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Evans takes pleasure in Millers rebranding

It takes a brave man to change a style of play that had brought a club such success in such a short of space of time.

But that's what Steve Evans has done in a bid to make sure his Rotherham side make the Championship grade this season.

Evans ditched a direct style of play that had served him so well in favour of a passing style based around the youthful exuberance of loan recruits Tom Lawrence, Emmanuel Ledesma, Reece James and Scott Wootton.

Steve Evans should take a bow for his bold change in style
The change came midway through a nine-game winless run and immediately after a demoralising 1-0 home defeat to Birmingham.

Evans ripped up his old style book and promised to take the club forward using young, energetic and enthusiastic players.

It had a definite sense of a changing of the guard, where players who had performed so well for the club suddenly faced the scrapheap.

But, despite their run of results, it all seemed a little bit hasty and radical.

Sure, the defeat to Birmingham represented the lowest ebb of the season so far.

It was an uncharacteristically limp display from the Millers who under Evans have always displayed endeavour and desire.

There was little of that on display against a Blues side below them in the table, albeit enjoying a resurgence under new boss Gary Rowett.

And coming on the back of 3-0 defeats at Reading and at home to Middlesbrough and a dull stalemate at Sheffield Wednesday, where the game was for the taking, there were a few alarm bells beginning to ring.

Yet, it seemed a bit early for pressing the panic button.

Before that the Millers had seemingly taken to life in the second tier with promise.

They beat Leeds and Blackburn handsomely and there was a distinct feeling that they had not got true reward for their performances in the opening part of the campaign.

But the overhaul shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise, though.

During his time in the Millers hotseat 'evolution' has been a buzzword for Evans, who has never shied away from changing his playing staff around – his record in the transfer market is testament to that.

And it should also come as little surprise that, although still in the early stages of this particular evolution, it has had the desired affect.

There could be a pot of gold waiting for Rotherham if they continue their form
Although the Millers limped to a 1-1 draw with rock-bottom Blackpool, though only from a howler from Adam Collin, they were the better side in 0-0 draws against Cardiff and Nottingham Forest, with only the lack of an end product denying them wins.

But it all came together at lowly Wigan last weekend and another dominant display produced a first success since that Leeds victory in October.

It's always nice when a plan comes together and Evans has been on the sideline watching on with pleasure – amid the moments of vent and anger.

And Evans, who was allowed to make the change ahead of his intended January schedule, put the success of it down to the arrival of the four loan players.

“It's been lovely to stand on the edge of the technical area and watch some of the passing and moving,” Evans said.

“I read a great quote from Brian Clough and the quote was: 'What has tactics got to do with football?' Players win and lose football matches and it's as simple as that.

“When we brought those players in, we did our homework to know that they get the ball down and pass it and move it.

“They have a real air of exuberance and the final real check you do is about their character and when those boxes get ticked.

“The four young lads came in with youth and they were all 20, 21, 22.

“They are have bags of energy and are desperate to play football at first-team level.

“Tom Lawrence can sit in the Leicester reserves and earn the same money; it does not make no difference to him financially. But he wanted to play.

“Young Reece James was on the bench at Manchester United and probably a step or two away from playing for them, but was knocking on Louis van Gaal's door and wanted to play.

“And the same with Manu, we had to work hard with his people and obviously Middlesbrough to get him and it took until late on a Friday to get him.

“But they have all come and done great for us.

“A lot of managers probably don't have the relationship with their chairman that I do.

“I discuss all of our situations with the chairman. If I have a disagreement with a player he knows about it.

“I give him a very balanced view. If I have a problem with the style or performance or anything with the football club then I discuss it and we make decisions.

“I said to the chairman that I wanted to make this change of style in the January window, as you're aware, and he very fortunately said to me 'don't wait until January, let's do it now'.

“We've done that. We're only three weeks into it but it's proving very effective because we're dominating against very good sides.”

The impact of Lawrence, James, Ledemsa and Wootton has been two-fold as Evans feels it has also brought the best out of the players who have been around the club since the League Two games.

Evans believes the likes of Alex Revell, Ben Pringle, Craig Morgan and Kari Arnason have fully bought into the new style, but has warned it could be the end of the road for some of the promotion heroes who might not make the grade.

“What we have had to do is evolve ourselves to become a Championship club, Evans added.
Lee Frecklington and Alex Revell have embraced the change
“Earlier on in the season we were giving the ball away too easily and if you give the ball away in the Championship what happens? You don't get it back and you get punished.

“So our recruitment prior to the loan window closing was to go and get players in who were young and hungry but more importantly, players who were used to keeping the ball.

“And when three of four loan signings have come through five or six years at Old Trafford, the one thing they are taught is that you take the ball to bed.

“That's what Sir Alex (Ferguson) used to tell them because that's your living when you wake up in the morning and those kids have brought that in.

“And suddenly the others have come alive.

“They've embraced it, haven't they?

“If they don't embrace it, they go out. It's quite simple. I think you can only look at Arni and Morgs as an example. They're absolutely refreshed by it; loving it.

“This isn't just about four new players that have come in to change our style.

“You have to take everyone on that journey with you, so we've put all the players on a train and we're off on a journey.

“Those who can't or won't play to the style - and there's a difference; some would love to play to it but probably can't - then unfortunately we need to pull into a platform and let them off.”

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