Rotherham United’s goalless draw with Luton Town summed up their season, but they still somehow have a chance to survive on the final day.
Spirited and wasteful. These are two words that perfectly describe Paul Warne’s side in the Championship in 2020/21.
As you would expect from the Millers under Warne, they can never be faulted for their effort. They will always give it their all and they have done that all season.
But when chances have come their way to move out of trouble, they have not been able to capitalise.
With Derby losing six straight league games, the door was pushed wide open for the Millers to move out of the relegation zone.
Sadly, the South Yorkshire outfit’s worst run of the season has come during this stretch. Prior to Tuesday night’s trip to Luton, the Millers had not won in six games.
The first five of these games were defeats and yet, Lewis Wing’s late equaliser against Blackburn last Saturday put their fate into their own hands once more.
They travelled to mid-table Luton needing a win to move out of the bottom three for the first time since February.
Spare a thought for Derby and Sheffield Wednesday fans tonight, who rather than watching Mbappe, Neymar, De Bruyne etc. will instead be glued to Luton v Rotherham #RUFC
— The_RUFC (@The_RUFC) May 4, 2021
Even though Luton had nothing to play for, they did not lie down and let Rotherham win. Nathan Jones’ side were just as much in the game as the Millers were as it proved to be a tight contest.
The Hatters may have had more shots on goal, but the better chances fell to Rotherham. Michael Smith headed just wide in the first half before Matt Crooks saw his cute dinked effort bounce off the post.
Crooks rose highest to meet a cross from Ryan Giles in the second half, but his header went a few inches wide of the post.
It finished 0-0 in the end. A fine result at any time other than this point of the season. Both sides showed a distinct lack of quality in the game. For the Millers, in particular, this has been a recurring issue as they were not able to get the three points they desperately desired.
A win would have arguably made Rotherham the favourites out of them, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday to stay up.
But now, Warne’s side must beat Cardiff City and hope Wayne Rooney’s side draw or lose to the Owls.
Cardiff are another team with nothing to play for as they have come up short in their pursuit of the play-offs. Yet with Mick McCarthy in charge, you cannot imagine that he will let his players take it easy.
The Welsh side will make sure that if Rotherham do win on the final day, they will have to earn it.
There is no doubt that on their day the Millers can match Cardiff and come out victorious. But their lack of goals is really concerning heading into the weekend.
Rotherham have fared well in terms of goalscoring for most of this season. After 34 games, they had netted 38 times in the league. 11 games on, they have only added five goals to their tally. Three of these came in one game against QPR.
Rotherham haven't scored in 8 of their past 11 games. #rufc
— leon wobschall (@LeonWobYP) May 4, 2021
Despite this, Rotherham have still scored more this season than Wycombe, Sheff Weds and Derby. Smith, Crooks and Ladapo are the club’s top scorers this term.
Their top scorer with ten league goals is Smith, but he has not scored for seven games. This is while Crooks (15 games without a goal) and Ladapo (seven games without a goal) have also struggled.
All three have been integral at different points of the campaign but their confidence and energy appears to have wanned at the worst possible time.
I’m not going to point fingers at these three or any other players. Rotherham’s schedule has been ludicrous and some players look burned out, which is understandable.
POST-MATCH | Warne calls for one last 'big effort' following frustrating night at Luton.
— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) May 4, 2021
As Warne says here, one last “big effort” is needed on Saturday against Cardiff. Now it is out of Rotherham’s hands, there is no point worrying about the Derby vs Wednesday game.
If the Millers can pull off what would be an almighty result by beating Cardiff, you just hope that the other game goes the way of Warne’s men.
As we’ve seen many times this season, the Championship is a heartless league so this is far from guaranteed.
With the decisions that have not gone their way and their issues with COVID, the Millers will be right to feel aggrieved if they go down.
But if they are relegated, the reason for it would be their lack of quality in key moments. If they had that extra cutting edge, a few defeats would have turned to draws and the Millers would be safe, but here we are.
Like many others, I have fallen out of love with football this season. The behind closed doors era has taken a lot of the magic away from the game.
Speaking as a fan, I’m not too bothered what league the Millers are in next year. All I care about is getting back to the NYS so we are finally back to normality.
This is not to say that I will be celebrating any less if Rotherham do stay up, however. Given the work Warne, his staff and the players have put in, I would love nothing more than to see them earn their place in the Championship for another year.
Do a properly run club like Rotherham deserve to stay up over the likes of Derby and Sheff Weds? Probably yes… but the good guys rarely win in this game, do they?
If the Millers stay up, brilliant. If they go down, so be bit.
Regardless, I will be among the thousands of supporters eagerly anticipating next season as real football makes its return…
— Sky Bet (@SkyBet) May 27, 2018