Rotherham United vs Sunderland: Who are the Black Cats' next pre-season opponents?

Ahead of their meeting tomorrow with the Black Cats, we present you with an in depth look at the Millers.

Rotherham United vs Sunderland: Who are the Black Cats' next pre-season opponents?
Rotherham United in pre-season training. (Photo: Rotherham United FC)

Managerless Sunderland continue their pre-season preparations with a trip to Rotherham United this weekend.

Here's what to expect from the Championship side.

2015/16 for the Millers

Last season for Rotherham was fairly similar to that of Sunderland in 2015-16. Like the Black Cats, Rotherham finished in the lowest position possible without being relegated (21st in the Championship) after undergoing a managerial change in the middle of a season. In fact the Millers had three managers in the campaign, with sackings dealt out by the board in September and February to Steve Evans and Neil Redfearn respectively.

However, after three quarters of a season filled with madness, wise veteran Neil Warnock was brought in to steady the ship and he did just that, leading Rotherham to safety by a margin of nine points over third bottom Charlton Athletic

Another new United manager

Although Warnock did achieve survival for the South Yorkshire outfit, they could not keep ahold of the former Queens Park Rangers boss, with the two parties unable to agree terms on a contract extension. Therefore, on June 1, Rotherham appointed former Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs who arrived at the New York Stadium having just won the Scottish Cup.

Many Sunderland fans will know of ex-defender Stubbs as he had a brief spell on Wearside, making 10 appearances and scoring a goal in the disastrous 2005/06 Premier League campaign where Sunderland finished bottom of the Premier League with a record low 15 points at the time.

The Rotherham job is only Stubbs' second in management after two years with Hibs in the Scottish second tier. Guiding them to two second place finishes, he could not seal promotion back to the top flight on either occasion, however beating Rangers to win the club's first Scottish Cup in 114 years was a big achievement for them and the coach personally.

Can Stubbs get one over on his old club? | Image source: ITV
Can Stubbs get one over on his old club? | Image source: ITV

Ones to watch

Rotherham struggled last season mainly because they couldn't score enough goals and it shows when you look at their squad, with most of their recognised names coming in defence.

The first player of note is first choice goalkeeper Lee Camp. Camp, formerly of Nottingham Forest, has made over 300 appearances at Championship level and been capped for Northern Ireland nine times.

United have more heavy Championship experience amongst their defensive options, with Kirk Broadfoot, Joe Mattock and former Sunderland man Greg Halford having played for many years at second tier level. Stephen Kelly has been to a major international tournament too, part of the Republic of Ireland's squad for Euro 2012.

When looking at key players for any club, you can't really look past the captain and it's the same for Rotherham in the form of midfielder Lee Frecklington. The former Peterborough United man has been with the Millers for four years now and replaced Halford as captain at the start of last season. While goal-scoring might be an issue for the team, their skipper has racked up 23 goals in 128 league appearances for the club.

This season's aims

Even though under new management going into this season, it will undoubtedly be hard for Rotherham to compete and get away from the bottom end of the Championship, with the league getting stronger every season.

A lot like Sunderland, their transfer window has been a quiet one and losing one of few goal outlets in Matt Derbyshire will hurt them.

For the still relatively inexperienced Stubbs in his first season, a success would be retaining United's second tier status to try and keep some stability for himself and the club.

Recent meetings

Sunderland have not met Rotherham in any capacity for more than 10 years, with the clubs being three divisions apart at one point in the last decade.

Rotherham's previous spell in the Championship before their current one was the last time they met the Black Cats. That was back in 2005 where Sunderland ran out 4-1 winners at a snowy Stadium of Light.

The Wearsiders have also won on their last two visits to Rotherham, with a 2-0 win in 2004 and a 1-0 success in 2003.