Despite Rotherham dealing with a severe COVID-19 outbreak, threats of a fine and a points deduction have forced them into going ahead with their game against Barnsley…
When news emerged of there being a COVID-19 outbreak at Rotherham United, we did not expect to see Warne’s men in action until the new year.
Games against Derby County and Middlesborough were rightly called off. We also fully expected to see the Barnsley meeting fall by the wayside.
Given how many players Rotherham have unavailable, this would have been the right course of action. Yet, reports came out on Monday suggesting that the Yorkshire derby against Barnsley would, in fact, go ahead.
Common sense should surely dictate that the game should be off.
— leon wobschall (@LeonWobYP) December 28, 2020
It goes without saying that this is a joke decision from the EFL. In recent weeks, the likes of Sunderland and Peterborough have had three-plus games called off due to COVID, so why have Rotherham been treated differently?
It is such a backward way of thinking from the EFL and it just shows again how much of a sorry state the game is in at the moment. With money clearly being the driving force of this decision, it is obvious that player/staff welfare has been put on the backburner to make sure that this league meeting goes ahead.
You would have hoped that after all that has happened this year, the body would have had more sense about them than to force the tie to take place. Unfortunately, this is not the case as Rotherham will play Barnsley tomorrow with a squad of 14/15 instead of the usual 20…
The Millers play a Barnsley side who are one of the most in-form teams in the Championship. Rotherham’s local rivals have been on fire of late and they will see this derby as a major opportunity to pick up their sixth win out of their last eight outings.
Five long-term injuries, three quarantine cases with a possible fourth to come, one player out of self-isolation only on the day of the Barnsley game. "I will have 3 or 4 on my bench if I'm lucky," says #rufc boss Paul Warne.
— Paul Davis (@paulm_davis) December 28, 2020
The side’s last game at the New York Stadium was in January 2017 and Barnsley won it 1-0 thanks to a 70th-minute winner from Adam Armstrong.
Rotherham have a wretched recent record against the Tykes. The Millers have not won any of their last nine competitive games against their Yorkshire rivals. Their last win over Barnsley came in Division Two in 1982 as Emlyn Hughes’ side won 1-0 at Milmoor.
They have only faced off twice since 2005. Their other recent meeting came in August 2016 at Oakwell. Barnsley won 4-0 that day with all four goals coming in the second half.
Your guess is as good as ours…
Given the context around this game, a prediction is obviously very difficult to make. We simply have no idea what the Rotherham starting XI will look like come tomorrow evening.
Even if Paul Warne did not have so many players missing, this game would still be tough for his side. Barnsley have been the league’s biggest surprise package this season.
Valerien Ismael has come in as manager having previously been in charge of Wolfsburg and LASK. He has turned the Tykes into a really dangerous front-foot outfit.
If their recent form can be sustained in the coming months, they are on track for a surprising push for the play-offs.
- Joshua Kayode: A Millers prospect coming of age in the EFL
Warne has admitted himself in the lead up to this one that he does not know what to expect from his team. You could look at this in two ways: The Millers could be well off the pace and suffer a convincing defeat due to a lack of training in recent days.
But there is no doubt that heading into this game; there is zero expectation upon Rotherham to pick up a positive result. If they do win this one, it should be regarded as the result of the season considering what has gone on in the lead up to it.
The careless actions of the EFL has made Warne’s team talk very simple. His players are under no pressure, and they can go out there and play freely in pursuit of some valuable points.
Three points would guarantee that Rotherham stay out of the bottom three heading into 2021. This would be a big confidence booster for the team. It is the least that they deserve going off their performances so far this season.
This game against Barnsley really is a mystery. None of the Millers faithful really know what they will get from their side. But as we know, when Rotherham are given a point to prove and when their backs are against the wall, they more often than not come out and impress.
As long as supporters get a Millers performance full of heart and effort, they really cannot grumble at the full-time result. Barnsley should have enough to eke out all three points, but Rotherham will undoubtedly give it their all to make it uncomfortable for the visitors.
PREDICTION – Rotherham United 1-2 Barnsley