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A must win after four games? Norwich travel to a revived, in-form and Paul Warn-ed Rotherham this weekend in desperate need of a win to put the brakes on the start of a slide. Nick Hayhoe caught up with Miller's fan Josh Yeardley to hear all about the last goings on from South Yorkshire.
Nick: When it comes to Rotherham v Norwich, attention, inevitably, will turn to Paul Warne with all of his Norwich and Norfolk connections. After a great mid-late run of results last season saw Rotherham clinch promotion on PPG, would it be fair to say that the mood in South Yorkshire is still a positive one with Warne in charge?
Josh: 100%. The mood in Rotherham is very positive. Warne is extremely popular among the Rotherham supporters: he loves the club, loves the community and he just gets the culture and what it means to be a Miller. Clinching his second promotion in three years as a manager with us filled him, his staff and players with immense pride given the club was hit with numerous tragedies (Warne lost his father before the season and several players lost family members and close friends). Albeit it was in strange circumstances – Warne and the staff would no doubt have preferred to do it the proper way – but PPG was the only logical way to end Leagues 1 and 2. Although I am sure the chairman of Peterborough United, who just missed out of the play offs as a result of PPG, would disagree…
Nick: It’s great to hear a manager ingraining themselves into a club’s culture – something that’s extremely rare these days. Rotherham, like Norwich in some ways, have become a bit of a yo-yo club in the last decade, which is nothing if not exciting. What are the expectations for the season ahead? Battling relegation again? Or are some fans expecting to push on higher than yo-yoing between tiers two and three?
Josh: Being a yo-yo club is frustrating but at the same time it means each season you’re fighting for something – whether it’s promotion or trying to survive relegation. This season I believe most of our fans are a bit more confident given the quality we have brought in, and the key players we’ve kept from last season The signings of Angus MacDonald and Jamal Blackman – two players who have Championship experience – are going to be vital for us. We obviously know it’s going to be a huge challenge. There’s some big clubs in this division with huge budgets; the likes of Norwich, Nottingham Forest and so on all have quality players with good experienced managers who know how to win games at this level, so we know we are going to have to battle and scrap for every point we can. But given the start we’ve had, and how well we’ve played in the four league games so far, I can see us having a successful season which for us would be survival. I’d like to think we could finish around 16th/17th but if you offered all Rotherham fans 21st place come May, they’d be over the moon.
Nick: Yes it has been a great start from you guys. Not so much from us! You mention Angus Macdonald and Jamal Blackman there. Who else should we be looking out for during the game?
Josh: I’d definitely say our players to look out for are the two I’ve already mentioned – Angus MacDonald and Jamal Blackman. New recruits also include Kieran Sadlier from Doncaster Dovers, who is someone with creativity to cause the Norwich back line a few problems, and loan striker signing George Hirs, who has the pace to get at Norwich and hopefully he can get his first goal for the club on Saturday. Midfielders Ben Wiles, Shaun MacDonald and Dan Barlaser, who could all start in a midfield three for us on Saturday are very good ball players – very calm and composed, probably our three best passers of the ball but can all battle and scrap when needed.
Nick: It looks like they’ll be no fans at any Football League grounds for a while and, as such, many clubs are now taking a closer look at the balance and cash flow sheets. So, how is Rotherham United’s current health from a financial perspective? Could a prolonged period without match-going fans threaten the club?
Josh: Judging by our owner’s delight at the Project Big Picture we might be struggling financial-wise. I can’t say the proposal is something I completely agree with myself, but then again I’m not an owner of a football club. I can see it benefitting us and other clubs short term, but long term I can see it having a negative affect as the so called “Big Six” will have a say on the finances and what smaller teams can spend, from what I understand, and that’s something which I massively disagree with. Our owner isn’t daft so will never put the club at risk and neither would the manager by over spending, so long term I can still see us having a club but, as I say, I massively disagree with the Project Big Picture.
Nick: Finally, what are your predictions for the game? I was quite confident about our chances but having heard the good place the Millers are in, I think it might be a score draw.
Josh: I’m hoping for a home win as we’ve only picked up 1 point at home so far, and the longer we go without a home win it will play on the players minds, having a negative impact and affect our season. This game is going to be very tough, despite Norwich’s below average start by your standards and expectations. You have some very talented players and have kept key players such as Aarons, Buendia, Cantwell and obviously Teemu Pukki – but I believe we will get our second win of the season so my prediction is 2-1 Rotherham. Sadlier and Hirst to score for us and Hugill to score for Norwich. I wish Norwich the best of luck this season – apart from in the two games against us of course!
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