Sunderland test, then the January dealing for Rotherham United

ROTHERHAM United are gearing up for the impending transfer window as they head into their final clash of 2023.

The Millers are in Championship action against Sunderland at AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow night, three days before a month of recruitment begins in January.

Head coach Leam Richardson has been in his post for not much more than a fortnight but has already identified his targets as his new club plot a round recruitment that they hope will bolster their battle against the drop.

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“You've got to begin that process as soon as you come through the door,” said the man who succeeded Matt Taylor on December 11.

Rotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim BrailsfordRotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Rotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim Brailsford

“You're looking at the immediate future and you've also got an eye on the medium- to long-term picture. With games coming thick and fast, it's important we get new faces through the door.

“There won't be any snap decisions. We'll make educated decisions that will be for the good of the person and the club.”

Bottom club Rotherham, who are still plagued by injuries, are halfway through a Christmas spell of four matches in ten days as they seek to close a nine-point gap to safety.

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They won for the first time in 12 fixtures when they beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at New York on Boxing Day.

“It's well known how pivotal the festive period can be,” Richardson said. “Teams can pick up a lot of points and make a surge.

“We're mindful of where we are, we're mindful of how many players we have to select from at the minute. We'll be as competitive as we can be in each and every game.”

Richardson, formerly in charge at Wigan Athletic after a long spell as number two to Paul Cook at Accrington Stanley, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and the Latics, has arrived at New York determined to foster a style of play that will resonate with Millers supporters.

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“I think all my teams have been on the front foot, whether we dominate possession, counter-press or build,” he said. “I think a lot gets dressed up with formations and style of play et cetera, but it's all about getting results.

“You've always got to be mindful of the group you've got and make sure you get the best out of their attributes. That's what we'll do in the short term and I'm sure that from January we'll evolve.”

Sunderland have a new boss in former Queens Park Rangers and Glasgow Rangers chief Michael Beale following the sacking of Tony Mowbray.


One to watch

Jack Clarke started out at Leeds United and ended up permanently at Sunderland in the summer of 2022 after a spell at Tottenham Hotspur. The 23-year-old left winger scored 11 times in 50 appearances and helped the Black Cats reach the Championship play-offs last season. This term he is doing even better and has 11 goals to his name from 25 outings.

Form guide

Millers: DLLLLW

Sunderland: DWWLLW

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The Black Cats gave new boss Michael Beale his first win, 1-0 at Hull City, on Boxing Day.

Recent clashes

Aug 19, 2023, Championship: Sunderland 2 Millers 1

Hakeem Odoffin

Feb 21, 2023, Championship: Millers 2 Sunderland 1

Ollie Rathbone, Shane Ferguson

Aug 31, 2022, Championship: Sunderland 3 Millers 0

Apr 26, 2022, League One: Sunderland 1 Millers 1

Michael Ihiekwe

Oct 30, 2021, League One: Millers 5 Sunderland 1

Michael Smith 2, Freddie Ladapo 2, Ihiekwe

Man in the middle

Tony Harrington has been an EFL referee since 2012 and has also taken charge of Premier League matches for the last two years. The Teesside official is the grandson of former Hartlepool United player Tommy McGuigan and is a Pools supporter. His last experience of Rotherham came against tomorrow's opponents, Sunderland, at the Stadium of Light in August 2022 when the Millers were beaten 3-0.

Rival boss

The Black Cats are under new management, having earlier this month sacked Tony Mowbray, the boss who led them to the Championship play-offs last season and had them in play-off contention this term. The man now at the helm is former Queens Park Rangers and Glasgow Rangers chief Michael Beale. The 43-year-old head coach will be taking charge of only his third Sunderland game when they face the Millers.

The odds

The bookies are going for Sunderland, offering 8/15 on an away victory and 9/2 on a Millers win. Rotherham have five wins and Sunderland 15 from 29 contests between the clubs since 1958.