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Friday, September 25, 2009

Millers go back for Moore

The managerial merry-go round came around full circle yesterday as Ronnie Moore returned as boss at Rotherham United.

The 56-year-old spent eight years with the South Yorkshire club, taking them from the basement division to the Championship and keeping them there before his departure in 2005.

Now, with the Millers back in the fourth tier, he has been lured back by the task of taking them up the pyramid once again.

It's a return to the game that won't surprise many though.

Despite leaving the club bottom of the Championship with relegation inevitable, fans recognised Moore's efforts in first getting them there, and then making a small club punch above their weight for so long.

So, when Mark Robins, who played under Moore, departed to Barnsley, he was the overwhelming choice amongst fans to return. However, whilst United are third in the division and looking strong promotion contenders, it remains a risky move for the Liverpudlian.

Failure to win a promotion most expected Robins would have delivered would tarnish his reputation at the club. Golden memories count for little at 5pm on a Saturday when three points have been lost.

It would also fuel the critics who believe that managers should never return to a club where they've enjoyed previous sucess. For a manager whose teams play the percentage game, Moore is taking a bit of a gamble.

Indeed, his reputation has been built on producing hard-working, uncompromising sides - difficult to play against, and sometimes difficult to watch. His departure from Oldham in the summer of 2006 was blamed on fans not taking to him and poor season ticket sales, despite a 10th placed finish.

Then a return to his spiritual home, Tranmere, saw Rovers secure top half finishes for three successive seasons, only missing out on the play-offs on the final day of last season.

His shock sacking in June was met with incredulity from those in the game. The current failure of his replacement, John Barnes, only serving to confirm what many believed to have been a poor decision on the Wirral.

Moore won successive promotions with Rotherham in his first spell at the club

However, Moore's return to Rotherham is not wholly straightforward. He has always been a manager who has preferred to build his own side. Will he be smart enough to sacrifice his preferred 4-3-3 system and direct football to continue the good work Robins was doing with the current crop of players at Rotherham?

A quick glance towards Prenton Park and his old club should be enough to convince him that a style that suits the players, not the manager, is the way to success.

Moore, a typically old-fashioned manager, should place faith in that old adage about not fixing unbroken things. Instead, a passionate and infusive character, he should be able to inspire a honeymoon period for the Millers as he settles back into things.

If the team who currently play at Sheffield's Don Valley athletics stadium can hit the ground running under their new manager, then
their promising early form and promotion hopes can be further strengthened.

On leaving the club four years ago he declared that Rotherham "would always have a place in my heart." When he leaves a second time, he must hope they'll still have a place in theirs for him.


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