New signing Jamal Blackman has been the subject of criticism from certain Rotherham United fans early into the season…
Rotherham were defeated 1-0 at home to Millwall on Saturday. The Millers started the game well and were unlucky to not go into the break a goal up.
Paul Warne’s side were not as strong in the second half, with Jed Wallace’s 50th-minute goal the difference.
The goal came as a forward pass by Millwall was not dealt with by Michael Ihiekwe. The ball escaped through under his feet, allowing Wallace to advance away.
The attacker rounded Blackman in goal before tapping home into an empty net. The Millers fought for an equaliser, but that gift of a goal proved to be the winner as Rotherham lost 1-0.
In the aftermath, some Millers fans have jumped to blame Blackman for his role in the goal.
It is understandable that someone will be too blame, but it is unfair to criticise Blackman for this one.
Ihiekwe has been a superb player for Rotherham over the past few seasons. We also have no doubt that he will continue to be one of the Millers’ strongest performers throughout this campaign.
But on this occasion, he did make a clear error that led to a goal. Maybe it is because he is a fans favourite, but some supporters have been unwilling to lay the blame with the defender.
It may also be because a certain section of supporters are already not a fan of Blackman. The new boy did make a poor mistake in Rotherham’s cup tie against Salford. Yet this does not mean that as soon as a bad goal is conceded, it is automatically his fault.
Over the years, Millers fans have been very quick to judge new players coming in. Zak Vyner and Darnell Fisher come to mind as two examples of players chosen as that year’s scapegoat whenever anything went wrong.
Now it looks like Blackman has unfortunately been given the mantle of the scapegoat for this season.
Here it is!
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) September 14, 2020
We are only three games into the season, so it goes without saying that it is far too early to judge the Chelsea loanee or any other of the new signings.
They are coming into a unique team under Warne and co with all new surroundings, so it is bound to take time for newcomers to play their best football.
Rotherham have been blessed over the past three years with two very talented young goalkeepers. Marek Rodak and Daniel Iversen progressed a huge amount during their time at the club.
By the time each ‘keeper left Rotherham, they were far more confident and reliable shot-stoppers.
Blackman comes in as this season’s new number one, and there are a lot of expectations on his shoulders given who he is replacing.
But as with any new signing, you need to give them time. The former Sheffield United and Wycombe Wanderers loanee comes in with a lot of pedigree and a reputation of being a really talented goalkeeper.
Rotherham’s recruitment team headed up by Rob Scott know what they are doing. Since Scott made his return, the club’s recruitment has improved tenfold.
Scott is one of the leading individuals in his field, and with the guidance of Warne, Richie Barker and Matt Hamshaw, Rotherham really have a top-class set-up behind the scenes.
You have to trust these people given their track record, that they are right to give Blackman their support.
No matter how talented a goalkeeper may be, how well they perform is mainly down to their confidence.
We have seen this of late with Man Utd’s David De Gea. He has gone from the number one ‘keeper in the world to be close to dropping out of their starting XI.
That is a drastic turnaround from one of the world’s top goalkeepers, and a lot of that is down to the player lacking confidence in what he is doing.
We fear that if this undue criticism on Blackman continues, his confidence will continue to decline. It is fair to say all Millers fans deep down want him to succeed, so then the team are better for it.
Rotherham’s season has only just started, so he deserves a chance to impress. If he goes on social media and sees all of his critics slating him each week, it cannot do him any good.
He has proved over the years he has the talent to be a really good goalkeeper. We hope that he eventually proves his doubters wrong and becomes a real asset to the club moving forward…