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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
Grimsby v Rotherham Preview
By: Sam Kinnaird
SOUTH Yorkshire side Rotherham travel the 70 or so miles to Blundell Park for a game which Town will believe they must win after two heavy defeats inside a week.
The Millers have endured a tough few years since relegation from the Championship in 2005 under Ronnie Moore, with off-field issues causing more than their fair share of problems. The 2004-5 season saw Rotherham relegated to League One after a four-year stint punching above their weight, some of it alongside the Mariners. The sale of star players was blamed by the fans as the reason for relegation, but most knew it was inevitable as the club could simply not sustain a team at that level of football for a prolonged period. Mick Harford and then Alan Knill took the manager’s job at Millmoor while a financial gap of £140,000 a month crippled the club. The ground had already been sold and a bleak financial future awaited, but help from neighbours Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday went a long way to securing the future of the club for the 2005-6 season. Rotherham stayed up on a dramatic final day of the season thanks to a draw with MK Dons which contrived to send the Dons down.
A huge squad overhaul took place in the close season as the Millers began with a ten-point deduction for entering administration; a long season seemed to be in store. Young prodigy’s Lee Williamson and Will Hoskins were sold to Watford for a combined fee of £1.2m in October 2006, the funds helped secure the finances but it had a massive effect on the team. By the end of February Rotherham sat 13 points adrift of safety and relegation was inevitable, and Alan Knill was replaced by Mark Robins as manager. Relegation soon came, and the club once again entered administration in the middle of the following season which in the end cost the club a play-off place.
Towards the end of the season the club’s finances again came into the news, with disputes over training grounds and the payment of rent on the stadium both causing the club to move out of Rotherham altogether. The Millers began to train at Doncaster Rovers’ training ground and were forced to play home games at the Don Valley Stadium in nearby Sheffield, although the club will be effectively kicked out of the league if they fail to return to Millmoor within four years.
Last season saw yet another points deduction, this time it was to be 15 points. The deduction was soon wiped out, and a successful season saw the Millers finish in a respectable mid-table finish of 14th. Without the points deduction however, they would have finished in 5th place.
The close season saw star striker Rueben Reid sold to West Brom, and the Millers spent big in order to replace him. Striker Tom Pope was signed from Crewe for £150,000 and Adam le Fondre was snapped up from Rochdale for a club record fee. Free transfers included the signings of midfielders Paul Warne and Nicky Law as well as goalkeeper Jamie Annerson from Sheffield United. Veterans Andy Liddell and Kevin Ellison (left) also penned deals to add vital experience to a young Rotherham squad. Key existing players include defenders Ian Sharps ex-Mariner Nick Fenton who have forged a solid defence in their time together. Forward Ryan Taylor is a local lad who has scored in the past against Town, although his appearances this season have been limited to cameo roles from the bench. Veteran goalkeeper Andy Warrington has played over 350 career league games and Irish midfielder Michael Cummins has Premier League experience with Middlesbrough. Young midfielder Jason Taylor was another summer signing, and scored in the recent 3-2 win over Morecambe at the Don Valley Stadium, despite his age he has plenty of experience of the lower leagues with over 100 appearances for Stockport County.
22-year-old frontman Adam Le Fondre has a formidable goalscoring record at this level with Stockport and Rochdale with 56 goals in only 68 league starts. He was signed for a fee thought to be around £200,000. He began his career at Stockport County after coming through the youth system and scored 18 goals over two seasons before a move to Rochdale saw him bag 34 goals over a two season stint. He moved to Rotherham in the summer stating the ambition of the club as his reason for the move. Le Fondre will be well known to Town fans for his goal against the Mariners for Rochdale last season as well as the first goal in a 2-1 win at Blundell Park in 2007. The striker is lightening over short ground and his finishing ability is unrivalled at this level, the Town defence will have to be at their best to stop him from adding to his list of goals against us.
Head to Head
Although Grimsby have a terrible record against the Millers they have still won more games than they have lost at Blundell Park.
P 55 W 18 D 11 L 26 F 71 A 77
Grimsby 3 Rotherham 0 (Sat 24th Jan 2009)
A rare good day in the middle of last season when everything Town did clicked for once.
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