Things calmed after a thrilling but concerning encounter at Blackburn in midweek. But Rooney’s men were unable to conjure any sort of early festive cheer for the St Andrew’s faithful.

Rotherham are drab on their travels but could’ve left the Midlands with all three points had Emanuel Aiwu’s blushes not been saved. A nearly fateful pass forced centre back partner Dion Sanderson to clear off his line. Fine margins in football and December could’ve started on a real sour note.

Aiwu’s performances are concerning and have been so for a while. His eager, aggressive approach is too much and his passing is lacking the percentage accuracy needed in this setup. Marc Roberts is waiting on the bench but is clearly not a possession player. Sanderson is also toiling next to him albeit on a lesser level having to take the weight of Aiwu’s mishaps when they come.

The skipper is feeling the pressure of it all. The opening dozen games couldn’t have gone smoother for the former Wolves man but Sanderson is having to take more front foot responsibility of the ball and it just isn’t quite clicking at the moment.

Rotherham are limited especially on their travels but their home form has kept them going, just about. It should’ve been three points for Rooney’s men with the quality out there on the pitch but player performances were erratic today and Rooney hasn’t seen his side put in a complete performance yet.

Jordan James would’ve wanted a start and deserved it after Juninho Bacuna’s no show. His incisiveness and progressive passing helped drive his team up the pitch and it would’ve been a blessing for him to be playing the full ninenty.

James knows what Rooney wants from his midfielders and his form since returning from international duty has been impressive. Bacuna was lax and didn’t have the urgency in possession needed. Not a midfielder by trade but his on and off performances are alarming. 

His incisive passing and leading from the front attitude against Sheffield Wedensday to this is quite something. But Rooney must be ruthless if he is serious about pushing Blues further up the table.

But like I said previously when several players are failing then it’s not the fault of the players. It’s on the manager to find solutions and suit the players’ needs. 

For example are the cente backs better off playing in a low block and not having to be the protagonists? It probably would suit Emanuel Aiwu who feels like he needs to go back to basics. There’s so much that’s raw in his attributes that he needs to learn fast.

On the other hand we can see that the chance creation could be better. Miyoshi and Dembele weren’t able to get close together or link up consistently and this affected the level of threat imposed by the hosts.

Both on their day are the most threatening in the side by far but Rooney needs to get the attacking patterns more smooth so that both make use of each other. And without this threat the team failed to create many clear cut chances. Stansfield was left isolated and was probably the quietest he has been all season.

Lukas Jutkiewicz was waiting in the wings but fluffed his lines and the offside strike he’ll look back upon in anger.

The ship is tightened with a clean sheet but the future beholds more tests with Cody Drameh needing to match the trustworthy Ethan Laird. It’s going to be a nervous battle until the end for sure.