Rotherham United: Steve Evans talks as Millers relish Leeds United showdown

Steve Evans
Steve Evans

This is the one the Millers have been waiting for ...

Rotherham United take on Leeds United tonight in front of a full house, with manager Steve Evans admitted the club have been gearing up to the fixture for months.

“We have been looking to this since the summer, me and the players,” he said.

“We have people in our dressing room who played for them and supported them,” he said.

The Championship Yorkshire derby is live on Sky TV and is a New York sell-out.

“This game in isolation is probably the biggest game the football club has faced in terms of where we’ve gone over the last couple of years with the new stadium,” Evans added. “The name of Leeds United always brings the glamour. The atmosphere will be up to record levels.

Millers right-back Frazer Richardson and midfielder Paul Green used to play for Leeds, while midfield man Lee Frecklington has supported them since boyhood.

Evans believes tonight’s visitors from Elland Road are the biggest club in the Championship.

“Leeds United are the stand-out giant of Championship football. You look at the clubs who have come down from the Premiership and they are not Leeds United,” he said. “But they are in the Championship because, in football, you are where you deserve to be. It is a fixture that excites us.

“We know a win could take us above them in the table and, measured against our progress of the past two years, that would be staggering.

“We have earned the right to be competing against the likes of Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday on level terms. And when you have earned that, you want to be above them. That’s the natural evolution of football and a thing inside you as a manager. We want to be above Leeds United at ten o’clock tomorrow night.

The Millers, after an encouraging start to their campaign in the second tier after successive promotions, are in 17th place, with 12 points from 11 matches - three wins, three draws and five losses.

Leeds, with four wins, three draws and four defeats, are three points better off and have a goal difference of -2, compared to Rotherham’s -4.

“The Leeds squad are still getting to know each other, but certainly have a lot of quality,” Evans said.

“No-one can knock the pedigree of players that (owner) Massimo Cellino has brought in. They have a new head coach and we have seen several clips of their performances. If they get on top of the game, they will give us a real problem. We have to match them early doors and work our way into the game.”

Although Rotherham will be without former Leeds hitman Luciano Becchio who has a fractured heel, they are boosted by the return of defender Kirk Broadfoot and midfielder Rob Milsom.

And there’s also the little matter of centre-half Kari Arnason returning unscathed after his heroics in Iceland’s 2-0 win over Holland in a Group A Euro 2016 qualifier on Monday night.

“When you see a manager of the Dutch national side come out and speak about Kari before the game in Iceland and talk about his quality and how good a player he is, then you get a little bit of pride from that,” Evans said.

“(Robin) van Persie and (Arjen) Robben were in his pocket.”

The Millers boss has the go-ahead from chairman Tony Stewarty to bring in a loan replacement for Becchio who is unlikely to kick a ball again until late December at the earliest.