Rotherham United: No complacency in Millers’ final push for safety

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock has pledged there will be no let-up from his Rotherham United players as they look to apply the finishing touches to their amazing Championship escape act.

After winning six and drawing two of their last eight matches, the Millers could all but mathematically wrap up survival with a home victory against Nottingham Forest tomorrow.

And Warnock, the man who has inspired the club’s march towards safety since taking over as manager in February, trusts his men to keep giving their all, just as they did in last Saturday’s 4-0 away demolition of MK Dons.

“Look at the team that day and you tell me where there is going to be any complacency,” he said. “If there is any, they will be on the bench. They won’t be playing. But the lads all want to play.”

Last week’s triumph, with goals coming from Matt Derbyshire, Leon Best (penalty), Kirk Broadfoot and Richie Smallwood, saw Rotherham move nine points clear of the relegation places and virtually condemn MK to the drop, along with Charlton Athletic and the team already relegated, Bolton Wanderers.

The Millers may be only a place above the the bottom three, but they have hauled back so many teams during their unbeaten sequence they are only a point away from 16th place.

They were once six points adrift of a survival spot, and Warnock says they have performed so well he has found it impossible to drop players even when he has felt they needed a rest.

“I wanted to leave a couple out against MK, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I knew Besty had run himself into the ground in the other two games before then ansd he didn’t deserve to be left out. He got his penalty.”

Rotherham haven’t beaten Forest since 1956, but Warnock’s men top the division’s form table while the visitors, above them in the real standings only on goal difference, are 23rd out of 24, having lost five and drawn one of their last six fixtures.

Attackers Jamie Ward and Nelson Oliveira are unlikely to feature because of injury and the game may come too soon for striker Britt Assombalonga who is close to a return and playing for the under-21s after a year-long absence following knee surgery.

Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly

The earliest Rotherham could make staying up an absolute certainty is next Tuesday at AESSEAL New York Stadium in the Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield Town.

Meanwhile, defender Stephen Kelly has nothing but praise for the way Warnock has turned around the Millers’ campaign.

“You cannot under-estimate what the manager has done,” said the 32-year-old right-back. “He has come in and instilled this belief and confidence in us that we are a good side and can win games, that we’re better than teams we are playing.

“He has made us really hard to beat. Everybody knows their role. We work on it in training. Leading up to a game, everybody knows their specifics for what they need to do and who they are up against.

Winning at Wembley 20 years ago

Winning at Wembley 20 years ago

“I said when I first signed here, there’s a lot of quality in the club. The effort the players provide each week is phenomenal. With that drive and effort, plus the confidence the manager has given us, it’s just gone on from there. “Every game seems to be getting better. Campy (goalkeeper Lee Camp) is making great saves, the lads are scoring good goals and everyone is performing well. We are showing a determination not to concede.

“Anyone who has come into the back four has known their role straightaway. We have been determined, put our bodies on the line, and just defended well.”

This week sees the 20th anniversary of the Millers’ Auto Windcreens trophy Final win over Shrewsbury Town at Wembley and many of the victorious squad from that day will be introduced to the crowd at tomorrow’s game.

Today is the last chance for season-ticket-holders to renew for next year at the best discount prices.

Click here for Dean Hall’s Millers fan column