Rotherham ended 112 days of hurt as they finally registered another win, beating QPR at New York Stadium on Saturday.
Izzy Brown’s only goal of the game gave caretaker manager Paul Warne his first three points in the job and sent Millers fans home to finally enjoy a Saturday evening.
Here’s five things we learned from the game
Welcome back Rotherham United
Oh hello old friend, how we have missed you. Rotherham produced exactly the sort of performance that we have come to expect from them over recent years, but one that has been sadly missing for most of this season. There was an unbelievable work-rate, desire to win, togetherness and organisation and it proved too much for a QPR side, who were unable to score against the country’s leakiest defence. There was no little quality on show, either, and despite Ian Holloway’s assertions, if Rotherham had won that game by a far bigger margin, then no one could have complained. The fans played their part too and there was a distinct resemblance to more successful days of the past. If the Millers can reproduce this in their next two games at New York, then they might just be back in with a shout.
Warne the man-manager
Warne doubts he has what it takes to be a manager, but the reality is, he has something so special and sought-after that it could make him a brilliant manager – his man-management skills. The caretaker admits himself that he has been lucky in that he is friends with all of the players and that has put him in the privileged position of all of them being desperate to win for him.
He has harnessed a spirit that simply wasn’t there under the two previous managers and the players will do anything for him. Part of that is because of the little extra things Warne has been doing, such as texting all of the players the night before telling them they were in his team and wishing them luck, leaving gifts in their lockers and giving Aimen Belaid enough notice so his family could come from France to watch. The test for Warne will come when he has to separate himself from them and the relationship inevitably changes. For now, though, let’s hope for more of the same.
— Michael Marshall (@mickmarsh46) December 10, 2016
There are players more talented than Lee Frecklington at the club, without question. But nobody has more impact on the way Rotherham plays more than the midfielder, who made his comeback after five games in the treatment room. He needed only 60 seconds to highlight his importance with a surging run and shot and he went on to put on a masterful performance. He pressed, he harried, he got around the pitch, he rallied the troops and he just lifted everybody else. Setting the tone, he really is Rotherham’s most important player and it’s imperative he stays fit.
Belaid shows what we have been missing
Most people have been scratching their heads as to why Aimen Belaid has not been given a chance in the country’s leakiest defence before now and his performance against Rangers only heightened that sense of mystery. We’re not making the Tunisian out to be Bobby Moore here, but he showcased credentials superior to every other defender tried alongside Richard Wood this season. He won headers, he was quick across the ground, made crucial tackles and interceptions, was comfortable on the ball and just showed a basic defender’s instinct. If he can keep his fitness he should be a fixture in the side for the next few games.
Is the impossible suddenly possible?
Now, nobody has been more despondent about this season’s events than us here at Millers Time, so this may seem a total U-turn but just indulge us a little bit. The performance against QPR and the second-half (okay, last 10 minutes) against Leeds have been far superior to anything else we have seen in recent weeks and as highlighted above, Warne might just be able to get the best out of players who were so woefully below-par.
Now, with two tough away trips coming up this week it is entirely conceivable to expect the Millers to lose both. However, if their rivals near the bottom also lose and the gap to safety stays at 10, then the next two home games become monumental. Win against both Wigan and Burton, then that gap could be down to five or six points heading into January. That position would be a lot more retrievable and all of a sudden things have changed. Yes, we’re drunk on that winning feeling!