Rotherham United v Plymouth: Professional standards demanded as Millers look to stave off relegation

Leam Richardson expects everyone at Rotherham United to maintain the highest of professional standards as they look to take some positives out of a wretched season.

Easter Monday’s long-overdue win over Millwall at least momentarily eased what has felt like a non-stop slap across the face for Rotherham fans this season, but it only delayed the inevitable.

Even if they defeat a freefalling Plymouth Argyle in front of the Sky Sports cameras tonight - one of the more bizarre TV selections of the season - their relegation back to League One could be confirmed later this weekend. Lose or draw and their relegation is a done deal.

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Richardson came in in November after a protracted search to succeed Matt Taylor whose accomplishment in keeping the Millers in the Championship last term has looked better the longer this season has gone on.

Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson.(Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson.(Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson.(Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

He has been unable to match that feat in a second tier that gets harder to navigate each year as the gulf in budgets from the Rotherhams and Plymouths to the Leeds and Leicesters who come down, widens.

So with the destination of where they will play next season as good as certain, Richardson is looking for something else.

“Professionalism,” he says, “certainly for myself, I have a certain level of professional pride whether you’re top of the league, pre-season or whatever, my professional pride is no different.

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“I don’t need a chairman or the fans to tell me because I’ve got a real professional pride that burns, it hurts at times, but it keeps you going.

“We’re going into every game wanting to give a really strong account of ourselves. We’re very mindful of what the badge means, what the club means, how we want to move forward.

“Everybody, whether they’ve got their own agendas, it’s still an agenda that affects each and every individual, so you’ve got to use it as a positive and if possible park that secondary to what’s most important - and that’s the team.”

Richardson was pleased the fans got a lift by seeing their team win on Monday after 16 games without tasting victory, and says his team have been buoyant in training as a result.

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Thoughts, though, are turning towards next season, the sight of 18-year-old homegrown product Ben Hatton on the bench on Monday being one particular nod to the future.

Richardson revealed Hatton could feature again, as will many of the players he hopes stick around next season to try and get the Millers back in the Championship.

“There’s always a balance, you can’t leave yourself vulnerable in a Championship that’s best it’s been for 20 years, but there are decisions in which you’re thinking about the future, because you’ll be working with these players for another 12 months, two years, and it’s important some of your attention goes towards that,” he said.

“I’m really excited about the summer but there’s still football to be played and Friday is another good opportunity, live on Sky, to give a good account of ourselves collectively and individually.”

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Sean Morrison (calf) and Peter Kioso (hamstring) are rated as “touch and go” for Friday’s game.

It is a fixture both second-bottom Sheffield Wednesday and third-bottom Huddersfield Town will monitor with interest, hoping their Yorkshire rivals can do them a favour against the side sitting one point and one place outside the relegation zone.