Friday, 2 January 2015

Cherry Chimes talks to It's Miller's Time

Rival Lines
FA Cup Third Round
Rotherham Utd v AFCB
Match Preview
Blogger Interview: It's Millers time

I had a chat with Jonathan Veal who runs the Rotherham blog It's Millers time ahead of the FA Cup third round clash at the New York stadium. The Millers have started to stabilise their place in the league, while the Cherries lead the way, but who know what could happen in a cup game when some of the regular starters are not involved?

CC: Steve Evans is a larger than life figure but how highly do Rotherham fans rate him as a manager?

IMT: Having taken Rotherham from the bottom tier to the Championship in two seasons, playing an attractive and positive brand of football along the way, Evans is always going to have a high stock with fans. Yes he has his flaws, tactical and otherwise, but fans have really embraced him and everything he brings with it.

CC: At the time of writing only Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday have scored less goals than Rotherham is that a worry?

IMT: Of course, that has been the main problem for the Millers this season, highlighted in Sunday's draw at Blackpool where a host of missed chances came back to bite them as they could not hold on to a lead. Creating opportunities hasn't been a problem, but putting them away has and so far that is the difference between a potential relegation fight and mid-table safety.

CC: Ben Pringle in midfield looks quite a talent are you confident of keeping hold of him?

IMT: Pringle was one of the stars of last season but on the whole has found the step up in level tough. He has been played out of position for a few games, but he is just not having the impact he used to have last season. That said, he can be out of the game completely and then whip in a killer ball with his magic left foot and everyone is wowing. He always works hard and gives his all but I think most people would like to see more from him. So yes, very confident he'll be there at the end of January.

CC: Who else should we look out for as possible match winners in the Rotherham team?

IMT: Tom Lawrence has been an impressive recent loan recruit from Leicester. He has the ability to turn players, has a great touch and gets into good positions. He just needs to add some goals to his game and then he will be heading back to the Premier League.

CC: Are you surprised how well Wolves and Brentford have done having come up with Rotherham last season?

IMT: Not really. Perhaps it's a little surprising that Brentford are as high up in the division as they are, but I expected both to be comfortable in this league. Brentford have spent a lot of money and brought some very good players in while Wolves were always going to have the resources to do well.

CC: How big was the win away against Wigan for the Millers - first win in last 10 games?

IMT: It was vital. Steve Evans had been saying how well his team had been playing, which was true, but it doesn't mean too much if you aren't getting the results to back it up. So it was nice to end the drought and more importantly it put further space between them and Wigan who will probably come up the league in the second half of the season. Now they have further to go to catch the Millers.

CC: What match has seen the best performance for Rotherham this season?

IMT: The best all-round performance was probably in the 2-0 win over Blackburn. The Millers bossed it from the start and it was a comfortable victory and made you think that they belonged in the division. Then the second-half display against Leeds was very good. That was a typical Steve Evans performance and turned round a half-time deficit against local rivals on telly.

CC: Rotherham had an excellent last minute draw at Bournemouth earlier in the season in the league, but you have had too many draws really haven't you?

IMT: Far too many, 11 in fact, which equates to 46 per cent. It's a bit of a hard luck story but not many of those draws were stolen points either. Perhaps at Bournemouth and against Huddersfield. Most of the others were in games where the Millers dominated but did not have the firepower or killer instinct to get a decisive goal, which takes us back to the point earlier about lack of goals. Evans says that any day in the Championship where you get a point is a 'good day' but some of the draws over the last few weeks, particularly two against Blackpool were not good days and highlighted further where the Millers problems lie.

CC: Are there any injured players that might miss the Bournemouth FA Cup match?

IMT: There's a few. Frazer Richardson, Kirk Broadfoot and Rob Milsom. None of them would have played anyway. There maybe plenty more absentees though if the four loanees in the team are denied permission to play.

CC: What happened in the FA Cup last season for the Millers and would you consider a win against AFCB a big result?

IMT: It was a flop, as per usual for the Millers. They beat Bradford at home in the first round handsomely but then lost to Rochdale in the next round. Over by before Christmas. Well, considering Bournemouth's position then it would have to be classed as a big result. I'm sure it's not a fixture Cherries fans are exactly licking their lips over, but give the choice of a win on Saturday or a fortnight later in the league and everyone (in both camps) would say the league.

CC: The New York stadium is one of the newest football stadium's in the country having opened in 2012, so what can AFCB supporters expect to find when they get there?

IMT: They can expect a top-class state-of-the-art stadium, but one that can be a hot-bed of noise and atmosphere. The way it was built is conducive to creating lots of noise with the steep terracing. It will be a good day out for any fans that come.

CC: Finally which fixture are you most looking forward to in 2015 and why?

IMT: There's a lot of exciting fixtures for the Millers. The home game with Sheffield Wednesday will be special because of the local rivalry and then they end the season at Leeds, where hopefully they will be celebrating staying the second tier.

CC: Thanks for your comments Jon. I do agree that the league is the priority for both teams but I expect both sets of supporters would welcome a cup run. The fixture is not probably kind to either team, but for the winner there will be plenty of excitement to be had in the following round and I hope that both teams get down to play some good football on the day. For AFCB fans making the long trip up, they will want to see a performance so don't expect the Cherries to take this too lightly even if Eddie Howe rests a few first team players.

Make sure you check out Jonathan's blog - It's Millers time.

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