Gary Rowett says the sky is the limit for Millwall
Gary Rowett insisted he was not putting a ceiling on what his new Millwall side could achieve after enjoying the perfect start to his time in charge with a 2-0 win over former club Stoke at the Den.
Ben Thompson’s first goal of the season set the home side on their way, before Jed Wallace’s penalty 15 minutes from time secured all three points.
Stoke threatened to spoil the party in the second half, but Millwall defended doggedly for long periods before striking on the counter-attack.
“It’s certainly a very good start,” said Rowett.
“When you’ve had a day and a half to work with the players it’s difficult, because you don’t want to overload them with too much information, but you want them to get an idea of what you want them to do.
“The intensity and front foot attacking was good, and the team showed they could play a bit with some good movement.
“So I was really really pleased. The danger was always after such a good first half whether we could maintain that.
“I don’t want to put a ceiling on what we can achieve, with the desire and drive and energy we’ve got.
“Yesterday we had to tell a few to calm down because they’re kicking each other and having arguments and screaming at each other. They want to win games, they want to climb the table quickly.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, one game is only one game. We’ve won it, great, but we’ve got to build on that.”
Rowett was sacked by Stoke in January, but on his return to management found his former employers mired in the relegation zone.
And the Potters showed why they have struggled so badly this season, with a performance desperately lacking in quality.
Millwall’s superiority was rewarded on the half-hour, Thompson adjusting his feet excellently to volley Wallace’s cross into the corner of the net.
Stoke’s only shot of the first half came from Badou Ndiaye’s 30-yard effort, which skimmed harmlessly wide, while Scott Hogan and the returning Lee Gregory – back at the Den after leaving Millwall in the summer – scarcely got a kick.
At the other end Millwall continued to create chances, with Wallace forcing Adam Federici into a fine save one-on-one, before escaping two defenders on the halfway line, skipping past another and forcing Ndiaye into a poor challenge in the box.
Wallace picked himself up to smash the penalty home.
“It’s very frustrating because I thought we were poor,” admitted Stoke boss Nathan Jones.
“When we’ve lost games we’ve usually dominated and been unlucky with an error or something’s gone against us, but today we were out-battled and outworked and didn’t look like winning the game.
“I don’t know why, because we prepared for the game. Unless you’ve been living on the moon you know what you’re going to get when you come to Millwall. The fans demand a level of commitment from their players, and you always get that.
“We didn’t impose ourselves on the game, we looked nervous, surprised when we were being pressed with intensity. We weren’t good enough all over in terms of how we did anything.
“The naivety for their second goal was baffling. I know Jed Wallace, I’ve watched him 50 times since he was at Portsmouth and we’ve given the players that information.
“So to allow him to run from his own half, go through three people, end in our box and get pulled down is unbelievable.”