Rotherham United: Warnock happy with Millers' bargain bunch
Rotherham United fans may see nothing of one and not that much of another, yet new boss Neil Warnock is delighted with the three signings he has made in his first week in the job.
On the eve of today’s Championship clash with Burnley, the Millers unveiled deals for veteran goalkeeper Paddy Kenny and defender Lloyd Doyley until the end of the season, to go with the midweek capture of winger Jerome Thomas.
Warnock views Kenny, aged 37, as cover for first-choice shot-stopper Lee Camp and plans to use Thomas off the bench, so only 33-year-old Doyley is likely to land a regular starting role.
But the manager, appointed last week to lead Rotherham’s fight for second-tier survival, can hardly believe he’s managed to land a trio of newcomers with Premier League experience without breaking the bank.
“We haven’t got time to mess about,” said the boss who has 15 matches to save the Millers’ season. “To get three in like this all at once on the kind of money we’re talking about is ridiculous really. I’m so pleased they’ve agreed to come and join us in the battle ahead.”
Kenny hasn’t played since leaving Oldham at the end of 2014 while Doyley and Thomas, 32, have been without clubs since the end of last season. Their arrivals take the number of Millers recruits since June to 31.
Warnock said of Kenny, who has played under him at Bury, Sheffield United, QPR and Leeds United: “I felt, with every game a cup final, we needed someone like Paddy in case Lee got injured. If anything happened to Lee, Paddy would go straight in without me worrying one little bit.”
Thomas was with Warnock at Leeds and Crystal Palace and the boss said: “He’s got tremendous ability. I’ve had him a couple of times and he’s played that well for me he’s got moves on the back of it. I see him as an impact player, a 30-minute cameo, because he can create things out of nothing.
“In our situation, we are going to have to win games and, although they’re tough games, we are going to have to go for it. He’s the type who could just do that, and if he contributes a few points it’s worth it to the end of the season.
Doyley trained at QPR earlier in the season and Warnock wanted to sign him while he was in charge of the Londoners for a short spell.
“I wasn’t allowed to at the time,” he revealed. “Lloyd kept in touch and when I came here I made contact with him and he came straight up. He’s such a good pro. He doesn’t put himself in the limelight, he’s not one of those lads, and I think that’s why he hasn’t got fixed up.
“He’s a super lad who can play anywhere across the back four. It’s not like taking a loan player from the Premier League where we’re not really sure. I know exactly what he’s going to give us.”
Warnock, who believes the Clarets will be the Millers’ toughest opponents in their bid to leave the drop zone, used last Wednesday’s reserve match against Scunthorpe to assess his options during a frantic first seven days in charge.
“It’s been quite hectic. It’s been a long week,” he confessed, “I slept 10 hours on Thursday night. I didn’t plan to. I just fell asleep and that was it! The reserve game gave me a chance to look at everybody. An opportunity was there for one or two players. Some have taken it, some haven’t.”
Nicky Eaden, brought in as assistant manager before the sacking of previous boss Neil Redfearn, has a role to play in the new regime, Warnock confirmed, while former Huddersfield Town forward Ronnie Jepson has been working with the club’s strikers in training.
Missing for the Millers today will be midfielder Lee Frecklington, defender Stephen Kelly and centre-forward Leon Best.
Frecklington had recovered from his hamstring injury but then hurt his groin when he slipped on wet grass at the end of a training session, Kelly is weeks ahead of schedule and back running after a knee problem but has yet to kick a ball while Best is training after groin surgery and could be given a 90-minute run-out after the weekend to improve his fitness.
They will also be without centre-half Richard Wood and left-back Joe Mattock who were sent off in Warnock’s first match at the helm, last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Birmingham City.
Meanwhile, Thomas, who is poised to be among the substitutes this afternoon, is hoping his latest debut makes more of a lasting impression on him than his senior bow for Arsenal, the club where he began his professional career.
His first Gunners match, when he was in his teens, came in the Carling Cup against Rotherham at Highbury in 2003 when Arsene Wenger’s side triumphed 9-8 in a penalty shootout after the gallant visitors had forced a 1-1 draw in the last minute through Darren Byfield and then had keeper Mike Pollitt sent off in extra time.
It’s a match still talked about by Millers followers, but Thomas said: “I have no memories of it at all!
“It flicks something in the back of the mind, but I can’t recall it.”