Rotherham United v Brentford: Millers boss Neil Warnock confident there is no cause for alarm
When footballing time seems to stand still and flagging fortunes dramatically change for the better in an instant.
For those not in the know or of a certain age, a backpass from ex-Oxford United midfielder Brock had major ramifications not for the U’s, but Howard Everton’s beleaguered Everton, with Adrian Heath latching onto that underhit pass and nipping in to score a vital equaliser in a League Cup quarter-final in 1984.
That moment launched the Toffees into a memorable run of success in the mid-Eighties.
You sense Warnock and the Millers would settle for a similar watershed moment in time, albeit triggering something rather more modest but no less significant to them – namely Championship safety.
It has not quite got to the stage it did at one of Warnock’s former clubs Torquay United back in 1986-87, when a dog was widely credited as playing a major role in the Gulls staving off relegation from the Football League on the final day of the season after biting home defender Jim McNichol.
The hosts went on to score in added-on time following a lengthy stoppage.
But the Millers – precariously placed in 22nd spot in the Championship, six points from safety and with a daunting fixture schedule for March – would take almost anything to kick-start what they hope will develop into a great escape akin to the one achieved up the road at Barnsley in 2012-13.
And victory over Brentford this afternoon would represent a good starting point for the Millers, whose haul of 26 points is currently eight fewer than they had managed at the same juncture of last season, when they only survived thanks to victory over Reading in their penultimate game of the 2014-15 campaign.
Warnock, still awaiting his first goal, let alone win, after three games at the helm which have yielded one point from a possible nine, said: “You need little bits of luck such as a decision going your way or a rebound going in rather than going out.
“You make your own luck, but you need a little bit as well. We have to hope that’s coming around as we have not had much since I have been here.
“We don’t (necessarily) want a 25-yarder, but something going in off someone. Anything to get us going really – or a wrong decision going for us. It’s a fine line at the moment.”
The Millers’ predicament may look a precarious one, but Warnock is managing to retain a sense of calm.
Warnock is of a certain age, meaning he has witnessed most things on the football field, including a great escape or two.
When you have managed for 35 years in the game, that should come as no surprise.
It provides perspective and rationality, with the 67-year-old firm in his view of what the Millers need to do in the weeks ahead – ‘chipping away’ ahead of an April schedule that looks less hazardous than a tough-looking March.
He added: “The win is important as we don’t want to be left behind while we are in touch.
“We have three out of four home matches, Middlesbrough and Derby after Brentford with Sheffield Wednesday away four sandwiched inbetween. They don’t come any easier, do they? They are difficult games.
“What I’d like to think is that at the end of those games, we are still in touching distance of MK Dons. It looks like it is going to between us three at the bottom and MK.
“When you still have teams to play like MK, although six points is a lot of points, one win and you are right next to it.
“Fortunately, in some respects, it is a good thing I am in charge as there’s no need for panic any more in my situation. I am here until the end of the season and will do the best I can.
“It’s not about panicking and I am enjoying the challenge.
“I am disappointed we haven’t got the results in the three games, but it’s probably the right appointment at the right time for the club.
“There’s no way I have to panic.”
Panic is also something that Warnock will not necessarily do in his search for new recruits either, more especially a striker to try to reignite the goalscoring of the Millers with none of their forwards having found the net in the past seven games.
The club are running the rule over controversial free agent striker Nile Ranger, although the need for him to bolster his fitness levels after not playing competitively at this level since November 2014 is likely to preclude any decision from Warnock on his future until well into March.
When it comes to other possibilities, Warnock remains wary. While he will continue to look for new faces, getting the best out of his existing options represents the most likely way which he will go.
He said: “It is easier to get the signings when you are pushing for play-offs or automatic promotion and in London.
“There are players around, but are they better than what we have got?
“I am not sure they are at the moment. We are not going to let it get us down and get on with it and see if we can pull something out of the hat with what we have got.
“It is difficult because the players you want are already in a team and you can’t get them. I have had two or three offered from the Premier League.
“But they are young players who have never played in the Championship.
“That’s a gamble as well and I don’t think we can do that when we have players who have played at that level coming back from injury.”