'A month of drift in a season drifting away': David Rawson's Rotherham United fan column

SOMEWHERE, sometime, something has leached away from us.

It was gone by full-time at Birmingham, though we didn’t know. That display showed some resilience. It was a dignified way for the Matt Taylor era to bow out. Nathan Jones’ appointment offered us hope.

But then he turned us down. The flare of hope sputtered. More interviews on the Monday, Leam Richardson chosen. Decisive stuff. Gave the new man a week to get to know the players, and prepare for two key home games. Good. Grip at last.

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Except Monday became Friday and it became clear that Wayne Carlisle was leading the team into the Swansea match, seemingly as much to his surprise as anyone else’s. We’ve heard next to nothing since Taylor left. Apparently, the playing and coaching staff have heard little more.

Action from Rotherham United's home match against Swansea City. Picture: Jim BrailsfordAction from Rotherham United's home match against Swansea City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Action from Rotherham United's home match against Swansea City. Picture: Jim Brailsford

What, it’s surely fair to ask, is going on?

There’s this weird feeling of vaguely passive drift around the place.

See Daniel Ayala’s two yellows against Swansea. Sort of delaying a throw-in for no really clear reason. Sort of stopping a vaguely possible Swansea attack as if inviting the referee to make a game-changing decision. Neither booking unjustifiable, neither booking unarguable, but with them, the game drifted away.

See also the managerial appointment process. Acting immediately after Watford to give the new man the maximum number of fixtures to work with. Then still no appointment a month on, despite having made a choice. Drift, drift, drift.

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See the performance against Swansea. Keeping a shape, letting them play in front of us, without doing much to knock them off their stride. A team - a club - in a holding pattern. Drift from top to bottom.

And, yes, the referee was an appalling mixture of incompetence, weakness and strutting pomposity. And, yes, their first goal was a handball and we should have had a last-gasp penalty. And, yes, we hung in there.

But it wasn’t us. It was the performance of a team that had long accepted its fate, but wanted to show it retained a bit of pride. It was the performance of a team going through the motions. Drifting towards relegation.

Where was the rage? The frantic, futile desperation fuelled by the horror of defeat in a key game. It wasn’t there. Not on the pitch. Worse, not in the stands.

We should have marched out of the ground, on a wave of injustice. Instead, we drifted away. It felt, sadly, fitting.