Steve Evans will be a happy man if his Rotherham United team which starts next season is as strong as the one which ended the last campaign.
The Millers secured their Championship survival with a four-match unbeaten run as Premier League loan stars Emi Martinez, Jack Hunt and Daniel Lafferty bolstered a squad already containing proven second-tier performers like Matt Derbyshire, Kari Arnason and Richard Smallwood.
Evans, who hopes to make most of his summer signings this month, wants Rotherham to be a midtable side or better next year.
And he said: “If you’d picked all through the season that starting 11 that we had for the last four or five games, it would be top half and towards pressing for a place in the play-offs. All day long.”
The Rotherham boss would love to see the loan trio return to AESSEAL New York Stadium.
But even if that doesn’t happen Evans aims to bring in new players with the quality to see the Millers build on last season’s survival achievement.
He has spent the last fortnight meeting targets and could make his first summer signing next week, having discovered through last year’s experiences what attributes players need to flourish at Championship level.
“We probably felt at one stage of last season we were that little dinghy in the middle of the pool that had a few leaks in it and we were patching up,” he said. “We were patching up in a lot of different areas.”
“We need to make sure we don’t have the need to be patching up in certain areas. Sometimes you bring players to a football club, whether it be permanent or loan, like Scott Loach, for all the best reasons in the world and because it ticks all the right boxes and then it just doesn’t happen for you.
“When it doesn’t happen, you learn from it.”
Arsenal’s Martinez excelled for Rotherham between the posts after joining the club on the eve of the Sheffield Wednesday derby, and a new goalkeeper is on Evans’ list of priorities.
Evans believes Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew may want to see right-back Hunt in pre-season action before deciding if the right-back can leave Selhurst Park again.
Left-back Lafferty is back in the second tier after Burnley’s relegation from the top flight.