Tuesday will see Kenny Jackett celebrate five years in charge of Millwall. How ironic that he will celebrate it away at the club he spent his playing career, Watford too.
Jackett joined Millwall with the club in a dire situation, in the dregs of League One and seemingly heading to League Two, and if they went down, they weren’t coming back for a long time.
Jacket’s first game was away to Altrincham in the F.A Cup and looking at the team we have now compared to that game is astonishing. The likes on Marcus Bignot, Ahmet Brkovic and Will Hoskins. Now we have Liam Trotter, Darius Henderson and James Henry.
The Lions stayed up by the skin of their teeth that season, it was now Jackett’s time, make the team his own.
He certainly did that!
The likes of David Forde and Jimmy Abdou were brought in, plus James Henry on loan. These players excelled, Millwall were big by name in the division, but not by finance, Forde and Abdou were major signings for the team and they were both free transfers, a masterstroke by Kenny. They may have lost in the Play-Off final that season, but Jackett was still in the building process.
Kenny pulled off some shrewd business yet again, Jack Smith, Liam Trotter and Darren Ward all brought in on frees, then came the pivotal signing, Steve Morison, a punt from non-league that came off in a big way!
Yet again the Lions were on a small budget, their rumored transfer budget for the summer of 2009 was 75K. Kenny was a miracle worker once again in the transfer market.
Many expected the Lions to struggle, but narrowly missing out on the Play-Offs was the spirited final finish, this was down to a great passion and togetherness, oh, and Steve Morison.
But then came Kenny’s biggest challenge.
Morison left for the gravy train of the Premier League and Norwich City, leaving ‘Wall with about 20 goals missing from their side. Jackett made some mistakes but they were rectified in January, the signings of Shane Lowry and Andy Keogh, plus the signing of Harry Kane on loan kept the Lions up, and Keogh only cost 200k from Premier League Wolves….
After a 6-0 defeat to Birmingham City last season, the Lions were applauded off the field. This was a turning point, the fans trusted Kenny, and we knew he could do it.
Jackett is the seventh-longest serving manager in English football, and no wonder. He’s played to the strengths of the club, built a strong powerful team, and look at the players, Darius Henderson, proven goalscorer, free. Liam Trotter, Premier League potential, free. Danny Shittu, a real ‘wall rock at the back, free.
Need I go on?
Kenny is the most underrated manager in the division, he got a team from the bottom six of League One to the outskirts of the Play-Offs to the Premier League, he’s never mentioned for jobs, he’s seen as unfashionable by other clubs, I don’t mind, an underrated club and manager get along very well, its hard to imagine KJ manage another club despite his previous success at helping turn Swansea into the attractive club they are today.
One thing that has already stood out for me with Kenny is his professionalism. Millwall fans found out Jackett’s father died a couple days after the Play-Off final, when in real fact, he sadly passed away in April, he only told a few of his coaching staff but not the players, until after the final whistle at Wembley, for some reason this just always stuck out in my mind.
In a time of managers chopping and changing Kenny is a shining light in Championship football.
Lets raise a glass to five years to Kenny, here’s to many more!
IN KENNY WE TRUST.