As the FA Cup semi-final approaches, not many would have expected Championship side Millwall to feature in this stage of the competition.
However, this weekend they have the opportunity to reach the final as they take on Premier League outfit Wigan Athletic at Wembley.
To mark the occasion we caught up with Southwark News’ Millwall reporter Michael Da Silva.
1. With the FA Cup semi-final looming what do you think your chances are of reaching the final and perhaps going on to win the trophy?
There’s no doubt that when the draw was made, everyone wanted Millwall. They are the only non Premier League side left in the competition and Wigan will fancy themselves to win. But so do Millwall, who have beaten strong opposition in Aston Villa and Blackburn on their way to the semi-finals.
There is little chance of Millwall – or Wigan for that matter – beating Chelsea or Manchester City in the final, so Millwall see this as a big chance to repeat the feat of 2004.
2. Who is the danger-man for Millwall that we should look out for in the semi-final?
There are a few. Goalkeeper David Forde has been in brilliant form and defender and captain Danny Shittu has been inspirational during the cup run. But the one player capable of producing some magic is Chris Taylor.
He can play on the wing or in attacking midfield and is a very tricky player. If there’s one player likely to unlock the Wigan defence, it’s him.
3. How do you assess Millwall’s season so far?
Millwall have had a very interesting season. Their main target every season is to stay in the Championship and become a stable team in the division, but before the FA Cup run Millwall were sitting comfortably in the top six. A 13-game unbeaten run saw them rise to fifth at the end of November. But the loss of striker Chris Wood to Leicester proved a massive blow and now the FA Cup has become the priority. The league form has dipped significantly since the win over Villa, but Millwall are all but safe in the Championship for another season.
4. How does Kenny Jacket rank in terms of Millwall managers that you have witnessed at the New Den?
Kenny Jackett is arguably the best manager Millwall have ever had. He’s been in charge for five and a half years and is the longest serving manager in the Championship. That length of tenure is very rare in the modern game and achievements such as getting Millwall promotion from League One and stabilising them in the Championship – not to mention FA Cup semi-finals – could see him snapped up by a Premier League team at some point. He’s been linked with the Wales job in the past, and I can see him taking that job eventually.
5. ‘No one likes us but we don’t care’! Do you think people’s opinion of Millwall has been clouded by past misdemeanours by supporters?
There’s no doubt Millwall’s reputation remains a bad one, but that view is out of date. Many fans like that their club has a ‘rough around the edges’ image and they play up to it, but to label Millwall fans as thugs or racist is wrong.
6. Are Millwall unhappy that there are pre-conceived ideas of them as a club or do they use it as a motivational tool?
The ‘No One Likes Us’ theme is a cheeky comeback to the stereotype most people still have of Millwall, and perhaps the best way to hit back at people that have certain ideas of what Millwall fans are like. The club do a lot to educate people about what they’re really like and Millwall work tirelessly in the community to improve their image. But there is no doubt Millwall still have a long way to go before their tainted image is ever fully repaired.
7. What is the general opinion from Millwall’s fans of the proposed West Ham move to the Olympic stadium?
Millwall fans have reacted to the Olympic Stadium news like everyone else. They don’t have strong opinions on it either way, but I’m sure Millwall fans would be the first to laugh if West Ham can’t fill it!
8. What do you hope the future holds for Millwall football club?
Under the current regime of Kenny Jackett as manager and John Berylson as Chairman, Millwall have a winning formula. It may take three or five years to be in contention for promotion to the Premier League, but Millwall are showing that stability brings results. The club is run responsibly and, slowly but surely, are on the rise.
You can follow Michael on Twitter via @MDSouthwarknews
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