By Laurie Fitzgerald
After Crystal Palace’s 3-0 defeat at Millwall on Saturday, the main talking point was naturally the sacking of the Eagles manager George Burley, as his side remained slumped in the bottom three of the Championship table.
The sacking took the focus away from Millwall and their impressive win. But Kenny Jackett is probably used to this now.
Because when it comes to who is the most underrated manager in the Football League, then you’d be hard pressed to find a manager who doesn’t get the praise they deserve than Jackett.
When the 48 year-old took over Millwall in November 2007, the club were in the relegation zone in League One. Just over three years later, they find themselves in seventh place in the Championship, a point outside the play-off spots and potentially pushing for a place in the top flight.
Jackett came in and rebuilt the confidence of a squad that suffered under the guidance of Willie Donachie. The Lions went on to maintain their League One status that season, and Jackett’s side grew from there.
He guided Millwall to a play-off final the following season, only to suffer a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Scunthorpe at Wembley. It was a disappointment that could be used for potential failure the next campaign.
But Jackett didn’t need any excuses. He lifted the squad and this time, when they reached the play-off final again, they took their chance, beating Swindon 1-0 to take them into the Championship.
Again, Jackett’s side have gone from strength to strength, despite the improvement in quality of opposition. The New Den witnessed a blistering start to the season, winning five of their opening six games, and despite a blip in form following that start, they are now unbeaten in seven matches.
It’s not just the statistics that demonstrate his qualities, but case studies of players that he has transformed. The best case study is that of Steve Morrison.
Few took notice when Morrison was plucked from non-league Stevenage by Jackett in the summer of 2009. But his 23 goals in a league which was two tiers above what he had been used to showed how his manager helped unleash his full potential.
Morrison already has 11 goals to his name this season, and is now a regular at international football for Wales. Jason Puncheon, on loan from Southampton, looks to be the latest discovering their true quality under Jackett, demonstrated from his hat-trick on Saturday.
But the list is long. Paul Robinson, Darren Ward, James Henry, Chris Hackett and Danny Schofield have shone under the guidance of the former Swansea manager.
He has transformed the side and given Millwall fans real belief of a bright future. Not only that, but Millwall are having a fantastic season by playing some really good, organised football in the process.
Maybe it will take the leap to the promised land of the Premier League for him and Millwall to get the praise they deserve, but while Simon Grayson, Paul Lambert and Neil Warnock get their acclaim, Kenny Jackett will quietly carry on demonstrating his ability as a top manager.
So what do you think? Millwall fans, just how good is Kenny Jackett? Is this current team ready for a promotion push? Let us know
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