Rotherham United: Warnock relishes Millers test as going gets tough
Rotherham United's daunting run of fixtures holds no fear for new boss Neil Warnock as he embarks on the first full week of his Millers survival mission.
After Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Birmingham in his first game in charge, Warnock now has 15 matches to save his new club from Championship relegation.
The 67-year-old, appointed manager last Friday, believes a sequence of games against sides flying high in the division can work in Rotherham’s favour in their bid to escape the bottom three.
“I am not really sure it worries me that we are playing top teams now,” he said. “Those teams are under pressure to win.
“I think you are going to see some really strange results between now and the end of the season.”
Next up for the Millers is a trip to promotion contenders Burnley, with Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Derby County and Ipswich Town all on the horizon.
Warnock was pleased with what he saw at AESSEAL New York Stadium where his new side earned a point despite being reduced to nine men by two red cards.
“I thought they did ever so well,” he reflected. “I said to the lads: ‘If you think that’s exciting, we’ve got 15 more of them.’. All I want is to make sure that when we go out we have an opportunity of winning the game, and I thought that’s what happened against Birmingham.
“That’s what the fans want to see, the team giving everything.”
Centre-half Richard Wood was sent off in the 79th minute for a second offence on Clayton Donaldson while left-back Joe Mattock was booked for a foul and then red-carded in time added on for waiting too long to take a throw-in.
Both will miss the visit to Turf Moor as they serve one-match bans.
Donaldson stayed down after Wood’s second challenge, and Warnock said: “He’s made a meal of it. “Richard probably didn’t touch him but referees book people for that.
“I thought we had so many free-kicks that the referee didn’t give us. I don’t understand it, to be honest, I thought he had a bad day at the office.
“First half, I thought it was good refereeing because he wasn’t giving us fouls and he wasn’t giving them fouls. It was old-fashioned.”
Meanwhile, right-back Frazer Richardson, voted the sponsors’ Man of the Match, said the players were sorry to see Neil Redfearn sacked last week but had been lifted by Warnock’s arrival.
“It’s been a mad 48 hours but good,” he said. He came in on Friday and it was always going to be difficult but I thought we did really well against Birmingham.
“He’s brought a very positive demeanour to the club. He wants everything to be positive. He stressed that on Friday and again on the day of the game. I thought we were the front foot, positive, wanting to go forward, trying to create, and I thought we looked a bit more solid as well.”
Richardson has returned to the side in place of Shay Facey, dropped after the 4-1 home defeat against Charlton Athletic on January 30, and has played well in the last two games.
The 33-year-old joked: “One Man of the Match in seven years is not bad, is it!
“I feel good. I feel fit. I’ve been pretty much fit all season. It’s about getting your chance and taking it. I believe I can do that.”
“It was hard going down to nine men, although I know we went down to nine only with about five minutes to go.
“It was always going to be difficult after Woody was sent off. Then we just have to narrow up, get to together and work hard to keep a clean sheet. I thought the lads did that really well.”