Rotherham United: Warnock key to Thomas' Millers future
The Rotherham United future of winger Jerome Thomas could hinge on whether miracle-working boss Neil Warnock remains in the hot-seat next year.
The Millers have all but sealed their Championship safety, after once looking certainties for relegation, thanks to an incredible run under Warnock who was appointed in February until the end of the season.
Former Premier League flyer Thomas has played his part in a sequence of six wins and two draws in the club’s last eight matches and plans to wait on his manager’s verdict before deciding what’s next for him when his own short-term deal expires.
The Millers, who entertain Nottingham Forest on Saturday, could confirm their survival next Tuesday at home to Huddersfield Town, and Thomas said: “It is just one step at a time. Once the club are mathematically safe, then we will sit down and see what the chairman says and also see what Neil plans to do as well because that is a key factor.”
Warnock has engineered a run which has seen Rotherham climb out of the drop zone and move nine points clear of the relegation places with only five games left to play, and fans are desperate for the 67-year-old to stay on.
He has said he will talk with chairman Tony Stewart if and when the Millers’ place in the second tier is assured.
“What we have done here is a prime example of how you can move forward,” Thomas said. “The last thing we want to be doing is going backwards and be in a relegation scrap again next season because all of the hard work will be undone.
“We need to learn from this and kick on. I don’t want to be at a team fighting relegation. I want to be in a team that is pushing for promotion if I do stay in the Championship.”
The ex-Arsenal youngster, who turned 33 last month, had been without a club since leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season before he was given a chance to train with Rotherham under previous boss Neil Redfearn and then signed by Warnock.
“A lot of people don’t know the struggles I have been through this season, I have had so many struggles,” he revealed. “In the Championship, even in the lower leagues, some people were saying I am too old and I am not fit enough.
“I think even in just the few games I have played I have shown that I am. I have been doing extra work with the fitness guys. If it (my future) is here, then happy days.
“I can sit down and talk with them once we are safe, and even if it is an appearance-based contract I am confident in myself that I can get on the pitch and earn my money that way.”
Thomas made his first start for the Millers as they embarked on their famous run with a 2-1 win over Brentford on February 7 and played in the 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough before suffering a leg injury during the 3-3 draw with Derby County. He returned to the squad after the international break and came on as a second-half substitute in the 4-0 demolition of MK Dons last weekend.
“It has been frustrating because I have worked so hard to get myself fit before I came here and I was in the team that was winning,” he said.
“But we all have the same objective, that same common goal, and that is to keep Rotherham up and go from there.
“I am trying to get more minutes under my belt but that is up to the gaffer, it’s just nice to be in a team that is winning.
“The atmosphere around the club, everyone is just buzzing. You can imagine what it is like. It’s nice for the town. Everyone’s happy.”