ALEX Ferguson always said that winning a title was the easy bit. Going again and defending it was the tough part. The element of surprise is gone. Everyone takes you that bit more seriously. And the motivation to put everything on the line maybe just dips a touch.
He was talking about winning the Premier League, but many of the same problems face clubs who win promotion.
You come up on the crest of a wave, fight tooth and nail to stay up. Then the adrenaline wears off. Promoted clubs always seem to suffer from second season syndrome – and for Rotherham that spells bad news.
The Millers stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year and, having watched them lose 2-1 at Brighton this week, I’m not optimistic of a repeat.
They didn’t keep the ball well enough. They don’t carry a threat. They’ve lost their most dangerous player in Ben Pringle, who was cherry-picked by Fulham in the summer.
And even at this early stage in the season, they seem to be going away from home and putting everybody behind the ball, just trying to stay in games.
Making things untidy, getting physical and going for the smash and grab is fine every now and then, but you’ll get found out over 46 matches.
I also worry what kind of impact Steve Evans’ decision to strip Greg Halford of the captaincy will have on morale.
Evans brought him in. Evans made him captain. Then seven games later he says, ‘Sorry, I’m handing it to Lee Frecklington’. What kind of message does that send out?
If Halford had gone out and got drunk, beaten somebody up or got arrested, fair play. But as a way of rectifying the results, it just makes the manager look like he’s clutching at straws.
Rotherham gave it a go, but they never looked confident at the Amex. They haven’t won all season. They’ve got the joint-worst defensive record in the Championship.
They conceded four against QPR, four against MK Dons on the first day of the season. Three against Fulham. That affects the defence and against Brighton it was amazing how many times the players just switched off.
Danny Collins was a prime example. He’s a very competent defender but it’s clear his confidence has been battered.
But the biggest thing for me is the opposition. When you look around the Championship, who is bad enough to save them?
There’s no crisis club like Blackpool. No fallen giant like Wigan, struggling to shift players on Premier League wages.
Given that Rotherham haven’t improved – and Evans was saying after the match that the funds won’t be there to invest in quality this season – I just don’t see how they can finish above three other teams.
In short, then, they’ve lost their best player, they struggle to score, they concede bad goals and confidence is shot. I can only see it ending one way.