How Ollie Rathbone backed Matt Taylor in former Rotherham United's boss's hour of need

Ollie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United at Watford. Picture: Jim BrailsfordOllie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United at Watford. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Ollie Rathbone in action for Rotherham United at Watford. Picture: Jim Brailsford
OLLIE Rathbone volunteered to be the dressing-room spokesman and underline Rotherham United players' support for Matt Taylor in the hours leading up to the manager's sacking.

The Millers were beaten 5-0 by Watford last Saturday in a Championship clash at Vicarage Road and the boss was informed by the club a day later that he had lost the job he had held for 13 months.

Rathbone felt so strongly that the fact the squad was united behind the 41-year-should be made public that he asked to be given after-match media duties so he could deliver the message in person.

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Unaware that the axe would soon fall on his boss, the midfielder told the Advertiser: “We are all with him. I feel sorry for him in a lot of aspects. He's doing everything he can.

“We're leaving no stone unturned. We're just lacking real quality in depth to really compete against the top teams in this division, especially away from home.”

Rotherham's form on their travels - one draw and seven losses in eight matches - is the main reason why they are sitting third from bottom in the table after 16 games of the campaign.

Taylor enjoyed a season of success last term as he kept the Millers up and Rathbone drew a comparison with Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom who led his side into the top flight at the same time and is now under pressure because the Blades are in the drop zone.

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“Paul Heckingbottom has not turned into a bad manager in a matter of weeks,” he said.

“Sheffield United romped to promotion and now they're finding it difficult in the Premier League just because the gap is too big.”

Injury-hit Rotherham face a similar obstacle at their own level.

Financially, they are arguably the best-run outfit in the division but simply don't have the spending power of the much bigger clubs they come up against.

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“We're all together as a group in the changing room,” Rathbone said.

“The effort is there, we're squeezing everything we can out of the team, out of the players we've got available.

"It's just not enough at the moment when we come up against sides of Watford's calibre.”

Some supporters called for Taylor's head during the contest and there were boos at the interval, when the Millers trailed 2-0, and at the final whistle after the Hornets had added three more goals.

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Rathbone empathised with suffering supporters who'd made the three-hour journey to Hertfordshire but admitted their reaction had left the team feeling wounded.

“It's understandable but it hurts,” he said. “We're entertainers at the end of the day. We kind of provide a service and everything we do is geared towards that.

“The people who've spent their hard-earned money, we want them to go away happy and cheering.

“It's like a dagger through the heart when we go to applaud them and see them disappointed. It's completely fair on their part. They've travelled a long way.”

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He pledged that the players would stand up and fight in a bid to remain in the second tier again.

“We're not resting on our laurels," he said. “We don't think we're going to be fine, we're fully aware of the situation we're in, we're fully aware that every game is a dog-fight. We'll continue to give everything all season.”

Meanwhile, one of Taylor’s parting shots was to come to the defence of young loan right-back Dexter Lembikisa after both of Watford’s opening goals had come down his flank.

“Dexter is a young kid, I can't hang him out to dry,” the then-boss said. “The team's got to help him in those moments. We've also got centre-halves who can defend the box better than they did.”