The 2016/17 season was filled with wretched lows and it’s one all associated with Rotherham United will want to forget. Paul Warne is doing all that he can to ensure that something similar is not repeated this season.
A big reason for last season’s failings was their disastrous pre-season under Alan Stubbs that was lacking any plan or organisation. The Liverpudlian took his side to Poznan with just one new signing and only one recognised striker available in Danny Ward, before having to call off a friendly with Grimsby due to a lack of players.
Rotherham’s new permanent manager Paul Warne made it clear weeks before training begun that he wanted to have the bulk of his squad together ready for their trip to Austria with preparation being key.
He managed to do this by bringing in seven new players including David Ball and Ryan Williams while also ridding of some surplus players, with the most important departure being with the apathetic Dexter Blackstock.
During this week away, Warne and his management team have lead the squad in up to four sessions per day along with two games – which were won 7-1 and 2-0 respectively against Floridsdorfer AC and Soproni VSE – during this arduous week for his players who will be more close knit as a group and will certainly be far better off physically as a result.
This is a stark contrast to last season’s trip as it’s aftermath saw a mass influx of players so the club were right back at square one and they were weeks behind their Championship rivals in terms of preparation, with them being forced into making panic buys to fill out the squad.
A complete lack of awareness was to blame for how the squad formed was simply not good enough for the second tier and they were punished for this throughout their dreadful campaign.
Trying to recover from last season was always going to a tough task but Paul Warne and his management team look to be leading Rotherham in the right direction.
The trip to Austria seems to have gone exactly how Warne desired. The 44-year-old now has a near complete squad with competition for places in every position, he’s ran his team ragged to test their mental and physical capabilities and he’s formed a compact group that will fight tooth and nail for one another in the season ahead.
Rotherham will be stepping up their level of opponents in the weeks ahead with friendlies against the likes of Sheffield United and Barnsley to come. With the target being an immediate return to the Championship, a competitive and hard-fought season is ahead. What is certain is that unlike last summer, this pre-season will definitely stand the team in good stead for their upcoming campaign.