Kenny Jackett is revelling in the stable atmosphere of The Den while Neil Warnock is being forced to live from day-to-day
Kenny Jackett celebrated the fifth anniversary of his appointment at Millwall this month and can look ahead with a degree of certainty to a few more. Neil Warnock has been at Leeds since February and refuses to look beyond the end of the week.
It may be a relatively familiar situation for a man who, his seven years at Sheffield United excluded, has averaged a little under 24 months with each of his nine employers. But with the club's takeover by Gulf Finance House Capital becoming a saga more drawn out and even less entertaining than an ITV-organised talent contest, nothing about his or their future can be particularly secure, with increasingly debilitating results.
"I've got to try and be as diplomatic as possible, considering how I feel, but it's extremely difficult to get anything done or to get any answers," Warnock said at the end of last week. "You're almost in a straitjacket. The club's got to move on, the sooner the better."
A visit to London and at 1-0 a fourth defeat in five league games is not the kind of moving on Warnock was referring to, and with the next three matches against teams in or near the current top six they may have to look off the pitch for some encouragement. "We've got to wait and see what this week brings," he said after Sunday'sdefeat. "Like we waited to see what last week brought, and the week before that, and the week before that."
There is instability on the pitch as well, and as in the previous weekend's 6-1 home humbling by Watford, Leeds had a man sent off within two minutes of half-time. On this occasion Mark Halsey dismissed Luke Varney for a perceived elbow on Adam Smith, a harsh decision with the errant arm raised but not swung. "I don't know what's happening nowadays," said Warnock. "When I was younger, refs used to try to keep it 11 v 11. It seems to have gone all to cock at the minute."
Many Leeds supporters would share that last sentiment, and they got little encouragement here. Millwall may delight in their unpopularity, but in El Hadji Diouf the visitors lined up with an individual who foments levels of opprobrium to which the Lions can only aspire. In the second minute Diouf made the most of an already-bad-enough challenge by Mark Beevers — who was booked — and created yet another group of enemies. He was constantly booed from that moment, though allegations on the Daily Mail's website that some of the abuse was racial in nature were denied by both clubs and the player, and could prompt legal action from Millwall.
Michael Tonge sent that free-kick into the wall, and Leeds had few chances of note until the same player sent another dangerous free-kick swirling absurdly off-target in the second minute of stoppage time. Much of the credit for that must go to David Forde in the home goal, whose calm catching and precise distribution over short and long range was at the heart of Millwall's display.
Jackett's side is built around solid virtues, with a giant at the back in Danny Shittu and another at the front in Chris Wood.
For all that he was to win the game with a header, it was Wood's willingness to plough channels towards the flanks, rather than his ability to dominate in the air, that Millwall most relied on. The best chance of the opening half came when he ran down the right before sliding a pass across the edge of the penalty area which Andy Keogh swept wide.
Five minutes from the end Wood won the ball in midfield, turned and lumbered towards the penalty area, arriving all alone and just in time to head Shane Lowry's excellent cross beyond Paddy Kenny. This was due to be the last game of his loan from West Bromwich Albion, his 11 starts bringing seven goals, five wins and the club's first 10-game unbeaten run since 1988-89. Millwall were understandably delighted when the New Zealander and his parent club agreed after this match to extend the deal. Extending deals, though, is precisely the last thing on Leeds's mind.