New Rotherham United coach Leam Richardson has a brief to evolve Millers, not rip things up and start again

Leam Richardson is Rotherham United's first head coach, inheriting a team bottom of the Championship after 20 games, but he has not come into the New York Stadium to start a revolution.

Even though the Leeds-born coach's appointment has been in the wash for a while, he has not come in with all his ducks in a row.

His first game in charge is at home to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday but when he addressed the media early on Monday evening not only had he only officially been in charge for little more than half an hour, he had only spoken to his new players for "10, 15 minutes".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Richardson has come in on his own for now, no backroom team following him around.

APPOINTMENT: New Rotherham United coach Leam RichardsonAPPOINTMENT: New Rotherham United coach Leam Richardson
APPOINTMENT: New Rotherham United coach Leam Richardson

It all made you wish the Millers had not taken quite so long finding a replacement for Matt Taylor, the manager sacked on November 13.

But Richardson's brief is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The Millers are comfortable with who they are and what they are, and it is why they wanted a coach who thinks along similar lines, rather than a radical departure.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Taylor's team were a match for most on their own patch, as recent draws with Leeds United and Ipswich Town showed, just awful away.

"What's gone before has been really successful – seven years out of the last 10 in the Championship is unbelievably good and where we want to be," stresses head of recruitment Rob Scott.

Having taken their time reaching this point, it is clear both parties are comfortable with their decision. If not, Richardson had offers to go elsewhere having impressed at Wigan Athletic until losing his fight against the financial tide in November 2022.

"I've been very pleased, very humbled with the opportunities I have been offered but there were some I physically couldn't accept and give my attention to for personal reasons," he explains. "But it comes to a point where the love of football and the tingles down the spine and when the opportunity matches your aspirations you can't ignore it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I've been very fortunate to compete against Rotherham here at the New York Stadium many times, the level of the competition, the sustainability of the football club, the expectations, the reality with the ownership into the fanbase, they're all very well aligned and that's one thing I really enjoyed about it.

"I'd like to think I bring many qualities as a person, a manager and a man-manager, as a coach, to build an environment that suits the football club gets the best out of people tp represent what the football club means, what the badge means and the community and the level of expectation within that.

"The club made contact and shared their vision and expectations alongside my own."

Having been through worse at Wigan – before that he was manager of Fleetwood Town – Richardson is not daunted by the tasking facing him.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't a real big believer in my own ability and what we've got within the football club," he said. "I've never been one not to shy away from a challenge if you look at my CV.

"We're not silly to not know the level of competition and the expectations. It will be a really thorough, really challenging period but it's one we feel we can push forward with and take it by the scruff of the neck."

As for how he does that, he is in no danger of over-complicating things.

"Win some games of football, work hard, put a real good honest level of effort and endeavour into our performances and a clarity into what we want to do," he replies.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Will that happen overnight? We'll see. But have we got a real honest group of players, staff and fanbase? Absolutely.

"It's important to become a strong, happy version of ourselves."

For now Richardson will work with Taylor's old staff, although given he has already got a new job at Bristol Rovers, they too may have decisions to make at some point.

"It's important we get some good people," says Richardson. "There will be good people at Rotherham, that's why they've had success in the past.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You'd look to give everybody that opportunity to work and see what that work ethic is and how they match my own.

"And people have got their own expectations and their own careers as well so you have to be mindful and listen to that as well."

And Scott, who led the search for Richardson, says not to read too much into the fact Richardson has a different job title to all his predecessors, who were called managers.

"Leam being head coach doesn't take any autonomy away from him on the football side of things," he says. "Everything else is an evolving process and we'll probably get to that in time.

"For now it's about Leam stamping his authority on things but not getting away from the fabric and DNA of Rotherham United."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.