Author: Joe Kizlauskas
Last Updated: 21st October 2023
The 2022/23 season ended in disappointment for Millwall after a late collapse saw them miss out on the Championship playoffs. Last season, the Lions ended in 8th place, just missing the playoffs on the final day by losing a match they led 3-1, with a final score of 4-3. This loss was a pivotal moment during Rowett’s tenure at the Den.
That seemed to be a tipping point for Rowett’s 4-year tenure at The Den. This season, inconsistent performances have seen the team languishing in 15th place after 16 games. While only 3 points off the top 6, there is a sense that a fresh approach is needed to reinvigorate the Lions.
Rowett was relieved of his duties following the 2-2 home draw wwith Hull City, ending a polarising spell in charge. Appointed in October 2019, Rowett provided stability after Neil Harris’ departure and established Millwall as a solid Championship outfit. But with fans demanding more attractive football and better results, the club hierarchy felt the time was right for change.
Now the search begins for a new manager to improve Millwall’s fortunes. The Championship is notoriously difficult to get out of, and the new boss will need to implement an effective playing style while working within a strict budget. The right appointment could make the difference in turning Millwall into genuine playoff contenders once again.
With Gary Rowett’s departure, the question on every Millwall fan’s mind is – who will be the next manager? Bookmakers have already released odds on the likely candidates to take over at The Den.
Kevin Muscat (7/4 favourite)
The early frontrunner is Kevin Muscat, installed as the 7/4 favourite by bookies. Muscat is a former Millwall player, having spent two seasons at the club from 2003-2005. He was even captain during the famous 2004 FA Cup run to the final.
After retiring, the Australian embarked on a coaching career mostly focused back home. His major success came with Melbourne Victory in the A-League, where he delivered two Championships and one Premiership during 6 years in charge.
Muscat is currently managing in Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos. His Lions connections and experience of winning trophies make him an intriguing option.
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John Eustace (8/1)
John Eustace has emerged as a contender at odds of 8/1 after recently leaving Birmingham City. He spent just over a year at St Andrew’s, guiding them to a 6th place finish before departing when the club appointed Wayne Rooney.
While his managerial experience is limited, Eustace knows the Championship inside-out after a long playing career in the division. The former midfielder could bring stability and strong defensive organisation to aid Millwall’s promotion push.
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Mark Kennedy (8/1)
Mark Kennedy (8/1) is another potential candidate for the Millwall job, having recently parted ways with Lincoln City in League One.
The former winger enjoyed a distinguished playing career with Liverpool, Manchester City and the Republic of Ireland national team. He transitioned into coaching after retirement, serving as an assistant at Ipswich Town and Birmingham City.
Kennedy landed his first managerial post with Macclesfield Town in 2020, before taking over at Lincoln in May 2022. He led the Imps to a 10th place finish in his first full season last year. However, Lincoln struggled for consistency this term and Kennedy left by mutual consent in October.
While Kennedy has limited experience managing in the EFL Championship, he is familiar with the division from his time as a player. His eight years coaching in the academy and senior setups of Ipswich and Birmingham also give him valuable insight. Kennedy’s sound track record of developing young talent could benefit Millwall’s crop of promising prospects.
Appointing Kennedy would represent a calculated gamble by Millwall. But his background and connections in the game make him an interesting outside option at 8/1 odds.
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Michael Beale – 10/1
Michael Beale (10/1) is an intriguing option for the vacant Millwall job given his meteoric rise as a coach in recent years. The 43-year-old served as an assistant to Steven Gerrard at Rangers and Aston Villa, earning plaudits for his work on the training ground.
Beale landed his first managerial opportunity when he was appointed Rangers boss in November 2022. He made an immediate impact, going unbeaten in his first 10 league matches and claiming the October Manager of the Month award.
Rangers played an attractive, possession-based style under Beale and results were impressive in the initial months. However, their form dipped after the World Cup break as rivals Celtic pulled away in the Scottish Premiership title race.
