Chairman's programme notes in the Millwall Johnstone's Paint Trophy programme
Welcome to everyone to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Area Final second leg, which will decide whether Millwall or United go to Wembley! I would especially like to welcome the officials, players and fans from Millwall.
Thank you also to everyone for coming tonight; the game is almost sold out which is a fantastic show of commitment from all fans and I am sure will result in another great atmosphere under lights.
We go into the game with a two-goal advantage after a very competitive first leg. Millwall created enough chances to warn us that the tie is far from over! As ever, your magnificent support will be central in ensuring we put on a performance worthy of the occasion.
At Millwall, at Pompey and at our last two home games, our support has been superb both in number and in noise. Although, the result against Blackburn was disappointing, the crowd was not.
Speaking with Michael and a few of the players after the game, I think the general consensus was a disappointment that we didn't do ourselves justice (a rarity this season) against an efficient and tactically well-drilled side who, undoubtedly, deserved their win. They have been rewarded with a home tie in the next round and we wish them well against Liverpool or West Ham.
I am delighted that we have been able to bring in two new faces in the past 10 days: Jordan Bowery and Jonjoe Kenny. Jordan announced himself in style with the winner at Portsmouth and as his match fitness improves will provide an additional cutting edge up front. Jonjoe arrives with superb reviews from both Everton and Wigan and is a young player with a great future ahead of him.
Strengthening the squad always remains our priority but only with players who compliment Michael's playing philosophy and the character of the team. I hope that we can bring in a couple of additions and, in particular, that we are able to secure the return of Chris Maguire.
The nature of football and the transfer window means players leave the club. Blackburn was George Baldock's final game before being recalled by MK Dons. We were disappointed by this turn of events and tried to sign George permanently but MK were not interested. George was with us for around a year and, undoubtedly, made a big impact on the team and fans alike. He leaves with our best wishes and sincere thanks and let’s never say never!
These latter sentiments also apply to Danny Rose, who is joining Northampton. Danny is a fine young man who has been a credit to the club and he played an important role in our rejuvenation in the second half of last season. I am delighted he has agreed to continue to support our community activities, when he can, as part of his media studies course.
Looking further ahead, the pre-season tour is taking shape and I can confirm it will be in southern Spain, at a resort near Mijas. The plan is to play two games and also have events for fans on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Further details will be issued in the near future and I hope as many fans as possible are able to make what should be a great few days.
After tonight's game, whatever the outcome, our attention returns to the League. We have a packed calendar with eight games in 28 days. I fully expect the season to go down to the wire and our focus needs to be on maintaining performance levels. We will have setbacks and this is where our togetherness will be critical. The team needs you - your support is a massive positive and will earn us extra points.
Enjoy this evening and get behind the players as you always do.