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Millers break new ground in transfer window

If anyone needs a reminder of just how much Rotherham have progressed as a club over the last few years, then they need look no further than their dealings in the summer transfer window.

From the moment they announced the capture of former Champions League striker Matt Derbyshire, once subject to a £3million transfer fee, just days after their heroic win at Wembley, it was clear that the Millers would be swimming in different waters this time around as they plotted for life in the Championship.

And that is exactly how it panned out as over the course of the summer they brought in a whopping 17 players, spent more money than ever before - breaking their transfer record twice - and signed players with such calibre that it was almost unthinkable.

Indeed, back during the dark days of Don Valley, if anybody would have dared suggest the possibility that one day soon a goalkeeper who had been picked in the England squad, a highly-rated midfielder from Chelsea, or a high-profile striker from Norwich would be signing for Rotherham then it would have definitely resulted in a splutter of the Bovril.

In the wake of promotion Evans stated that he wanted to stack his squad with players who had Championship experience and he was true to his word.

There seemed a definite sense of quantity over quality at one point as Evans doubled up, or tripled in some cases, on every position, with the Millers boss taking a particular liking to midfielders and wide men, with Conor Newton, Paul Green, John Swift, Richie Smallwood, Anthony Wordsworth, Paul Taylor, Ryan Hall and Febian Brandy being added to an already impressive group.

Any Football Manager enthusiasts can sympathise with Evans. You see a list of free agents and you want to sign them all, regardless of whether you actually need them or not.

There have been many times when Evans has said he has no problem spending the chairman’s money and he was given the first real opportunity to do so in this window, paying transfer fees for three players, two of them more than any other Rotherham manager has ever spent on a player before.

Striker Jordan Bowery signed from Aston Villa for an undisclosed fee, around the £250,000-mark, Smallwood, so influential in a loan spell last season, cost £175,000 from Middlesbrough and then Jonson Clarke-Harris arrived just as the window was creeping shut for a fee believed to be around £300,000.

Does Steve Evans deserve to be taking a bow for his transfer window work?

However, despite the spending spree, the Millers still ended the window in the black following the sale, another club-record, of Kieran Agard to Bristol City for a fee just short of £1million. For that money they have brought in two strikers with massive potential and a midfielder who Evans can build a team around, so that has to be considered good business.

But however good that business seemed, they saved their best until last, on paper at least, with the signing of Luciano Becchio.

With just 30 minutes of the transfer window remaining, Evans pulled a rabbit out of the hat to bring the Argentinian striker to New York on loan until January and it was the signing that everyone was crying out for.

The Millers had made a respectable, if not modest, start to the campaign, taking six points from their opening five Championship games, but just two goals in that time told the real story.

If they had taken even a modicum of their chances then they could realistically been sat on 12 points and in nosebleed territory in the early-season  table, with hopefully Becchio providing the answer.

Of course, not all of the 17 signings will come off, including Becchio potentially, and in typical Evans manner, some will probably leave the club before Christmas or when their loan deals end.

And not everything went the Millers’ way over the summer either. 

The Stevie May saga cast a dark cloud over the club after Sheffield Wednesday pinched him from under their noses, while Agard’s exit was similarly drawn out. 

Full-back James Tavernier was one key target the Millers missed out on

Evans did not get all of his other targets either, with James Tavernier choosing Wigan a particular blow given his performances on loan last season.

Only time will tell whether this has been a successful transfer window, but, as with everything that Evans does, it has been entertaining and must-watch drama.

And it will start all over again next week when the loan window re-opens.

Here’s a quick look at the highs and lows of Rotherham’s transfer window.


Signing Richie Smallwood – Having looked like they missed out on him earlier in the summer, the Millers resurrected a deal for the midfielder who made such a huge impact on loan last season. At only 23, the £175,000 man can be Rotherham’s midfield general for the next 10 years.

Signing Paul Green – What, another run-of-the-mill Championship midfielder with an Ipswich connection? It was easy to welcome Green’s arrival with apathy but his signing has possibly been Evans’ best work in the summer. His early performances prior to injury were marauding as he controlled the middle of the park, breaking up play at the back and getting forward too. With Smallwood and Green now in the frame, last season’s star of the show Lee Frecklington has to watch out.

Signing Luciano Becchio – It’s easy to say without a ball being kicked, but Becchio’s signing late, late, late on deadline day and after several 12-inch meat feasts, arguably saved the whole window. The Millers were in desperate need of a striker who knows where the net is, and the pressure was affecting boss Evans. There’s no saying whether the move will be a success, but with his pedigree, the Argentinian’s arrival is Evans’ best-ever coup in the transfer window. It certainly beats Jordan Slew!

Keeping Ben Pringle – Any transfer window that passes by without selling Ben Pringle has to be classed as a success for the Millers. His name is usually bandied about willy-nilly, though bar the odd day of madness when he was linked to a £2.5million move to Hull there were no real scares for the Millers this time around. Now, with the Millers having some firepower, he can get on with putting his left foot to good use.

Kieran Agard's exit was one of the disappointing parts of the summer


The Kieran Agard sagaWhether the departure of last season’s top scorer for close to £1million can be classed as good business or not is up for debate. However, there is no doubt that the way it became a ‘will he, won’t he’ saga was not good to watch. First he wouldn’t sign a contract, then clubs wouldn’t bid an acceptable figure, then he went to Leeds for talks before returning a couple of hours later and he eventually signed for Bristol City. In the end, it was a relief when he left.

The Stevie May saga – The way the shootout for May between the Millers and Sheffield Wednesday played out cast a real shadow over the early season. The Millers appeared well on their way to snaffling the St Johnstone striker after agreeing a £800,000 fee before the Owls came and hijacked the deal. Evans wasn’t happy with the way he perceived the local media to be reporting it and issued a blackout on the eve of the club’s first season back in the second tier in almost a decade. May eventually chose Wednesday.

Missing out on James Tavernier – While it was always going to be a struggle to get Tavernier to the club on a permanent basis after an incredible loan spell last season, the fact that Frazer Richardson has yet to play has made it clear just how much the Millers are missing the former Newcastle man. He had such an impact on the team last season and he was integral to the way the Millers played, that to get him would have been an incredible capture.

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