Kenny Jackett’s first job at Rotherham United is to avoid unwanted debut

Sunderland's Fabio Borini (left) and Rotherham United's Richie Smallwood battle for the ball.
Sunderland's Fabio Borini (left) and Rotherham United's Richie Smallwood battle for the ball.
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DON’T mention the ‘managerial bounce’ that comes with having a new man at the helm to Rotherham United.

Last season, which saw Steve Evans depart in late September, saw three different men placed in charge at various stages and not one of them could inspire United to a victory in their first game.

Neil Redfearn’s bow in charge ended in a 2-1 defeat at Brentford, two weeks after Eric Black’s only game as caretaker manager had ended in a home loss by the same scoreline to Burnley.

Even Neil Warnock, who went on to pull off an incredible escape from relegation when keeping the Millers up, could only draw 0-0 at home to Birmingham City in his first game last March on an afternoon made most memorable by the Yorkshire club ending the game with nine men.

Kenny Jackett’s task, therefore, is to improve on that sorry record of 2015-16 by leading Rotherham to all three points this afternoon when Reading arrive at the New York Stadium.

“The chairman has made me feel very wanted,” said the Millers new manager. “He made me feel like the person they need to take the club forward.

“I am delighted to join. Coming up here and into the training ground on Friday morning meant it was a whirlwind. But, hopefully, now we can move forward together.”

Victory today, of course, would be the perfect start.

It won’t, though, be easy, with Jackett having had only one brief training session with his players since agreeing to succeed Alan Stubbs.

He is also taking over a side with just one victory to their name all season and a tendency to concede goals at an alarming rate.

Since claiming that solitary win thanks to a Danny Ward goal against Brentford on August 20, United have claimed two points from a possible 27 and let in 24 goals.

The club sits rock bottom of the Championship and six points adrift of safety.

Jackett’s first task is to improve a defence that has been left horribly exposed on far too many occasions. The lack of a protective barrier in midfield hasn’t helped, with the departure of Richie Smallwood to Scunthorpe United being particularly keenly felt.

But, even so, there has been an air of naivety about the back four that Jackett must eradicate if the season is to be turned around.

A minute’s applause will be held before kick-off in memory of former Rotherham midfielder Gerry Gow, who passed away earlier this week.