Even for Rotherham United’s standards, this has been a remarkable season. It has been a campaign filled with many highs and lows for the club.
It all started on Saturday the 8th of August, with a devastating opening day hammering at the hands of MK Dons. This result proved to be the start of a seven-game winless streak.
This poor run came to an end with two consecutive victories, with a 2-1 win against Cardiff and the latter being an impressive 2-0 away win at Birmingham.
Surprisingly, the win over Birmingham has since been remembered as the last game of Steve Evans’ tenure, as he was sacked in the aftermath of that game.
He had three and a half year run as Rotherham manager and it was clouded in significant success, with two consecutive promotions and survival in the Championship
The man who was chosen to replace Evans as Rotherham United manager was Neil Redfearn. His tenure as Rotherham manager started horribly. It began with a run of six games without a win, the sixth game was a demoralising 5-2 defeat at the hands of Ipswich at the New York Stadium.
Rotherham’s next game came against Leeds United, which saw both opposing managers return to their old clubs. Redfearn was desperate to get one over his old chairman, Massimo Cellino and he did as Rotherham were rewarded for their combative performance with a 1-0 win.
Redfearn’s side used the confidence that they got from this game, they defeated their relegation rivals, Bristol City, 3-0 in their next encounter.
But the upturn in form soon came to an end as this result was followed by a three-game losing streak against Wolves, Blackburn and Huddersfield. After the Huddersfield game, Redfearn reacted by ridiculing his players:
“This profession is worth fighting for, let me tell you, because the alternative is getting up at seven in the morning, going to B&Q, working nine until half five, getting paid £5 an hour and getting home at seven at night every day of the week.”
The players reacted in a positive fashion to their manager’s criticism, with two consecutive victories, firstly over promotion chasing Hull and then an emphatic 4-0 win against Bolton.
The inconsistent nature of Rotherham’s results up to this point in the season was emphasised with their next series of results. They went on a run of just one win in seven games, with two of the defeats coming against relegation rivals Bolton and Charlton, encounters which were considered to be must win games.
This run of the results saw the end of Redfearn as Rotherham manager, he was sacked and replaced by the experienced Neil Warnock, who has a history of saving clubs who have found themselves in perilous positions similar to that of Rotherham’s when he took over.
He seemed like a perfect fit for the club and the only man who could give Rotherham even the slightest chance of remaining in the Championship.
Warnock had a slow start to his reign as manager, as they did not manage to pick up any victories in his first three games, picking up one draw in the process.
Rotherham’s next game was at home against Brentford. This was the sides biggest game to date, only a win would do and a defeat would leave them severely cut adrift of safety.
Rotherham stepped up to put in a brilliant performance which ended in an invaluable 2-1 victory.
This result signalled the start of a unbelievable and record breaking run of results. Their next game came against South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
With Warnock being an ex-Blade, he was looking forward to the chance to put one over Sheffield Wednesday on their trip to Hillsbrough, a place where he has always received an unpropitious reception.
This was the first game when Warnock started with a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Greg Halford as a holding midfielder and Matt Derbyshire as a makeshift winger. This proved to be successful as Derbyshire scored the winner in the game and the system went on to be a key component to Rotherham’s success during the relegation run-in.
“I’m going to try to get to the island in the middle of my pond tonight. If I need my boat, I’ll let you know on Monday.”
Rotherham managed to kick on from their Derby day success, with a battling performance against Middlesbrough, which was rewarded with a last minute winner from their midfield stalwart, Lee Frecklington.
Their next game came at home against Derby County. They put in an indifferent performance for most of the game, which saw Derby go into a 3-0 lead. This all changed in the last seven minutes though, as Rotherham came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 after three quick fire goals.