The relegation battle begins. Six games to go. Foster’s gone. Dewsnip and Nance at the wheel, looking to steady the ship. Of those six games, four are against teams within six points of the relegation zone.

First up: Rotherham United.

This week I chatted with Matt Lax from New York Talk about a very difficult season at the New York Stadium, about who will be joining them in League 1 next season, and about how if we make our long-awaited return to free-flowing attacking football this Friday, there’s very little Rotherham will be able to do to stop us.

It’s obviously been a very tough season for you. I imagine you expected – as we did – to be fighting the drop this season. Did you expect yourselves to be so far behind the pack or did you think you would put up a bit more of a fight?

We expected to be in a fight. We stayed up last season with a game to spare and 6 points clear so thought we could see something similar or even a push closer to midtable. It became clear from around September that this team did not possess the fight needed to be in with a chance of survival.

Have you accepted relegation now or are you dreaming of a full-scale great escape in the remaining games? Your recent win against Millwall could be the start of one of the greatest comebacks of all time?

I think we accepted relegation in January. It has been that bad we aren’t even dreaming of the impossible. Millwall were as bad as we have seen this season, offered nothing and allowed us to stumble over the line. I think the way we play didn’t suit a Neil Harris style and they didn’t really have a plan B.

Who else do you see going down?

Friday will give a better idea, if we see a reaction from Plymouth and you get the win I can see you pulling away and it will stay the same. If you lose to us I can’t see the rot being stopped and you could join us in League One next season.

If I had to pick three right now? Us, Huddersfield and yourselves (sorry!).

What are your chances of coming straight back up again?

Honesty don’t know, we haven’t seen anything major in the shape of improvement under Leam Richardson. We have to cut him some slack because they aren’t his players, he came into a sinking ship etc but he has been unable to get any reaction from the squad it leaves the question can he do it with his own players. It will be a huge over haul, we will need at 14 signings in the summer, maybe more. If we get it right we will be at the right end, but that is no guarantee with how we are at the minute.

What’s the vision of the club? Is the board happy to be a yo yo team for now? And how do the fans feel about that?

It is frustrating, with the right recruitment we could have stabilised, but it hasn’t happened. Since Paul Warne left it has become clear that behind the seasons, we are a little bit of a shambles, the training ground is very poor with it being out of service due to poor pitches for much of the winter. We have been promised an upgrade and we have our first Director of Football so things will hopefully be more joined up in the future. Time will tell if it is the right move, but we need to do something if we are ever to take the step to having some sort of stability at this level.

What have been some positives for you this season?

Not much, just the 4 wins so far. A few players have managed to shine, Viktor Johannsson

Season highlight?

Probably the win against Norwich in September. It was a good win and it felt at the time we have a good season ahead of us, little did we know.

Low point?

The 2-0 loss away at Sheffield Wednesday. Our only derby game of the season, they hadn’t won up to that point and we went and put in one of the most limp performances in any local derby I have seen from us. That was when Matt Taylor’s job became under real pressure, he didn’t seem to understand what it meant to the players and paid the price.

Leam Richardson took over from Matt Taylor as manager in November of last year. What brought on that change, and how do the fans feel about Richardson so far?

After the loss to Sheffield Wednesday a lot of fans felt it was time for a change. In fairness to the board Taylor was given a chance. We had 3 games after, a draw against QPR and Ipswich where we felt he might have saved his job. We then went to a very average Watford team and lost 5-0 and that was the final straw for fans and the board – it was the right decision. It is public knowledge that Leam Richardson was not first choice, we were turned down by Nathan Jones, Gary Rowett, Mark Wharburton and maybe another so we were all a little underwhelmed by Richardson but he had a decent reputation at Wigan. I think most fans will wait and judge him on next season, but he hasn’t done himself any favours. His football so far has been dull and more damage limitation rather than taking risks. He has work to do to turn fans around next season.

It’s a very big game for us on Friday. We’re going to have to fight hard to escape the drop and, I’ll be honest, we’ll be looking at Rotherham as a must-win and a should-win game. What will you be hoping for from the game on Friday? Looking to make things a bit difficult for us?

All we can expect is to try and be competitive, after our win at Millwall and your form it might be a chance for Richardson to be a little more aggressive and try for back to back win. The problem with our team is that if we go behind the game is almost over already. I would like to see us put some pressure on you guys to see how it is dealt with under the new management team. That is more hope than expectation.

Where do you think you can cause us some problems?

Our best chance is to just go direct, in recent weeks have been crossing the ball more and even scored from one on Saturday so that will probably be the plan. Sam Nombe has been playing ok as a striker with scoring, he is strong and quite quick so expect he could cause a problem or two if we manage to gain some momentum.

What about weak areas? Where should we be looking to exploit to try and get the win?

We have a very makeshift defence, strongest midfielders at centre half, we finished Saturday with our best performing left back at right wing back so that is a very weak area. Had Viktor Johannsson not been playing like he had we would have even less points. If you attack with intent it is very unlikely we will stop you from scoring.

Score prediction?

I still don’t trust us enough to win, so I’ll say 2-1 to Plymouth.


Find New York Talk, here: Twitter | YouTube | Spotify