Rotherham United are back in the Sky Bet Championship after a year’s absence. How has their preparation been shaping up?
They’ve brought in some lesser-known players. Paul Warne has gone big on character – he knows that he hasn’t got the money to go and sign top Championship players, so he’s had to bring a group together that will work hard for each other; the collective is going to be greater than any individual in that team. I think it’s gone well so far: they’ve got no major injuries and they haven’t lost any players from the team that won promotion, so they are moving along quite nicely.
The Millers were relegated in 2016/17 after finishing bottom of the pile. What do they need to do to avoid suffering the same fate this term?
Alan Stubbs was appointed that summer, signed a large number of players and then left very early into the season. Kenny Jackett came in and was viewed as the man who was an almost unattainable target for them. They managed to pull that off but after five games he walked out and from that position you had a squad of players who were completely on their knees. Warne came in and had to pick up the pieces, but it was practically impossible from that point and you could’ve relegated Rotherham in December, really - they were dead and buried.
Warne did a great job to lift them last summer and get them believing again, pulling them all together and getting that winning habit back at the club. That’s the thing that’s going to be different this time – they’ll be going into this season a lot more focused, organised and they’ve got a manager who is a big hero at the club from his playing days and who the players respect. Everyone is pulling in the right direction.
What do you make of the business they’ve done so far and where do they need to improve?
Marek Rodak has re-signed on loan from Fulham. He was a big part of their success last season, so they’ll be delighted to have got him back. Elsewhere, they’ve bolstered their defence with the signings of Clark Robertson from Blackpool, Billy Jones from Sunderland and Sean Raggett on loan from Norwich City. I wouldn’t say there’s a position where they are absolutely loaded, but I think the main areas they need to strengthen are up front and in midfield.
What sort of style of football does boss Warne employ?
Last season they were very attack-minded. You wouldn’t see Rotherham going away from home, putting everybody behind the ball and trying to win 1-0 or draw 0-0. For the most part it worked. I think they boxed cleverly during the Play-Offs, especially in the games against Scunthorpe United where they managed the occasion very well. So too in the Final against Shrewsbury Town, which they absolutely dominated and won after extra time. I asked Warne after that game whether he could afford to play the same attacking style in the Championship and he said that they are not going to try and be what they are not: they have a way that they want to play. I do think the intention will be to attack teams and play with intensity, but there are obviously going to be days when Rotherham can’t really do that. If they go away to Stoke and try to play that way for example, they might be on the end of a nasty result.
Can we grab your score prediction?
It’s the opening day and Rotherham are new to the Championship. I’m sure they’ll give a good account of themselves, but I have a feeling that Brentford might just have a bit too much given that they’ll want to have a good start as well. I’ll say that Brentford will win 2-1.
For the full chat with Rob plus interviews with Henrik Dalsgaard, Glenn Poole and Ken Coote, pick up a copy of your new-look BEES matchday programme tomorrow for just £3.50.