Edwards was hired, he made a point about wanting to make us into a more front footed team and a team that does more on the ball, whilst also not forgetting what the players did under Rowett, so the style will be different from what you’ve seen in Millwall sides in the last few seasons.

Edwards is trying to get us on the front foot more and be more comfortable in possession. In our last home game against Coventry, we dominated possession but that left us open more at the back.

After two heavy defeats it will be interesting to see what Edwards does and if we sacrifice some of the forward, pressing play we’ve seen in the hope of keeping it tight.

Millwall v Sunderland Sky Bet Championship
Dennis Cirkin scored the equaliser when the two sides last met at The Den last season.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Which 11 players do you think will start the match?

Starting XI will be interesting as Edwards mentioned this week that he still doesn’t know his best team… my team would be;

4-2-3-1: Bart (GK), Wallace (LB), Hutchinson (CB), Cooper (CB), Leonard (RB), De Norre (CM), Mitchell (CM), Norton-Cuffy (RW), Flemming (CAM), Honeyman (LW), Nisbet (CF).

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