Richie Smallwood talks to www.themillers.co.uk...Combative midfielder Richie Smallwood believes his Rotherham United side have to make the AESSEAL New York Stadium a graveyard for Championship heavyweights if their ambitions are to be realised.
Despite looking odds-on certainties for the drop in the latter part of last season’s campaign, the Millers’ fight for survival was centred around some eye-catching home victories, with the likes of Middlesbrough and Leeds United leaving with the tails well and truly between their legs.
With the likes of Premier League elect Newcastle United and Aston Villa expected to visit the AESSEAL New York Stadium during the course of this year’s campaign, Millers fans will be licking their lips over the prospect of upsetting the Championship applecart once again.
Speaking exclusively to the Millers’ official matchday programme ahead of today’s season home opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Smallwood insists it is important his side make their home turf a fortress once again.
“We like the big teams, especially when they come here, as it seems to bring the best out of us,” Smallwood remarked.
“You want to play the big teams but when you play them, you hope they are having an off day and that’s what we will be hoping for.
“The division is getting harder with the big teams coming down but we are looking forward to it.
“Newcastle have just sold one player for £25 million and they’ve got some great players so we’ve got to be wary of them.
“The quality is obviously there throughout the division and it will be a good test for us.”
Smallwood, who alongside club skipper Lee Frecklington, are the last remaining members of the Millers squad, who took the club into England’s second tier in the most dramatic of circumstances at Wembley three seasons ago is keen to make himself integral to Alan Stubbs' midfield this season and help the Millers better their finish in 2015/16.
“I’ve played near and enough every game for the last couple of seasons, so I’m looking to do that again but as a team, we want to kick on and improve on what we did last year."