Rotherham United: Warnock's faith in Millers battlers
Loyal boss Neil Warnock is so impressed with his players as he plots Rotherham United's great escape that he may ditch plans to add to his squad.
The Millers have won their last three matches under their new manager to revive hope they can survive another season in the Championship after looking near-certainties for the drop.
Warnock has been seeking a new striker, but he said after Tuesday’s shock 1-0 success over second-placed Middlesbrough he wants to keep faith with the men who are giving him everything they have.
“They are a great bunch here,” he said. “I don’t want to bring anyone in if I can help it, I want to work with what I have got.”
The win over Boro, at a raucous AESSEAL New York Stadium, followed the home triumph over Brentford and the derby victory over Sheffield, another side in the top six.
Having been six points adrift of a safety spot a fortnight ago, third-bottom Rotherham have reduced the gap between them and 21st-placed MK Dons to just a point, while they are also closing on Bristol City and Fulham.
Warnock has enjoyed seven promotions in his career and masterminded unlikely survival missions with Torquay and Ipswich, but says keeping the Millers up would top them all.
“It would be my best achievement by an absolute mile if you look at the position we were when I came in,” he said. “We are still in the bottom three after three wins, which shows how far away we were. It would be far better than any of the promotions. Everybody knows we were dead and gone. We might still be dead and gone, but it won’t be for the lack of trying.”
The 67-year-old, who has now been in charge for six games, reserved special praise for hard-working striker Matt Derbyshire who scored the winner at Hillsborough while playing in an unfamiliar wide-left position and found himself in right midfield against the Teessiders when the Millers reshuffled to combat the threat of Gaston Ramirez.
“The amount of work he is doing at the moment in different positions is something else,” he said. “He played wide left at Hillsborough, then wide right against Middlesbrough.
“He got cramp. I should think he did! I don’t know how many kilometres he’s travelled.”
Next up at New York is yet another promotion contender, Derby County, on Saturday, and Warnock is relishing another big challenge, despite the absence of Greg Halford who was sent of against Aitor Karanka’s side for two yellow cards and has to serve a one-match ban.
“We are limited, but it’s exciting,” he said, “I am enjoying it. The Championship is my scene, I love that blood and thunder.
“I was disappointed Greg got sent off. The first booking, I thought it was a disgrace really. The lad has slipped and gone down. I said to the ref: ‘You’re not even going to give a free-kick.’ He’s looking away and then the linesman flags for England in the corner and they get a booking for it.
“We’re near the bottom of the league. We deserve consistency and we aren’t getting it at the minute. It’s bl**dy hard work in the Championship, never mind having decisions like that go against us.
“Apart from that, I am quite happy!”