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Rotherham circling the drain after dire campaign - Interview
Thursday, 22nd Feb 2024 13:47 by Clive Whittingham

It's gone badly wrong for Rotherham's attempts to consolidate at Championship level, well adrift at the bottom and with no sign of improvement under new manager Leam Richardson - Ross Middleton is our regular Miller who's suffering through it.

Why has it gone so badly for Rotherham this season?

Put simply, we can’t score, can’t create and conceded too may goals.

From having what we thought was one of the best pre-seasons of modern years and starting the season with some encouraging home performances, the away results didn’t improve and the similar problem of injuries reoccurred again. We can use injuries as a slight excuse but the reality is that we’ve struggled to compete this season and lack of depth on the bench has hurt us badly, especially in later stages of games where opposition teams have been able to bring on established players. The delay in appointing a new manager added to the problems and a poor January transfer window consigned us to going through the motions to the end of the season. Put frankly this season has been a disaster, with us looking at another Championship season without an away win.

Rotherham in the league so far…
Stoke 4-1 Rotherham However 5, Vidigal 45, 45, Brown 90 – Peltier 46
Rotherham 2-2 Blackburn Odofin 23, Onyedimna 48 – Szmodics 75, 78
Sunderland 2-1 Rotherham Bellingham 22, 52 – Odofin 20
Rotherham 1-2 Leicester Onyedimna 53 – McAteer 12, 84
Rotherham 2-1 Norwich Lembikisa 22, Hugill 40 – Fassnacht 50
Huddersfield 2-0 Rotherham Koroma 18, Thomas 70
Millwall 3-0 Rotherham Longman 27, Flemming 58, Bradshaw 90
Rotherham 1-1 Preston Hugill 35, Lindsay 45
Cardiff 2-0 Rotherham Etete 56, Ng 90
Rotherham 1-2 Bristol City Blackett 86 – Conway 81, 90
Southampton 1-1 Rotherham Armstrong 2 – Hugill 74
Rotherham 2-0 Coventry Peltier 51, Rathbone 90
Sheff Wed 2-0 Rotherham Smith 11, 36
Rotherham 1-1 QPR Kelly 70 – Chair 50
Rotherham 2-2 Ipswich Nombe 4, Tiehi 90 – Morsy 19, Taylor 87
Watford 5-0 Rotherham Rajovic 10, 45, Kaymebe 54, Ince 86, Martins 90
Rotherham 1-1 Leeds Odofin 45 – Summerville 6
Hull 4-1 Rotherham Morton 5, Philogene 9, 48, Twine 20
Birmingham 0-0 Rotherham
Rotherham 1-2 Swansea Nombe 64 – Patino 45, Yates 73
Rotherham 0-2 West Brom Diangana 54, Wallace 90
Plymouth 3-2 Rotherham Azaz pen 45, 52, Whittaker 90 – Lindsay 16, Eaves 77
Leicester 3-0 Rotherham Daka 60, pen 65, Casadei 72
Rotherham 1-0 Boro Bramall 72
Rotherham 1-1 Sunderland Clucas 48 – Clarke 73
Blackburn 2-2 Rotherham Sigurdsson 8, Szmodics 46 – Morrison 30, Eaves 82
Rotherham 0-1 Stoke Baker 45
Boro 1-1 Rotherham Forss 82 – Cafu 59
Rotherham 0-2 Southampton Bednarek 4, A Armstrong 38
Leeds 3-0 Rotherham Bamford 10, Summerville 52, pen 60
Rotherham 1-2 Hull Tiehi 4 – Philogene 71, Ohio 75
Rotherham 0-1 Watford Asprilla 58
Ipswich 4-3 Rotherham Burns 9, 29, Moore 14, Hutchinson 90 – Eaves 2, Odofin 60, Cafu pen 90

What did Matt Taylor get wrong, and with hindsight given how it’s gone since, might it have been worth sticking with him?

We didn’t perform or win away, put simply. The home form was inconsistent, but you always felt that we could get a result at the New York Stadium. Tony Stewart pulled the trigger after a 5-0 defeat to Watford, which I felt was a bit hasty as I could see what Matt Taylor was trying to do, but fans were getting restless and I think Stewart thought he could get an established replacement in, which proved to take longer than it should.

There seemed to be a weird, protracted gap in appointing his replacement – chairman went on holiday didn’t he? The you end up with Leam Richardson who seemed far from first choice. Take us through all of that.

The chairman has taken some fearful stick for a car crash interview before the Leeds game and went on business/holiday (take your pick) before the interview process began.

The word is that he’d lined someone up to take over straight after Matt Taylor (Mr Warnock and Mr Wilder mentioned) but they ended up turning down the opportunity.

We thought we were getting Nathan Jones when he turned up to watch us at Birmingham but he decided that we weren’t the club for him. The problem is that no-one wants a relegation on their CV and the one month wait for a manager pushed us further away from fourth from bottom as opposed to being just three points away when Taylor was sacked.

We were getting no information from the club. Whoever got the job in the end were never going to be first choice, but Leam Richardson seems like an appointment for League One, not the Championship.

