Rewind a year, and Rotherham United had just been relegated from the Championship following a dismal season for everyone connected with the club. The Millers won just five games all season, drawing eight and losing a whopping 33.
They were by far the worst team in the division as they finished on just 23 points, 28 points adrift of safety. They scored just 40 goals all season, the joint worst in the division and also conceded 98 goals, which was 26 more than any other team. They were simply unable to compete in the division.
However, on Sunday afternoon, a 2-1 win after extra-time against Shrewsbury Town at Wembley in the League One play-off final saw them secure promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt. This is a remarkable achievement considering the rebuild job which has taken place at the New York Stadium over the past year.
A gamble which was worth taking
Following Sunday’s win, the club’s chairman, Tony Stewart, spoke about the past year and the gamble he took appointing Paul Warne as the club’s manager. However, he, in fact, felt that this was never a gamble. He spoke about the importance of appointing a manager who knew the ethos of the club after they had gone through a high turnaround of managers in a short space of time.
Despite the fact that he could not turn Rotherham’s form around in the Championship following the resignation of Kenny Jackett, Warne has done a superb job to get them promoted back to the second division at the first attempt. He has built a squad of young, hungry players and they are now in a much better position to compete in the Championship than they were last time.
The atmosphere around the club has changed dramatically over the past year and Warne has helped build the foundations for a good season in the Championship next season. The relationship between the staff, players and fans is as good as it ever has been in recent years and when this is the case, anything is possible.
A huge turnaround of players in a short period of time
It came as no surprise that there was a huge turnaround of players at the New York Stadium following their relegation next season. However, Warne has done a superb job with his recruitment as he has built a squad full of young talented players, mixed with a number of experienced heads.
One of their more experienced players is 32-year-old captain Richard Wood. The centre-back played a key role in their promotion on Sunday afternoon as he scored both of their goals in the play-off final. This was despite the fact that he broke his toe during the game. The attitude shown by Wood epitomises the mentality that Warne has implemented at the club since taking over as manager.
However, not only do the Millers have a strong starting line-up, they also have players who can make an impact off the bench. 24-year-old winger Ryan Williams came on as a substitute in the 75th minute in the play-off final and caused Shrewsbury a number of issues with his pace and technical ability. This is just further evidence that Warne has built a squad that is more than capable of performing better than they have done in the past, in the Championship next season.