Rotherham United: Quality first week as Neil Redfearn settles in with Millers

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn

He’s sent a message to the fans, he’s quickly built up a rapport with his backroom staff and he’s spent time with the club’s chairman watching the reserve team in action.

Now new manager Neil Redfearn is concentrating on the most important people of all as he prepares to take charge of Rotherham United for the first time, at Brentford on Saturday.

“Players, they’re the ones, ultimately, who bring the club success or otherwise,” he said.

Redfearn is delighted by what he has seen in training during his first week in the job after taking over from Steve Evans.

“There’s definitely more quality than maybe I thought there was before I came in. It’s quite balanced as a group. We’ve got players that other clubs would want,” said the 50-year-old.

“It’s not an ageing group. It’s a strong group physically and age wise. There is a lot of scope there. There are players, I think, whose minds we can open a little bit, give them more options and try to take them to the next level.”

Eric Black with Lee Frecklington

Eric Black with Lee Frecklington

He and Eric Black, promoted from first-team coach to assistant manager, have gelled instantly, while fitness coach Paul Warne and goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble have also played in a full part in helping the new man settle in.

“It’s been really good,” the former Leeds United head coach revealed. “The staff and everyone at the club have been really helpful. The players have been really, really upbeat, really positive.

“We’ve got some good players. We’ve got to get in a place where we can settle down and be a little bit more consistent in what we do. The lads have been really receptive to the sort of stuff I want putting in place.

“The players can see Eric and I have hit it off and that’s been a big plus for them. They realise we’re both singing off the same hymn sheet.

“He’s got some ideas. He’s a football person, and I’m open and like to listen to new ideas.

“The most important thing, sometimes, is to listen. We’ve bounced off each other really well and we’ve got some good ideas to go forward with.

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“We both think the same thing, that there’s a lot more scope in this side than perhaps it’s been given chance to show. Now it’s going to get the chance.”

Redfearn has spoken to the squad collectively and also held one-to-ones as he looks to kick-start a move up the table for the 21st-placed Millers.

“The message is ‘This is a clean slate, a new start’,” he said. “We’ve got to give the lads here a real opportunity to stake a claim and show what they’re capable of.

“It will be a different way of playing. We’ve got to find a way to combat the Championship. You’ve got to swim in the waters you’re in. This is a tough division. We have now got to become an established Championship side and that has to be our main aim.”

Rotherham will be backed by a vocal following in West London tomorrow, and Redfearn said: “The fans play a big part in all this and they know that. They’re really important to us, and that backing becomes a massive part of what you do.

“They’ve had some great experiences in the last three years (two promotions and Championship survival) and we want to continue that.”

Skipper Lee Frecklington is a likely absentee as he closes on a return from his calf problem, while there is one other player who is a concern ahead of the test against the Bees who are one place above the Millers.

“We have another doubt which I don’t want to talk too much about because we don’t want to give too much away,” Redfearn said

He and chairman Tony Stewart watched a young reserve side push an experienced Hartlepool side all the way before succumbing to a late goal and losing 3-2 on Tuesday.

“He came to the game, which is great. It’s good he shows an interest,” the manager said.

“We we were both really pleasantly pleased with how the kids did. We’ve got some good young players, and hopefully they’ll get a boost with the fact that they now feel a bit more part of it.

“I had a chat with them afterwards. There were some cheeky faces, some players who looked like they’d got a bit about them.”