The only team to beat Everton as the Blue Girls navigated the Spring Series to win the title, Millwall were the surprise package of the Spring, despite a razor thin squad and new home away from The Den.
Bright under Burch
After taking over from Rebecca Sawiuk half-way through the 2016 season, Lee Burch steered Millwall not just to a strong finish but reharmonized the disjoined squad. Forced to overcome the hurdles of draws in 2016, 2017 saw the team finally realising their potential and finding wins to match their performances. A third-place finish in the Spring Series, a point off of the Belles in second, more than enough to have people wary of the team from East London.
The bigger task for Burch over the summer has been locking his players into new deals, handing them out like gifts at Christmas, the team with strong foundations to build on over the coming season. In addition to the new deals, Rianna Dean and Charlie Devlin both signed from Arsenal – the latter having struck up a fine partnership with Ella Rutherford over the course of her loan spell during the Spring Series – as well as Megan Alexander from Bristol and Victoria Wotton from Watford.
If the Lionesses are to do well, as well as Rutherford and Devlin's partnership continuing, the defence will have to keep up its' strong work, the centre-backs no-nonsense and the full-backs ready to bomb on at a moment's notice.
Looking much like the team they were in the Spring, just with more bite, the Lionesses will be looking to kick on after a handful of forgettable seasons the wrong side of the half-way line in WSL 2.
With confidence running through the squad and previous negativity banished, Millwall’s new home for 2017 is the considerably smaller [than The Den] St. Pauls sports ground, a modest 3G pitch a stone’s throw from Canary Warf. No longer left to rattle around in Bermondsey, Burch has spoken about wanting to make their new home a “mini Den” and has, arguably, succeeded in that, the modest number of home fans almost on top of the action in Southwark. Still lacking serious squad depth – a theme in WSL 2 – Burch’s biggest challenge over the 2017-18 season will be keeping the squad fit and ready for the next game, the season stretched out, the Lionesses ready to roar to the top.