MANAGER Paul Warne believes Rotherham United can take plenty of positives out of their return to the Championship.
After nine games the Millers have picked up a presentable nine points although Warne feels his team are unlucky not to have banked a few more.
Last week’s 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest – in what manager Warne described as a “near perfect” performance – was a case in point, Lewis Grabban firing in an 86th-minute penalty.
That stretched Rotherham’s pointless run on their travels this season, but the Millers are back at the AESSEAL New York Stadium today for the first game of a home double-header, Stoke City the visitors this afternoon before Bristol City arrive in South Yorkshire on Wednesday.
“The position we are in at the moment, I still think we should have 11 or 12 points,” said Warne. “The lads are doing really well.
“But the teams below us, none of them would have expected to be below us at this point in the season.
“We take the positives out of that and I keep asking the lads to look at teams above us in the league.
“Are they significantly better than you? I don’t think Nottingham Forest are significantly better than us, not that we can’t beat them if we played them regularly.
“The lads have to take a lot of belief from that, know every game is going to be a scrap, but it will be a right competitive match.
“I think we have to be competitive in all the games, really hard to break down, block inside spaces, send them down the wings and defend crosses. I think we have done that really well.
“I would love to sit here and be a really expansive coach, winning 3-0 every week, but we have to be realistic.
“The lads have been performing really well. I thought our away performance at Forest was near perfect. Unfortunately we came away with nothing. Our performances at home have been very similar. It does come down to the odd chance here or there.”
Rotherham have won three of their four home Championship games this term and home form looks likely to be key to avoiding an instant return to League One.
Not that Warne is willing to rely on home form alone.
He said: “Our results on the road haven’t been great, but our performances have been excellent. It’s not a mental thing.
“At Forest we lost it when the players really thought they had the game. The last 20 minutes I thought we were possibly the stronger team. That was a disappointing blow, I did feel the pain. When you give everything and get nothing it is difficult to swallow.
“I don’t think we can just rely on the home form because unless we are Chelsea we are not going to win every home game.”
Stoke were pre-season favourites for promotion after relegation from the Premier League, but they are only above the Millers on goal difference.
Warne said: “Because of the club and their stature the pressure does mount on them to win football matches. Anxiety in sport is key.
“Hopefully we can add to that on Saturday.”