Traditionally the post of Millwall manager has been one of the more staid within the football fraternity.
Charlie Hewitt, Billy Gray, Benny Fenton, George Graham and Johnny Doc. Yes as a rule, the hot seat at The Den is on average best occupied by no nonsense blokes. Men who learned their trade in the shadow of the Glasgow shipyards, the London docks or the mines of the North-East. Blokes who know what’s required to hold your own inside of rough little pubs in New Cross, Paisley or Gateshead. Canny men. Guvnors who can suss a fancy Dan out at fifty paces and tell him to sling his hook. Now.
So the news this week that the club are to hold a European round of interviews came as something of a shock. Millwall with a foreign coach? That really would be a break with the past. Certainly outgoing manager Kenny Jackett fitted the ‘solid’ old school stereotype. His best football was played in the traditional English mode – preferably the long ball to Steve Morison. And as soon as we started trying to pass the ball around and retain possession, well that was the start of the end for Kenny. Neither he, nor his players ever looked truly comfortable with the ball at their feet.
The current bookmaker’s favourite is ex-Liverpool and German international defender Markus Babbel (1/4 on with some websites). Wow. How true a rumour that is we will find out soon enough. Certainly we appear to be looking at the progress made by Swansea City, where Jackett also laid the solid foundations for a foreign coach (Roberto Martinez) to come in – and produce the kind of continental football required for the Premier League.
All of which is potentially very exciting. Babbel has excellent managerial credentials in Germany. If the rumours are indeed true, it would be a leap of the Millwall imagination beyond anything previously seen in Bermondsey. This being the Lions however, we have to curb our enthusiasm, just in case it proves in fact to be less Markus Babbel – and more David von Tuttel…