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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 29

6 March 2013

Back in early August, in this very blog, I made my predictions for the npower League 2 season, and my tip to win the title back then was Rotherham United.

I just felt that with their manager, the quality of their squad, the finances available, and the feel-good factor of playing in a new stadium, the Millers would kick on and bag themselves a promotion.

For long periods this season they have looked pretty ordinary despite all those factors, but as they hit form at just the right time I wonder if they might prove me right eventually.

In football, timing can be so important. Rotherham have hovered around the Play-Offs all year without ever looking like a top three side but in recent matches that's all changed, and their cracking 4-0 win at Oxford United outlined the potential they have.

With 11 matches to play, it's a mini-season of sorts now, and with Gillingham and Port Vale having a bit of a wobble I can see Rotherham pipping them both to the title.

What's gone on before is out of the window and when I look at the players and staff at Rotherham, I see a lot of people who know the score. They've been in similar positions before and I feel that could prove to be the difference in the end.

At the other end, it's getting incredibly tight. With just six points separating 15th and 24th place, any one of 10 teams fear relegation and it's not a pleasant place to be. Everyone from Dagenham and Redbridge and below will be nervous. They're all very much involved in a scrap.

I look at Rochdale and I worry for them a little bit. They should be fine, but they've been stuck in a downward rut for some time and it's never a piece of cake to get yourself out of it, no matter how good your players are.

Keith Hill was brought back to Spotland as the Messiah, and everyone believed he'd wave his magic wand and everything would be OK, but in football it's never as easy as that. It's not that simple.

npower League 2 can be an unforgiving place and nobody will make life easy for you. If confidence is low and you're having a bad time it can be extremely difficult to turn things around. Once you start sliding, it's a problem.

Torquay United are another club that must have concerns. With Martin Ling recovering from illness they've hit a poor run of form. The bottom two are uncomfortably close.

It's amazing to think of Rochdale and Torquay as relegation candidates because they've enjoyed success in recent seasons, but one bad year can hurt you badly. History and past glories go out of the window.

The saving grace for most of the bottom 10 will be that there are only two relegation places, but in the future I can see that changing to three. That will make it even more interesting. And nerve-racking.

Two clubs in bother, York City and Aldershot Town, decided to make changes recently with Gary Mills and Dean Holdsworth losing their jobs. Those men in suits have been a bit hasty and panicked in my view, but I guess results dictate these things.

I feel for Gary Mills because I'm sure he'd still be in a job if York were in the Conference. Instead, because he brought them up and it's been a bit of a struggle, he's collected his P45.

In regards to Dean Holdsworth, it's a season that just hasn't got going at all. I believed his team would progress this year but instead they've regressed a little and he's paid for it with his job.

With a new chief executive coming to the club in January it was always going to be a critical time for Dean. They have a lot of power and control these days, so when a change is made in that role you as a manager have to ensure you make a positive impression. That didn't happen and Andy Scott, who worked with the same chief executive at Brentford, has come on board.

I like Andy, he's a lovely lad. So, despite feeling sympathy for Holdsworth I do hope that he can turn things around for the Hampshire club.

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