How’s he done so far? How much could he be expected to do? What’s he changed?

You can’t help but feel sorry for Richardson with the situation he inherited. We’ve struggled to attract players, struggled to train at the training ground due to the poor conditions, and he’s had an injury list as long as your arm. I have to say we’ve set up rather negatively (too negatively at times) but he has definitely made us more compact and harder to score against. The problem is that we don’t look like scoring and haven’t really had a go until late in games, normally when it’s too late. He’s your typical modern head coach, full of jargon and buzz words, when most Rotherham fans just want a character as manager who’ll get the players up and at teams, something we haven’t had for a while.

What was done in January? What was left undone?

Despite Leam Richardson’s hopes of six new signings through the door, we got three in during the final hours of the transfer window – Andy Rinomhota, Femi Seriki and Charlie Wyke.

We were desperate for centre-halves but the return of Cameron Humphreys was like a new signing so we’ve managed to get by in that position. We could have done with more wingers bringing in due to a gaping lack of service to the strikers we have, meaning a more negative style of play without the options we so badly needed.

Summer Ins >>> Sam Nombe, 24, CF, Exeter, £1m >>> Christ Tiehi, 25, DM, Slovan Liberec, Undisclosed >>> Andre Green, 25, LW, Slovan Bratislava, Free >>> Cafu, 30, CM, Forest, Free >>> Grant Hall, 31, CB, Boro, Free >>> Dillon Phillips, 28, GK, Cardiff, Free >>> Fred Oneydinma, 26, RW, Luton, Loan >>> Dexter Lembikisa, 19, RB, Wolves, Loan >>> Arvin Appiah, 22, LW, Almeria, Loan >>> Sebastien Revan, 20, LB, Villa, Loan >>> Daniel Ayala, 32, CB, Unattached, Free >>> Sam Clucas, 32, CM, Unattached, Free

Summer Outs >>> Ben Wiles, 24, CM, Huddersfield, Undisclosed >>> Chiedozie Ogbene, 26, RW, Luton, Free >>> Wes Harding, 26, RB, Millwall, Free >>> Josh Vickers, 27, GK, Derby, Free >>> Richard Wood, 37, CB, Doncaster, Free >>> Conor Washington, 31, CF, Derby, Undisclosed >>> Robbie Hemfrey, 21, GK, Released >>> Mackenzie Warne, 19, CF, Brighouse, Free >>> Peter Kioso, 23, RB, Peterborough, Loan >>> Jamie McCart, 26, CB, Barnsley, Loan >>> Joshua Kayode, 23, CF, Carlisle, Loan >>> Jake Hull, 21, CB, Buxton, Loan >>> Curtis Durose, 19, CM, Scarborough, Loan >>> Hamish Douglas, 18, CB, Gainsborough, Loan >>> Joel Holvey, 18, CM, Gainsborough, Loan

Winter Ins >>> Andy Rinomhota, 26, CM, Cardiff, Loan >>> Femi Siriki, 21, RB, Sheff Utd, Loan >>> Charlie Wyke, 31, CF, Wigan, Loan

Winter Outs >>> Georgie Kelly, 27, CF, Carlisle, Undisclosed >>> Tolaji Bola, 25, LB, Burton, Loan >>> Curtis Durose, 20, RM, Matlock, Loan >>> Ciaran McGuckin, 20, CF, Dundalk, Loan

Player of the season candidates?

Only one man – goalkeeper Viktor Johansson. I dread to think how many goals we would have conceded and even further adrift we’d be if he hadn’t been ever present all season. I’m amazed that no one came in for him during January but would expect to see him back in the Championship next season when he moves on. The only thing stopping him from being a regular Premier League starter at present would be his ability to play out from the back.

Weak links in the team?

The strikers have been woefully off form this season but the lack of wide men has been a massive issue this season, meaning that the strikers we play in whichever combination have had no service throughout the season, especially since Fred Onyedinma got injured.

Also we are having to rely on getting an ageing Sean Morrison through 90 minutes every game due to injuries to other defenders such as Lee Peltier and Grant Hall (obviously). We certainly get weaker later in the game when it’s time to make changes due to having a lack of strength in depth due to injuries and poor recruitment.

Any hope at all? Where do Rotherham go from here?

No hope whatsoever when it comes to this season. A massive clear out is required and a massive change in transfer policy is essential. Changes are afoot (so we’re told) behind the scenes and we’ve just appointed a director of football (doubling up as head of recruitment) but we also need changes to take place with the training ground which is currently not able to be used due to the standards of the facility so it’s a really important time at the moment which could see us stabilize or sink even further if we’re not careful.

Links >>> Rotherham United official website >>> Sheffield Star — Local Press >>> Millers Banter — Forum >>> New York Talk – Podcast/YouTube Channel

The Twitter @loftforwords, RossMid38810197

Pictures — Action Images

Action Images

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TacticalR added 17:14 - Feb 22
Thanks to Ross.

It all sounds pretty bleak, although Rotherham nearly got a result against Ipswich on Tuesday. Even goal machine Jordan Hugill has dried up.

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