Welcome to Part 3 of my FM22 journey with Millwall FC. You can get up to speed with Part 1 and Part 2 if you wish or you can dive straight in here and see what it’s all about. We have now reached the end of the year so let’s have a look at hos we are doing.
Millwall FC 2021-2022
We kicked the month of September off with a 2-0 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion at the hawthorns The trip to the West Midlands ending in defeat got me thinking about our system resulting in me changing from a 433 to a 442 formation for the trip to Swansea in mid week.
The switch in formation immediately made us look more balanced in game with two banks of 4 in the defensive phase transitioning to a 2422 in the attacking phase we looked more of a threat whilst looking solid defensively,
Just as the game was looking like a goaless draw Jake Cooper headed home from a corner in the 91st minute to give us a 1-0 win. A set piece goal that the board will be happy with following the club’s culture of making the most of set pieces. Also pleasing for myself because its an area of the game that I have worked hard on since taking the job at Millwall. Jake Cooper is a major threat from set pieces so it’s a no brainer that we will look to his strength in dead ball situations.
With set pieces being part of the club’s culture our player development and recruitment policy are tailored to identify and produce a number of players who will be an asset in this area. For me it’s something different to work on from what I normally do when developing and recruiting players, it’s something that adds to the tools at my disposal to get a result especially in tight games like the one at Swansea.
Back to The Den for the visit of Coventry City and after a goaless first half it was another set piece this time an indirect free kick that allowed defender Shaun Hutchinson to head home in the 47th minute to put us 1-0 up. Callum O’Hare equalised for the Sky Blues but a foul on Benik Afobe left the referee no option to point to the spot and give us a penalty in the 79th minute which Tom Bradshaw cooly dispatched to give us all three points and a 2-1 win.
Our next fixture was the Carabao Cup 3rd round fixture in mid week at The Den against Premier League club Norwich City who would provide a good test of our system. Both sides had chances to break the deadlock but to no avail until on loan winger Sheyi Ojo latched on to a George Saville through ball to burst the net with a stunning strike that is enough to give us a well deserved 1-0 win against a club a league above us and set up a 4th round tie against another Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Two set piece headers from Jake Cooper was enough to give us a 2-0 win at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest. Another clean sheet followed when Bristol City came to The Den for the final matchday in September. A Jed Wallace penalty got us up and running before Tom Bradshaw netted a second half brace to give us a a well deserved 3-0 win.
A trip to Oakwell to play Barnsley in our opening game of October produced an 8 goal bonanza with us coming out on top with a 5-3 win that saw Jake Cooper, Daniel Ballard, Maikel Kieftenbeld and a Mason Bennett brace all get amongst the goals.
Our good form continued when we entertained Luton Town with Maikel Kieftenbeld, Tom Bradshaw and Mason Bennett all hitting the back of the net in a 3-0 win. It was a different story when we travelled North to Yorkshire to face Sheffield United who ended our 7 game win streak with Sander Berge goal that gave promotion chasing United a 1-0 win.
We did get back to winning ways 4 days later with a 3-0 win against Stoke City at The Den. Benik Afobe was not available for selection against his parent club but it was another loanee who netted twice, Sheyi Ojo with the brace and another Mason Bennett goal gave us all 3 points in front of a jubilant crowd.
Carabao Cup 4th round action was next on the agenda against Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Lions fans where starting to dream when a Maikel Kieftenbeld goal after just 4 minutes got us off to a good start. Wolves who we ran ragged in the first half got their game together in the second period and turned the result on its head finally running out 2-1 winners. Its been a good Cup run but now we can go about concentrating on the league.
A solid performance at Huddersfield gave us a 3-1 win to end the month on a high with Shaun Hutchinson, Benik Afobe and Danny McNamara all chipping in with a second half goal.
Going in to November the squad were in good spirits after a team bonding session ahead of the visit of struggling Reading to The Den. Both Tom Bradshaw in the 7th minute and Maikel Kieftenbeld in the 16th minute grabbed the goals that gave us a 2-0 win and another valuable 3 points in the push for the play offs.
It was a single strike from Tom Bradshaw that gave us a 1-0 win against Derby County who visited The Den in wintery conditions in front of a jubilant crowd who are enjoying the form of their Lions. A week later we made the long journey North to face Middlesbrough which ended in a 1-1 draw with Jake Cooper giving us a valuable point against a well organised team.
A top of the table clash against Bournemouth in midweek ended in heartbreak for the Blues fans after we failed to get a foothold in the game of which Bournemouth went on to win 2-0 thanks to a solid performance from the fellow play off chasing visitors.
We dust ourselves off and put the Bournemouth game behind us for the trip to Hull City to end the month with a 2-2 draw against another club looking to get in to the playoffs. Shaun Hutchinson in the 3rd minute and Benik Afobe in the 86th minute gives us a share of the spoils.
December arrives and brings us 5 matches to end the year starting with a comprehensive 3-0 win at The Den against Birmingham City with Jake Cooper heading home in the 9th minute and Sheyi Ojo grabbing a brace with goals in the 17th and 92nd minute. The TV cameras follow us to the away trip against Peterborough United for the tea time kick off at The Weston Homes Stadium. Tom Bradshaw gets us off to a perfect start with a powerful header in the 5th minute before Jake Cooper seals the result in the 79th minute to give us a 2-0 victory.
Jake Cooper is on the scoresheet again this time in the 2-2 draw against Preston North End in a game that sees all four goals scored in the first half. Tom Bradshaw gets our opener in the 17th minute before Cooper scores in his third consecutive game in the 31st minute.
Swansea City are the visitors to The Den for the penultimate game of the year on Boxing Day and it’s our man of the moment Jake Cooper who scores the only goal of the game just before the break, his 4th on the bounce and his 9th of the season giving us the 1-0 win and all 3 points.
The last match of the year ends in a 1-0 defeat at Coventry City in a frustrating performance from the Millwall boys who dominated the game without getting anything from it. Benik Afobe comes the closest rattling a half volley against the upright.
Millwall FC Results
EFL Championship Table
To say that I am enjoying the Millwall job would be an under statement, I have made that connection with the club that FM players old and new can understand. Switching to the 442 has definitely brought the best out of the players at the club. I have put a lot of effort in creating set pieces and up to press we are bearing the fruits, non less than Jake Cooper who at 6ft 3inch has so far grabbed 9 goals this season with an average rating of 7.64. We are currently sat in 3rd place in the table in our bid to make the playoffs which is well above the boards expectation of a mid table finish. We are only signing players who the scouting network identify so over time it’s important to keep upgrading the scouting network to be the best. One player who the scouts have covered is transfer listed Lynden Gooch, the 26 year old winger is available for less than £50k from League One club Sunderland. I know what you may be thinking however I a trying to keep a realistic balance to the save and sign players who are within the club’s ability to sign considering their status in the game. I think it gives you more of a realistic experience which in my opinion makes for a better save.
I would like to thank you for reading, the interaction is great and very much appreciated.