Despite a 72% win rate from his 43 games in charge, Beale was dismissed by Rangers in early February with the club 7 points adrift of Celtic. The Gers board felt they were underperforming given their significant investment in the playing squad.
While his tenure at Ibrox ended prematurely, Beale enhanced his reputation during that brief spell. He showed he can implement progressive tactics and get the best from technically gifted players.
Beale may lack experience managing in England, but his coaching pedigree is undisputed. Appointing Beale would be a bold move by Millwall to bring a young, attack-minded manager into the Championship. At 10/1 odds, he remains an outside bet but his energetic style could reinvigorate the Lions.
Why Not Check Out
What Millwall Need from New Manager
Whoever takes over at Millwall will have a big job on their hands to turn around the team’s inconsistent form. While the squad has promise, there are certain things the new manager must focus on to succeed:
Improve Results and Table Position
First and foremost, the incoming boss needs to generate better results and propel Millwall up the Championship table. Currently 15th and hovering just above the relegation zone, the team should be contending for a top-half finish and the playoffs.
Work Within a Tight Budget
Millwall operate on one of the smallest budgets in the division, so the new manager will need to be prudent in the transfer market and develop players already at the club. Squeezing maximum value out of limited resources is crucial.
Develop Youth Prospects
Linked to the tight finances, the new manager must blend Millwall’s talented academy prospects into the first team. The club has a strong history of promoting youth, which needs to continue.
Instill an Attractive, Attacking Style
Fans have complained about dour, defensive tactics under Rowett. The new boss needs to implement a more positive, front-foot style of play that is exciting to watch while still being effective.
Rebuild Morale and Togetherness
The change in manager presents a chance to lift spirits and create a renewed sense of unity. The new man needs to immediately establish rapport with players and build team morale.
Achieving those objectives would help transform Millwall’s fortunes. But it will require considerable leadership and management skills from the new gaffer to make it happen.
The departure of Gary Rowett concludes an era of stability, if not spectacular success, at Millwall. While reaching an FA Cup semi-final and flirting with the playoffs, Rowett was unable to take the club to the next level.
Now the Lions find themselves seeking a new direction and identity under an as-yet unknown new manager. It is a clean slate, with both risks and opportunities ahead.
The early betting indicates former player Kevin Muscat is the frontrunner to succeed Rowett. But as we have explored, the likes of John Eustace, Mark Kennedy and Michael Beale all have merits too. There are even more left-field options in the mix.
Whoever takes charge will need to galvanise the squad, establish an attractive style of play and aim for at least a top-half finish this season. The playoffs must be the minimum target in 2023/24.
Millwall’s passionate fans await the appointment with anticipation. There is a sense of excitement but also an expectation that the new manager must deliver consistent results.
The hunt is on at The Den to find the right personality to lead this famous old club into a new era. It will be fascinating to see who emerges from the pack to take on this coveted job.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was Gary Rowett sacked by Millwall?
After four years in charge, Millwall parted ways with Rowett because of disappointing results and inconsistent performances this season. The club felt a change was needed to reinvigorate the push for promotion.
What is Millwall’s current position in the Championship?
The Lions currently sit 15th in the table after 16 games, having secured 21 points so far. They are 3 points outside the playoff places in a tightly congested top half of the table.
Who is the bookmakers’ favourite to become the next Millwall manager?
Former Millwall player Kevin Muscat is the current frontrunner with odds of 7/4. Muscat previously managed Melbourne Victory in Australia and is now in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan.
When will Millwall appoint their new manager?
No exact timeframe has been given, but the club will likely aim to have a new manager in place within 2-3 weeks. An appointment could happen any day now.
What are the main criteria Millwall want in their new manager?
The club will want someone who can tighten up defensively but also implement a more attacking style of play. Working within a tight budget will be key, as will developing youth. Most importantly, they need to start winning games consistently.
Who are the other main candidates beyond Muscat?
John Eustace, Mark Kennedy and Michael Beale are also in contention, while the likes of Nathan Jones and Steve Cotterill remain outsiders for the job according to bookmakers’ odds.