What Rotherham United boss Leam Richardson told Tony Stewart in a meeting with the chairman

IT took Leam Richardson less than a month to lay it on the line with chairman Tony Stewart why Rotherham United were bottom of the Championship and heading for relegation.

The former Wigan Athletic manager was appointed in December when the Millers were already eight points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship and he had been warned by the club's owner about the problems he would inherit.

Richardson, who had done well at previous teams in a managerial capacity, was quick to assess the situation and was soon getting together with Stewart to deliver his verdict.

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“I had a meeting with the chairman two or three weeks into the job and I told him exactly my thoughts: how the club needs to be built, how it needs to move forward,” he said. “I've done it a few times elsewhere very successfully.

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

“I try to be as open and honest as I can because I think people appreciate that. Then they can be proactive and do something about it.

“The chairman wants honesty, he doesn't want surprises, he wants to know exactly what's going on at his club and how he can maintain it and build it.”

The new boss sparked an improvement, even though the gap to survival continued to grow. However, there has been a marked downturn this month during which some players who are set to leave the club at the end of the season have let their standards slip.

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“The worst thing is, it's become apparent exactly what we spoke about,” the new boss said.

The Millers have over-achieved by spending seven of the last ten seasons in the second tier and Richardson believes they can come good again as long as they have the right plans in place.

“As a club, the best thing to do is to be proactive,” he said. “Once you're a reactive club, you make bad decisions on top of bad decisions.

“We all know clubs around the pyramid that are very astutely run. They are proactive. Rotherham have been that for many years under the stewardship of the chairman. We need to get back to that.”

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Paul Warne's six-year reign had encompassed three Championship relegations and three League One promotions before the arrival in October 2022 of Matt Taylor who built on the good work by keeping the Millers in the Championship last term.

Things went badly wrong this season, resulting in Taylor losing his job after only 13 months in charge.

Richardson is confident he can engineer a revival if he is given the chance in the summer to bring in his own players and instigate a raft of improvements he has already outlined to Stewart.

“I've been doing this job for a long time and I'll be judged at the end of my tenure, whenever that may be,” he said.

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“We're nowhere near the levels and standards we want to be at. At the minute, it's nowhere near good enough. Come a period of time, I'm sure it will be.”

After two 5-0 away losses in five days, at Coventry City and Norwich City, Rotherham are back on home turf tomorrow when they face Huddersfield Town and Richardson is calling for his side to respond to recent adversity.

“We've got to, haven't we,” the head coach said. “It was a very, very disappointing week for everyone involved, certainly for the fans who travelled. There's no hiding away from it. We've got to take full accountability.

“The good thing about football is that there's always an opportunity around the corner to give a strong account of yourselves. We have to do that on Saturday.”