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The curse of the Millers loan move

One of Steve Evans’ biggest attributes as a manager is his ability to make tough and controversial decisions when it comes to his squad - Ryan Cresswell, Andy Warrington and Johnny Mullins can all testify to that. 

He is not one to make a call based on what the fans want, he won't keep a player to save face having signed them just a few months earlier, and he is not afraid to ship them out if he believes there is no future for them at the club.

Although it means there is an extremely high turnover in players, it has led to the evolution of a squad that is now in the Championship and for that the Millers boss deserves the utmost praise.

Steve Evans is not afraid to ship players out

In constantly tinkering with his squad, Evans has used the loan system superbly well to his own gain. In days gone by clubs used to send out players on loan to get them some action after a long injury or to allow a promising kid some much-needed first-team experience. While still doing that, Evans also uses it as a facility to get players out of his squad and off the wage bill.

Part of what allows him to make such decisions - in addition to an unwavering belief in his judgement - is a ruthless streak that, with only one or two exceptions, means when you're out, you're out. If the feisty Scot has decided a player is not needed, then no matter how well he might do at another club on loan he won't be coming back to the New York.

And if a player is allowed out, it's usually because the boss has got someone else lined up to come in and invariably improve the team. For example Ian Sharps was replaced by Claude Davis, who after a dodgy debut helped deliver promotion. Daniel Nardiello was replaced by Nouha Dicko and we all know what happened there.

So given the progress they have made under Evans, you have to say that with virtually every decision he has got it right. 

How popular that makes him in the dressing room is up for debate, but the results on the pitch speak for themselves.

Let's take a look at the established senior players whose Millers' careers were ended after being shipped out on loan.


Nicky Hunt
Arrived in summer of 2012 but got injured in pre-season. Performed below expectation when fit and joined Accrington on loan in January 2013. He then signed for them permanently that summer.

Ian Sharps
One of Evans’ marquee signings in summer of 2012, Sharps could not quite reach the heights of his previous time at the club. He still made 27 appearances before being allowed to join a promotion rival in Burton, where he stayed until the end of the season and subsequently was allowed to join permanently.

David Noble
Injuries and off-the-field problems meant that Noble's first season did not get going until after Christmas, but the midfielder contributed well in the promotion push and ended up with 24 appearances. He made only one last season before being allowed to join Cheltenham on loan. He'll stay there until the end of the campaign and was released at the end of his contract.

The exit door at New York Stadium is rarely shut for long
Kayode Odejayi
If there was one thing you knew about Odejayi when he joined in 2012 is that he was Colchester's player of the year the season before - Evans never missed an opportunity to slip that one in. Despite being another marquee signing, the striker did not do it at Rotherham and was limited to mainly substitute roles in his only season at the club. He was told in the summer of 2013 that he had no chance of playing, he joined Accrington and never came back.

Daniel Nardiello
Evans received some real flak for this one and with little surprise as Nardiello's goals had been the driving force of the promotion from League Two. He was scoring in the early part of last season too, but Evans criticised his work-rate too often for everything to be hunky-dory. He ended up being behind Matt Tubbs and loanee Tom Eaves in the pecking order and was allowed to join Bury on loan, with a permanent deal agreed in January.

David Worrall
An undisclosed fee was paid for Worrall in the summer of 2013 but he soon suffered a troublesome groin injury that kept him out for some time. He joined Oldham in January but despite Evans implicitly saying he would be coming back in the summer, he didn't and joined Southend.

Danny Hylton
Hylton arrived at New York last summer in not great shape and he struggled to get anywhere near the team on a regular basis. He went to Bury where he got games and goals but was forced back to Rotherham following an injury which required surgery. January brought a move to AFC Wimbledon and we never saw him again.

The exceptions (but still left soon after anyway)

Johnny Mullins
Was in the side until the 6-2 massacre at Port Vale last season and soon got annoyed at not playing, according to Evans, who also said he wanted to be closer to home. Was eventually reluctantly recalled amid an injury crisis, but only after Evans preferred to play midfielder Jason Taylor at centre-back. Came back to captain the side to promotion, but was allowed to leave after being told he wouldn’t be first choice in League One.

Lionel Ainsworth
Another 2012 signing that produced some excitement, but despite a stunning goal on debut at Hull Ainsworth flattered to deceive. He was sent out to Aldershot in October 2012, but returned for the latter part of the season. His reprieve was short-lived and was told he had no prospect of playing in the summer and stayed at Motherwell after a  season-long loan.

Those who have avoided the curse (but could get struck second time around)

Michael Tidser
Tidser was highly-rated when he joined from Morton in the summer of 2013, but he struggled to get in the team in front of Lee Frecklington, Rob Milsom and Michael O'Connor, which is frankly no surprise, with Evans also preferring to recruit Richie Smallwood. He was at Ross County until the end of last season but returned and made one appearance this campaign before heading out to Oldham.

Those who could avoid the curse (but probably won't)

Scott Loach
Loach came to Rotherham in the summer with possibly more pedigree than any other signing having been in the full England squad. But the goalkeeper struggled to get into the side ahead of Adam Collin and when he did he made a cataclysmic mistake at Ipswich and was dropped. He wanted to play first-team games, so what better place to send him than Bury where he is currently on an emergency loan. 

Richard Brindley
Having endured an injury-ravaged stay first season with the Millers, Brindley again got injured after his only appearance of this campaign - the 1-1 draw at Norwich - and has now been sent to Scunthorpe for a run of games. Evans has said that he features in his future plans, but we've heard that before haven't we?

Febian Brandy
The arrival of Brandy in the summer was one of the more chin-scratching signings that Evans made considering his disappointing time in League One last season. He was out on loan at Crewe in September with just one Millers' substitute appearance under his belt, but has recently returned due to injury.

Mat Sadler
Sadler was another eyebrow-raiser when he joined from Crawley following the Millers' arrival in the Championship. He managed one League Cup appearance before being allowed to rejoin his former club as early as mid-September. He's only back at Rotherham because John Crawley sent him home as part of a squad shake-up in Sussex.

Rob Milsom
His early-season performances last year earned Milsom a lengthy contract, but the second hald of the promotion-winning campaign was restricted by injury and Richie Smallwood's impressive performances. The former Aberdeen man came on at Wembley but picked up an injury in pre-season which has curtailed any involvement and his move to Bury was completed ahead of the loan transfer deadline.

Ryan Hall
Many people were surprised when the former Leeds and MK Dons man joined the Millers in the summer, but he made an early impact, scoring the winner against Wolves. However, he did little else after that and has not featured since a disappointing first-half display against Leeds last month. Joined Notts County and unlikely to be seen in a red and white shirt again.

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