Former Millwall and QPR ace, Marcus Bignot has rained accolades of The Lions’ former player, Danny Shittu, and says the club’s fans should not boo the big stopper and his manager, Ian Halloway.
The ex-Den boss takes on his former employers at Loftus Road for the first time since he left amid a relegation battle, with Shittu and Holloway coming up against their former team.
Millwall ended up being relegated but Holloway’s successor, Neil Harris, steered them back into the Championship after their shortest third-tier stay in 40 years.
There have been few players to cross the Thames from west London to SE16 in that time – and only Danny Shittu, who was Lions Player of the Year in 2013, has really been embraced by fans.
Bignot is one of them – he was one of former QPR assistant Kenny Jackett’s first signings as manager – and both of them know Holloway and his assistant, ex-Lion Marc Bircham, very well.
“Millwall fans will want to have a go but if I was them I would leave him alone because he thrives on it,” said the 43-year-old, who now works for Fulham as a scout across the UK and Europe for their chief scout Brian Talbot. “Ollie was always like that.
“Birchy has to be the pantomime villain. He’s got the lion tattoo and he used to be a player for Millwall.
“If I was a fan of either team, I would be giving him loads. That is the main reason I wanted to go to the game, because I wanted to have a go. He had that blue mohican as well. I had a blond one, once, but his was worse.
“Joking aside, Birch is misunderstood. You want someone like him in the dressing room. You wouldn’t want him in the opposition one. He wears his heart on his sleeve and gives 100 per cent.
“He would be the first to admit, he was not the most technically gifted. But he knows the game and makes a huge contribution.”
Bignot played 193 games for QPR over eight years before moving to The Den in 2007 and playing 21 games there. He can’t make the game because he has been helping out Barrow FC in the National League Premier Division and will be playing a league game that night.
“Andy Sinton, who is an ambassador for QPR, invited me to be there as a guest of honour and to salute fans before the game. But Barrow are at home to Guiseley in National League One and I have to be there. I am gutted.”
But he has a soft spot for the Lions just as much as the Hoops.
“QPR has been viewed as a Premier League and Championship club where Millwall have historically been a bit lower,” said the former defender. “But Neil Harris will want to view them as a Championship club and I hope he helps them become established in the division.
“Chopper and Ollie are both proper people in management – salt of the earth, honest and hard-working. There are not enough of them in management. It is great to see proper characters like that succeeding.
“No disrespect to any of the other clubs I have played for, but Millwall stand out in terms of the home atmosphere their fans create.
“There are not so many Louis Vuitton washbags down at the training ground.”
Bignot was manager of Solihull for five years before being appointed Grimsby boss last year. Since leaving there, he has been a Fulham scout, travelling all over the country to watch their Championship rivals – and looking at players in the UK and Europe.
“I am indebted to Brian Talbot,” added Bignot. “Everyone knows how important he is to Fulham’s recruitment. He has fully embraced my work. I have gained a lot of insight which will be great for when I go back into management.”