As the debates and arguments raged about Rotherham United’s three-point deduction, one man remained calmer than any other: Rotherham United boss Steve Evans.
The Millers yesterday found themselves dragged back towards the Championship drop zone as the Football League delivered its verdict after charging the club with fielding an ineligible player.
But, with Rotherham clashing with promotion contenders Norwich City this afternoon, Evans knows the value of keeping a clear head to make sure his squad are ready for one of their biggest challenges of the season.
“I’ll be calm, I’ll be measured. I’ll be focused on what I’m saying to individuals,” he said.
“We will have a game-plan to combat a club that a lot of people in the Championship think, without a doubt, have the best squad.”
After being docked three points and fined £30,000, the Millers are now have a tally of 41, one more than Millwall, who occupy the third and final relegation place, and two ahead of 23rd-placed Wigan Athletic.
The Lions and Latics have two matches to play, while Rotherham have three, so the Millers’ survival fate is still in their own hands.
The FL ruling has given an added edge to this afternoon’s occasion at AESSEAL New York Stadium, where the stakes were already high with Rotherham looking to guarantee their second-tier survival and the Canaries still chasing a top-two spot.
Evans added: “In the bigger occasions, a lot of it comes from your heart. A lot of it comes from the type of person you are inside.
“We’ve got some quality footballers who are used to winning, up to this season, a lot of matches. It’s my job and the staff’s job to prepare them in the best fashion.
“Our destiny is still at our own feet.”
The club plan to appeal against the three-point sanction imposed for playing loan centre-half Farrend Rawson in the win over Brighton earlier this month but will wait until they see the full FL judgement.
A club statement said: “Rotherham United are very disappointed by the decision to deduct three points for fielding a player who was ineligible purely because of an administrative error.
“It is our view that true sports fans want to see competitions settled on the pitch and not to have them affected by what happens in disciplinary proceedings.
“We are confident that our team possesses the will and spirit to ensure that the points deduction is academic by securing our Championship status on the pitch.”
The match was close to selling out yesterday, and Evans called on the fans to show the same kind of support they did in the last home match, that fateful encounter with the Seagulls.
“We need more of that support,” he said. “We need the decibels louder. We need it even more emphatic.
“If people want to rent a crowd, come and get the Rotherham crowd. They’re fantastic. We need them.
“It’s not about inches for us now, it’s about centimetres. The atmosphere will be humdinging.”
Millwall entertain Derby County today before concluding their campaign at Wolves next Saturday, while Wigan are at home to Wolves this afternoon and end their season at Brentford on May 2.
“We can’t affect what Millwall or Wigan do. We can only affect ourselves,” Evans said.