This season we will be gathering the views from our opponents’ local press on their team, progress and hopes for the season. As we look towards our trip to face Rotherham United on Sunday, we spoke to Leon Wobschall from the Yorkshire Post.
What was your view on Rotherham United last season?
Considering the previous season when The Millers broke all sorts of records en route to a pitiful relegation to League One in 2016-17 and were drained of confidence, belief and unity, their renaissance was remarkable last term. The smart money was on a season of consolidation and it ended in promotion.
The Millers soon gelled into a well organised, physically imposing unit with strong fitness levels and managed to shrug off the departure of loan striker Kieffer Moore to power to promotion in the second half of the season.
That said, their season did require a big turning point in early December. After trailing at half-time at Blackpool amid a poor winless run, The Millers dug deep to triumph 2-1. They never looked back.
How would you assess the summer, pre-season and the club’s transfer business?
It has not been without its issues in terms of recruitment, with The Millers - operating with a small budget compared to virtually all of their Championship rivals - assigned with the tough task of putting their hats into the ring to sign Championship-ready players who don't come cheap.
Defensive bases look reasonably covered, but Rotherham still look light in central midfield - they only had two fit senior options at the start of the season. The addition of Ryan Manning on a season-long loan from QPR has helped, but the Millers still look short. They could also do with another creative option.
What have you gathered from The Millers’ opening Sky Bet Championship games?
The opening day hammering at Brentford was a wake-up call, although Paul Warne has made no bones about the fact that the club will cop some beatings this season, given what they are up against. And Brentford are a side who are running hot at the minute.
The Ipswich win at home showcased the fighting, battling qualities that The Millers must show continually if they are to stay up this season. The performance was not eye-catching, but there was persistence and grit.
The best performance probably came in the defeat to Leeds where The Millers were excellent in the first half and should have taken in at least a one-goal lead. The hosts took a stranglehold in the second period, but it was a bit of moral victory for Rotherham.
The home loss to Hull was probably the most disappointing result. It is the sort of the game that the club would have targeted to get points from this season, but lapses in concentration proved costly.
What have you made of Paul Warne winning promotion in his first full season?
Outstanding. Warne, a former Rotherham player, has provided The Millers with an identity again alongside ex-team-mates Richie Barker - assistant manager - and Mike Pollitt - goalkeeping coach - and a Rotherham lad in Matt Hamshaw, who is first-team coach.
Like the team who Warne played with in the early noughties, The Millers are hugely committed with a strong work ethic and fitness levels and organisation and represent an imposing challenge for rival sides once more. That is testament to Warne and his staff.
Who would you describe as Rotherham’s key men?
Up front, Michael Smith excelled after joining Rotherham as Moore's replacement, with his aerial presence, work rate and hold-up play winning many admirers. He will be an important player this term.
In midfield, Joe Newell adds that little bit of class to open the door for The Millers and the club will rely on the nous of the likes of Richard Wood and Joe Mattock at the back.
Semi Ajayi, whether at the heart of the back four or in a holding midfield role, will also be key with his strength, pace and athleticism.
Is there anything that makes you confident that this season will be different to the relegation campaign of 2016/17 at the club?
In terms of unity and togetherness, The Millers are a much tighter unit than 2016/17 and their ability to hit back from defeats last season was also a good sign. There are no egos in the dressing room and they will give everything on a weekly basis and will stay mentally strong and focused.
In terms of inspiration, they can maybe look at what Bolton achieved last season. A side who had their problems on the pitch, but stayed strong and ultimately survived.
With a few days remaining of the loan window, do you think any areas still need strengthening?
Midfield and a creative option/another striker. The Millers do need another offensive option, although they are often the most difficult sort of players to get over the line. Watch this space…
Your score prediction for Sunday’s game?
Rotherham United 2-2 Millwall.