Rotherham United have the culture to make swift return

IT used to be a bit of a standing joke among Rotherham United’s managerial staff a few decades ago.

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart: Confident.
Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart: Confident.

Once upon a time when perspective Millers signings were spoken to about joining the club, they were directed in through some scenic villages on the edge of the town to the club’s semi-rural former Hooton Lodge training base – to avoid the club’s ageing Millmoor home, which had clearly seen better days.

How times have changed since.

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Now all roads lead to the heart of the town to the club’s resplendent AESSEAL New York Stadium; Rotherham’s sporting flagship and the envy of many in the lower divisions of the English Football League.

Paul Warne. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Discussions with future arrivals now take place inside the gleaming facility, with the club’s Roundwood training base, much improved these days with further enhancements planned, also likely to draw nods of approval from any potential newcomers.

The Millers’ identity on the pitch and togetherness off it adds to the innate sense of pride and belonging under the stewardship of a manager in Paul Warne who is doing his level-best to ensure that Rotherham United is now a life-enhancing home for his players and not merely a place of work and stop-off point.

The brochure may still not be overly glossy but it is a wholesome one for future recruits.

The package that Rotherham can offer is much improved these days and it should ensure that they are seriously competitive in their quest to return to the Championship next season.

Chairman Tony Stewart told The Yorkshire Post: “We are getting a good reputation and the footballers that we are trying to get in are more open to moving to Rotherham now than they have been in the past.

“They see it as a club that has got a good manager and are well controlled with a nice stadium. It is more enticing now to get that better player coming in, knowing full well that the reputation is good.

“Rotherham is probably a good showroom for any enterprising player. Don’t forget that there are lots of guys who cannot get a game with top clubs and at the end of the day, they are looking to get out on loan in the shop window and get recognised. We did it with Kieffer Moore.

“We feel good and confident and know the preparation of what we need to do this summer.

“The team of people including the manager, backroom and recruitment staff are hard at it trying to get people in.

“Off the pitch, investment also went in on the training ground and it is a fantastic centre where they all congregate. Many little things have added to it.

“The other thing that needs to be mentioned is the feel about Rotherham.”

It is the nature of football that players come and go at this time of year, but plans are well down the line to ensure that those who depart Rotherham will be replaced with no loss in requisite quality.

Already, out-of-contract winger Jon Taylor has announced his intention to leave, while Ryan Williams is also likely to move on, with the pair thought to have Championship interest.

Joe Newell, whose deal also expires next month, is on the wanted list of the Millers’ South Yorkshire neighbours Doncaster Rovers, among others.

Millers fans can rest assured that contingencies are being made, through head of recruitment Rob Scott.

Much like his one-time team-mate Warne, Scott is someone who has the Millers firmly in his blood despite not being born in the town.

Following a successful interview process, recruitment chief Scott began work in his role early after it was advertised in the wake of the departure of Jamie Johnson, with former Middlesbrough senior scout and head of technical recruitment Chris Trotter working alongside him.

On the impact of Scott, part of a Millers’ team which also includes assistant-manager Richie Barker, goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt and club consultant John Breckin – all part of the club’s halcyon days under Ronnie Moore in the early Noughties – Stewart added: “Rob has got that managerial look and that discipline too. He lives in Rotherham as well and is on the doorstep and has played for Rotherham.

“We have now got a full culture of people – on and off the pitch – who are local enthusiasts and are putting their minds into achieving what we want to, which is success at whatever level.

“It is no good just saying that as you have got to get good preparation and we are doing that.

“We had 45 who applied for the recruitment role and that was narrowed down to two and I was invited down to this meeting.

“To be honest, both characters were fit for the job and I just said: ‘Let’s have them both; if they can work together, let’s have them both.’ We have two now who are working well together.”

Rotherham are likely to figure prominently in the betting for promotion from League One next season after returning to the Championship at the first time of asking in 2017-18.

A successful businessman, Stewart is plainly the sort of individual who would be disappointed if they were not, although he would equally venture that confidence should not be interpreted as complacency in this case.

He said: “You would like to think positively and view that we will have more opportunity to get in that top six and, hopefully, can go through to the automatics.

“But football is a funny thing and you have to prove it rather than say it.

“Yet there is nothing wrong with a bit of confidence and I think we will have a bit going in.

“We have got the support and that is fantastic along with good sponsors behind us.

“We are hoping to get into a happy place next season.”