PREVIEW: SWFC vs Rotherham United

There is no underestimating the importance of tonight’s game.

With new manager Darren Moore at the helm, the Owls host a Rotherham side who have lost their last five. 

Wednesday simply have to collect all three points if they are to keep a fighting chance of safety. After the 3-0 embarrassment in the reverse fixture, the Owls cannot afford such a drab showing.

Hopefully, the arrival of Darren Moore will give the squad a much-needed impetus and rejuvenate what is looking like a very disappointing season. We often see a ‘new manager bounce’, and whilst many dispute such an effect is actually real, Wednesday could really do with one.

The Millers, as mentioned, are in a real rut of form. Not only have they lost their last five, but they have failed to score in their last four (granted this run has included three of the top six). Rotherham’s biggest issue is their defence, the third-worst in the league after Huddersfield Town and Wycombe Wanderers. United have conceded an average of 1.4 goals per game and 42 goals in total. They have collected a league-bottoming 6 clean sheets, a measly figure.

At the other end of the pitch, they’ve notched ten more goals than the Owls, with 33. Their top scorer is 29 year old Michael Smith who has found the back of the net a total of 7 times. 

In terms of the Owls, it’s difficult to predict how they will line up. It’s been made no secret that Moore has somewhat of a preference for the 4-2-3-1 formation yet, with Wednesday’s unbalanced squad, is it a system that can be implemented?

I believe that it can. 

My Starting XI – Wildsmith; Urhoghide, Lees, Borner, Penney; Hutchinson, Bannan; Harris, Brown, Reach; Windass

Score Prediction – 2-0 Wednesday. As explained in my piece on Darren Moore (which you can find here), Wednesday’s new boss has proved he can provide an instant lift to the team. The players will know more than anyone what is at stake today. Add in the fact that they will want to impress Moore and there is no reason why the Owls shouldn’t collect all three points. One thing’s for sure though: it won’t be easy.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to @The_RUFC about all things Rotherham United and what we can expect from their side…

How would you rate your January transfer window – did you strengthen enough?

We got a couple of loans in with Ryan Giles and Lewis Wing who had an immediate impact. We’ve been cursed with injuries of late and so with the bad run of form, fans are starting to point at the lack of investment in January. Personally speaking, we’re only allowed a squad of 25 and given our budget, I’m not sure there’s more we could have done.

Which players do Wednesday need to keep their eyes on?

The Championship’s January Player of the Month Matt Crooks will stand out, namely because he’s 6 foot 5 and plays the number 10 role. Him and big striker Michael Smith are key to the way we play, with plenty of high balls in the box.

Matt Crooks in action. Image: yorkshirepost.co.uk

If you could bring one Wednesday player to Rotherham United, who would it be and why?

I’ve always liked Barry Bannan as a player, though he’s probably on more money than our squad combined!

How would you describe Paul Warne’s tenure at the club?

Warne’s tenure has had its ups and downs…mainly from the Championship to League One and back again! Given the state he took over and the squad and the budget we operate on, I’m not sure there’s anyone who could have done better. Also, he loves the club – I’m not sure many other managers were spending every Saturday evening during the first lockdown hosting a zoom quiz for fans!

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

It’ll go to the wire. We still have to play all the teams around us, so it really will depend on those crunch games.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Head says 0-0, heart says 2-1 Millers win with an injury-time winner in front of the Kop…for old time’s sake!

Many thanks to @The_RUFC for answering the questions, and good luck to the Millers for the rest of the season (just not tonight!)

UTO!

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