The opposition view on Doncaster Rovers derby foes Rotherham United

A fierce South Yorkshire derby against a promotion tip awaits Doncaster Rovers this weekend as they visit Rotherham United.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 10:00 am
Rotherham United boss Paul Warne

We spoke to the Rotherham Advertiser’s Millers man Paul Davis to get the lowdown on Paul Warne’s side.

Q: How do you assess the Millers’ start of the season?

PD:“It’s been a decent start to the season and it could have been a very, very good one.

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“It’s been two wins and two defeats and it could easily have been three wins and a draw or even four wins.

“There was a last gasp defeat at Wigan that wasn’t deserved and then the derby against Sheffield Wednesday which was a strange one where they dominated the first half, missed a penalty at a crucial time and paid the price for some poor play in the build-up to Wednesday’s goals.

“They’ve played well in all four games but at the moment they’ve got a problem sticking the ball in the back of the net.

“But they do look really solid and they don’t look far away from being a very good League One side as they have been in the last few times they have been in there.

“They’re maybe only a striker away from being that.”

Q: Is that where the focus will be in the final days of the transfer window?

PD: “Paul Warne would very much like to bring in a striker.

“If he has to go with what he’s got, I think he’ll be okay with that but another striker would be the icing on the cake.

“Rotherham have invested during the window and it’s a tough time for everyone due to Covid with income being down so they’ve got to be careful about meeting Financial Fair Play regulations.

“They will do that because they’re a well run club and they do things properly.

“If there’s scope to bring in a striker, they will do but they may have to do without one.

“Obviously, they don’t want to lose any of the squad.

“There’s still a chance that a Championship club might come in for Michael Smith, the centre forward who has been superb and fundamental to how they’ve played over the last few years.”

Q: Who are the players to watch out for this weekend?

PD: “I’ve mentioned Smith and he is playing really well.

“He’s a great player and a great character. There’s been a lot of talk about a Championship move and it’d be a dream for him in terms of wages but he’s not let it affect him.

“He’s just worked as hard as ever and played as well as ever.

“It’s a shame we haven’t got Chieo Ogbene on the right wing because he’s ripped it up with his pace. He’s not out for long but I’m almost certain he’ll miss this one.

“Oli Rathbone has settled in really well after moving from Rochdale. Busy, impish, wants the ball and is always looking for a killer pass. He’s the kind of player you want.

“At the back, they’ve still got the 100-year-old Richard Wood. Rotherham play with three centre halves now and it really suits him, playing in the middle.

“He’s got strength and attacks everything but he’s got the support there too.”

Q: What are your expectations for Rotherham this year?

PD: “I think it’s a very strong league this season.

“A few weeks ago I tipped them for tenth and that is not a reflection on any Rotherham weakness, but rather the strength of League One.

“With a few weeks going by, and if they have luck with injuries, I think they are more than capable of a play-off push.”

Q: What are your thoughts on this derby as an occasion?

PD: “It was a huge occasion last weekend against Sheffield Wednesday and it was great to see a full house.

“It’s not good when you see the away end bouncing when the ball goes in but as a pure footballing spectacle, it’s what the game needs.

“I always say the players are the game but the fans are the occasion and they bring so much to it.

“It should be another New York full house so I’m really looking forward to it as an occasion.

“I’d very much like it to be how it was the last time Rovers came when Rotherham scored twice in added time.

“I see Rovers at the wrong end of the table but I don’t think anyone sees that lasting. Rotherham are under no illusions this is going to be a really tough game.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.