Rotherham United: How fighter Frecks answered Millers call
Six little words. Five huge games.
In Rotherham United’s hour of need, manager Neil Warnock turned to Lee Frecklington even though the midfielder was nursing a hamstring injury.
The 30-year-old hadn’t played for two nearly months and the medical team were saying he wasn’t ready.
But he told the new Millers boss: “Yeah, I’ll give it a go.”
Since then, Rotherham, with Frecks leading the charge, have won four and drawn one of their last five matches to turn the Championship survival battle on its head.
“I have to say, I don’t think we would be in the position we are in now without Frecklington being fit,” Warnock said. “He gave us all a massive lift at the right time.”
Since the little fella with the big heart returned, the Millers have produced an eight-point swing in the scrap for safety and now stand two places above the drop zone, having overhauled MK Dons and Fulham.
Frecklington’s first match back brought a 2-1 win over Brentford, followed by a 1-0 derby triumph at Sheffield Wednesday. He then scored the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Middlesbrough, helped the Millers recover from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Derby County and last Saturay played his part in a 1-0 success at Ipswich Town.
“The physio said Lee would be 10 days,” recalled Warnock who took charge eight games ago. “I said to him before Brentford: ‘Listen, we haven’t got 10 days, Lee. How are you feeling?’
“‘I feel all right, Gaffer.’
“‘Well, what about starting against Brentford then and see how you go?’
“‘Yeah, I’ll give it a go.’”
Rotherham have no game until the visit of Leeds United to AESSEAL New York Stadium a week on Saturday, so Frecklington, the last playing link between the Millers today and their double promotion of 2013 and 2014, has the chance of a breather during the international break.
“We have to wrap him up in cotton wool because five games in a month is a lot the way Lee plays,” Warnock said.
The club captain has played in half of Rotherham’s 38 league fixtures this season. With him in the side, they have won eight games, drawn three and lost eight. Without him, it’s 13 defeats, three draws and three victories.
“When you look at the statistics, we are not the same without him,” Warnock reflected.
And he acknowledged something in a player willing to put the Millers’ cause before his own well-being that fans have long loved and respected:
“That kind of attitude you can’t replicate.”
Meanwhile, Rotherham say they are “deeply saddened” by the death of former manager Jack Mansell.
Mansell, who has passed away aged 88, was boss between 1965 and 1967 and was responsible for an entertaining, attacking style of football that had never been seen before and has rarely been matched since.
The ex-defender moved to the Millers after a spell as chief coach at Sheffield Wednesday and his side held Matt Busby’s Manchester United, including George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, to a famous FA Cup draw at Old Trafford before losing the replay.
He also signed John Breckin, who went on to have a glittering Rotherham career as a player and assistant manager, when the full-back was a schoolboy.
After leaving Millmoor, Mansell joined Boston Beacons in the USA before returning to manage Reading and then ending his career abroad.