It has been quite the turnaround for Rotherham United in recent years. Financial trouble saw the club struggling in League Two before back-to-back promotions had the Millers promoted to the Championship for the first time since 2005. Steve Evans’ men were odds on favourites to be relegated this season but some fantastic victories have left the club in 19th place, three points above the drop zone with every chance of a remarkable survival.
Rotherham’s revival stemmed from a turbulent period in the club’s history. The 2006/07 season saw the Millers relegated from League One following a ten point deduction for entering administration and narrowly missing out on liquidation. They re-entered administration the following season and were deducted a further ten points, which halted an immediate return to the third tier. In 2008/09, Rotherham were dealt a double blow, being kicked out of their Millmoor stadium and docked 17 points.
Despite this enormous penalty, the club were fighting for a play-off place but missed out by finishing mid-table. Three more disappointing seasons in England’s fourth tier followed before finally securing promotion in 2013. Steve Evans – who had taken over in April 2012 – guided his team to League One after the club were playing in Rotherham again, in the newly built New York Stadium.
The 2013/14 was a season fans won’t be forgetting in a hurry. A 16 match unbeaten spell during the second half of the season saw the club finish fourth and enter the play-offs. The semi-final against Preston ended 1-1 after the first leg and a fantastic 3-1 victory in the second saw Rotherham win a place in the final. Leyton Orient went into the second half of the final 2-0 up before an excellent come back by Rotherham meant that the match ended 2-2 and needed penalties to decide who would be playing Championship football. Rotherham nicked it 4-3 and rounded off an unbelievable turnaround from nearly going out of business to promotion to the Championship in the space of just a few years.
This season has seen the side struggle for the majority of the season but, nonetheless, have put in spirited displays that currently see the team keeping their heads above water. Fantastic results against Bolton and Ipswich show how tough it can be to beat Rotherham at home and it is this home form that could prove to be the difference between survival and relegation. This is also reinforced by a poor away record, which has only seem them win twice away from the New York Stadium all season.
Evans has made his team hard to beat but Rotherham were always going to be in the bottom half of the table due to a lack of financial muscle compared to pretty much the rest of the division. This is why they had to sell last season’s top scorer Kieran Agard to League One Bristol City, with Agard more than happy to join a team a division below.
Despite all this, Rotherham have given themselves a great chance of survival, which would be a tremendous achievement given all that has happened in recent times.