Rotherham United assistant manager Richie Barker was on iFollow Millers press duty ahead of Saturday’s clash with Bristol City at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Following back-to-back away fixtures, the Millers will now be looking to capitalise on being back on home soil when the Robins visit South Yorkshire.
On the agenda for Barker were topics including his reflections on Tuesday night’s trip to Watford, adapting tactics and shape for different opponents and the prospects of coming up against Dean Holden’s side this weekend.
You can read the highlights from the interview below, with video content to follow shortly HERE on iFollow Millers.
Barker on his Watford reflections…
“It was a game of two halves, obviously I don’t think we started the game too well and the two goals are avoidable and disappointing from our own point of view. Then we had a spell of 15-20 minutes where we were rocked a little bit.
“For us to go to Watford and get something, everything has to go right. We have to try and stay in the game to start with, we knew that after getting beat by Cardiff at the weekend that they would be a bit of a wounded animal. They are a very good team and one of the favourites to go up, so to be 2-0 down inside 15 minutes, we gave ourselves an uphill task.
“However, to nearly come away with something in the last 15 minutes, I think is testament to the players that they stuck in. I thought they had a more nervous last 20 minutes than they would have wanted.”
Barker on having home fans at Vicarage Road on Tuesday…
“Bizarrely enough it was a little bit strange, that is obviously the first time that we’ve encountered it this season and to just have some noise was nice. It made it feel like an actual football game again, obviously I was disappointed that there were no Rotherham fans in there.
“Turning up to the game and seeing people walking outside felt weird really, but it is a positive start for the footballing world to be able to start getting some people back in again.”
Barker on team news and a hectic fixture schedule…
“As you can imagine, everyone you speak to within the world of football at the moment is speaking about the number of games. We highlighted this spell a couple of months ago. To play the number of games we’re playing at the moment is obviously very difficult.
“When you’re in a little bit of a sticky spell it is difficult, in our run of fixtures we’ve played predominantly promotion chasing sides and that makes it even more difficult. We’re just working as hard as we can to prepare for the next game as thoroughly as we can.”
Barker on everyone playing their part in a mammoth season…
“In the first month when we were playing every Saturday, a few players were looking at us and wondering when they were going to get an opportunity. All of a sudden, six weeks later we have five players injured and we need everybody.
“That will continue I think right up until January, and then hopefully we might be able to make a couple of changes in the squad and maybe at some point get some of them fit again.”
Barker on tactical flexibility for different opponents….
“We decided on the 3-5-2 because of the way Bournemouth played, it was relatively successful so we stuck with it. It’s all about taking each game on its merits really and looking at the opposition and the players we have available and finding out what they best way of approaching the game is.
“Sometimes we’ve played with a 10, sometimes we’ve played with three midfielders. There would be no point spending hours and hours watching football or sending scouts out to games and just us deciding to play the way we want to play.
“I think it is important for people to understand that any system we decide to play is for a reason and that reason is because of the research done on the opposition and the players we have available. We will be doing the same for Bristol City and everyone else we are up against after that.”
Barker on facing Dean Holden’s Bristol City side…
“Firstly, we all know Dean Holden quite well, he’s a really nice guy and we’re pleased that he’s been given an opportunity to get the job having been Lee (Johnson’s) assistant before. It can be difficult to step up from the assistant role and suddenly be the one who has to make all the major decisions.
“He’s been in the top six pretty much all season, which I’m delighted for him about, as well as his two assistants who I also know really well.
“All three of them are really good coaches, they’ll be extremely well organised and I think when you look at the teams they’ve been competing with, all three of them deserved huge credit.”
Barker on come up against former loanee Zak Vyner…
“He’s a brilliant lad and was really popular at this football club. He was quite young when he came here and for him to play week in week out in the Championship in various positions, he obviously learnt a lot in being here and is now one of the first names on the teamsheet in a top six Championship team.
“I have no doubt that the will go on and become a regular Championship player, he’s a lovely person and always willing to learn. He’ll go on to have an excellent career and he’s definitely someone we have fond memories of and regard really highly.”