Watford v Rotherham United: Unwanted milestone will see no cavalier change, insists Matt Taylor

CELEBRATION was not the word that anyone connected with Rotherham United had in mind when one particular milestone passed this week.

Wednesday marked the first ‘anniversary’ of one particular Millers’ accomplishment - namely their last Championship victory on the road, a 1-0 derby success at Sheffield United on November 8, 2022.

In 20 away league matches since, they have lost on 12 occasions and drawn eight times.That run includes six losses in seven on their travels so far in 2023-24, with Matt Taylor’s side having taken just a solitary point from a possible 21.

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In the past 12 months, eight away points have been garnered from an available 60.

Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Millers continue to wrestle with a conundrum which has affected several of their previous forays at Championship level.One school of thought suggests that they could be more bold in a bid to cure their travelsickness, but Taylor is wary.

Just as his predecessor Paul Warne was right from the opening day of the 2018-19 campaign, when he fielded an attacking line-up in the club’s curtain-raiser at Brentford and paid a heavy price by virtue of a 5-1 defeat.Taylor, whose side’s sole away point arrived at Southampton on October 7, observed: “We could put five centre-forwards on the pitch and be 2-0 down after five minutes and it would be a ludicrous decision.

"We have to keep our structure, keep believing the players are capable of performing a certain way.

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"We have played a more attacking system away from home at times and it still hasn't worked.

"We ‘go for it’. Sometimes the opposition play a huge part in it not working.”Alongside opponents, another major consideration for the Millers - more especially given some selection issues - is navigating a three-game schedule in the space of seven days which stretches their resources more than most rivals.

Taylor, who saw Sam Nombe and Christ Tiehi grab their first goals for the club in midweek, added: “Away from home, we're still looking at altering a few bits and pieces for an improved outcome.

"We might well shift the shape this weekend, we might shift personnel.

"We have to freshen the team up. We did it on Tuesday.

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“Thankfully, I feel I have a stronger squad now to be able to do that without weakening the team.

"I believe we'll set up slightly differently this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing an attacking spark."

One key consideration for Taylor surrounds whether to risk playing Hakeem Odoffin for a third successive game as a make-shift centre-back, given that he has been out on two occasions so far this term with hamstring trouble.

Taylor said: "Tuesday was a demanding game, a quick game.

"The data from our sports scientist was the highest it's been all season. Some of the players really put in a shift.

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"We have to be so, so careful. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

"If you don't play him (Odoffin), you get slaughtered. If you play him and he gets injured, you get slaughtered for that too.

"The squad now seems strong enough to cope with players offsetting each other (sharing game-time)."