WITH a proud record of one win and two draws in three clashes with this season’s League One play-off finalists, Nigel Clough is well equipped to discuss the respective strengths of the two teams in tomorrow’s Wembley showdown.
So, when the Sheffield United chief insists he “can’t pick a winner” between Rotherham United and Leyton Orient it is clear that settling who joins Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brentford in next season’s Championship is likely to go to the wire.
“League One is such a very, very strong league,” said Clough, whose Blades side drew twice with the O’s in the regular season and then beat the Millers at Bramall Lane last month.
“Just look at Preston. As good a side as they are and yet they didn’t make the play-off final. I think that says all you need to know about just how tough League One has been this season.
“Same goes for Peterborough. They were two of the favourites to go up at the start of the season.”
Orient, despite having a playing budget dwarfed by the likes of eventual champions Wolves and runners-up Brentford, finished third in the table.
Clough added: “Over the nine months, I would say the best two teams won automatic promotion. Wolves and Brentford were excellent all season long.
“And now we have two very good teams in the play-off final. I honestly can’t pick a winner on Sunday.
“To be honest, I struggled to pick a winner out of all four teams in the play-offs. They were all so similar.
“Rotherham and Orient are quite different to play against,” added the Blades’ manager. “They bring different challenges.
“Rotherham are a big strong side and they use (Alex) Revell to go to a lot.
“They have pace with (Kieran) Agard.
“Similarly, Orient have a lot of pace on the break as well. Two good, organised sides who are very competitive.
“The start Orient had put them in good stead. They had a little blip but then Russell (Slade, manager) got them going again towards the end of the season. I would say they went into the play-offs in as good a form as anyone.
“They will fancy their chances at Wembley. But so will Rotherham. It is going to be a really close final.”