MANAGER Paul Warne wants Rotherham United’s fans to take inspiration from Liverpool’s Champions League defeat of Manchester City to help haul his men over the line and into the League One play-offs.
Fourth-placed Millers welcome in-form Fleetwood Town to the New York Stadium today with the hosts now only holding a five-point cushion back to seventh-placed Portsmouth following an accumulation of just four points from their last six games.
The Millers had previously won 11 of their last 14 league games with Warne’s men drawing the other three but the United boss insists his side have still not yet peaked.
Five days on from Monday’s 3-1 loss at sixth-placed play-off rivals Charlton Athletic, Warne is now making an attempt to rally Rotherham’s fans, who he hopes can whip up a frenzy today and copy Liverpool’s heroics against City at Anfield on Wednesday night.
“The lads are fourth in the table for a reason,” said Warne.
“I don’t think we peaked during the unbeaten run. We lost on Monday at Charlton, who are potentially the best team in the division on their day.
“We just haven’t been right on song for the last few matches. We’ve got six games to put that right. You want to hit the play-offs in peak form.
“If we’re to win, it’s going to take a lot of patience and the support of the fans.
“The fans have a massive part to play in the next six matches.
“Football is a lot easier game to play when you know the fans are right behind you.
“Without wanting to go to the Champions League to make my point clear, the whole Liverpool v Manchester City thing made it evident what can happen with the right support.
“All the Liverpool players were talking afterwards about their support they were given and they are multi-millionaires and some of the best players in the word.
“Even they were saying what an effect the crowd had on their performance.”
Even despite the recent dip in form, Rotherham still sit five points clear of fifth-placed Peterborough United ahead of the visit of a Fleetwood side who have won their last four.
I’m aware of the teams chasing us. We don’t discuss it with the players on a regular basis because they obviously see the results and the league table themselves. I’m just trying to focus on what we’re doing.Rotherham Unuited manager, Paul Warne
John Sheridan’s team are on a six-game unbeaten run and the Cod Army have not conceded a single goal during their last five games.
“We’ve got to move the ball quickly because Fleetwood are brilliant out of possession,” warned Warne, who will welcome Richie Towell back from a hamstring problem.
Joe Mattock, however, also has a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the game, while Jon Taylor’s sore knee will be assessed before the game.
Warne is also keen to stress that Rotherham remain very much in control of their own destiny as far as this season’s play-offs are concerned.
“Being a football manager, you spend your life looking over your shoulder,” said Warne.
“It’s in our hands. We’re five points clear with a good goal difference.
“It’s a pressure time of the season for everyone. The teams that are chasing are thinking: ‘If we don’t win, we’re not going to get there.’
“The teams in the play-off places are thinking: ‘If we don’t win, they could catch us.’
“It’s just an absolute pressure keg at the moment for everyone.
“I’m aware of the teams chasing us. We don’t discuss it with the players on a regular basis because they obviously see the results and the league table themselves. I’m just trying to focus on what we’re doing.
“It is the time of the season when performances don’t matter as much as points.
“A couple of wins might be enough to get us in.”
Fleetwood boss Sheridan, meanwhile, insists that his buoyant side could still do with a couple more points to make absolutely sure of avoiding any prospect of relegation.
Even in spite of their brilliant recent run, the Lancashire club are still only nine points clear of the dropzone.
“I still feel there’s probably another couple of points we need, so it’s important we go into the next game trying to win it,” said the Fleetwood boss.
“We go there thinking that we’re going to win the game, we’re on good form, we’ve got a bit of confidence.
“I respect Rotherham – they are having a decent season so I go in there just thinking of Fleetwood and thinking of how we can affect the game and what we can do and to carry on what we’ve been doing of late.”