FOUR weeks ago, Darko Milanic knew little about Rotherham United.
Now, though, as the 46-year-old Slovenian prepares to take Leeds United to the New York Stadium for an eagerly-anticipated Yorkshire derby that will be shown live by Sky, he admits to having “full respect” for Steve Evans and his players.
“I have to be honest, not so much,” said Milanic when asked about his knowledge of Rotherham ahead of leaving Sturm Graz for Elland Road late last month. “But now I know, I have full respect for them.
“They are extremely prepared and hard workers. They do a lot of pressing, a lot of simple play – direct to the striker and they are very good at taking the second ball. They can be dangerous from that.
“Somebody said to me that the stadium is sold out so that means this game is extremely important for them. But it is also for us.”
Milanic is still waiting for his first victory at the helm of Leeds after overseeing home draws against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday plus a 2-0 defeat at Brentford.
Against their South Yorkshire rivals a fortnight ago, however, there were signs that his new charges are adapting to the one-time Yugoslavia and Slovenian international’s methods.
Speaking ahead of Leeds’s first visit to the New York Stadium, he said: “It (a first win) is important. A win is like the sun.
“Today the sun is out. I hope tomorrow (tonight) also.
“Like I said after the game against Sheffield (Wednesday), the first week was a little bit difficult to regenerate, for the players to be fit and also to do training.
“For me, it is extremely important to train with my team and we have done a lot of things (in the break).
“That is why it was important for me that I spent time with the players (over the past fortnight) as we now know each other better than we did three or four weeks ago.
“We played very well in the last game. We did well in defensive play but also in possession. We did a lot of good things and made opportunities to score goals.
“The game against Sheffield was a good game for everyone – for me, the players but also for the fans,.
“Football is easy to talk about. We were close to the win against Sheffield. We were close.
“But against Rotherham, we have to be better. We have to do more in some moments like we had against Sheffield. It is very easy to say it, we have to be concentrated and show a lot of energy.”
Stephen Warnock is in line for a recall after an international break that saw the full-back reported in the national media to have complained to the PFA about being omitted for the past two games. The claim was subsequently denied by Warnock.
Milanic added: “He is in my plans. He was also against Sheffield and Reading. He played the first game and he will play.”