ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Neil Redfearn says he has needed to try to “provoke” a reaction from his under-performing players ahead of tomorrow’s game with Hull City and insists he has no qualms with riling them.
He publicly labelled his squad “not good enough” for Championship level after Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town.
It will be interesting to see if those players respond when they return to the field tomorrow, but Redfearn feels such treatment was necessary.
“It happened to me as a player and it will happen again after me in 20 years’ time,” he said.
“If you want to provoke a reaction and you want people to get at it, you’ve got to get into them. It’s as simple as that.
“They’ve got to know that their level is not acceptable. It’s how I was as a player; it’s how I am as a coach and a manager.
“I fight and I compete and I expect my people to do the same. If they don’t, then they know I’m not happy.”
However, some of Rotherham’s best performances this term have come directly after their most disappointing displays, which bodes well for them ahead of the visit from promotion-chasing Tigers.
For example, when they were vanquished 5-2 at home by Ipswich Town on November 21, the Millers retaliated with a 1-0 derby win at Leeds United and 3-0 victory over Bristol City.
Admittedly, Rotherham have lost their next three fixtures, but Redfearn recalled: “We had a really good international break.
“We put everything down and made it really clear what was needed and what was necessary.
“I definitely think, looking back now, we have been at full tilt in the last four games before Huddersfield.
“I think in the two wins we played well and in the two defeats, in the Wolves game and the Blackburn game, we did okay.
“Maybe on Tuesday being at full tilt was a telling factor. Maybe they felt it a little bit.
“Well, good. They’ve had a kick up the backside now and they’ve got to go again. That’s life.”
Although Redfearn is sure to enter the transfer market next month, his current squad do have the opportunity over the festive fixtures to prove they have a future at New York Stadium.
“People will read into things and think these players are not good enough,” he said, clearly less scathing than after that Huddersfield defeat.
“They are trying their hardest but they need help. They need players that are better technically, more gifted players, players that can create in and around the box.
“We’ve got young strikers who probably need men up there with them, and a more physical presence at the back and experience at this level. It doesn’t mean to say the lads here aren’t doing the best they can do, but the fact of the matter is, and the league table says, they need some help.”
He could be bolstered by the return of three players tomorrow.
Former Tottenham centre-half Stephen Kelly is available again while fellow defender Farrend Rawson, the 19-year-old on loan from Derby County, is also set to return.
Striker Leon Best is nearing fitness and may come back into contention, but Frazer Richardson remains absent due to illness.
On Ireland international Kelly, Redfearn – who took over in November – admitted: “It’s massive having him back. In the two games he played we kept two clean sheets and it’s no coincidence. He’s got a calmness about him and, obviously, athleticism because he’s quick.
“He has a good understanding and reading of the game and he affects things around him. He’s coming back at a time when we need him.”
With his side second bottom, four points adrift of safety, the call is clear from Redfearn.
“Results are everything,” he added.
“Something as simple as getting your nose in front, scoring the first goal, is really important.
“We haven’t done it enough times prior to me coming here and also while I have been here.
“It’s something that we have talked about and we are aware about because it is something that is important, especially in the Championship.
“The basic, simple facts are then that the opposition has to get two to win and it’s psychological. We need a position where we get the first goal.
“It’s no coincidence that we get the first goal against Leeds and win, we get the first goal against Bristol City and win. We know the merits of getting a lead.”