Millers Relegated: Divergent Approaches Highlight Clear . . .
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Rotherham United

Millers Relegated: Divergent Approaches Highlight Clear Challenges.

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If Rotherham United had been relegated from the Championship because their best was not good enough, it would have been lot simpler to accept.

The Millers have returned to a division that better suits their financial situation. They, along with Plymouth Argyle, are the only second-tier teams that do not compete in the top division. The remainder, with the exception of Preston North End, Millwall, and Bristol City, have competed in the Premier League.

So no one was surprised when relegation was confirmed with a 1-0 home defeat to Plymouth on Friday.

By the time the Millers hired Leam Richardson as their new coach in December, after being turned down by Nathan Jones, it seemed like a lost cause. As soon as Bali Mumba put Plymouth ahead in the 32nd minute, there was no doubt on or off the pitch that this was not going to be the night.

The regret is that we have rarely seen Rotherham’s best, which is why they were the first club demoted from the English tiers.

When a team is demoted, players rarely speak to the press, but Viktor Johansson is a proper character who cares about the club.

Despite his refusal to say so, the 25-year-old Swede must depart. A top-tier Championship goalkeeper with a release clause cannot slum it in League One while attempting to establish an international career. Nobody could blame him for leaving after four fantastic years.

While Richardson was caustic about the Millers’ troubles, Johansson was doing what he had done for the previous 90 minutes: fighting them off.

Eleven months ago, he was lapping the New York Stadium surface after six years of yo-yoing.

“We had all the tools to get going,” he reflected. “It’s a terrific team, but we haven’t performed well enough.

“I don’t know how to put it in words… we feel embarrassed.”

Richardson stated that “Friday’s performance typified the whole season: a bit lacklustre, lacking quality and desire,” and that the team was operating on multiple agendas. Johansson’s various points of view back up this claim.

“Confidence is a big thing,” he said. “When we started losing, it was difficult to come back, but we had the character to do so.

“There are no (bad) eggs; we’re all pulling in the same direction and doing the right things, but losing games is difficult, and the manner in which we’ve lost has made it even more difficult. The game hasn’t always been that active.

“We have not been able to do it for 90 minutes. That has been frustrating since we are a good enough squad to remain in the championship.”

Richardson, who has cleaned up Wigan Athletic’s mess, must see past Johansson’s superficial assessment – “you flip a coin, and we’ve got the wrong side.”

Rotherham may choose between Johansson’s cheerful disposition and sticky plasters or the coach’s pricey operation.

Friday marked the 27th time in 41 league games that they failed to field a complete bench. Lee Peltier, who has made 18 starts, is one of their more strong defenders, but he was substituted in the 13th game. Only Johannson, Hakeem Odoffin (30), Ollie Rathbone (34) and Christ Tiehi have had more than 30 starts.

It is not simply bad luck.

“We haven’t been on the training pitch since the beginning of January,” Richardson grumbled.

“Even if Rotherham has more than 90% availability, it will be a difficult challenge. If we walk around with 64% and are unable to train, the job becomes impossible.”We have a choice as a club, from the owner to myself to many others: how do we want to press the reset button, how do we want to appear?

“The most significant good – and there aren’t many – is that we are aware of the problems. We know what culture we need to cultivate.

“I want to think that over the previous 15 years, I’ve been a decent coach. I don’t think many people my age in the country have won as much as I have.

“I have never shied away from a task. Until someone tells me otherwise or thinks there’s someone better out there – which I don’t – we’ll give it a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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