Rotherham United: New direction, old spirit, says Millers boss Neil Redfearn

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn
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Neil Redfearn had been in the job for only a matter of hours when he delivered one of his most important messages to his new squad of players.

The Rotherham United manager has plenty of ideas about how he can take the Millers in the fresh direction chairman Tony Stewart is seeking.

But at his first training on Monday morning he stressed to the players the importance of retaining the famed spirit which helped the club to successive promotions and then Championship survival last season.

“They’re prepared to battle and fight, and we’ve got to keep that,” he said. “I’ve said that to lads, that we can’t lose that in our make-up, because it takes you a long way.”

Redfearn, who is renowned for his coaching and work with younger players, is keen to exert his influence on a team he had watched “two or three” times this year before beating nearly 70 candidates to the hot-seat vacated by Steve Evans.

“Now we’ve got to add different facets to our game,” the 50-year-old said.

“We’ve got to become a Championship side. We’ve got to understand the level. We’ve got to play with a bit more nous. We’ve got to have that nous in our defending and be football bright when we attack.

“We’ve got to have different ways to go forward. I think the lads are looking forward to maybe changing the direction in which we’re going.”

The man who was in charge at Leeds United last season was encouraged by what he saw in Rotherham’s performances earlier this term, with the last of the games he watched in person being the 2-1 win over Cardiff City.

“They’ve always been in games,” he said. “They’ve always looked like they could score. They’ve also looked like they could concede.

“They’re in that flux. They’re going from being a First Division side that’s a top First Division side to being a Championship side that’s an established Championship side. That’s a difficult process because it’s a big jump.”

Redfearn brought through youngsters like Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt and Sam Byram into the Leeds first team and wants to repeat the process of developing young talent at his new club.

“Young players are infectious,” he said. “They make the group want to train.

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“I had a good chat with Garreth Barker (academy manager). He seems like a really genuine guy. He has done really well and put the club in a good place. From their point of view, the kids need a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel and it’s nice for them to know that there might be an opportunity there for them.”

Meanwhile, one of the youngsters already in the Millers’ senior squad has been backed to come good by stand-in skipper Danny Collins.

Midfielder Grant Ward, 20, had been out of the starting 11 but returned in the last match before the international break, at home to Burnley, and scored with a long-range screamer.

“I was right behind it and got a good view. He scored three or four like that in pre-season. He’s going to be a good talent,” said Collins who has worn the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Lee Frecklington.

“I think his confidence had been knocked. He’d been out of the team for a few weeks, but he stepped up and done a pretty good job and capped it off with a great strike. Let’s hope he kicks on from here.”