Rotherham United: Kenny Jackett’s first mission as new Millers boss

Kenny Jackett
Kenny Jackett
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New boss Kenny Jackett has made plugging the Football League’s leakiest defence his top priority after taking over at Rotherham United.

The Millers conceded only once in the 54-year-old’s first match in charge, last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat against Reading, but have shipped 33 goals in their 14 Championship games.

“There have been a high number of goals this season and that has been the major problem,” said Jackett who has already strengthened Rotherham’s options up front by signing former Premier League striker Peter Odemwingie on Monday.

“We need to make sure we are organised off the ball, hard to play against.”

Rotherham are in bottom spot, eight points adrift of safety, and no other defence from the Premier League down to League Two has been breached more often.

The Millers were worth a draw against the Royals after creating the match’s best chances, and Jackett added: “There are a few forwards around and a few wide players and we look quite creative. We have players in those positions who look like they can do quite well.

Peter Odemwingie

Peter Odemwingie

“But, collectively as a team, reducing the goals against, staying in games and making sure we are there or thereabouts with the points is the main thing.”

The new manager - whose appointment last Friday in place of the man who led the club to the foot of the table, Alan Stubbs, has been warmly received by supporters - has 32 games in which to turn Rotherham round.

“There is a lot of time to go,” he stressed. “The players can’t get too disappointed by looking at the table. They can’t lose their enthusiasm. That is important. We do need that level of enthusiasm throughout the season.”

Jackett immediately turned to the club’s senior players, bringing in Richard Wood, Joe Mattock and Dexter Blackstock against Reading, and will be pleased when seasoned pros Kirk Broadfoot and Tom Adeyemi return from injury.

“As a group, we are quite young and, in Championship terms, quite naive,” he said. “I am looking around for my experienced players and there are not many of them.

“I have not seen a problem in terms of commitment or wanting to do well. It is knowledge and knowing the Championship and what we need to do at the right time.”

Jackett would love to have had Richie Smallwood at his disposal but the midfielder was allowed to leave by Stubbs on a season-long League One Scunthorpe United.

The manager is checking whether there is anything in the paperwork which would allow him to bring back Smallwood in January.

“Richie is an experienced midfielder. Coming here as an opposing manager many times, (Lee) Frecklington and Smallwood always give you a game,” he said.

“We will have to see. We will explore all avenues to try to add competition, experience and enthusiasm. We will look to do everything we possibly can to improve the team and results.”

Meanwhile, Jackett’s arrival has delighted Wood who had been frozen out by the previous regime.

“He’s come in and said all the right things,” the centre-half said. “He knows what we need to be, what Rotherham need to be.

“We haven’t got the budget and the players of teams at the top of the league. He realises who were are, that we have to work hard and have a bit of passion.

“He knows what type of club we are and what style will work best for us.”

I’m ready to play, says Odemwingie