The Millers were in no mood to be patronised by anyone last season after promotion from League One via the play-offs. Even a deduction of three points and a £30,000 fine for fielding on-loan Derby defender Farrend Rawson (who returns to South Yorkshire for another loan spell – contract and clauses hopefully checked and double checked this time) wasn’t enough to drag everyone’s favourite pantomime villain’s team back from whence they came. Indeed, even with this handicap, Steve Evans’ team finished five points clear of the dreaded perforated line.
Last season, goals were hard to come by – we all know about Matt Derbyshire and he top scored with a paltry nine league goals However, the Millers pulled results out of the bag against the league’s strugglers and mightily enjoyed deserved wins against Ipswich Town and Leeds United. The club will be looking to push on this season after comfortably finding their feet last term.
Steve Evans loves a signing or two: "We’re looking at six or seven permanent signings but we’re not going to sign that many if we can only agree terms with five without breaking any structures we’ve got either financially or what we want to do with the squad," he explained in pre season. Homegrown defender Frazer Richardson knows what to expect as he declared that any summer signings will fit right in back in May: "We’ve got a great bunch of lads here and I’ll always try and help integrate the lads into the team," he enthused. He’d better get his integrating hat on and be ready to listen to a bunch of awful initiation songs from the new recruits as Evans has been doing what he does best – buying and loaning players. Indeed, he clocked up his 40th signing (loan or permanent) in the last 13 months during the summer.
For all the new faces though, Icelandic international Kari Arnason will be missed having left for the possibility of Champions League football with Malmo. Ben Pringle has also popped off to Fulham, taking his creativity and hairband with him. Defender Kirk Broadfoot will also miss ten games after expressing some forthright views towards James McLean.
There was a sizeable overhaul of the squad over the summer:
Aidan White – attack minded full back from Leeds United
Joe Mattock – well travelled ex England under 21 full back from Sheffield Wednesday
Emmanuel Ledesma – peripatetic Argentinian midfielder from Middleboro
Richard Smallwood – defensive midfielder, also plucked from Middlesboro
Danny Collins – you know about him
Tom Thorpe – highly regarded young defender released by Manchester United
Greg Halford –you know about him too - he has a topknot now
Lewis Buxton – experienced defender, also from Sheffield Wednesday
Chris Maguire – striker or wide man making it a hat trick of arrivals from nearby Wednesday
Kelle Roos – young Dutch goalkeeper on a season long loan from Derby County
Farrend Rawson – highly regarded defender, also from Derby County
Vastly experienced and specialist caretaker manager Eric Black has also been employed as a coach
Not only does Steve Evans like to tinker but also the possibility exists of a whole new batch of players arriving in January so predicting a settled line up is like trying to hold newly popped pitta bread straight from the toaster for more than three seconds. For what it's worth, they lined up like this against MK Dons last Saturday:
- 01 Roos
- 15 Halford
- 23 Thorpe
- 04 Collins
- 22 Newell
- 07 Maguire (Bowery - 73' )
- 33 Smallwood Booked
- 17 G Ward (Frecklington - 45' )
- 14 White (Green - 45' )
- 09 D Ward
- 27 Derbyshire
- 02 Buxton
- 08 Frecklington
- 10 Ledesma
- 11 Green
- 16 Richardson
- 18 Bowery
- 21 Collin
As for the manager, well, it’s all too easy to poke fun at Steve Evans or to get irritated by his touchline antics. His playing of the transfer (and loan) market is bordering on abuse too. Nonetheless, he’s guided Rotherham from League Two to a very creditable showing in the Championship. To do so requires more than luck and hope – there’s a canny, streetwise and effective manager lurking inside that body of his.
The original version of this piece can be found here, if you were so inclined...but I wouldn't bother if I were you.