Rotherham United: Thomas on board for Millers as Blackwell calls for '˜Fortress New York'
Kevin Blackwell wants new signing Jerome Thomas to help Rotherham United turn New York Stadium into a place where opposing teams fear to tread.
Former Premier League winger Thomas has joined the club until the end of the season after new boss Neil Warnock and managerial partner Blackwell made him their first signing since taking over six days ago.
The duo have 15 matches in which to secure the third-bottom Millers’ Championship survival and Blackwell, who has been taking training this week, said: “Our home has to be a fortress.
“As a manager and player, there are certain stadiums that you don’t like going to because you know that you are going to get nothing. The fans are going to be on top of us, passionately supporting their team, and we have to make sure that this place remains a hotbed.
“If you come to Rotherham, you come with hospitality but leave with nothing - that’s what we have got to make sure of.”
Left winger Thomas, who came through the ranks at Arsenal, has appeared in the top flight for Arsene Wenger’s side, West Brom and Crystal Palace.
The 32-year-old has also played for QPR, Charlton, Portsmouth and Leeds United and was at Elland Road and Selhurst Park during Warnock’s time with Leeds and Palace respectively.
Without a deal since leaving Palace last season, he was already training with the Millers before Warnock’s appointment and could make his bow in Saturday’s trip to promotion-chasing Burnley.
“The manager and Kevin have come in and they wanted to get the deal done,” he said. “I have signed until the end of the season and we all share the same objective which is to try and keep the club in The Championship.
“Initially it looked as though I was going to the USA or Asia, but the opportunity arose to come and train here and to see if both parties were happy.
“I have kept myself fit. The training has been very good and Warney (fitness coach Paul Warne) has been great with me, helping me do extra.”
Thomas, who played in yesterday’s 1-1 reserves draw with Scunthorpe United along with Greg Halford and Andrew Shinnie, made his Arsenal debut against Rotherham in the Carling Cup in 2003, a game which also saw Cesc Fabregas’s first appearance for the North London giants. After a 1-1 draw at Highbury, the Millers lost 9-8 on penalties.
Former Watford defender Lloyd Doyley also played in the reserves clash as a trialist. He left the Hornets last season after playing more than 400 games at right-back, left-back and as a centre-half.
Meanwhile, Blackwell added: “Teams know that Rotherham are a tricky fixture now with Neil Warnock and Kevin Blackwell in charge as managers. Our record says we win more games than we lose. When teams come here, they have to walk away and say that was the toughest game of the season.
“We need as money points as we can get. All I know is we need to finish one point above the team in the third relegation spot.”
Neil Redfearn, sacked a week last Monday to make way for Warnock, believes the Millers would have stayed up under his leadership.
“We’d had some good results and I’m certain we would have survived, no two ways about it,” he said.