Millers’ late capture of Becchio capped a frenetic deadline day
A TEAM being only as good as their strikers is an adage almost as old as football itself.
No wonder, therefore, that the excitement levels at Rotherham United – already ramped up due to being back in the Championship after a nine-year absence – have gone sky high since a dramatic final half-hour of the transfer window saw not one but two proven goalscorers arrive at the club.
Luciano Becchio, the former Leeds United striker, followed new club record signing Jonson Clarke-Harris into the New York Stadium as manager Steve Evans took his tally of summer arrivals to 16.
Both deals came out of the blue to everyone outside the Millers’ inner sanctum and when news broke shortly before Monday’s 11pm deadline the consensus was that the South Yorkshire club had pulled off something of a coup.
For chairman Tony Stewart, the late swoop proved particularly sweet with Becchio the subject of intense interest from a list of Championship clubs that was believed to include Sheffield Wednesday.
“It was a good feeling when the window closed and we had both signings on board,” admitted the man who has bankrolled Rotherham’s rise from administration in 2007.
“These are two players the manager has spoken about for some time. We spent five weeks going after (Stevie) May only to be gazumped (by Wednesday) so it was good to get these over the line. Circumstances helped and things just came together.
“With Jonson, it was Oldham being ready and wanting Michael Tidser (who went the other way to Boundary Park on Monday night).
“As for Becchio, he became available. There were local sides interested but he really wanted to join Rotherham. That was good to hear.
“Deals like these two lift and boost the team because everyone knows they can hit the ground running.
“We are excited. Paul Douglas rang me on Monday night to say the first deal was done at 10.30pm and he said there were fans down at the stadium, waiting for news.”
The arrival of Becchio on loan until the start of 2015 took not only Millers supporters by surprise but also fans of the Argentinian’s former club Leeds.
Certainly, if the reaction on social media is anything to go by then there is a sizeable element of the Elland Road outfit questioning why their own club did not try to sign the 30-year-old Norwich striker.
Leeds, however, looked elsewhere and the challenge now for not only Becchio but also Clarke-Harris is to bring the finishing touch to what has been some enterprising approach play by Rotherham, who have won two and lost three of their opening five games in the second tier.
Chairman Stewart said: “We have had a tough start in the Championship, with games against Derby, Wolves and Watford among the most difficult a side can have in this division.
“Brentford, too, are a tough opponent and in both the game against them and the Watford defeat, we had opportunities to win the game but didn’t take them.
“We knew we had to do something about that and we have. It will make a difference to us. We have given a good account of ourselves but not maybe got the points we deserve.
“Now, though, we can push on. It was touch and go, at the end. One deal got done at 10.30pm and the other at 10.45pm.
“Everyone seems to hang on (in the window) and then in the last 24 hours things seem to happen. Things started to fall into place for us and then we were able to show them round our fantastic facilities.
“We are a work in progress and these two signings are part of that process. There is a development going on. We have gone from League Two, where we spent four years, to League One and now the Championship.”
Rotherham’s double swoop for Becchio and Clarke-Harris proved to be the last acts of what was a busy transfer window for Yorkshire’s contingent of Football League clubs.
A little under 230 deals were concluded by the 10 White Rose clubs, a significant rise on the summer of 2013.
Ross McCormack’s switch from Leeds United to Fulham in a deal that could rise to £11m was the most expensive transfer, while Middlesbrough splashed £2.7m on Kike and another £1.5m on Huddersfield Town’s Adam Clayton.
The Owls’ late capture of former Dutch international Royston Drenthe was one of the more intriguing with the one-time Real Madrid player only 27.
One Yorkshire club who were left frustrated by a big money move failing to materialise were Bradford City, who would have received 10 per cent of Tom Cleverley’s transfer to either Aston Villa or Everton for a proposed £8m had it gone through.
Instead, the 25-year-old England international, out of contract at Old Trafford next summer, is heading to Villa Park on loan after a late deal was struck.