Rotherham are two points above the relegation zone and have already won as many games as they did during their last season in the Championship in 2016/17. Any Millers fan would have taken that at the start of the season, wouldn’t they?
I think they would, for the most part. There is slight disquiet as to some of the performances and some of the results recently, but I think they are at the more extreme end of the fanbase - the social media Twitterati.
What has happened this campaign is a vast improvement on their last season at this level. The fact they are not in the relegation zone or even ‘doing an Ipswich’ – and by that, I mean points adrift at the bottom of the table – is a tremendous achievement. If they continue to be in it up to and around the last few matchdays of the season, they have every chance of staying up.
Rotherham have secured valuable points against Middlesbrough, Derby and Sheffield United already. Do you think they are equipped for a survival fight?
Mentally, yes. In terms of preparation and the manager, yes. In terms of quality, who knows. They’ve taken 25 points from 27 games and they are not too far away from Millwall, but Millwall have a three-point lead on them, Reading are starting to show a little bit of form under their new manager and they are only a couple of points ahead of Bolton Wanderers. I personally think Bolton and Ipswich Town are done, but it’s whether they can keep their heads above water as regards some of the other teams down there. Are they capable? Yes, they are, but they themselves know that it’s a long shot and that the Championship, in many respects, is their Premier League. Can they? Yes. Will they? Who knows?
Midfielder Matt Crooks has joined from Northampton Town this month. Has Paul Warne identified any further targets he wishes to pursue in the weeks that remain?
In terms of position, they are definitely looking to add to their forward line. They are without a few players due to injury at the moment – Michael Smith has done a manful job and will undoubtedly keep his place, it just depends on whether they can find somebody to enhance that a little bit. They will have one or two prominent players coming back into the team to take on Brentford, including Richie Towell who’ll come back into midfield. They desperately need a forward player or two. They’ve signed Crooks from Northampton, he’s a defender or a defensive midfielder, and it’s whether they can get somebody in who can just provide that extra quality in attack to get them a goal or two between now and the end of the season.
Who has been the standout performer for Rotherham so far this season?
Will Vaulks has been the standout performer this season; he’s good on the ball, a good tackler and scores goals. Semi Ajayi deserves a mention after playing regular Championship football and having started to play for Nigeria as well, while the previously-mentioned Michael Smith has done well up top. But they are not really a team of star players, they are just a good team.
How are Rotherham likely to set up on Saturday?
I would be surprised if there’s much deviation from the norm so that means they’ll go 4-5-1 and, depending on personnel, you could interpret that as being particularly attack-minded or defensively-minded. You’d imagine Rodak will be in goal, the usual back-four, which is Ajayi and Roberts at centre-half, Mattock and Vyner either side of them. Then in midfield, Williams will almost certainly come back into the equation if he’s injury-free. Taylor, Forde and Wiles have been playing recently. Towell is back and the one up front, Smith. They’ve got two wingers trying to support a sitting midfielder in Vaulks: Towell - who is supposed to get forward - and more recently Wiles.
The Bees won the return fixture 5-1 on the opening day of the season. What’s your score prediction for the game?
To be honest, before the first game of the season, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to Brentford to have the type of campaign they are having. I know they are getting through that now and have had a decent run of form recently, but Rotherham United are at home. I can’t remember what I said about the opening day of the season, but I won’t have said 5-1! Let’s be positive and go Rotherham 2-1 Brentford.
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