WITH Rotherham United’s Championship campaign set to get underway again against Ipswich this weekend, there is no doubt that one of the trademarks of the season so far is their ability to fight till the end.
It is fair to say that you would be a brave Millers fan to vacate your seat before the final whistle – with Paul Warne's side becoming the past masters of notching a late winner or dramatic equaliser, as the likes of Swansea City, Sheffield United and Reading would testify in recent months.
Midfield dynamo Will Vaulks backs up the never-say-die side never know when they are beaten attitude especially on their home turf, by stressing that their uncanny knack of earning points against all the odds is what sets Warne’s band of brothers apart from the last time the Millers tasted Championship football two seasons ago.
“It was something that was perhaps lacking at the club when I first came,” Vaulks stressed.
“I found it really frustrating when I first came. To have that now here is brilliant. You look around and you have players that are going to lift you and you feel like you are always in with a shout.
“Something we have learned this season is to stay in games and we’ve got the ability to score late on because I think we are fitter than every team in this league.”
It’s no coincidence that Warne’s background as a fitness coach is embodied as one of the core principles of his managerial philosophy – with the Millers clearly intent on pressing their opponents high up the pitch, while maintaining the pace and intensity of their play for large spells of their home Championship encounters.
While the Millers may often have to concede vast swathes of possession at the hands of, arguably, technically-superior opponents, Vaulks revealed that his side often come into their own late in games because of their impressive fitness levels – although he admits this is less of an advantage in England’s second tier.
“We were the fittest or if not, one of the fittest sides in League One but the step up into the Championship is there for all to see,” Vaulks added.
“Players earn more money, live better while club’s hire better chefs, nutritionists, gyms etc, so Championship players tend to be a lot fitter, but we’ve got to be up there with the top fitness teams because of the amount of times we score late in games, it’s no coincidence. If we are behind with 10 minutes to go, we tend to get back in games.”
With the Millers taking a break from league action last weekend for the FA Cup showdown with Manchester City, focus now firmly switches back to the league and a trip to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town.
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