Rotherham United need more firepower to keep themselves in the Championship next season

Here we go again.

Rotherham United can begin preparing for their seventh season under Paul Warne, and each of the last six have ended in a different division. It would be a good time to stop the yo-yoing.

The manager’s third League One promotion was reward for a consistent season, albeit one that wobbled late to keep things interesting. They also won the Football League Trophy at Wembley.

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The question now is whether they can avoid a fourth straight Championship relegation. They are proof the gap between divisions is big.

WILL HE STAY OR WILL HE GO? - Michael Smith's contract at Rotherham United is set to expire although the club do have the option to trigger a 12-month extension. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The Millers have generally played a 3-1-4-2 this season, 3-4-2-1 in the last couple of games. With Dan Barlaser anchoring midfield and Ollie Rathbone ahead of him, they have been better able to get the ball down and play when the situation allows. That should happen more often in the second tier but if they have to go more direct, they can do that too.

Although Rathbone ran out of steam in the final weeks he has added an extra dimension. Alongside him, local lad Ben Wiles stepped up after the sale of Matt Crooks, reaching double-figure goals in an outstanding Wembley display. Jamie Lindsay, more of a ball-winner, was often the odd man out.

Outside them have often been out-and-out wingers - Chiedozie Ogbene, Mickel Miller and Arsenal loanee Jordi Osei-Tutu. Shane Ferguson has been a more natural wing-back alternative.

As the quality increases, perhaps a more pragmatic balance will be needed - another midfield scuffler, Wiles and Ogbene behind the lines, Ferguson on the left and a like-minded signing on the right.

INSTANT RETURN: Rotherham United sealed promotion back to the Championship last weekend. Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire.

Despite breaking a club clean sheets record, it could be at centre-back where they most need reinforcing. Josh Vickers, who ended the season with a broken hand, and Viktor Johansson have earnt the right to compete to be No 1 goalkeeper.

Michael Ihiekwe made the League One team of the season, excelling in the matches that mattered most but cultured centre-back Rarmani Edmonds-Green is only on loan from Huddersfield Town. Rotherham must hope Matty Pearson and Ollie Turton’s performances since joining the Terriers on free transfers make them more willing to let the 23-year-old continue his development in South Yorkshire.

Richard Wood’s leadership is needed but he turns 37 in July. He made 45 appearances this season, but only three times played four in a row.

The big question Rotherham fans want answering is whether 25-goal top-scorer Michael Smith will stay. The club can trigger a 12-month extension to his soon-to-expire contract, but will not want to keep him against his will.

Warne spoke almost fatalistically about Smith leaving in August but it never happened.

After four years, Smith feels a strong bond to the club as, judging by how enthusiastically he supported them when injury ended his season-long loan from Sunderland, does Will Grigg. Two league goals was hardly a stunning return but the feeling was mutual. With his expensive Black Cats contract about to expire, Rotherham want him to stay but it may be a question of the pay cut he is prepared to take.

Despite goals in his last two games at Hillsborough, Freddie Ladapo will not leave on good terms having not got the January transfer he asked for due to a lack of interest.

Georgie Kelly might have gone down in Millers folklore for Saturday’s promotion-clinching goal at Gillingham but admits he does not know if he will cut it as a Championship centre-forward. Josh Kayode only scored once in the league this season, hardly encouragement he can have a big impact on the Championship.

Firepower is therefore needed.

No fan needs telling next season will be tough but Rotherham go in with clear plans, and a settled and united squad under a proven manager. The foundations are there if good reinforcements can be added.