With the 2019/20 campaign now at an end with Rotherham United promoted, here are the Millers Reporter’s End of Season Awards!
The 2019/20 League One season is now concluded. So it is time now we reflect on what has been another brilliant campaign for Rotherham United.
It has by no means been the easiest campaign for the team. A lot has gone on behind the scenes at the club along with some unfortunate passings of fans.
This has galvanised the team on the pitch though, and they have done tremendously to do as well as they have. The Millers have been one of the most consistent teams all season and have spent a lot of time in the top two.
In these unprecedented times, Rotherham have shown a lot of class, and have played superbly on the pitch. It is fitting therefore that the culmination of this is a thoroughly deserved promotion straight back to the Championship.
With that said, we will now recognise some of Rotherham United’s successes from 2019/20 with our inaugural end of year awards:
There are understandably a few good contenders for this. Rotherham fans have been spoilt in 19/20 with big wins, late comebacks and impressive away victories. Yet, we went for the 4-0 thrashing over Peterborough United at the New York Stadium as our game of the season.
This one came at the end of December and was the fourth game of Rotherham’s seven-game unbeaten run. On paper at least, this was arguably the toughest test of this run.
But Rotherham steamrolled Peterborough with a phenomenal display to make a huge statement of intent to their promotion rivals. All four goals came in the 2nd-half via two own-goals, a Richard Wood header and an acrobatic effort from Kyle Vassell.
This win moved the Millers above Peterborough into 3rd and it propelled Rotherham towards the top. They never looked back from here, and the confidence they took from this win never faded as the Millers remained in the top two for the rest of the season.
Winner: Rotherham United 4-0 Peterborough United
This was another tough call. Thanks to Rob Scott and other backroom staff, this season’s signings have really been on the money. You can’t really pick out one bad signing, which is a testament to the excellent job done by the recruitment team.
After much thought, we went with Dan Barlaser. You could argue for any number of players for this award, but we feel the influence Barlaser has had on the team is too much to ignore.
Barlaser is an incredible talent. He should be plying his trade in a higher division than League One so Rotherham United have been really lucky to have him.
He is that perfect anchor in the middle of the park who ties everything together between defence and attack. His passing is ridiculously good at times. It shows how good Barlaser is that he improves the performance of every player around him when he is on the pitch.
Rotherham will be desperate to keep him for next season and getting promoted will have helped their chances, but there will definitely be a lot of interest in him.
Goal of the Season
There have been some cracking goals scored this year, and interestingly, most of them have come from one man.
Kyle Vassell has gone under the radar compared to others, but he has had a really good season himself. It has been a fierce battle all season between him, Michael Smith and Freddie Ladapo for a starting place.
But all three have shown fine form all season, which has helped to keep their teammates at that same high level.
Vassell’s best goals include that edge of the box chip away at Oxford United and the overhead kick against Peterborough. But both of these were trumped by his thumping effort in the FA Cup against Hull City.
The forward received the ball on the left flank from a throw-in and from an improbable angle he turned and shot. He could not have hit it any sweeter as it flew into the far top corner!
Winner: Kyle Vassell (Home vs Hull City)
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) April 29, 2020
Paul Warne prides himself on the fact that his team does not have any superstars. There is some top talent in there obviously, but every single player in the squad does their bit for the team in their own way with differed significance.
This means that some players will not get as much attention for their work as others do. We feel that this season’s unsung hero award must go to Richard Wood. At the ripe age of 34, Wood continues to put in important showings at the heart of the Millers defence.
When Clark Robertson got injured, Wood covered really well and played a significant part from January onwards. Not just this, but Wood’s influence on and off the pitch cannot be disputed.
He is an integral member of the dressing room and he is respected by his peers. This Rotherham team is quite young overall, so Wood’s experience and leadership qualities have an immense impact on the team. Warne has said himself that this promotion would not have been possible without Woody, which says it all about how important he is to the club.
Winner: Richard Wood
Young Player of the Season
There are a few worthy recipients of this award, but we went for Rotherham’s very own Ben Wiles. The midfielder is only 21 years of age, but this season he has shown maturity beyond his years.
When injuries have hampered the Millers, Wiles has been called upon to fill in around the pitch. He always gave it his all and in that vital 3-1 win at Oxford, he shone at full-back.
He really is a special talent and it is a testament to how good he is that all of his teammates are always full of praise for him. Year on year he is getting better with the more minutes he gets under his belt. Wiles already has Championship game time last season, so we are hoping he really thrives next year.
There is no doubt he will be an essential player for Warne and Rotherham moving forward. We hope that he can continue with his current trajectory because if he does he will surely achieve a lot in the game.
Winner: Ben Wiles
Player of the Season
Finally, we must pick our Player of the Season. This is possibly the toughest of all the awards to choose a winner. Freddie Ladapo has had a great first season at the club and has been a true talisman. Matt Crooks has improved a lot and has perhaps been Rotherham’s most dangerous player going forward.
Then there are the likes of Matt Olosunde, Chiedozie Ogbene and Dan Barlaser who have all come in and had fantastic seasons individually. But The Millers Reporter’s Player of the Season for 2019/20 is Michael Ihiekwe.
It has not been easy going for Ihiekwe at the Millers, as he spent the start of last year on loan at Accrington Stanley. At that point, it may have been easy to think he was nearing the exit door.
But he did really well at Accrington and went straight back in the Rotherham team upon returning in January 2019. He has not looked back since. Ihiekwe has come on leaps and bounds since signing for the club from Tranmere Rovers in 2017.
This season he has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league. Whether he has played alongside Robertson or Wood, Ihiekwe has always impressed. So it comes as no surprise that he features in many fan-voted teams of the season for League One.
Week in week out he is one of the first names on the teamsheet and Ihiekwe deserves that for all his hard work in recent seasons. We are sure that he has the ability to guarantee his exceptional performances carry over into the Championship.
Winner: Michael Ihiekwe