“…their reaction to the goal is completely over the top and a disgrace in English football.”- Neil Harris’ quote to South London Press & Mercury in response to the reaction of the Leeds United players and staff to Jack Harrison’s 88th-minute equaliser at The New Den on Saturday.
The #AgainstModernFootball is one used quite regularly by football fans in reaction to the ever-changing complexity of the game and the actions of some supporters who attend games. Here we read countless opinions on how “VAR is ruining the game” or how “popcorn shouldn’t be eaten at matches” and the list goes on. Whether you agree or not with the opinions on how certain aspects of the game or actions of fans attending games can be detrimental to the sport is entirely on you. However, I must laugh at Millwall manager Neil Harris’ quotes regarding the celebrations of the Leeds bench on Saturday afternoon.
Millwall and Leeds United. Two of the countries most hated clubs colliding in what always is a scrappy, heated game. Leeds was heading to The New Den unbeaten in their first six games but with their recent poor record against the South East Londoners weighing on their minds while Millwall was intent on doing another one over on their rivals and improving on what had been a poor start to their season.
As expected, a scrappy game ensued with Leeds struggling to make use of the massive chunk of possession they had. Millwall took the advantage in the second half when Jed Wallace’s strike put them in the lead. The Whites went up a gear in response to the goal and began chasing the game. With momentum building for Leeds, the two benches came to a head when Gianni Alioski was prevented from retrieving the ball quickly after it had gone out for a throw-in. An angry Marcelo Bielsa charged into the Millwall technical area waving his arms and pointing fingers in response to the incident before his army of coaches joined him.
The fiery nature of the game was now in full swing in the aftermath of the incident which is why it came as no surprise to the nature of the celebrations when Jack Harrison’s low strike beat Millwall keeper Ben Amos with just two minutes of regulation time left on the clock. The festivities were led by the ever-passionate Samuel Saiz who sprinted the best part of 40 yards to make sure the Millwall bench knew exactly what he thought of them while the backroom staff of Marcelo Bielsa was up in arms with the players on the touchline.
Celebrating is defined as the “acknowledgement of a happy day or event”. As football fans, we all know that it’s by far the best part of football. The joy and pandemonium that it brings. I can only imagine that players fell the same way. Now, what exactly was Neil Harris expecting considering the events which had occurred leading up to the goal? Not to mention the fierce historic rivalry of the game which is ever present amongst fans and the fact that it was an 88th-minute equaliser to keep Leeds’s unbeaten start to the season alive.
His comments in which he refers to it as a “disgrace to English football” are laughable. If he wanted to find a few things which are worthy of that tag, he’d be better off looking elsewhere instead of going after one of the only things left in modern day football which hasn’t been and should never be changed.
Rewind back to January, a 92nd-minute winner at Elland Road for Harris’s men to complete a famous 4-3 victory. Steve Morrison (or Zlatan as he has self-proclaimed himself) reacted by goading the Leeds fans in the Kop end. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a player who is continuously criticised by Leeds fans for his dire spell at the club after being involved in a late goal to give your side all three points. There was no mention of those celebrations from Harris then. The smell of hypocrisy is strong on this one.
Whether it’s a Wallace 92nd minute winner at Elland Road or it’s a Harrison 88th-minute equaliser at The New Den that you’re into, I’m sure that all fans would agree that those moments of ecstasy are what we crave when heading to matches week in week out. Without them, what would be the point in being a fan? So Neil, dry your eyes out and get over it, what goes around certainly comes around, and I’m sure you will have your day again.
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