Third time unlucky for returning hero?

Ronnie Moore: 18 months in the job.  Picture: Gareth Copley
Ronnie Moore: 18 months in the job. Picture: Gareth Copley
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WILL it be third time unlucky for Ronnie Moore at Rotherham United?

A goalscoring idol there in his playing days; a managerial legend for the club’s remarkable achievements during his seven years at the helm in his first stint.

Now, it would appear he finds his future on the line and hitched to the club’s promotion attempt this time - apparently, deliver or else.

Moore returned to take charge of the Millers 18 months ago and he was desperate to make a success of the job at a club where he had enjoyed so much success previously.

He arrived in the summer of 1980 for £100,000 from Cardiff City, a blond-haired striker who’d endured such a barren spell in front of goal that the Welsh club’s supporters had T-shirts made emblazoned with “I saw Ronnie Moore score” such was the rarity.

They didn’t need those T-shirts when he got to Millmoor. The goals began to flow immediately.

So much so that he led the way as the team, unfancied, swept to promotion (and the title) in what is now League One.

Then, in what is now The Championship, Moore carried on scoring. So much so that he earned the Golden Boot because his 24 goals made him top scorer in the entire division. When he returned as manager in 1997, he did so after massive support calling for him to take over. At the time he was managing non-league Southport.

The club was almost at rock-bottom, just relegated to the bottom division and with only a handful of players. Moore “put the wedge in” stopped the slide and after one failed play-off bid, secured promotion in the third season, 1999/2000.

No one could even have made up what came next. With most followers happy just to stay up, they swept through League One (as is now) and got promotion to The Championship.

When they got there they were just about the hottest favourites for relegation ever. Except Moore had fashioned a big, strong side with a great spirit which loved upsetting the odds.

They surprised many, got as high as sixth, and gave their fans some great times before, almost inevitably, fortunes changed and dipped.

In the end, amidst personal problems well documented at the time, Moore was sacked in January 2005. At that time his support, which at its height was an unquestioned 100 per cent, had waned in some quarters. In a way, it was a sad ending.

He resurfaced at Oldham and then at his old club Tranmere and they were always competitive. When the vacancy arose in September 2009 back at Rotherham, he was desperate to land it - and, impressing Tony Stewart who made him the best interviewee - he did land it.

It was impossible to have the level of support he enjoyed before and it is fair to say, the greeting was mixed although not one of those who didn’t want him back would not hear a word said against him for past achievements.

Those critics are convinced he should have maintained the automatic challenge last season (top when he took over in September) but it ended in the Play-off near miss.

This time, with chairman Stewart placing the expectation bar at a high level, it had to be promotion. Going in to January, they were 2nd. But the subsequent slide has seen them become one of several in the play-off mix.

Speculation has grown that it is promotion this time or else come May. After recent results (particularly away from home) and performances, topped by the 5-0 debacle at Chesterfield on Friday, the speculation rose that his future may be under even closer scrutiny this week.