WalesOnline: Rotherham United Scout Report

Part of weekly feature for WalesOnline, see original article here.

Neil Warnock takes on one of his former clubs for the second time in a week as his Cardiff City side welcome strugglers Rotherham United to the Welsh capital on Saturday.

The hosts will be brimming with confidence ahead of their clash with the Millers having secured stunning back-to-back away victories over Leeds United and Derby County.

But what do we know about the opposition?

Here we take a closer look…

Neil Warnock celebrates with the fans after beating Derby County (Photo: Getty Images)

Style of Play

Embroiled in a relegation fight, it is only natural that Rotherham play directly and look to reap the rewards of long balls. Indeed, they average 78 long balls per game. Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison may have sore heads come Sunday morning.

Much like Cardiff, Rotherham will concede possession, sit back and allow the opposition to unpick their defence. Rotherham thus present a unique challenge for the Bluebirds as they will permit City to control the game.

Warnock will have to rely on the savviness and invention of his forward men and instruct his midfielders to be confident in their passing and resist the instinct to heave it up field.

When Rotherham do attack, they look to utilise crosses and set pieces. But, with the Bluebirds yet to concede through a set piece since Warnock took over, it seems unlikely that the City defence would yield to such pressure.

Rotherham’s Danny Ward in action against Fulham

Danger Man

Danny Ward

The subject of numerous bids during the latest transfer window, Danny Ward is a clear talent. The striker has nine goals and two assists in the league this season and likes to try his luck from relative distance, rather than looking to pounce inside the six-yard box.

Ward will attempt to make a yard of space and work an opportunity in-and-around the penalty area, meaning the City defence will have to be touch-tight if they are to protect goalkeeper Alan McGregor.

Manager

Following the exit of Kenny Jackett in late October, Paul Warne took the helm of a sinking ship. Unfortunately for Rotherham, Warne’s introduction has done little to change the fortunes.

Appointed as interim manager, it remains unlikely that Warne will take the job on a permanent basis. He has complained of “not sleeping for a month” and has admitted bursting into tears during team talks as his team’s plight have taken a heavy toll.

Of course, Neil Warnock was in charge of Rotherham last season and completed a miracle turnaround of Lazarus proportions by keeping them up; leading them to an 11-match unbeaten streak during his 16 game spell as Rotherham preserved their Championship status.

Warnock left on amiable terms, citing the need for stability at the club and praising the chairman. Despite such affection, the veteran boss will certainly not show any leniency for his former club and give Rotherham an easy-ride on Saturday.

Weakness

The Millers look doomed for League One football next term, and it’s no surprise. They have conceded 68 goals and are among the lowest scorers in the Championship, and you don’t need to be a statistician to work out that this isn’t a recipe for success.

Warne’s side are clearly vulnerable at the back, with set-pieces representing their biggest fault line. As such, this is the perfect opportunity to recall Peter Whittingham. Despite the perpetual controversy surrounding his importance to the team, Whittingham’s set-piece delivery could be vital and it is likely he will be included for this reason.

Letting in an average of two goals a game clearly indicates disorganisation at the back. Rotherham’s defence rarely cut an organised and disciplined form and can be peeled open by an incisive through balls. Warnock might be tempted to start Rhys Healey, as the crafty striker thrives on running in behind defences.

Cardiff currently have two players on loan at Rotherham, Tom Adeyemi and Semi Ajayi. Both players have made a discernible impact since joining. Adeyemi has netted four times and turned provider twice, whilst Ajayi has played every minute since joining in January. Both players will be unavailable for Rotherham when they travel to Cardiff and the vital roles they have moulded for themselves at the Yorkshire club will surely be missed.

If Cardiff play with the same attacking intensity and efficiency they demonstrated against Derby County on Tuesday, they will surely have enough fire-power to wrestle their way through the Rotherham defence.

Semi Ajayi in action for Cardiff City
Semi Ajayi in action for Cardiff City

WalesOnline Prediction

Although Cardiff will be asked to adopt a different style than one they are used to playing, the Bluebirds should have enough quality to make it three consecutive wins.

Rotherham have failed to win a single game on the road this season and it would be surprising if that record changed on Saturday.

If Cardiff score early-on it would remain a question of how many – a luxury Cardiff fans have not be used to recently – rather than an anxiety about holding onto the lead.

It is difficult to see Warnock’s team coming up short, given the vein of form they are in, and this match appears to be a formality for a rejuvenated City side.

Prediction: 2-0 Cardiff.

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