Middlesbrough are the last team to face Paul Warne’s Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium in the final game in the Sky Bet Championship 2018/19 regular season. Here, we take a look at who the Millers will be facing in our opposition analysis…
In the Dugout
Tony Pulis will be the man in the dugout for Middlesbrough on Sunday. The 61-year old had a 17 year playing career as a defender, starting in the youth academies at Newport YMCA and Bristol Rovers. After making his debut for Bristol Rovers, he also represented Newport County, Bournemouth and Gillingham Town as well as spending time at Happy Valley in Hong Kong. As a player he won one title, the Football League Third Division title with Bournemouth in the 1986-87 season.
As a manager, Pulis has managed a variety of clubs since starting at Bournemouth in 1992. He has taken charge of Gillingham, Bristol City, Portsmouth, Stoke City, Plymouth Argyle, Crystal Palace and West Brom, before joining Middlesbrough in 2017. As a manager, Pulis has two promotions on his CV, one with Gillingham as runner up in 1996 in the Third Division and in another in the Championship with Stoke City as runner-ups in 2008. He also guided Stoke to an FA Cup final in 2011 and was inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame 2016/17.
Middlesbrough currently sit in seventh position, one point off sixth placed Derby County in the Play-offs. Boro have the second best defensive record in the league, conceding only 40 goals this season which is only bettered by Sheffield United, who have let in 39.
In their last five games, Middlesbrough have won four, losing the other 3-0 away to Nottingham Forest. In those five games, Boro have scored six goals and conceded four, keeping three clean sheets in the process. Their last game was a 2-1 victory over Reading which saw them come from 1-0 down to take maximum points. Danny Loader opened the scoring for the Royals before goals from Lewis Wing and Britt Assombalonga gave Middlesborough all three points.
This is the 38th meeting between the sides with the first one being in the League Division Two in September 1954, with the Millers winning 3-0. Middlesbrough have won 19 of these fixtures while the Millers have won 10, with there being eight draws. In the last 13 games between the sides, Rotherham have only won once, winning 1-0 in March 2016 courtesy of a goal from Lee Frecklington. The last game was a 0-0 draw away at Middlesbrough in October 2018 earlier this season.
Ones to Watch
Our Ones to Watch start with Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper Darren Randolph. The 31-year old started at Ardmore Rovers before moving to Charlton Athletic in 2003. He has since represented a variety of clubs including West Ham United in the Premier League and Motherwell in Scotland. He has been named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year for this season after an impressive season.
In defence, experienced centre-half Ryan Shotton has been ever-present for Middlesbrough this season. The 30-year old started at Stoke City and has represented Wigan, Derby and Birmingham City in his career and was part of the Stoke team that reached the 2011 FA Cup final. The former Stoke City Young Player of the Season winner joined Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee in August 2017 from Birmingham City.
In midfield, John Obi-Mikel will be looking to help Boro push into the play-offs to add to his trophy cabinet. The 32-year old Nigeria international made 374 appearances for Chelsea in his career, winning nine major honours after 11 seasons with the Blues, including two Premier League titles and the Champions League. The former African Cup of Nations winner joined Middlesbrough in 2018 after a spell in China with Tianjin TEDA.
Upfront, Britt Assombalonga is a striker in form at the moment. The 26-year old Congolese international has scored 13 goals this season and has scored three in his last five matches. The forward started at Watford and had spells at Wealdstone, Braintree, Southend, Peterborough and Nottingham Forest before joining Boro in 2017 for a reported club-record fee of £15 million.