TONY STEWART believes the planning and thorough preparations of manager Steve Evans are the keys to Rotherham United being able to overcome the late start that comes with being in the play-offs to be one of the most active Championship clubs in this summer’s transfer market.
The Millers clinched a return to the second tier on May 25 with a thrilling penalty shoot-out triumph over Leyton Orient at Wembley.
This meant Rotherham were a little over three weeks behind the vast majority of Championship clubs, whose season had ended on May 3.
Since then, however, Rotherham have been quick to make up for lost time with 11 new faces having arrived at the New York Stadium and a record £600,000 bid, according to Swindon Town chairman Lee Power, being lodged for Australia international Massimo Luongo.
Swindon have rejected the offer but regardless of whether the Millers return for the 21-year-old in the near future, the South Yorkshire club can be pleased with their recruitment to date.
Chairman Stewart declined to comment on the Luongo claims.
But, speaking from the Millers’ pre-season training camp in Scotland, he last night told The Yorkshire Post: “The manager deserves the praise for how quickly we have been able to get signings in.
“He likes to prepare early and even the inevitable hold-ups that come with being in the play-offs did not prevent him identifying exactly who he wanted.
“We are pleased with the deals we have been able to conclude as we continue to build towards the start of the season.”
Asked about Luongo, Stewart replied: “I can’t comment on that.
“I know what is being reported but all I can say is we are happy with the recruitment we have done so far.”
Luongo, who has just returned from the World Cup, cost Swindon £400,000 last summer and he netted six goals – including one against Rotherham at the New York – in 44 league appearances.
When revealing United’s offer yesterday, Robins chairman Power said it fell a “long way short” of the League One outfit’s valuation.
Rotherham’s home game with Leeds United has been selected for live transmission by Sky TV and has been brought forward to Friday, October 17.
Stewart added: “It is great that we have been given approval by the various bodies for this game, as games like this – and being shown live on Sky – show the benefits of winning promotion.
“Same goes for our opening fixtures. Derby away and then Wolves at home has left many saying we have a tough start.
“But that is the beauty of this division. There are so many big teams, the likes of Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City, Fulham, Cardiff… I could go on.
“It means we were always going to have not only a spicy start but also an exciting one as well.”
Another side busy in the transfer market are Sheffield United, who yesterday made an eighth addition of the summer when free agent Craig Alcock signed a two-year deal.
The 26-year-old full-back left Peterborough United at the start of this month after failing to agree terms over a new contract.
Truro-born Alcock can play at either right- or left-back and was a mainstay of the Posh side that reached the play-offs last season and lifted the JP Trophy.
Blades manager Nigel Clough said: “We are delighted to get Craig, who has experience of the top end of this division and also the Championship in recent times.
“A major advantage is he can play anywhere across the back four and that will be hugely beneficial through what is a very, very long season.”
United have not received an improved offer for Harry Maguire despite suggestions in the national media that Hull City have struck a deal for the defender.
The 21-year-old was the subject of two failed bids from Wolves earlier in the summer, while the Premier League Tigers also made it clear they were interested in agreeing a deal.
However, Hull’s valuation of £1.5m fell short of what the Blades felt Maguire is worth and the matter has been in stalemate ever since.
Maguire did make it clear earlier this week that he favoured a move to the Premier League, adding how “playing in the Premier League and Europe will be a dream for me at this stage of my career”.
This, though, has not softened United’s hardline stance and with sources at Bramall Lane suggesting no fresh offer has been made, the next move must be made by one of Maguire’s potential suitors.
In the Championship, Middlesbrough are expected to step up their efforts to sign Huddersfield Town midfielder Adam Clayton after off-loading striker Lukas Jutkiewicz to Burnley for around £1.5m.
Boro are understood to have had a £1m bid for Clayton rejected, but sources on Teesside suggest a revised offer could soon be made.