With the Millers four games into the new Championship season, all signs point towards them having a positive campaign…
Huddersfield Town snatched a draw late on against Rotherham United on Saturday. Paul Warne’s side took the lead thanks to a fine long-range effort from Ben Wiles.
The Millers had to cope with a second-half Terriers onslaught, but it looked like they had done enough to earn all three points.
This suddenly changed in the 96th minute, however. Pipa’s ball into the box was diverted into the net via an unfortunate touch by Angus Macdonald.
It was late heartbreak for the Millers, but a draw was probably a fair result. With this stalemate, Rotherham have five points from their first four league outings.
Even though the Huddersfield game ended in disappointment, Warne’s men still have a lot of positives to take into the international break.
They currently sit 12th in the Championship. It is only early, but all Millers fans would certainly call it a superb season if the club can finish around the mid-table places.
Rotherham could have easily picked up more points as well. If it was not for Michael Ihiekwe’s mistake, a penalty and a deflected goal, the Millers would have four clean sheets out of four.
It is easy to look at ifs and buts like this to help matters look better. But it is encouraging how strong the Millers have looked defensively so far.
A huge reason for Rotherham’s relegation in 2018/19 was their leaky defence. Just four games into the season two years ago, Warne’s side had already conceded ten goals.
They conceded more than any of their rivals in the second tier in 2018/19. Rotherham let in 83 goals, with Bolton and Ipswich Town the nearest to them with 78 and 77 respectively.
Macdonald has slotted into the back four superbly alongside Ihiekwe. The new signing has immediately built a good partnership with last season’s Player of the Year.
Along with them, Mattock is as reliable as ever, while Wes Harding has made an impressive start for his new club.
Matt Olosunde is unlucky to be out of the team after his showings last year. But you cannot take Harding out of the team at the moment given how well he has started the season.
The former Birmingham man looks very solid defensively, and he has been a vital part of Rotherham’s resilient backline.
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) October 3, 2020
Obviously being this early into the campaign, there is still a lot for Rotherham to improve on. But they have already faced some decent sides without really being troubled.
Shaun Macdonald has been a major positive, as he has come out of nowhere to become an early contender for Player of the Season.
His experience is hugely important and he has added a lot of quality to Rotherham’s midfield in the games so far.
Championship sides this year will rely a lot on having good depth in their squads. This is made more important because this campaign is set to be the most gruelling to date.
Warne and his staff have done a really good job of fleshing out their squad. It is a huge plus for them that Macdonald has been doing so well.
You see him as a direct competitor to Dan Barlaser, with them both preferring to play deeper. Barlaser and Macdonald are both top talents and they will no doubt push each other’s game to new heights if they are both fit and firing.
The news we've waited for all summer. Dan Barlaser joins #rufc on a permanent deal. Doesn't he look good in that kit! Welcome back, Daniel, you beauty. https://t.co/TcZDzS0XTt pic.twitter.com/V73qChSnVE
— Paul Davis (@paulm_davis) October 2, 2020
You could argue that an area in need of improvement is the attacking department. The Millers have only netted three times in the Championship so far.
But this should not worry the Rotherham faithful too much. With Barlaser coming back in, they will have a lot more creativity at their disposal.
Also, Warne has more attacking options up his sleeve now than in any of his past seasons. George Hirst has come in and done well.
Once the Leicester loanee gets his first goal, you feel that he should be able to kick on from there. Rotherham also still have Freddie Ladapo, Michael Smith and Kyle Vassell.
All three forwards were superb last season and you hope that through this campaign, they can push each other to better themselves once again.
The Championship this year is the closest in recent memory. There is not a lot separating teams throughout the division, which will help the Millers.
Warne’s side have no reason to fear any of their rivals this season, which is further proven by their opening four games. As with any other season, there will be games where Rotherham will struggle. But you would imagine on the evidence so far, that they will compete to take points from most games.
This is helped tremendously by their improved defence. Having a good defence is integral, as it sets teams up well to regularly pick up points.
No team will enjoy facing Rotherham this year. Warne’s men are among the fittest in the league, and they will thrive off making life uncomfortable for their opponents.
The Millers are in a really good place at the moment, thanks mainly to great preparation. At the same time, the recruitment team have done a brilliant job to build perhaps Rotherham’s strongest ever Championship squad.
Confidence is key in this league. Thankfully Warne’s men have forged some good foundations to build on throughout the season. If they can stick to their principals and grow more as weeks go by, it could prove to be a truly memorable year for the Millers.
Warne has already said that his team do not realise how good they are and his squad definitely has the ability to surprise a few people…