Kenny Jackett sets short-term goals in latest salvage operation at Rotherham United

Kenny Jackett is faced with a familiar fire-fighting operation at Rotherham United.
Kenny Jackett is faced with a familiar fire-fighting operation at Rotherham United.
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New Rotherham United manager Kenny Jackett has grown accustomed to fighting fires when he takes on a new job in management, as. Leon Wobschall discovers.

IN his time in management, Kenny Jackett has grown metaphorically used to wearing a hard hat.

It is perhaps just as well as far as Rotherham United are concerned.

Successfully dealing with adversity in the footballing sphere has gone with the territory for the 54-year-old – whether it be at Swansea City, Millwall or Wolverhampton Wanderers.

At Swansea back in April 2004, Jackett took over a club lying 10th in the old third division and going nowhere fast.

The script was similar at the New Den in November 2007 when he arrived at Millwall, a listing club in serious danger of dropping into the fourth tier prior to his appointment – having gone through seven managers in the previous two years.

The surroundings at Molineux may have been grander when Jackett became Wolves boss in May 2013, but the renovation work on the pitch was also considerable.

Jackett, appointed as Wolves’ fifth manager in 16 months, took charge of a club faced with the unedifying prospect of negotiating their first season at third-tier level since 1989.

Given the way in which Jackett put the footballing houses firmly back in order at all of the above, it is not hard to fathom why the Millers have plumped for him in their hour of need.

Digging in and constructing firm foundations over time has been the Jackett way. Not that he has too much of time, if the Millers are to salvage their Championship season and perform a Great Escape Mark Two akin to the spring rising under Neil Warnock earlier this year.

With just over a third of the season gone and a damning goal difference, the Millers are effectively nine points adrift of safety already.

It represents a considerable salvage operation for Jackett, but not an insurmountable task just yet.

At the training ground, it is about closing ranks and reprising the togetherness and organisation of those heady days under Warnock in the not too distant past, when the Millers were teak-tough to beat and in-your-face.

On match-day, more especially at home, it is about turning the AESSEAL New York Stadium into an unrelenting arena once 

Tomorrow’s game against Preston North End would be as good a time as any to start as the Millers seek to construct the next building block after ending a demoralising seven-match losing sequence in last weekend’s draw at Ipswich.

Jackett said: “It was very good to survive from where they were last year and a big achievement. Obviously, we are trying to replicate that this year and that is the aim.

“For us, it is about where we want to go and we want to get ourselves off the bottom of the table and be a Championship club, which is a long-term goal.

“We do that by setting a number of short-term goals, one of which is Saturday. It is about small steps and to use the crowd as effectively as we can.

“If we take the responsibility and put a performance on, we have a good home crowd and bringing the crowd into play is our responsibility and something we are looking to do.

“We want to be frightening sides and sides to not want to play against us. We certainly don’t want to be rolling over and laying down.

“We have got to work as hard as we possibly can to give everybody a tough game and then build on that.

“It is about not getting too disheartened with where we are and clearly seeing the process that we have to go through and have to achieve to get to where we want to go.”

Given their results thus far in 2016-17, the Millers may clearly be deficient in several areas, but since taking over, Jackett has witnessed an honest and committed group of players who are enthusiastically buying into his philosophies, which represents a starting point.

As for his footballing mantra, it is not exactly a trade secret, with his requirement that his players display workaholic tendencies to out-graft and outrun opponents in future weeks and months being a pragmatic one, given the club’s parlous position. He added: “The bottom line is always results and points, but both performances so far have been close.

“The gap we have to make up to be a consistent side that picks up points is considerable.

“Our players should be encouraged by that and realise that they are on the right lines.

“Our overall work-rate has to be very, very high at Rotherham and we have to work harder than any other club and be fitter.

“We have had a bad start to the season and the players must trust their performance level and trust their hard-working process which leads to results which is ultimately going to develop confidence.

“They are a committed, hard working bunch of players who are looking for belief.”