For the better part of a decade, Rotherham United have been the very definition of a yo-yo club. Between 2016 and 2022, the Millers didn’t play two consecutive seasons in the same division. They were either promoted from League One or relegated from the Championship. Last term, however, that came to an end.
The club lost long-term manager and club legend Paul Warne at the beginning of last season, with the club’s former striker, fitness coach, and eventually manager choosing to leave for the bright lights of Derby County. Chairman Tony Stewart opted to bring in talented young manager Matt Taylor from Exeter City, and in his first season in charge, he proceeded to do something that his predecessor never could, keep the Millers in the second tier. And he did so at the first time of asking.
New look Millers make stuttering start
In preseason, Stewart clearly felt that now was the time to try and consolidate his side’s status as an established Championship team. He dipped his hand into his pocket to bring in the likes of French midfielder Christ Tiehi and League One hotshot Sam Nombe, both of whom arrived for club-record fees. Add to that the additions of talented Portuguese midfielder Cafu and former Premier League regular Sam Clucas, and the New York Stadium faithful were optimistic about a memorable campaign. Unfortunately, the Championship football betting odds didn’t agree with them and three months into the season, the Millers are still 1/4 favourites for the drop.
Despite their plethora of new signings, Rotherham have made a stuttering start to the new campaign. They are already embroiled in a relegation dogfight and are four points adrift of Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town in 21st. To make matters worse, the Terriers managed to snap up one of the club’s homegrown talents for a cut price in the summer, strengthening their hopes of survival and weakening those of their rivals. A disappointing reverse against rock-bottom local rivals Sheffield Wednesday piled on the misery, especially considering the fact that the club looked like it had turned a corner with an impressive 2-0 victory against Coventry City just days prior.
So, can they turn it around?
One of the main issues with the Millers’ fight to stay in the second tier is their growing injury list. Experienced defenders Grant Hall, Tyler Blackett, and the talented Cameron Humphreys are all in the treatment room, a situation which forced the club to bring in free agent Daniel Ayala. Captain Ollie Rathbone as well as his midfielder partner Jamie Lindsay have both also spent time on the sidelines and that has coincided with the downturn in form.
Another problem is the club’s away form. The Millers have won just eight away games in their last four seasons in the Championship, with five of those victories coming in the spectatorless 2020/21 season. It’s a strange problem to have, especially considering that the Millers look like they could give anyone a game at the New York Stadium. It’s also a problem that manager Taylor must put right as soon as possible if he wants to keep his club in the second tier for the second consecutive season.