Rotherham United: No parachute money but Millers can make jump

Steve Evans
Steve Evans

It boils down to cash against commitment.

The Millers are in with the big boys now. The Championship. Premier League II. Arguably the fifth biggest league in Europe after the Premier, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A.

Fulham, Norwich City, Cardiff City, Reading, Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers ... Rotherham will face them all next season, and there’s an awful lot of Premier League parachute money sloshing about among that lot.

Tony Stewart, the Millers financial saviour has done a truly magnificent job in stabilising the club, building them a new home and then giving manager Steve Evans the sort of backing which has led to successive promotions.

But they won’t be spending £11-million-plus on a striker in the manner in which Fulham did to land Ross McCormack.

What the Millers will have, though, that rival teams might not be able to boast is unremitting desire and fitness levels only the most driven and focused players can achieve.

This is an Evans team, remember. They never give up, they keep the faith - a 95-minute side who will compete and compete and compete.

“Next season we will go up against teams who have players being paid £50,000 and £60,000 a week. And they being paid that much because they probably deserve to be,” Evans says.

“But the question is this, can those teams match the passion, desire and workrate our players have to show to survive at this club? Can they? That’s the mindset we will take into the new campaign.”

Almost sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it?

And Evans adds: “Remember, we have good players here too, players who can really play.”

After a busy summer of recruitment, Evans is close to the situation he set out to achieve: Two players for every position. 11 players have jumped on the New York Stadium bandwagon to go with the 12 who were left from last season and a couple more arrivals are in the offing.

It’s no easy task integrating so many new faces into an exisiting squad knit tightly by past achievements. The tour of Scotland will have helped hugely in forging bonds quickly. As Evans says: “You find out a lot about each other when you’re living together for 12 days.”

However, it is an inescapable fact that some very good players are going to find themselves out of the starting 11 when the season starts.

Take the goalkeeping position, for example. Adam Collin pulled of some superb saves during last season’s promotion campaign and wrote himself into club folklore with two stops in the League One Play-off Final penalty shoot-out victory at

Wembley. Against him is Scott Loach, still only 26 but with bags of Championship experience and England under-21 honours. He was the net in June 2009 when Germany beat England in the European U-21 Championship Final with a team containing five of the players who lifted this year’s World Cup.

Who do you want up front? Alex Revell, two-goal hero of wembley and the ambitious but brilliant face on 1,000 T-shirts, is in contention along with Matt Derbyhire and record signing Jordan Bowery, while right winger Kieran Agard can play centrally and there is another club-record bid in for another young striker.

Revell deserves his chance after two years of unstinting effort and success, Bowery is still young, has Premier League experience with Aston Villa and as a youngster at Chesterfield looked to have every phsyical attribute necessary to be a top striker, Derbyshire has played and excelled at the highest level and last year Agard scored 26 goals in a season by the end of which he was exuding confidence and danger in equal measure.

Everywhere you look there is competition. Two out of Craig Morgan, Kari Arnason, Richard Wood and Kirk Broadfoot at centre-half, two from Lee Frecklington, Paul Green, Robert Milsom, Conor Newton and Michael Tidser in central midfield.

I’m glad I’m not deciding.

Evans won’t shy away from tough calls. This is the man who let Ryan Cresswell go, who allowed Johnny Mullins to leave, who told Daniel Nardiello his time was up. Crowd favourites all, but the manager was proved right every time as the Millers moved on to bigger and better things.

And if any signings don’t work out, he’ll be the first to admit it and look for new solutions.

Ben Pringle and that wand of a left foot look made for the Championship. Kari Arnason, who reads things so clearly and has the touch to complement his vision, could stand out at this level and may even be given a defensive midfield role.

Many observers have looked at the strength and stature of rival teams and said survival in the Championship should be the limit of the club’s ambition.

I can almost hear Evans and Stewart snorting at that. While respecting everybody, they will fear no-one. Evans is a bold manager by instinct and Stewart has talked of them challenging for the top places.

No guarantees except this: The Millers will compete as hard as any team and, through effort and sheer force of will, will be more than the sum of their parts

This is where Evans’ psychology really kicks in. The nature of the man means he will have his squad up for every challenge. You’ll never find Rotherham accepting defeat against big-name opposition and targeting points against smaller clubs another time.

Every match will matter, every point will be fought for and the Millers will concede nothing in the mental battle.

It all kicks off on August 9 at derby County. A crowd of around 30,000 at the iPro Stadium against a team one game away last season from promotion to the top flight who have spent millions in pre-season.

Welcome to the Championship, Millers. Cash versus commitment.

Some of Rotherham players were playing in League Two just 15 months ago. But they’re in Premier II because they deserve to be.

And the next paragraph is the reason why the Millers have a chance.

Evans will tell his squad they are good enough to shake up the Championship. And they will believe him.