Rotherham v Blackburn: Errors costing us but we’ll be fine, says Evans

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
Rotherham United manager Steve Evans (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
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Rotherham United manager Steve Evans says his side will not sacrifice their footballing principles as they embark on an exciting chapter of their season.

The Millers, fresh from successive promotions from the basement division, begin a sequence of games over the next three weeks that underlines how far they have come in a short space of time.

Blackburn Rovers are the first of two former champions of England to visit the New York Stadium in the coming weeks, with Leeds United due in South Yorkshire for a televised fixture on Friday, October 17.

The Millers then host fallen former Europa League finalists Fulham four days later, while this Saturday they travel to Championship pace-setters Norwich City.

Such a run of fixtures would be enough to daunt any manager, particularly as results would suggest Rotherham have found the going tough on their return to the second tier after a nine-year exile.

They have won just two of nine fixtures, and drawn twice, but Evans contends his team are playing far better than that return indicates.

He also has the confidence to warn Yorkshire rivals Leeds that their one-time goalscoring idol Luciano Becchio will have reached full match sharpness by the time the two sides meet.

“The players, fans and everyone at the club always knew that this was a big step up for us,” said Evans, whose side are sixth bottom after clinching promotion in May.

“Every point, every three points we earn is a big success when you consider where we have come from.

“Having said that we feel we are dominating a lot of games.

“The players know their performances have deserved more, and that’s the encouraging thing.

“The worry would be if we were playing badly and thinking we were playing well, but that’s not the case. We are playing well.

“The good managers I speak to, the guys who are experienced at this level, all tell me you’d rather have a team producing the type of performances we are.

“There’s only one team who have outplayed us, Wolves, and we beat them.

“I had to go to Kenny Jackett and apologise afterwards because I didn’t know how we managed to do that. But no one apologises to me.

“We are working hard to get it right. Our supporters know how hard we are working.

“But it’s fine lines in the Championship and we are not that far away from getting it right.

“Those fine lines are the individual errors. We’re not a team that’s getting picked apart, it’s individual errors costing us each week and we seem to get punished; that’s the difference as you move through the divisions.”

Evans describes tonight’s visitors Blackburn as the biggest club, in terms of achievements, to visit the New York Stadium since it was opened 26 months ago.

In 17 days, Leeds United will take that honour, given their status in English football and the added spice of it being a Yorkshire derby.

Evans added: “These are the games we wanted, two former champions of England at the New York Stadium.

“That beats where we’ve come from, Colchester away, no disrespect.”

For the visit of Leeds, Evans is confident that Becchio – a deadline-day loan capture from Norwich – will have reached full fitness.

Deemed not fit enough to start at Ipswich, Evans hopes the 
Argentine is the man who can score the goals to complement Rotherham’s impressive performances.

“He’s fit to look at him, he just needs matches,” said Evans of a striker who has netted once in four appearances.

“After the international break is when we hope to have Luciano Becchio at his sharpest.”

Evans says he will wait until that international break next week to add to his squad, but it is the only personnel he plans to change.

Rotherham caught the eye for their attacking football in Leagues One and Two and after consulting fellow Scot and former Championship manager Billy Davies, Evans was reassured that his side should not stray from their vibtrant style.

“We will not change the way we play,” said Evans.

“We’ll keep persevering with our performance levels and persevering with trying to win matches.

“We are fractions away from being a decent side at this level.

“Results don’t show it yet, but over the course of the season, hopefully they will.

“When the chips are down you have to make sure you come into the club on a daily basis and try and lift people.

“We don’t want the players to get down or start feeling sorry for themselves. We want them to get up and fight.

“We’re in this together as a group of players and a group of staff.”

Kari Arnason is fit after playing on Saturday when not 100 per cent okay.

Richie Smallwood is out with a minor hamstring strain.

Last six games: Rotherham LLDLDL, Blackburn WLWLWD.

Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshere).

Last time: Rotherham 1 Blackburn 1; September 25, 1990; League Cup.