Why Cardiff City is a much bigger game for Rotherham United than you might think ... David Rawson's Advertiser fan column

Advertiser columnist David RawsonAdvertiser columnist David Rawson
Advertiser columnist David Rawson
WANT the hottest of hot takes?

How about this? Rotherham United’s entire season hinges on the outcome of Cardiff away.

Go on: hear me out.

First, we’re agreed that the last two away performances have plumbed new depths of inadequacy, right?

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Huddersfield was frustrating, a side playing beneath its potential, leaking away the momentum of the Norwich victory.

Millwall was … what was Millwall? A performance of a team that hadn’t realised it was playing that evening and was cobbled together from whoever could get there at the last minute. Some of whom were meeting for the first time. And made a bad first impression on each other. A performance to suck the life out of a season, to make you fundamentally reappraise your entire view of what might be possible.

Second, Preston was persuasive but not conclusive. They were robust, solid, effective. We matched them, battled them, scrapped them, limited them. They could easily have had three, without really doing much. On chances made, we could easily have had none, despite the immense effort we put in. If the same rules applied as against Leicester, their goal wouldn’t have stood. If Johansson wasn’t the best goalkeeper we’ve probably ever had, they’d have won comfortably.

Listen to the home crowd. An odd sound, the slightly restless murmur of the undecided. The sound of 8,000-odd people sitting on the fence. Are we buying it, this attempt to play the division at a somewhat limited version of its own game? Yeah, we’re decently competitive at home, but that’s kind of priced in. We want to believe, but we also saw the last two matches, and we’re not sure that belief is really justified.

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And this is why Cardiff matters.Another capitulation, another slumpy mess of a performance and it’s likely that we’ll need to win two on the bounce to pull out of the relegation zone. We’d be in full scrap mode. And while we’ve got some scrappers (hello, Jordan), we’re not a very scrappy team. It could get ugly, fast.

Win at Cardiff, though, or even avoid defeat with a performance that doesn’t look like 11 lads dragged off the street at random, and that Preston point looks much better. You can start to tell a story of how, as injuries clear, we might build towards something exciting.

Of course, there’s a bigger picture. Of course, one game isn’t the be all and end all. But it feels like everything’s poised. A push, either way, and the course is set.

Cardiff’s a bigger game than it looks.