Rotherham United: Alan Stubbs' derby call to Millers ahead of Barnsley showdown
Boss Alan Stubbs has told his players to play with their heads not their hearts as Rotherham United seek a first derby victory against Barnsley for nearly 34 years.
The two clubs go head to head at Oakwell this afternoon with Championship bragging rights at stake in their first clash since 2005.
Millers manager Stubbs said: “It’s a derby, it will be feisty, it will be played at a high tempo, emotions will be running high. You have to make sure that you control them and still carry out your game-plan.
Rotherham haven’t beaten the Reds in seven attempts since a 1-0 win in the old Division Two in October 1982, but Stubbs is a veteran of Celtic v Rangers and Everton v Liverpool clashes from his playing days and knows what it takes to succeed in a local skirmish.
“You can’t get wrapped up in the emotions of a derby,” he said. “It’s about keeping a cool head. If you do that, it will give you a better chance of winning the game.”
Barnsley have six points from four games after home wins over Derby County and QPR in their first season back in the second tier, two points more than the Millers who won for the first time under Stubbs last weekend against Brentford.
“Paul (Reds boss Heckingbottom) will be happy with their start,” Stubbs said. “He might be thinking they should have a couple more points on the board, but that’s what this division is.
“Last season, they might have got away with a couple of mistakes. This year, in this division, more often than not you’ll get punished.”
Skipper Lee Frecklington may be available for the Millers after missing four matches with a calf injury while fellow midfielder Joe Newell is fit again after ankle surgery at the end of last season.
Newell’s return is a boost for new boss Stubbs who is able to name the 23-year-old in his squad for the first time since he took the hot-seat.
“He’ll be part of the squad for the weekend,” Stubbs confirmed. “He’s made really good strides. He’s a very good footballer. He knows where his next pass is going before he’s even touched the ball.”
Barnsley centre-half Alfie Mawson will miss the game after the Reds last night accepted a bid for him of around £5 million from Premier League Swansea City.
Today’s showdown pits Stubbs’ side against old boy Aidy White. He has found game-time easier to come by with Barnsley than he did after being signed by then-Rotherham boss Steve Evans last summer.
The left-sided player started only four times for the Millers but made 17 starts for the Reds, after dropping down a division in November, as they lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and earned promotion from League One.
“It just didn’t work out for whatever reason at Rotherham,” said the former Leeds flyer, aged 24, who has featured in every match this season. “But I definitely feel I am a Championship player and am capable of playing at this level.
“I have showed that in the past, and want to be playing higher if possible.
“The run of games has helped me. Rotherham brought me in as a winger and the style of play that they had was quite direct. They had a change of manager and Redders (Evans’ successor, Neil Redfearn) obviously had his own way of doing things. It was a different style of play as well and I didn’t fit into that.
“It is football and that kind of thin is part and parcel of it. The move to Barnsley was a blessing in disguise really.”