Return of Evans set to shake up wilting Millers

IT is somewhat fitting that Rotherham United boss Steve Evans – who has spoken about his six-match dug-out absence in militaristic terms – makes his return in the army town of Aldershot tomorrow.

Free again to watch, cajole and berate his team accordingly while patrolling the touchline, Evans, whose passionate style of management is hardly shrinking violet stuff, will officially see his own ‘nightmare’ end when referee Graham Scott blows the whistle to kick off the Millers’ League Two clash against the Shots at the Recreation Ground at 3pm tomorrow.

Calling the matchday shots is something Evans has been unable to do since receiving a six-match stadium ban on September 10 from the FA for using abusive and insulting words and behaviour with a reference to gender after former club Crawley Town’s clash at Bradford City in March. And evidence suggests that his absence has been keenly felt by his current employers.

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Without him around, the Millers have picked up two wins in six outings, while slipping to 13th spot. Not exactly the form of a team considered by many to be pre-season promotion favourites.

Arresting that sequence remains Evans’s priority and while he remains mad and angry at the punishment handed to him from the FA – and is determined to have his say shortly – that will have to wait. For now.

Evans said: “I should never have been away from the dug-out and I will speak more about that when we get the weekend out of the way....

“It has been a nightmare. But it would be a nightmare for any manager.

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“Every manager is needed by his team on matchdays. You cannot have your motivational talks and highlights of specific things you want for the individuals within your group two-and-a-half hours before kick-off. It is just not right and would not happen anywhere else.

“You take some of the greatest managers like (Jose) Mourinho. He will have his chat on Friday and team play on a Saturday and you will probably not see him again until 15 minutes before the game. Other people and his coaching staff will get on with their own preparation and he will then put the key parts he has addressed all week back in their minds.

“We have not been able to do that. But you can never tell whether that has been the difference between us winning or losing games (recently). It is hypothetical.

“But I do know players have openly said to some of the press and to me that they have missed having a manager and their leader around, if you like.

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“Can you ever imagine a situation where our troops are going on planes and boats and going to war when the big general goes up to watch it on the telly? I do not think so.

“But it is not about Steve Evans on Saturday. It is about Rotherham United trying to get a win at Aldershot.”

Managers may seemingly earn their pay on the training ground, but the truly successful ones acquire it on Saturday afternoons in the immediate minutes prior to kick-off and at half-time and motivation certainly will not be an issue for any of the players he starts with at Aldershot tomorrow, with the Scot having delivered a few home truths to his squad this week in the wake of last weekend’s embarrassing 3-0 home loss to Southend United.

Evans labelled his side’s second-half showing as inept following a display, which while viewed from afar – via live streaming to a laptop in his Rotherham flat – made him feel physically sick, in his own words.

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Amid plenty of flak following that showing, chairman Tony Stewart deemed it necessary to go onto local radio in its aftermath and support his manager and boldly pledged that the “gloves were off” in the club’s declared push from promotion. The defiant fighting talk has continued from Evans, who has revealed the Millers have been rebuffed in attempts to sign ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker Ryan Lowe on loan.

“Saturday was probably one of the very few times ever a Steve Evans side has lacked passion, effort and commitment,” said Evans. “I have been on the end of some heavy defeats, but have never ever sat physically sick at a lack of effort and passion and that is what Paul Raynor and myself had to endure last weekend.

“That will not be the case this weekend

“My players will be in people’s faces because I will be in their faces.”

“The chairman did phone me up and say it is not a vote of confidence, which I thanked him for! There are only very few people, one being Tony Stewart and one being me, that when I joined had the aim to get promoted this year. Tooth and nail, together, we will stand in front of it. People only need to look at the kicks I have had in life to realise that if you get kicked, you do not lie down. You kick, you fight and you scrap.

“We have got a real chance here. We have the best support in League Two and the fans have had some tough times, but deserve success.”