THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Ex-West Ham player had tough start

icon lomas27 September ~ Football fans are fickle, prone to swinging from despair to jubilation on the back of a single result. Two weeks ago Millwall's message boards were bombarded by fans calling for Steve Lomas's head following the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Derby County at the Den. Yet after wins against league leaders Blackpool then neighbours Charlton the south-east London mood is rather more optimistic as they prepare for the visit of Leeds United tomorrow. Should Millwall win then the redemption of Lomas – in the short-term – would be complete.

The former West Ham midfielder hasn't enjoyed the best of starts to his career at the Den. Dismissed by some from the outset because of his connections at Upton Park, he earned a cautious welcome from others after impressing with his rhetoric and knowledge of the club in interviews following his appointment. Results in pre-season were promising and a number of key signings further fuelled the optimism around the Den. But on the opening day of the season the wheels came off.

A 1-0 home loss to Yeovil was followed by two more defeats without scoring, before draws against Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton seemed to suggest that the ship had been steadied. Then came Derby County. Whatever goodwill the former St Johnstone manager had accrued was dispelled and even those willing to make excuses at the start of the campaign struggled to find reason to support Kenny Jackett's replacement.

Those that still believed were quick to highlight the fact that Lomas had lost several key players, including keeper David Forde and striker Steve Morison after the defeat to Yeovil. However the manager hadn't helped his cause by continually changing the line-up and fielding players out of position. The jury was not so much out but ready to pass their verdict.

Then, when the chips were down, Lomas fielded his best team – as opposed to his best players – and everything fell into place. Two wins on the spin have seen the Lions rise from bottom to mid-tale and silence those that were quick to write the manager off. Consensus says that the club – and Lomas – have turned a corner but Millwall have had a shocking home record in recent years. If Leeds turn up and waltz to victory, the dissenters will be out in force again to voice their disproval.

Yet one can't help but think that had Jackett still been charge the chorus of boos wouldn't have been quite so loud. Then again Jackett never played for West Ham and that's the albatross Lomas will wear around his neck unless he delivers the kind of success not seen since the days of John Docherty back in the 1980s. No pressure, then. Neil Andrews

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