Millwall v Sheffield United: Why Lions boss Gary Rowett is backing Blades' promotion bid despite defeat at The Den

Gary Rowett, the Millwall manager, has backed Sheffield United to challenge for automatic promotion this season despite denting their hopes of a Premier League return with a 1-0 victory at The Den this afternoon.
Gary Rowett, the manager of Millwall, who beat Sheffield United today: Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesGary Rowett, the manager of Millwall, who beat Sheffield United today: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Gary Rowett, the manager of Millwall, who beat Sheffield United today: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Jake Cooper haunted the Blades once again, scoring his latest goal against United to seal Millwall’s fourth successive victory and end the visitors’ good unbeaten run.

United didn’t really get going after making four changes from their midweek victory over Blackburn Rovers, and dropped out of the play-offs after Luton’s victory over Derby County.

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And Rowett said afterwards: “Sheffield United are a really good team; for me, up there with the most impressive teams in the division behind Fulham.

“Paul [Heckingbottom] and his staff have done a fabulous job and to beat them twice and keep a clean sheet is fabulous effort.

“I expect them to challenge for promotion still this season and maybe even the top two.”

On Cooper, who scored the winner in the return leg between the two sides at Bramall Lane, Rowett added: “Jake certainly loves playing against Sheffield United.

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“He scored a 25-yarder earlier in the season and there aren’t many defenders who can head the ball like he does.

“We had to dig in and show character for that win.”

United’s best opening came in the first half when John Egan headed Conor Hourihane’s cross straight at Bartosz Białkowski in the Millwall goal.

“Sheffield United didn’t have many good chances,” Rowett added.

“It’s not like we were hanging on with chances. We were jut hanging on without the ball.”