#blog-pager{clear:both;margin:30px auto;text-align:center; padding: 7px;} .blog-pager {background: none;} .displaypageNum a,.showpage a,.pagecurrent{padding: 3px 7px;margin-right:5px;background:#E9E9E9;color: #888;border:1px solid #E9E9E9;} .displaypageNum a:hover,.showpage a:hover,.pagecurrent{background:#CECECE;text-decoration:none;color: #000;} .showpageOf{display:none!important} #blog-pager .showpage, #blog-pager .pagecurrent{font-weight:bold;color: #888;} #blog-pager .pages{border:none;} - See more at: http://labstrikes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/add-calendar-style-date-widget-for-blog-post.html#sthash.Js2lbh9N.dpuf


Millers facing different prospect this time around

Rotherham are about to embark on their first season back in the Championship, 13 years after last going into the second tier and there are several similarities between the two promotions that got them there.

They were both done as part of successive rises after jumping from the bottom division just 12 months earlier, coming in a league full of big clubs where no one gave them a hope.

They were both done in the most dramatic and euphoric ways possible, the first a last-minute winner and the second a penalty shootout win at Wembley, and, of course, both have had very good books written about them.

But as attention turns to the new season and how the Millers will cope back at the highest level they have ever played, there are very few similarities to the circumstances of when they entered the league under Ronnie Moore in 2001, with the following four years going into club folklore.

Here’s how things are different this time around, with some standing Steve Evans’ men in better stead and some potentially making life more difficult.

Summer signings

Evans has never been afraid to recruit new players throughout his time at the club and this summer has been no different. The Millers boss has brought in a whopping 11 players during the close season as he looks to build a strong squad, with roughly two players competing for every position.  Scott Loach, Kirk Broadfoot, Frazer Richardson, Richard Wood, Mat Sadler, Paul Green, Conor Newton, Ryan Hall, Febian Brandy, Jordan Bowery and Matt Derbyshire have all come through the arrivals door at New York Stadium, with the prospect of more to follow. Bet on the reserves to win the league this season!

It was a completely different story for Moore, working under much tighter budget restrictions as he made just five summer signings. Chris Swailes and Nick Daws came in from Bury, Mike Pollitt returned from Chesterfield and Rhodri Jones and Jose Miranda were free agents. Jones never played for the first team and Miranda did not feature after mid-September, making just three appearances.

Splashing the cash

It’s blatantly obvious that, in terms of how things are run now, it is a totally different club to that of 13 years ago. In chairman Tony Stewart they have a man willing to put significant amounts of money into squad development and as a result the Millers have smashed their transfer record this summer. When signing Bowery from Aston Villa for around £250,000 they added almost £100,000 on to their previous record, which was for Lee Frecklington. There are rumours of a bid for another striker so Evans is certainly getting the tools to do the job.

When the Millers earned promotion in 2001 it was a euphoric moment

Moore was given some cash too, but in moderation. He was allowed roughly £80,000 to bring Pollitt back to Millmoor while after the season started he was given £125,000 to sign Martin McIntosh from Hibs and £150,000 to land John Mullin from Burnley. The majority of the money for McIntosh and Mullin came from the ill-fated ITV Digital pot and the demise of that cash had a knock-on effect which contributed to the Millers heading towards administration a few years later.

Championship experience

Part of Evans’ recruitment drive has seen him bring in a plethora of players with Championship experience, with all-but Febian Brandy and Conor Newton having played at that level at some point in their career. In addition to that, Bowery has played in the Premier League as has Derbyshire, who has also played in the Champions League for Olympiakos. Scott Loach has played at England Under-21 level and also been in the full international squad. And that’s not to mention the existing players who have played in the second tier, such as Frecklington, Kari Arnason, Craig Morgan and Ben Pringle, meaning that the Millers definitely have the pedigree this time around.

In contrast Moore’s men were bereft of second-tier experience. Of their few signings, Swailes, Daws, McIntosh and Mullin had all played at that level, but the existing squad had nowhere near the experience. Alan Lee, Stewart Talbot, Kevin Watson and Ian Gray who were the only ones had played in the then Division One, so it was a steep learning curve for the majority of the squad.

Home sweet home

New York Stadium is a thing of beauty if you are of a Rotherham persuasion and it has helped transform the club into the one it is now. It is capable of creating a white-hot atmosphere that the Millers can thrive in as showcased with the spine-tingling win over Preston in the play-offs last season and the two victories over the Sheffield clubs. The loud roar and steepling terraces will all contribute into making it a difficult place for opposition teams to come, but on the facilities side they will want for nothing. It’s state-of-the-art design means that they will prepare in comfort and it’s the sort of place where they regularly visit.

New York Stadium has provided a fine new home for the Millers

Millmoor was definitely one of the main reasons the Millers survived at this level for so long under Moore. Opposition teams were out of their comfort zones and the old-school nature of the ground naturally made it an intimidating place to go. Had Robert Prosinecki, one of Europe’s finest players at his pomp, ever played at a place like Millmoor before? Because of the facilities, or lack of them, the Millers were able to use it to their advantage. They regularly ensured there weren’t enough coat hangers for the visitors, sprayed water on the dressing room floor and took out the massage table. West Ham changing at the team hotel is one of the most famous stories from that era and many the Rotherham players have said they felt they had the teams beaten before the game even began. As a consequence, the Millers’ home form in the 01/02 season was sensational and they were beaten just three times on their own soil, with only Manchester City and Norwich losing less.

The opposition

Aside from the financial gain of promotion, the true reward of getting into the Championship is coming up against the sort of teams the Millers will be doing this season. The release of the fixtures in mid-June was a sobering day as it was rammed home just how difficult a season lies ahead. The Championship has evolved over the last 15 years into one of the most popular and competitive leagues in Europe and there are some huge clubs in there, with huge spending power - Fulham have just paid £11million for a striker. In fact, 18 of the 24 clubs have played in the Premier League, with only the Millers, Millwall, Brentford, Bournemouth, Brighton and Huddersfield never dipping their toe in the elite league.

While undoubtedly facing the likes of Manchester City, West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City was a daunting task for Moore’s men, there plight was at least made slightly easier by the presence of some teams who were of similar ilk to the Millers. With only 11 clubs having had Premier League experience at that time, they knew games with Stockport, Grimsby, Gillingham, Walsall, Crewe and Sheffield Wednesday would provide enough chances to earn the points to survive – and they did. 

However, despite the differences between now and then, there is a very good chance that the Millers will achieve the same result. And if they do, they are in a far better position to establish themselves this time around.

Latest News




Copyright 2016