Rotherham United may tinker with formation against Birmingham City

ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne admits that tinkering with the Millers’ formation and not just personnel changes will come into his thoughts ahead of Sunday’s Championship encounter with Birmingham City - the club's second relegation 'six-pointer' in three days.

Paul Warne.
Paul Warne.

The Millers are licking their wounds after Thursday’s hugely disappointing 1-0 home loss to relegation rivals Coventry City and while the margin of victory was slender for the Sky Blues, the Midlanders were comprehensively better than the hosts in every department on the night.

The defeat represented a significant blow to Rotherham’s survival hopes in a game when Warne’s players looked jaded in their second outing in 48 hours and third in six days.

While freshening up his side will be imperative for the home game with Blues, the fact that the Millers did not have an effort on target against Coventry was also duly noted by Warne, whose side lacked offensive threat for virtually the whole game after operating in a 5-3-1-1 system.

Speaking after the Coventry loss, Warne - whose side passed up the opportunity of moving out of the bottom three - said: “I will sleep on it, watch the game back and speak to my coaches. What you don’t want to do is throw everything out and say: ‘we need to change everything.’

“But there is obviously a need for freshening up and giving other people an opportunity, possibly. I need to look at it.

“When we played Huddersfield, we looked at all the GPS data and (all) the lads were flying, so we made changes for Tuesday night and some of those lads played again and again on Thursday.

“It is difficult to play four games in eight days; it is virtually physically impossible for the way we ask our lads to play.

“Whether we have to change the system to allow us to have more input at the top of the pitch or whether we change the players, it is something we will have two very short days to digest and think about."

After the emotional highs of an outstanding ‘come-from-behind’ victory over QPR on Tuesday, the Millers suffered a significant comedown against a Coventry side who treated the game with the all intensity of a play-off tie and had the benefit of three extra full days’ preparation.

Warne admitted that fatigue - mental and physical - was a factor in his side’s performance, but he believes that it should not be used to explain his side’s lame opening, which set the tone for a difficult and forgettable night and game in which Coventry dictated from the first whistle.

He said: “With elite football, even just coming to the game and warming up - and even if it is just playing for 15 minutes which does not sound a lot to someone on the street - you go home and can’t sleep and all those things add up. It is just the emotional ‘wear’ of it.

“It is not just ‘physical’ and playing against a team who are up for it as well and had a bit more rest.

“But while it is difficult, it is not unachievable either. I understand it’s difficult the longer the game goes on, but at the start of the game, you should be reasonably fresh and they started better than us and put their marker down and got their just rewards.”