Rotherham United’s season concluded on Sunday with the Millers already knowing that they will be playing in League One next season.
As a fan of course I’m disappointed at being relegated but when you look at the larger picture I don’t think we should have been that surprised when you see the money other teams had spent, the players they’d managed to hold onto despite relegation last season – we really couldn’t hope to compete.
But, how much better did we look on Sunday than we did on that first day of the season away at Brentford? On that day it looked like the players had just met on the bus on the way to London. On Sunday we looked like a team who could pass a ball, could get in space to shoot and could get crosses into the box.
At the end of August we were in fifteenth place in the table, held our own in September while becoming the ‘draw specialists’ in October and dropping to fourth from bottom. We beat Swansea who had dropped from the Premier League the season before and got a two-all home draw with Sheffield United who will play in the top flight next season in November. December saw us get just two points from an away draw at Hillsborough and a home draw against Reading with our only points in January coming from a home win against Preston which saw us move out of the bottom three. Five draws in February and we were back in that bottom three again and even though we got our first away win of the season in March that’s where we stayed with perhaps the lowest point of the season coming in the six-one drubbing at Pride Park. We beat Forest, who were going for a play-off place, in April and were unlucky to lose to Villa at home. We could have got more at Stoke, another club who had come down from the Premier League last time, after coming from two down and were so unlucky at Swansea not to get something. Losing at home to Birmingham and the noise from the club was ‘we haven’t given up’ but the following weekend when we couldn’t hold onto the lead at West Brom we were relegated.
For me, this season has seen me get a new ground in – The Ethiad, where I’d just like to have seen Will Vaulks’s goal celebration there. It was a seven-nil drubbing but we weren’t the only team to get pasted there this season (though I thought they might have let us have a kick of the ball more than once!) We also went to Goodison Park to take on another Premier League side in Everton and I think we gave them a game.
So, just what have we learned from this season?
We need to hang on to a lead – I’ve lost count of the times we’ve gone in front only to led the lead slip and often end up on the wrong side of the scoreline. We don’t need to panic – I can’t understand that when we do take a lead we sit back and let teams come back at us. We need to defend, oh boy, do we need to do that. We need to take our chances – whenever and wherever one comes up. As fans I think we’ve got to realise that the players are going to make mistakes and we’ve got to get behind them as much as we can. One thing I do think we’ve got to take on board is that we’ve got to fall down more. If you are under pressure from an opponent, then go down. Is it cheating? Maybe a little. Where have I learned this from? Every other team in the Championship.
Looking at that larger picture again I’m expecting the Chairman to say something similar to ‘we can compete in this league, we have a good budget’. It’s how we spend that budget that matters.
Am I expecting us to go straight back up again? Well, that would be nice wouldn’t it.