Saturday 22 July 2017

Howe regrets wholesale changes after Cherries get mauled by the Lions

Millwall 3 Bournemouth 0

Eddie Howe shows his disappointment after Bournemouth’s defeat at Millwall. Photo: Reuters
Eddie Howe shows his disappointment after Bournemouth’s defeat at Millwall. Photo: Reuters

Declan Warrington

Millwall manager Neil Harris insisted his team could have beaten Bournemouth by a greater margin - but revealed he would swap their FA Cup upset for victory over rivals Charlton next week.

A convincing performance against Premier League opposition, with goals from Steve Morison, Shaun Cummings and Shane Ferguson, secured the League One side's place in the competition's fourth round.

Millwall's Shaun Williams celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Reuters
Millwall's Shaun Williams celebrates scoring his side's second goal. Photo: Reuters

It came after Bournemouth's Eddie Howe made 11 changes to a team that was without its usual fluidity, but, despite the potential for the result to further galvanise Millwall's season and the extra effort in training that went into achieving it, Harris believes his side have more pressing concerns.

"I'd like to play at home in the next round," said the 39-year-old, who has overseen four wins and a draw from an unchanged XI.

"(But) I would swap this victory for a win at Charlton. That's how big (next week's game) is.

"We defended really well as a team and at the right times we were clinical - 3-0 doesn't flatter us. We could've scored more.

AFC Bournemouth's Marc Wilson and Millwall's Steve Morison battle for the ball. Photo: PA
AFC Bournemouth's Marc Wilson and Millwall's Steve Morison battle for the ball. Photo: PA

"We knew Bournemouth would make changes, they have got a big few games coming up. We knew there would be some minutes for other people.

"My players probably worked a bit harder in training on Thursday and Friday to know how we would nullify their threats. The players didn't quite get it at first and they had to stay a little bit longer on the training pitch.

"It wasn't that they didn't get it right, so come back later. We wanted to get messages across. The higher you go up the divisions, the minor details are really important. For example set-plays. We showed that with our first goal."

Despite Harris predicting Bournemouth would make changes, it was still a surprise Howe, also 39, made 11.

His team appear comfortable in ninth place in the Premier League and, asked if he regretted doing so, he responded: "In hindsight with the result, yes, but though I haven't been forced, my hands are tied a little bit.

"We are so stretched, the Premier League is such a demanding league, we feel we need our best players available for selection.

"Marc Wilson has pulled his hamstring, so we're a body down and if that had been a first-team player, that would have been really catastrophic. We tried to protect the players we had fit.

"Millwall deserved it. It was really disappointing, because I was excited to see the team play before the game. We had a good balance between a lot of experience and a bit of youth, but this is a tough place to play.

"I can't disguise how I feel and look for too many positives.

"We didn't have that cohesion that we would expect. There were a lot of new players in there who didn't do very well as a partnership. It was a very difficult game to watch.

"It's a really difficult one. We'd love to win the FA Cup, we'd love to go as far as we can. Previous years I have made changes and we have gone on some good runs. This is the first time we've suffered in the cup and it disappoints me immensely.

"The majority of those players have played in the Premier League, but not together at the same time and that is the thing that has cost us."

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