Oxford United v Rotherham United: Why high-flying Millers are determined to keep feet on ground

TOP of the league they may be, but the last thing in the world that Rotherham United’s players will be displaying is arrogance at their lofty position. Perish the thought.

It will also not be lost upon Paul Warne’s side that today’s opponents, who sit one place outside the play-offs, can reduce the gap between themselves and the Millers to just three points.

It is food for thought, although United don’t particularly need it and, if there is ever one set of players who won’t get carried away at recent events, it is Rotherham’s, who are as grounded as it gets.

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On whether Rotherham’s mindset will change at hitting the summit and coping with being there to be shot at after their fine midweek win at Ipswich, Warne said: “It will be interesting. I can’t see it changing.

Arrogance is something Paul Warne definitely does not expect to see from his level-headed Millers going into their League One game at Oxford United. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

“I spoke to the lads on day one and we had a recent conversation about what we want to achieve. Nothing has changed and I don’t think we ever get too excited.

“We showed them clips of Tuesday night’s game and things we weren’t best pleased with – although mostly, we were.

“But the lads also know that if they want that feeling of being on their phones for three hours on the phone on the way home reading about how great they are, they have to perform every week. You will soon be nobody on Saturday if you lose.

“So we don’t get carried away. There is definitely no arrogance in our team.

“We are joint top with Wycombe, so it is not as if we are 12 points clear and romping it and seventh place [Oxford] are only six points only away from us.

“By Christmas, there could be eight different teams at the top of the league.

“The lads are level-headed enough to know that we have achieved nothing.”

Warne’s side are the undeniable ‘form horse’ of League One and are 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions since losing 4-2 at home to Fleetwood on September 11.

You have to go back to August 14 for their only away loss of the season, in their opener on the road at Wigan.

The Millers’ recent feats have prompted talk that this is the best side that Warne has led since taking charge of the club.

The Rotherham chief offers a different slant on that suggestion.

Warne – who celebrates his fifth anniversary in charge of his beloved Millers this weekend – added: “Our League One team [in 2017-18] with Semi [Ajayi], [Will] Vaulks and [Joe] Newell was some team and our strikeforce was an absolute joke as well.

“I don’t have ‘favourite children’, but do enjoy working with these players.

“With previous teams, we had a few outside it who weren’t good enough to play. This group collectively are a bit stronger. I don’t think the starting 11 is any better, but the strength in depth thing is a lot better.

“Three won’t even make the bench on Saturday, which is amazing. This time it definitely feels a lot stronger and I do get excited watching them play and I was really proud of how hard they worked and took on information at Ipswich, which is a skill.”