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Updated by The Millers Reporter on Aug 28, 2021
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Top 5 Positives: 2016/17 Championship Relegation

Here we try to take a look back at some positives from a very dark season for Rotherham United - the 2016/17 Championship relegation year!

1

Danny Ward's performances improved massively

Danny Ward's performances improved massively

Danny Ward was often at the brunt of a lot of frustration from Millers fans during his first year and a half with the club. He always worked hard and showed glimpses of brilliance. But his goal record was poor and looking at some of his performances, he could have done a lot more. Ward is very well-rounded as a player. He is mobile and does not lack pace, but he is also really good in the air. If he could kick on he had the potential to be one of the better strikers in the league. With the Millers struggling on and off the pitch in 2016/17, Ward came into his own. He answered all of his critics emphatically as he carried the team on his own for much of the season. He ended the season as top scorer with 12 goals, and with Rotherham going down, there was bound to be a lot of interest in him. His fine form earned him a move to Cardiff City in the summer. There he won promotion to the Premier League at the end of the following season under Neil Warnock.

2

Jerry Yates scores in his full-debut (2-1 win vs Norwich)

Jerry Yates scores in his full-debut (2-1 win vs Norwich)

With Danny Ward out with a back spasm, Jerry Yates was brought in for his first-ever start for the Millers. This does not tell the whole story though. This game came a day after the unfortunate passing of his Grandfather. A lot of credit should go to Yates for even stepping out onto the pitch during this tough time for him and his family. But he did just that and put in the performance of his life against Norwich. Seven minutes in, Will Vaulks chipped the ball out wide for Tom Adyemi, who crossed it perfectly for Yates. From a couple yards out the forward tapped the ball home before running off in celebration with tears in his eyes. It was a very emotional moment for everyone in attendance as his teammates rushed to celebrate with the goalscorer. The Millers eventually won it 2-1 with Adyemi scoring the winner. But Yates was the star of the show. He was a real nuisance to Timm Klose and Russell Martin, who were seen as two of the fiercest centre-back duos in the league. He never gave them a moments rest and they had one of their hardest games all-season that day. The local lad was deservedly given the man of the match award, and his performance and the game as a whole is remembered as one of very few high points from the season.

3

The impressive form of Tom Adeyemi

The impressive form of Tom Adeyemi

During this very tough season for the Millers, not many players could look back with pride with how they performed. It was a dismal year with Rotherham steamrolled by opponent after opponent. But along with Danny Ward, another star performer from this relegation season was Tom Adyemi. The midfielder joined the Millers on loan from Cardiff City in August 2015. He started the season relatively slowly as he was building up his fitness. But his form picked up massively after Paul Warne took over as boss in November. The box-to-box midfielder scored six goals from 20 appearances under Warne, and he was one of Rotherham's main attacking threats in the second-half of the season. Game after game he put in high-level performances causing a lot of problems for opponents. At the end of the season, The Star awarded him with their Rotherham Player of the Year award. Warne did battle to keep Adyemi moving into League One. But he moved to Ipswich Town to remain in the Championship, which he warranted after a great season individually.

4

Semi Ajayi and Will Vaulks join the Millers

Semi Ajayi and Will Vaulks join the Millers

This is the season Will Vaulks and Semi Ajayi started their Rotherham United careers. Vaulks joined Rotherham from Falkirk in the summer, while Ajayi moved to the Millers from Cardiff on loan in January. Both had good start to life at Rotherham during their first season. Ajayi's deal was made permanent in the summer of 2017, and it was this year where both men came into their own. They were integral parts of the team that lead Rotherham to promotion back to the Championship via the play-offs. In their return season in the second tier, Rotherham gave a much better account of themselves and were unlucky to be relegated. Again Vaulks and Ajayi were two of their most impressive performers throughout the campaign. Both men were big fan-favourites and had a great couple of years with the Millers. In the aftermath of 2018/19, they left the club with Vaulks moving to Cardiff and Ajayi joining West Brom. Each of them have kicked on again since then. It was really sad to see both men leave after they had given so much in a Rotherham shirt. But the Millers faithful can look on with a lot of pride at how well they are doing now after building themselves up at the New York Stadium.

5

The start of a new era under Paul Warne

The start of a new era under Paul Warne

After Kenny Jackett left the club after a brief reign, Warne was brought in to try to salvage a shocking season. The damage was already done though, and relegation was set in stone. Warne did not have management in his veins to start with. But he put everything he had into the role and he struck a chord with his players which lead to some better showings during the latter part of the season. Warne did enough in the eyes of Tony Stewart to get the job permanently. This received a mixed reception at first, with some not believing that he had what it takes to become a successful boss. But Warne acted quickly to silence all of these critics. Rotherham were a broken club when he took over, with a lot of bad characters in the dressing room. He started again from ground zero in 2017/18 to make his own team full of good characters, who will give it all for the shirt when given the chance. Fast-forward three-plus years and Warne is still in charge, and Rotherham are in place for another promotion to the Championship. During the dark times of 2017/18, it turned out that Warne was just the man Rotherham needed. Over his reign, he has restored faith in the team from the fans which was dismantled during 2016/17. Now Rotherham are back on the up and they have a team fans can truly be proud of. They give their heart and soul for the club whenever they step out onto the pitch, and that is all the Millers faithful can ever ask for.