Competitive Millers making a better fist of Championship life - Interview
Monday, 23rd Nov 2020 18:06 by Clive Whittingham
A lengthy injury list and penchant for conceding costly goals in stoppage time hasn't masked Rotherham's obvious improvements since they were last at this level in 2018/19, according to our regular Miller Ross Middleton.
Reasonably promising start? What have you made of it so far?
That’s a good way to describe it. Currently sitting nineteenth with 12 points from 12 is a decent start, but could and should have maybe been more, losing late goals to Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield and Birmingham. We’ve definitely shown that we can compete this time around, and with the amount of injuries we’ve had we’ve got to be pleased with the start we’ve made.
Rotherham league results so far…
Away wins have been your real Achilles heel at this level so far, one on the board so far, any change in your approach or signs you’ll do better with that this time?
Harking back to your first question, it maybe should have been more. To take the lead away at Birmingham in the 87th minute then concede an equaliser was frustrating to say the least, but we’ve gone away from home and competed this time around. Stoke were no better than us, we were by far the better team at Reading for 45 minutes, most of the games have been close. We’re still missing a bit of belief (in my view) that we can go at teams; maybe the manager is mindful of the previous two seasons in this division, but his recruitment has been good in that we’ve strengthened the backline and brought in wingers suited to counter attack. Obviously the lack of crowds has been a good thing for us in that away from home the pressure must be off and makes it more of a level playing ground, which kind of doesn’t help us at home alternatively.
Paul Warne certainly an unusual boss, background and mannerisms, does he maintain backing from fans? Any criticisms?
Managers will always get criticism from some quarters. You couldn’t have a better safer pair of hands in my view, someone who has played for, coached and now managed for a number of years. He understands the club from top to bottom and is big on the group and mental health, which shows in the bond he has created with the various squads he has assembled over his four years as manager, he actually cares. Some do argue that he’s out of his depth but I think they need to understand that as a club we a punching well above our weight, when other clubs can bring million pound subs on. People need a reality check once in a while to see how far we’ve come after the shambles he inherited. I think his eccentric nature is different to the puppets that some clubs employ, he’ll say it how it is and I’d say 99% of our fans love that.
How was the transfer window in the end?
Probably one of the best we’ve ever had at this level. Reinforced the backline with experience in Angus MacDonald, quality in Wes Harding and two goalkeepers. We’ve reinforced the wide areas with more pace and trickery, vital in the way we want to play. The biggest plus point was resigning Dan Barlaser on a permanent deal, who really does pull the strings in midfield. Would have liked another centre-forward as a number of our forwards are very similar and that’s one thing we seem to be lacking, but not long until January I suppose.
Ins >>> Dan Barlaser, 23, CM, Newcastle, £250k >>> Wes Harding, 23, CB. Birmingham, Undisclosed >>> Mickel Miller, CF, 24, Hamilton, Free >>> Kieran Sadlier, 25, LW, Doncaster, Free >>> Angus MacDonald, 27, CB, Hull, Free >>> Viktor Johansson, 21, GK, Leicester, Free >>> Josh Vickers, 24, GK, Unattached, Free >>> Jamal Blackman, 26, GK, Chelsea, Loan >>> Florian Jozefzoon, 29, RW, Derby, Loan >>> George Hirst, 21, CF, Leicester, Loan
Outs >>> Jerry Yates, 23, CF, Blackpool, Undisclosed >>> Julien Lamy, 20, LW, Released >>> Laurence Bilboe 22, GK, Released >>> Joshua Kayode, 20, CF, Carlisle, Loan >>> Jake Hull, 18, CB, Matlock, Loan >>> Jake Cooper, 19, CB, Gateshead, Loan >>> Curtis Tilt, 29, CB, Wigan, Loan >>> Jamie Proctor, 28, CF, Newport, Loan
Where is the team strong and weak?
Up until a few weeks ago I would have struggled to identify any real weaknesses, other than the lack of goals. Like I said we’ve had one of our best recruitment periods and created competition in every position. However, we’ve suffered four long term injuries over the last few weeks to Chiedozie Ogbene (our main threat), Kieran Sadlier, Shaun MacDonald and Clark Robertson, meaning that the squad is a lot thinner than Paul Warne would have liked. Alternatively we have players to come in and not look out of place but if we get any more injuries then we could struggle badly. Team play and quality is a strong point, we never look out of a game and if we’re on our game we can compete with anyone. Just sometimes we are susceptible to individual errors at the back which have been punished, Millwall at home and Forest away being a case in point, in turn costing us points.
How do you think you’ll do?
Based on our showing so far, we should have enough to stay up in my opinion. We will need certain players to step up who haven’t played as well as they could and more importantly we will need the squad to stay fit now due to the long term injuries we’ve suffered. A couple of additions in January, particularly up front, would see us over the line I reckon. We can’t rely on Sheffield Wednesday and Derby to be below us all season so our home form will be crucial. Anything above twenty second will do for me.
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