I always look high, not low, insists Stewart

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans celebrates with chairman Tony Stewart after victory in last May's League One play-off final (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
Rotherham United manager Steve Evans celebrates with chairman Tony Stewart after victory in last May's League One play-off final (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).
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ROTHERHAM UNITED may reside in the bottom six of the Championship, but settling for survival is simply not an option as far as Tony Stewart is concerned.

The Millers’ go-ahead chairman is not one for standing still in business or football and while many of the club’s supporters would probably be happy with a 19th-placed finish as it stands, Stewart sees no harm in shooting for the moon on occasion.

More so with the Millers in fine spirits which is nothing to do with the festive season either.

A seven-match winless sequence may have led to a few alarm bells ringing last month, but December has been wholly uplifting in comparison.

After dominant performances in draws against Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest, the Millers were finally rewarded by way of three points in Saturday’s 2-1 success at Wigan Athletic.

With Yuletide games coming up against Huddersfield and Blackpool, both currently below them in the table, opportunity knocks for the Millers to end a vintage year with a flourish.

Stewart said: “I entered into business to be the best in the world. I am not the best in the world, but I am still trying to be and I think that is the same with football.

“For me, if we are in the 10th position today, I’d say we would be trying to get into the play-offs.

“If you are fourth from bottom, the call is to get as high as you can. I really am insatiable. I never look low, but high.

“What we will do is incrementally get as high as we can and then, who knows? If you get three or four wins under your belt, suddenly you are in 10th or 12th.

“It is not in my thoughts just to say we just want to stay up. We need to do as well as we can because if we do another season in the Championship, we will be going for the top place.”

Late last month, the Millers seriously got pro-active in the transfer market and the fruits have been there for all to see.

The loan signings of Tom Lawrence, Reece James, Scott Wootton and Emmanuel Ledesma have provided the club with a considerable fillip and the feel-good factor has been pronounced throughout December.

Many clubs may have elected to keep their power dry in regards to transfer activity until the new year, but Stewart and manager Steve Evans decided to instigate a spot of forward planning, with their sights firmly on the bigger picture.

The foresight appears to have paid off already.

Stewart added: “We knew if we did not get the points, we must do something.

“Football is a dynamic industry which is all about results and we have to perform at this level.

“I enjoy the excitement and thrust of it all and I have got a good manager who works very well with me.

“I call him Stevie Wonder. It’s a good partnership and because of the every-day meetings we have, there’s a firm understanding. He wants what I want and, as I have said before, he wants to win more than me, which is a rarity.

“It was about seeing what we can do to get better in the Championship. We have signed on 31 different players and Steve is a manager who likes choice and he has got choice.

“By Christmas, you have got to get together the team of people you feel you can march forward with when you get into February.

“It’s a dynamic world and we saw a big change at Cardiff, where we made seven changes and the football was superb, quick and fast and it created chances and you can see that wind of change.

“We have seen in a short time what the Championship is about.

“We are a competitive club who punch above our weight and that is the attitude and mindset and we will be looking to the new year with confidence to give a good account and make it exciting for the fans.”

There will not be a spare seat in the house for the Millers’ Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield on Boxing Day and if Rotherham’s upturn gathers pace in the new year and the upward momentum continues in the form of further sold-out signs, then the club may have to make a decision to make in the not-too-distant future.

The Millers have the option to extend the capacity of the New York Stadium, if it is commercially viable. If the club continue their progress, Stewart believes it is a case of when rather than if the ground is redeveloped.

He added: “When we built the stadium, we allowed in the structure for us to go up to 16- to 20,000. It only takes a touch of the button. It is very tempting to over-react, but what we will do is judge (later) during the season.

“We will make calculations as to how much business we think we have lost because we haven’t had a bigger stadium.

“As a business, we have got to make sure we feel that commercially we aren’t losing money by not going for the bigger option.

“We have got the plans and drawings and it’s no big deal, just a commercial decision when we do it, rather than if.”