Rotherham United: Players feared the worst before Warnock impact
Survival hero Lee Camp admits he and his teammates were fearing relegation before Neil Warnock arrived to lead Rotherham United's march to Championship safety.
The Millers sealed their second-tier status last Saturday with a draw at Wolves as they extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches.
Goalkeeper Camp, whose stunning form has been a major factor in Rotherham’s revival, says the happy scenes at Molineux were a far cry from the atmosphere in the camp after defeat in February at Bolton Wanderers which plunged the club into the bottom three and led to Warnock replacing Neil Redfearn.
“When we lost at Bolton there were some heavy heads in the dressing room,” the 31-year-old revealed. “You looked at the table and it didn’t look great.”
The Millers didn’t taste victory under Warnock until the new boss’s fourth match in charge, at home to Brentford, but an incredible sequence of results since then has lifted them 10 points clear of the drop zone and up to 19th place with two games left to play.
“The manager has come in, been fantastic and taken all the pressure off us,” Camp said. “We got a win and built on that and the confidence started to flow.
“We got a formation that suits the personnel we have got and we became more solid and always looked like getting a goal.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s the biggest achievement I have had in my career.”
Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart brought in Warnock to perform a short-term rescue act on a deal which runs to the end of the season.
Fans are clamouring for the manager dubbed ‘The Messiah’ to be in charge next year and Stewart is optimistic he can give them what they want.
The two men have held talks and more are planned this week. Warnock knows other clubs will be interested in him and says he will bide his time before making a decision, but Stewart believes the veteran boss would be happy to stay on.
Warnock has called for Rotherham’s training base to be upgraded and Stewart is trying to purchase their Parkgate complex, which is owned by TATA Steel, while also looking into developing land he owns in Brinsworth.
Meanwhile, Camp, who is likely to clean up in the Player of the Year awards, paid tribute to the centre-half pairing which has underpinned much of the joint-best Millers’ recent run at this level since 1959.
“Kirk Broadfoot has been fantastic all season since he came back from his ban. I think he epitomises what a centre-half should be,” he said. “Woody (Richard Wood), since he has come into the team, has used his experience and given us a natural balance with him being left-footed. The partnership they have got with myself is brilliant and I can’t speak highly enough of them.
“Also, the two full-backs (Stephen Kelly and Joe Mattock) have been solid. They don’t allow many crosses in. They seem to be on top of the wingers. I am very lucky to play behind that back four.”
Stewart, in an official statement, said: “I want to place on record my thanks for the job that Neil, and his support staff, have done since arriving at the club in February. We weren’t in a great position at that time and it was certainly a challenging task to turn around our fortunes and steer us clear of the bottom three. Nevertheless, nobody at the club had given up and that task has now been done and dusted with two games to go - a quite remarkable achievement.
“The players have shown terrific commitment, workrate and togetherness that makes me proud beyond belief of every single one of them. They have shown what they are made of as individuals, and as a team, and represented this club with outstanding pride. A chairman can never ask for more than that.
“Supporters, home and away, we’ve been in it together, whether we sit in the directors’ box, corporate hospitality areas or in the stands. We kick and head every ball together and we share the same emotions. We are as one.
We have been working on continually growing our fan base over the last four seasons and the quicker we can do that the more reason it gives me to dust off the stadium expansion plans, which will help generate more revenue that will always cascade into the player budget.”