Rotherham preview and pubs: Millers seeking survival miracle
Rotherham have had a desperate season and unless a miracle occurs will end their three-year stay in the Championship in May.
The Millers were promoted with us, via the play-offs, in 2014 but have struggled each year – finishing one place above the relegation zone in each of the past two campaigns.
They survived by five points in 2015 and by nine points last year, after Neil Warnock had masterminded a “great escape” from the drop.
But this time around, a reprieve from relegation looks unlikely with the Millers on 17 points – 15 away from safety with only 12 matches to play after their trip to Griffin Park.
Sixteen of those points have come at the New York Stadium. For a long time, we were the only team they had beaten this season in their 1-0 win in August, until they beat QPR 1-0 in mid-December – a result which was the first of three victories in four home league games. Wigan (3-2) and Norwich (2-1) were their other victims – sparking hopes of a revival, but it has not happened.
Last Saturday they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season – losing 5-0 at Cardiff – and that was their ninth successive away defeat, the last six without scoring.
They have only picked up a solitary point from their 17 away matches – in a 2-2 draw at Ipswich at the end of October – and lost all the rest.
In fact, the only point they have collected in their last seven games was in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn a fortnight ago.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Former Rotherham midfielder Paul Warne took temporary charge of the side when Kenny Jackett left in November and was given the job until the end of the season in January. Alan Stubbs had started the season in the managerial hotseat.
On being appointed, he said: “I said when I agreed to take charge that I would continue in the role for however long the chairman wants me to, so I am delighted to have been trusted with first-team matters until the end of the season.”
Warne made nearly 300 appearances for the Millers over two spells at the club, also playing for Wigan, Oldham and Yeovil, and joined Rotherham’s coaching staff when he retired from playing in 2012.
A year later, he was given a testimonial to recognise his 10 years’ service to the club.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford lost at the New York Stadium for the second season in a row when we suffered a 1-0 defeat in August – the Millers’ first win of the season.
Last season’s home game with Rotherham was caretaker manager Lee Carsley’s first win in his third game in charge as we earned a 2-1 victory. Alan Judge volleyed us into the lead after only 67 seconds. Joe Mattock levelled with a screamer in the opening seconds of the second half but Judge headed the winner.
Last February’s trip to Yorkshire was also memorable for one manager – the Millers’ Neil Warnock as our 2-1 defeat was his first win since taking charge of Rotherham. With Toumani Diagouraga sitting among the Bees fans, Matt Derbyshire put the hosts ahead on the half hour mark but Alan Judge equalised just before half-time – following up after his penalty had been saved. Danny Ward hit the winner in the 71st minute.
Rob Staton, presenter of BBC Radio Sheffield’s Football Heaven show, looks at why Rotherham have had such a tough season, tells us which ex-Bee has done well for the Millers this season and which Brentford players impressed him at Hillsborough on Tuesday.
Q – With such a huge points deficit to safety, can the club pull off a miracle and survive?
A – To be perfectly honest, no. It’s been a tough 10 months for Rotherham. Alan Stubbs changed the squad completely after last season’s heroics and it was a disastrous overhaul that cost him his job just a few weeks into the season. The Millers will be in League One next season.
Q – Has the club been planning for a great escape or are thoughts already turning to plotting a promotion push for next season?
A – I think they’ve started to look ahead. They’ve appointed a Head of Recruitment, they’ve bought younger players that can grow with the club. A good model to copy would be that of Barnsley. They went down, built a young hungry squad and quickly returned to the Championship. Now they’re holding their own in the top half. The big question is who will be the manager next season? Paul Warne is a club hero but currently only the interim boss.
Q – Why has this been such a disappointing season?
A – They bought the wrong players in the summer for one. They stayed up last season with a group of experienced Championship players. Alan Stubbs changed that completely, signing players from Scotland and League One.
Losing Neil Warnock was also a blow. At one point it looked like he might remain in charge. It would’ve been a totally different season had Warnock stayed. Look at what he’s doing at Cardiff.
Q – After last season’s escape from relegation, what could the club could have done in the summer to avoid another hard campaign?
A – When Warnock opted to move on – they needed to appoint an experienced Championship boss. Options were admittedly different. They tried to change the approach in the transfer market and go in a new direction with a younger upcoming boss. The plan made sense to a degree and hindsight is a wonderful thing – but they needed to try and retain what worked under Warnock.
Q – Who should Bees fans watch out for on Saturday? I hear ex-Bee Tom Adeyemi is having a very good season for example?
A – He’s been one of the few positives this season. Depending on fitness, Danny Ward up front is Rotherham’s key player.
Q – Do you have any memories or funny stories from past Bees-Millers games?
A – The win against Brentford last season (at Rotherham) kick started the great escape under Warnock. But the one that will always stand out for Rotherham fans is the Alan Lee late winner that secured promotion at Millmoor during the Ronnie Moore days. It’s one of the most memorable results in the club’s history.
Q – Which Brentford players will you be watching out for on Saturday?
A – Rico Henry looked good on his full debut the other night against Sheffield Wednesday. Jota was also very strong.
Rotherham are hoping to welcome back five players, who could not play in the defeat at Cardiff last weekend.
Former Brentford midfielder Tom Adeyemi and defender Semi Ajayi, who were both ineligible because they are on loan from the Bluebirds, and top scorer Danny Ward (ex-Huddersfield), who has 10 goals in all competitions this season, were all missing in south Wales after playing in the previous match against Huddersfield, but are likely to be in the matchday 18.
Captain Lee Frecklington (ex-Peterborough) and ex-Bees goalkeeper Lewis Price (ex-Crystal Palace) have both been out since early January but could also be back after injury lay-offs.
Adeyemi was a regular in our side that reached the League One play-offs in 2013, making 39 appearances for us in league and cups, with his last game the Wembley defeat by Yeovil.
Former Wales international Price played 18 games for us in all competitions during the first half of the 2009/10 season on loan from Derby.
Not surprisingly, Rotherham have used a lot of players with 32 appearing for them in the Championship.
Ward has played the most games, 30 starts and one as a substitute, and defenders Joe Mattock, who played in midfield last weekend, Darnell Fisher (ex-Celtic) and Richard Wood (ex-Sheffield Wednesday) and midfielders Anthony Forde (ex-Walsall), Joe Newell (ex-Peterborough)and Will Vaulks (ex-Falkirk) have each made more than 20 appearances.
Defender Joel Ekstrand (ex-Watford) made his first Millers appearance last Saturday in place of Ajayi, Richard Smallwood (ex-Middlesbrough) came into midfield for Adeyemi and the experienced Dexter Blackstock (ex-QPR and Nottingham Forest) replaced Ward up front.
They were all part of a 4-1-4-1 formation which saw Stephen Kelly (ex-Birmingham) at right-back, Ben Purrington (ex-Plymouth) at left-back and Ekstrand and Wood in the centre of defence.
Smallwood played just in front of them and behind Jon Taylor (ex-Shrewsbury), on the right, Mattock, on the left, and Newell and Vaulks in the middle.
Richard O’Donnell (ex-Walsall) was in goal.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Rotherham fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Road (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.
You can check out details of any weekend engineering work on the tube on Transport for London’s website here.