Manager Paul Warne believes supporters have a key role to play as Rotherham United enter the “pressure keg” of their six-game play-off run-in.
The League One Millers, who are at home to Fleetwood Town tomorrow, have a five-point cushion in fourth spot, but the chasing pack have made up ground in the battle to finish in the top six.
Midtable Fleetwood arrive at AESSEAL New York Stadium unbeaten in six matches under new boss John Sheridan, having won their last four outings and not conceded a goal since March 10.
“The fans have a massive part to play in the next six games,” Warne said. “Football is a much easier game to play when you know the fans are right behind you.
“Without wanting to go to the Champions League to make my point clear, the whole Liverpool v Manchester City thing in midweek (3-0 Liverpool win at Anfield) made it evident what can happen with the right support.
“All the Liverpool players were talking afterwards about the support, and they’re multi-millionaires and some of the best players in the word. Even they were saying what an effect the crowd had on their performance.”
The Millers, after going 14 matches unbeaten, have won only one of their last six fixtures, allowing Peterborough United, Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth and Plymouth Argyle to draw nearer to them.
“It’s just an absolute pressure keg at the moment for everyone,” Warne said. “Being a football manager, you spend your life looking over your shoulder.
“It’s in our hands. We’re five points clear with a good goal difference. The teams that are chasing are thinking: ‘If we don’t win, we’re not going to get there.’ The teams in there are thinking: ‘If we don’t win, they could catch us.’
“I’m aware of the teams chasing us. We don’t discuss it with the players on a regular basis because they obviously see the results and the league table themselves. I’m just trying to focus on what we’re doing. It’s the time of the season when performances don’t matter as much as points. A couple of wins might be enough to get us in.”
Left-back Joe Mattock misses out tomorrow with a hamstring injury but central midfielder Richie Towell is fit to return after a minor hamstring issue of his own. Winger Jon Taylor has a sore knee and is being assessed.
“The lads are fourth in the table for a reason,” Warne said. “I don’t think we peaked during the unbeaten run. We lost on Monday at Charlton who are potentially the best team in the division on their day. We just haven’t been right on song for the last few matches. We’ve got six games to put that right.
“We’ve got to move the ball quickly tomorrow because Fleetwood are brilliant out of possession. If we’re to win, it’s going to take a lot of patience and the support of the fans.”