‘Band of brothers’ will help pull Rotherham through

NEW RECRUITS: Loanees Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, in action against Brighton, and Tony Andreu can help revive Rotherham's fortunes, believes chairman Tony Stewart. Picture: James Boardman
NEW RECRUITS: Loanees Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, in action against Brighton, and Tony Andreu can help revive Rotherham's fortunes, believes chairman Tony Stewart. Picture: James Boardman
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A MEAGRE haul of just two points from 21 at the start of a season would be the definition of panic stations in the minds of most chairmen across the land.

But there are a few honourable exceptions and Tony Stewart is one of them.

The Rotherham United supremo may be waiting to herald the club’s first Championship victory of 2015-16, but he is admirably looking at the bigger picture, regardless of the sight of the Millers propping up the Championship after seven winless matches.

That vista includes Steve Evans, who has been linked with the vacant manager’s job at Peterborough United, but who is going nowhere, according to Stewart.

The Millers may have enjoyed three fulfilling seasons under the Scot which have brought tangible success, but it is worth noting there has been a bit of pain along the way at times, too.

A case in point being a nine-match sequence without victory in the autumn and early winter of 2014-15 which saw Rotherham slip from 15th to 21st, one place above the drop zone.

Even in the back-to-back promotion seasons of 2012-13 and 2013-14, the Millers were not averse to a hitting a bump in the road on occasions in mid-season.

But in all of the past three campaigns, there has been a common trait that Stewart is minded to appreciate.

Namely the fact that Millers have held their nerve and achieved their seasonal aims at the definitive business end of proceedings in the Spring.

With the club well equipped after what he considers to be strategically strong summer of recruitment, player-wise, furnished by a trio of deadline-day additions in Lee Camp and loanees Tony Andreu and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Stewart is confident the stars will align for United, who lost for the fifth time already this season in a 2-1 defeat at leaders Brighton on Tuesday evening.

Stewart told The Yorkshire Post: “I am in no doubt that the preparation for this season was better than last season.

“Last season, we embraced and welcomed the promotion we got to the Championship.

“What came with that was a responsibility – and duty really – to give players who had got us there an opportunity at a higher level.

“Some were successful, some less so. But last season gave us experience of playing against teams whom we had never met before, but we managed to survive and got something like nine points out of 18 at the end.

“This season, the manager and staff had a view of what gaps and players we needed to fill. The preparation was superb.

“There was a really good feel to the start of the season. Now, after speaking about what I have about preparation and getting a better level of players in place, some people would say: ‘Why isn’t it all happening at the minute?’

“But it is a marathon and in that marathon, you might start a bit slowly.

“That is the case, but I believe that the little tweaks we have made, such as getting the two Norwich loanees and Lee Camp, have demonstrated we are getting there.

“We demonstrated that in the game at Charlton and the template is in place.

“The new players will bond more and the culture we have is to fight at any level. That has been more in place in the last two games.

“That is not an open desperation (statement). This is saying we need to incrementally step up a level with the new players on board and turn the talk into results.

“And I actually do think we will be the favourites against Cardiff on Saturday.”

As it stands, Rotherham are five points in arrears of their tally of seven points from their opening seven Championship outings last season, with their haul of two points just one more than relegated Blackpool achieved at the same stage of the last campaign.

But, as Stewart rightfully says, the Millers’ early-season performances are far removed from those feeble offerings delivered by the Seasiders at the start of last term – with it purely being a case of getting that first win to settle everyone.

Stewart said: “Blackpool were hammered 4-0 and 3-0 last season and with them, you knew the results would be pretty bad with the goals against them.

“But we are a team and side who are a work in progress.

“It was about making sure we got the right level of people in and working with them to get the ‘band of brothers’ work ethic together to do well in this league and we feel we have done that.

“When you build a house, you start with the foundations and Steve has done that and now we are building the walls.

“In the last three years, we have been promoted from League Two and One and sustained ourselves in the Championship.

“Now we have to learn what we need to do in this situation to do what is necessary.

“It is not just winning and losing, but showing the consistency of performance when we turn up. That’s not just ability, but mentality and work ethic.”