Rotherham United: Let the Millers interviews begin ... but don’t forget there’s a game!

Tommy Wright
Tommy Wright

There’s the small matter of a football match tonight, but for now nearly all the attention is on who will be the next manager of Rotherham United.

Caretaker boss Eric Black and the players are concentrating only on this evening’s televised Championship showdown against high-flying Burnley at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Stuart Gray

Stuart Gray

For everyone else, the replacement for Steve Evans, who left the club on Monday after three and a half years in charge, is the major concern.

The Star understands that, amid the mounting applications, there is interest in the role in more than one area north of the border, while there has also been contact from people abroad.

Chairman Tony Stewart said: “I’ve got an open mind. There will be a mixed bag of interviews with the young and the experienced.

“The quality is really good. There are big names. We have the task to shortlist and then pick the ones we want to interview.”

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright is in the running for the Dundee United vacancy but likes the idea of working in England.

Former Sheffield Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray is keen on the job and it would appeal to Nigel Clough, who left Sheffield United at the end of last season.

But Stewart is a fan of attacking, entertaining football and is unlikely to be tempted by either of the duo who both have a reputation for a more cautious style of play.

Rotherham’s top brass will narrow down the list of applications and begin interviews during the international break which follows tonight’s game.

Tuesday has been earmarked as a day to start ce-to-face talks, although it it not too late for other candidates to make their interest known.

Ex-Leeds boss Neil Redfearn wants the role and is one of the early front-runners.

Former Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson is among the bookmakers’ favourites, but my understanding is that, even if he is interested, there are other names ahead of him in the queue.

Another one-time Leeds manager, Brian McDermott, has been mentioned by some Rotherham fans, although he has an attractive Premier League job as a scout with Arsenal.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink also has his admirers among supporters, having taken Burton from League Two to the top of League One, but he has no managerial experience in the second tier.

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The Millers says there are some “outstanding” candidates among the 50-plus expressions of interest they have received, with bosses in work and out of work applying.

Meanwhile, stand-in manager Black, who joined the Millers in the summer as first-team coach, says he will talk to fitness coach Paul Warne before deciding on his side for the Clarets clash.

“I will take Warney’s opinion. Warney has been here a long time,” he said.

“Warney knows the players better than I know them. I think I have a fair idea now of what they can and can’t do. I will be led by that, but I will certainly take in his opinion, no question.

Rotherham go into the match with back-to-back wins under their belt and Black added: “It would be foolish for me to rip up what has happened in the last two games and start again. I don’t intend to do that.

“We have been working on things for several weeks now.

“There’s no guarantee of another win, but what we have to guarantee is continuity of performance. If we do that, as we have seen, we are a competitive outfit.”

Lee Frecklington and Paul Green are fitness concerns for the Millers with calf and achilles problems respectively.

Black knows the threat posed by seventh-placed Burnley who may hand a first start to former England midfielder Joey Barton after losing last Saturday against Reading.

“In all but name, they are a Premier League team who have now been together for two or three seasons and are exceptionally well-organised, powerful and high energy,” he said.

“They know what to do in their areas and they are all drilled, and the system suits the players that they have. It’s a big challenge, but not something we fear. On the back of how we performed, we shouldn’t be fearing it.

“I rate Joey Barton extremely highly. We tried to sign him a couple of times when I was at Birmingham. He can bring an awful lot to the team.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the time he was at Newcastle I was at Sunderland and he was a thorn in our side. He’s a top football player and he has got a top mentality on the pitch regardless of anybody wanting to differ on that.”