Yesterday afternoon saw the news break that Millwall target-man Matt Smith had agreed a one year extension with the club. He joins club captain Alex Pearce, who also extended his stay in SE16 for another year at the backend of last week. We of course knew that both offers were on the table for the experienced pair when the club released its retained list at the end of the season. With both on reduced terms both financially and playing wise, I believe manager Gary Rowett will be pleased to get both to stay for next season at The Den.
Although Smith was injured towards the end of the season, and actually only played more than 45′ seven times all season, the forward is a natural plan B option for me. If we’re chasing a game whilst being a goal down and looking for that moment to get us back into the game, with 15-20 to go Smith is that go to option. At times, even just his presence in the box is enough to off put opposition defences, not to mention the influence the forward has off the pitch.
Much like Pearce, Smith has been labelled as a positive influence in the dressing room and his output for the team is much greater than just his affect he has as a big man up top. As mentioned above, the terms offered to both players were also greatly reduced financially, which should also allow Rowett increased financial movability in a market which will be greatly impacted by the on-going nationwide pandemic.
Not forgetting Smith was our top scorer in the 2019-2020 league campaign, he also managed to score three times last season despite his opportunities becoming limited as we mentioned above, with only seven starts in the league. Three goals betters the likes of Böðvarsson still though, with the Icelandic international only managing the one goal in 38 league apperances.
Pearce will also provide a steady backup to the likes of Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper and Murray Wallace in the heart of defence. Whilst I don’t rate Pearce as high as what Smith will offer us going into next season, with more experience and know-how leaving the club in midfielder Shaun Williams this summer, I do agree with Rowett that losing too much experience could have a negative output on the playing squad.
If you’re Hayden Muller or Isaac Olaofe I imagine you’ll be thinking your chances of playing next season become even more limited, which of course has to be viewed as a negative. However, I do believe the pair and other youngsters on the fringes of the squad will benefit more from a loan spell away from The Den, we’ve seen already with Danny McNamara that a loan spell away from the club, playing consistently and grabbing headlines away from The Den can only increase your chances of long term success in a Millwall shirt.
We ran a poll yesterday evening asking what you the readers felt of both Pearce and Smith extending their stays, results are below. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow us on Twitter to participate in polls like this in the future!
With over 70% voting yes and only 10% stating they’d rather get rid, it feels like the overwhelming majority are happy with the experienced pair staying for another season at least. In both cases I’d like to think Rowett is looking for long term successors for the pair, and I would be very surprised if between the two of them they managed more than 20 starts in the league in the new season. It’s very much the impact off the pitch where their value will be felt for the team.