Lee Burch talks plans for the 2017-18 season

Millwall boss stresses there’s no limit to what his team can achieve

Lee Burch talks plans for the 2017-18 season
Credit: Getty/Ben Hoskins

Earlier this season we spoke to Millwall boss, Lee Burch about the progression of the team since he took charge and what his goals for the season are.

Staying grounded

After a solid Spring that saw the Lionesses put together a run of unbeaten games, the coach is looking to keep his team grounded over what promises to be a fight to the finish line,

I don’t want us to carried away, the Spring Series was good but we were just planning to take each game as it comes this season. I think I’ve seen a preview and every single club in this league thinks they can go and finish top and that’s fine because it is going to be a very competitive league.” He continued “But, I’m very much about taking it one game at a time, every team in this league has improved but so have we and if we can match our form from the Spring Series we very much feel that we’ll be up and around it.

Where other teams have faltered with injuries mounting in razor thin squads, Burch believes he’s struck a healthy level of depth, a potential selection headache one of his bigger concerns,

I’d say we do have some pretty strong squad depth, 20 players for this season is plenty. I’ve had tough decisions to make; the quality that I have on the bench is huge, I’ve got very good players who aren’t starting but yeah, I’m very happy with the squad depth that we’ve got.

Getting the bulk of their summer business done early, the coach is pleased to have ticked everyone off of his wish list for the season,

The main three we wanted to get over the summer were the first three we got through the door early. We wanted Charlie [Devlin] back as well as another striker and we had wanted Rianna [Dean] over the Spring but that didn’t materialise so we were really pleased to get her when we did. I wanted a left-hand sided player too and I didn’t think Megan Alexander was going to become available but when she did, it was brilliant because I’ve known Megan awhile as I’ve coached her brother in the past so there was a link there already, so it was perfect when she became available. And then we added Vicky [Wotton] to the squad at the end too, even though it was announced quite late she was with us for a while and the squad was organised early.”

No ceiling

A quiet favourite to challenge for the top this season, the young manager isn’t looking to get carried away, his first goal for the season a modest one,

We have to be honest, the first goal is to finish higher than we ever have in the league before – which is third from bottom – people might look at that and not think it’s much but it’s the first aim. From there you take it game by game, the real thing is, Doncaster Belles is the only team that finished above us in the Spring Series and we did beat them so we know that if we do that again, we could be up there; there’s no ceiling on this group. That’s what I’ve told them, there’s nothing that we can’t do and we need to put in the performances and get stronger because that’s what every other team will do.

He continued, “There’s no ceiling and I’m really keen to stress to the players that it’s down to them. With the squad we’ve got, we’re going to get out there and be competitive in every single game and we’re really looking to beat everyone.

Having already referred to wanting to make the Lionesses’ new St Pauls home as a “Mini Den”, the solid home form has followed the London team but Burch still thinks more can be done to turn the small ground into one of the most formidable in the league,

One thing is off the field, in the work done by people like Hannah – our general manager – it was great to have so many people here today [393 spectators], that’s going to be the big thing; the Den is all about the atmosphere. We want to have a 12th woman here to spur us on, and as much as having that atmosphere it’s about making sure we can win our home games and get a reputation for it so that teams know when they come here they’re not going to have an easy ride; we’re taking all three points more often than not.