THE relationship of Rotherham United's players off the pitch has been a main contributor to their success on it, according to boss Paul Warne.
The Millers head to top-of-the-table Shrewsbury tomorrow looking to extend their fine form to 13 games unbeaten and earn their sixth win on the spin.
And for manager Warne, who will be up against his old Rotherham team mate Paul Hurst in the dugout, vital team bonding over the festive period played a big part in their upturn in results.
He told the Advertiser: “If you had said to me in December that we’d go and win nine and draw three that would have seemed pretty improbable.
“It’s seems pretty improbable for any team, but especially with the run we were on.
“There was a lot of doom and gloom, I never thought we were that bad.
“Since Christmas time, the lads had a Christmas do and they were a lot closer after it, as daft as that sounds.
“We changed the way we play, we probably made it an easier way to play.”
Millers celebrate after Blackpool victory, their first win on the current unbeaten run.
The beginning of the long unbeaten run started on the back of three consecutive defeats in late November and early December, and Warne says that the amount of victories has taken him by surprise.
“It doesn’t surprise me the performance level is up there,” said Warne. “But to pick up as many results and wins surprises me.”
“If you look back, we’ve had a few close games and normally you’re not fortunate enough to be on the good side of that.
“I’m not saying we didn’t deserve to be but we’ve been on the fortunate side of a few results. The lads’ work ethic has been great.
“The amount of wins has surprised me.”
The only injury worry for Warne ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Montgomery Waters Stadium is left back Joe Mattock, who was substituted as a precaution late in the first half of Tuesday’s win over Oxford with tightness in his hamstring.
If he isn’t deemed fit enough to play, Warne will have to choose between centre back Michael Ihiekwe, who replaced Mattock, or fellow left back Ben Purrington, to fill the void.
You can follow all the action from Shrewsbury as it happens on our live blog.