Rotherham United: Millers manager Redfearn looks for middle ground

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn

Boss Neil Redfearn is using Rotherham United’s opponents tomorrow as a target as he aims to turn the Millers into a club that can compete in the top half of the Championship.

The new manager says the second tier has split into three mini leagues, with his own side, still in the drop zone despite two straight wins, bidding to jump out of the lowest of the three levels.

He is confident the Millers are capable of rubbing shoulders in the middle segment with teams like Leeds United - beaten by his men a fortnight ago - and Wolves, who come calling at AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow.

“There are three divisions within a division,” he said, “If we can get in among the likes of Wolves and Leeds and all those, that’s an achievement.

“I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but what we have to do then is plan further ahead to be a side who are in there and challenging for the next bit because you can’t stand still or stop.

“We are right at the beginning of something here. But we are proving to ourselves, bit by bit, that we can get there.”

Joe Newell

Joe Newell

Wolves have drawn their last three matches and are in 15th place.

With six points from their last two matches, Rotherham are now only a point away from a survival spot - a far cry from the situation before the international break when they lost five of Redfearn’s first six games in charge and were bottom of the table.

The new man is making his presence felt, bringing in several new players and allowing others to leave on loan, and the Millers underlined their improvement with a 3-0 victory over Bristol City last Saturday

“What happens with confidence and belief is that it takes you such a long way and it can overcome a lot of things,” he said. “In my time as a player, all the best sides didn’t neccessarily have the best players in them. They were just good, well-organised and well-drilled teams. I know that can work.

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“It now feels more like a Rotherham team, I am understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the group and now want to add the next bits. I want to make these players better players and more adaptable for the division, rather than just staying in the division. I want this side to challenge. It’s going to take time, I know that.”

Left midfielder Joe Newell is back in the side after being injured and then out of favour when Redfearn took over in October and the 22-year-old scored the goal which saw off Leeds 1-0 at Elland Road on November 21.

“I think Joe’s growing into it. Joe has named a run of games,” Redfearn said. “He’s definitely playing better. I think he’s got more goals in him. He’s quite clever how he arrives in the box and gets in there.

“He’s a really talented kid, a deep kid and a thinker. He likes to think about the game and has got unbelieveable ability. He is a set-piece specialist and can deliver great balls in with his left foot.

“We have to make aware what he is capable of. There’s more in him. I think he can be a real asset at this level.”

Midfielder Simon Lenighan, who signed for the Millers a week ago, has escaped jail after headbutting a woman on a night out in Harrogate last February. The 21-year-old midfielder pleaded guilty to assault at Harrogate Magistrates Court and was sentenced to a 12-month community order including 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay damages.