Rotherham United v QPR: Matt Taylor urges fans response in Championship survival bid
That’s the message from manager Matt Taylor as the Millers look to put further distance between themselves and the relegation zone with the first of three home games in the next fortnight against free-falling Queens Park Rangers.
Fresh from a 2-1 win over Sunderland last time out at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, and a draw at Swansea on Monday that could easily have been another three points, Rotherham enter a key block of fixtures ahead of the international break.
Preston North End and Cardiff City follow QPR - now managed by Gareth Ainsworth - into Rotherham in the next 14 days, with Taylor seeing home advantage as a huge opportunity to punch their ticket for Championship football next season.
Rotherham have won six of their 16 games at home, recording 4-0 wins on two occasions, and with seven of their remaining 12 games to come at the small, compact New York Stadium, Taylor is urging players and fans alike to make opponents as uncomfortable as possible.
"I’ve always said our home form will be a good marker for where we’ll be at the end of the season and what a fantastic opportunity we have in front of us,” said Taylor, whose side sit six points clear of the drop zone.
"Our fans are going to be absolutely massive for us, but we can’t wait for them and they can’t wait for us – we’ve got to set each other off and set a mentality that the noise they create and the energy we put on that field will be replicated elsewhere in the stadium.
"We need to make it uncomfortable for the opposition and our fans can do that as much as we can as players and as a manager.
"Teams will come here well supported, but similar to the Sunderland game, that helped the whole atmosphere around the ground; it made us know we were in a game, made our fans they needed to stand up and be counted and we’ll be looking to do that for each other.”
Asked what characteristics he needs to see from his players, he said: "That’s no different to what we’ve had previously, it’s all in, constant effort, energy.
"We have to add quality on top of that, skill is a characteristic, knowing when to implement certain skillsets will be huge.
"Understanding that our home patch is a place we like playing football and we want to dictate the play as much as we can and put the opposition under pressure.
"We know we need our supporters alongside us, standing shoulder to shoulder on what we want to achieve.”
Taylor also reserved special praise for Chiedozie Ogbene, the Millers’ Republic of Ireland international who scored his first goal in 12 games in the draw at Swansea.
Keeping hold of Ogbene, who contract expires at the end of the season, was as much a boost as any of the seven new faces that came in during the January transfer window, and Taylor believes he is emerging from a lean spell.
“I feel like he has been getting some unfair criticism,” said Taylor.
“The stress and pressure he has been under, as well as they decisions he's had to make in the last few weeks will have had an impact on anyone.
“In terms of his effort and intent, I cannot fault him in anyway. It is always a collective, it can't just be on Chieo. I still think there is more to come from him.”