Swindon Advertiser sister website thisislondon.co.uk gave a first reaction yesterday direct from Millwall boss Kenny Jackett to the League One Play-Off Wembley encounter at the end of May.
Millwall have a unenviable play-off record with five failed attempts to gain promotion, whereas Town’s 100% record (3 wins from 3 games) at Wembley is now at stake.
Jackett has also been involved with two Play-Off final defeats with Swansea and Millwall. He appears all confident of success this time around with an improved Lions squad, who narrowly lost 3-2 to Scunthorpe in the final at Wembley last season.
Speaking of the semi-final against Huddersfield, Jackett commented “It was an excellent atmosphere and something I’d love to see repeated. The intensity they created was fantastic. But that is only half the job done, we now have to focus on the final. It’s a great achievement to get to Wembley and it will be a great day for the fans, but we must stay focused on the football. It is great to get there but, like these play-off semi-finals, it is win or lose. There is no middle ground.”
“I don’t think the win (3-2 against Swindon on the final day of the season) gives us a psychological edge, we have got to go out and earn that again. We won’t take anything for granted. We must pay Swindon respect but we certainly don’t fear them. We have progressed from last year and we have an experienced group of very good characters who were determined to get us back to Wembley after last season.”
So Kenny Jackett’s view was also echoed yesterday in the Adver by Danny Wilson who believes the 3-2 loss on the final day of the regular season will “have no impact whatsoever. Millwall will be a very, very tough proposition. They are very committed, but particularly at the Den, where that game was.”
“So it will be slightly different at Wembley in terms of ball retention on the sidelines and getting it back into play. On the pitch it will just be 11 v 11 and we are more than capable of matching them. We are more than a match for anybody. We have to be very brave and cannot let them dictate the play. We have to be strong in our minds as well as physically, and impose our game onto them.”
Both managers want to ignore their and each other’s clubs past play-off history. Wilson comments “I don’t bother concentrating on things like that I just want to make sure that we go out there and give it our best” and recognises that Millwall have a chance to put their record right.
I know I’d rather be in our position with the potential psychological advantage and history behind us, at least amongst the fans. As you could just imaging the number of times Kenny Jackett, his chairman and squad will be interviewed about their poor record leading up to kick-off.
Contrary to what the majority of the media, pundits and bookies all believe by placing Millwall as clear favourites, this Play-Off Final will be a very close encounter. Town go into the game demonstrating great toughness to go through against Charlton, whereas an out of sorts Huddersfield hardly gave Millwall a game on Tuesday night so they could be too relaxed going to Wembley. Yes I think it will be a tight game, probably extra time, but I don’t think I could take another penalty shoot-out after Monday night!