It hasn’t taken Ian Holloway long to galvanise Millwall.
The 50-year-old, one of the sport’s most colourful characters, returned to management earlier this month, penning a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Lions.
In his first match in charge, Holloway’s men slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town, the side’s sixth loss in their last seven matches.
But Millwall stopped the rot in their last outing, beating Ipswich Town courtesy of a strike from on loan Tottenham Hotspurs full-back Ryan Fredericks. They will be looking to build on that result when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the New Den tonight.
“Confidence is a massive thing and he [Holloway] gives you bundles of it - he makes you feel 10 feet tall,” said Millwall defender Shane Lowry, who spent time on loan at Sheffield United in 2011.
Despite his previous connections to South London rivals Crystal Palace, who he departed in October, Holloway was given a warm welcome by the Lions faithful.
“I love the crowd, I love everything about the place. I’ve never been wanted so much in my life,” he said. “I feel like I’ve come home. I believe I’m at a place where every word I say carries some clout.”
In time, Holloway wants to make Millwall more pleasing on the eye.
“I want to be brave and be a coach who develops players to pass and move,” he said. “I have to assess and try and get a blend and a balance that fits them. Then I have got to get them having a positive mindset and togetherness.”
Keeping the Lions in the Championship is Holloway’s immediate focus. Millwall are currently 21st in the standings, one point and one place above the relegation zone.
Holloway, who steered Blackpool and Palace to the Premier League via the play-offs, said: “Hopefully we will turn it round really quickly but, if not, people need to know I want to be Millwall manager for a very long time.”
Highly-rated goalkeeper David Forde sits out tonight’s clash due to a thigh injury he suffered a couple of weeks ago, meaning Owls old boy Stephen Bywater will deputise in between the sticks.
Richard Chaplow will not figure due to an Achilles niggle and a calf strain while Jermaine Easter is nursing a foot problem.
Mark Beevers, another former Wednesday player, is likely to be on the substitutes bench.
Holloway could hand starts to new recruits DJ Campbell and Shaun Williams, having captured the duo from Blackburn Rovers and MK Dons respectively.
It promises to be a big week for Wednesday, who face relegation rivals Millwall tonight before locking horns with fellow strugglers Barnsley on Saturday.
Stuart Gray, the Owls new head coach, said: “Millwall and Barnsley have obviously got two new managers.
“The one thing you do know with Ollie [Ian Holloway] and Danny Wilson’s teams is that you’ve got to match their determination, effort and commitment. If we do that, I’ve got every confidence that we will win the game.”
“Ollie will get Millwall fired up,” he added. “It is a difficult place to go to. We want there last season and got a good 2-1 win.
“The crowd will be excited because he is a buoyant manager is Ian Holloway. He gets his teams up for it. He has been very successful at Blackpool and Crystal Palace.
“We have to match their effort and commitment and hopefully our quality will come out on top. Every player has to win their individual battles. If I get eight or nine players who win their battles, the result will take care of itself.
“We are eight games unbeaten, we are full of confidence and we can’t wait for the games to come around.”