Day of reckoning for Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United

For Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United there are no grey areas this afternoon.

Both South Yorkshire clubs would much rather have their Championship fates in their own hands today, but both know if they do not win, they will be playing in League One next season.

Victory in itself will not avoid that – the Millers will need their neighbours to win at Derby County’s Pride Park, whilst the Owls will still be relegated if Rotherham beat Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium.

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But there is at least a simplicity to their own requirements. If Derby beat Wednesday then both South Yorkshire clubs will be relegated.

Rotherham manager Paul Warne. Picture: Simon Hulme

“Us and Sheffield Wednesday have a mindset of ‘If we don’t win, we have no chance,’ whereas for Derby, it is a little bit trickier mindset,” argues Paul Warne, who is yet to have consecutive seasons in the same division in his four-and-a-half years as Rotherham manager.

“If we win and Derby win, we cannot control the uncontrollables. I like the fact it is black and white and no grey, you have just got to go for it and hopefully the football gods look favourably on you.

“If we had won on Tuesday night (at Luton Town, instead of drawing 0-0) and I knew that a draw was enough come Saturday, it would be worse in a weird way. You may think the best form of defence is attack, but if you attack too much, you leave yourself vulnerable.

“You are on a sticky wicket and at 60 minutes at 1-1, you could think, ‘Do you stick or twist?’

Owls stand-in managers Paul Williams and Jamie Smith on the touch line Picture: Steve Ellis

“At least, for us and Sheffield Wednesday, we know what we have got to do and there can be no complaints at the final whistle if we have not done it.”

Owls assistant manager Jamie Smith insists the situation will have no bearing on Wednesday’s approach.

“It will probably be a bit cagey and nervy at first,” he acknowledges.

“We know we need to go and win the game so that’s what we will be trying to do.

“It doesn’t matter what game we play we always go into it to win so our preparations would have been the same no matter what position we were in. We always look to win every game we play. This game’s no different.”

Smith has taken charge of the Owls for all but one of the last eight matchdays but they could have the morale boost of manager Darren Moore being present in some capacity.

Moore contracted Covid-19 at the start of April, missing three games. He returned at home to Swansea City but after feeling ill that day it emerged he was suffering from pneumonia and blood clots on the lung.

He had not been back into work since until returning to the training ground this week.

“We’re going to see how he is,” says Smith. “We’ll see how he reacts after every day basically but fingers crossed he’ll be there.

“I can’t say he’s going to do this or that because he just doesn’t know. Potentially he could be in the directors’ box, depending on how he is.

“I’m sure it will have a positive effect, most definitely.”

Warne would like to keep his blinkers on during the game but even with no fans technically in the ground – though as Derby manager Wayne Rooney correctly spotted when the Rams played at the New York Stadium there will be a few in the directors’ box – he knows it is going to be extremely difficult.

“I don’t want someone to say to me after 20 minutes if we take the lead that Derby are two-up,” he says. “I want to enjoy what I can for as long as I can and keep the dream alive.

“If we are drawing with 10 minutes left, it does not make much difference if Derby are 2-0 up or two down, we have to get that winning goal. Our attitude won’t change in any way.

“However, I am well aware that if my chairman starts shouting and screaming, there is a good chance that Derby have gone behind.

“So if something does happen off-site, unintentionally, I will probably find out.

“But if we were 1-0 up with 10 minutes to go and I knew Derby were 1-0 down or drawing, I don’t know how many toilet breaks I’d have... It would be too much for my little heart to bear.”

All today’s Championship games kick off at 12.30pm.

Huddersfield Town, who complete their programme at Reading, secured their Championship status last week and whilst Barnsley are confirmed in the play-offs, today’s results will determine if Brentford or Swansea City visit Oakwell for the semi-final first leg in front of fans a week on Monday.

Barnsley host champions Norwich City.

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