Millers preview for season 2013/14

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Just 15 months ago, Steve Evans was brought in to Rotherham United with one specific aim. Get them out of League Two, writes Les Payne.

There was no fancy talk of long term planning and building this, that and the other. He was expected to deliver promotion - in that first full season. Full stop.

It’s no secret that he wasn’t everybody’s ideal choice to be in charge of their football club but chairman Tony Stewart had identified Evans as someone whom he felt could deliver. He did.

Forget all the rumours and stories that flew around and the disciplinary problems he had over the season, Evans delivered.

Really, it matters little now how they did it. Yes, eight home defeats isn’t quite the norm in a promotion season but the bottom line was that they ended up in a top three spot - and the bonus of being runners-up to boot, courtesy of that grand finale of five straight wins, a winning finish the club had never previously achieved in any season.

But it wasn’t simply a matter of going up from the league’s bottom division.

They’ve done that on four previous occasions (five if you count 1950/51 when there were two equal third-tier ‘bottom’ divisions each promoting into what’s now the Championship).

No, this one was about maintaining a momentum that had been kick-started by the move ‘back home’, to the splendid New York Stadium.

It was obvious from early on last season that promotion was a must if that new-found feeling and spirit right across the town was to be extended.

A support was galvanised but to have missed out would have creamed off some of the extra support the move and the feelgood factor of the new ground had generated.

Yes, promotion and the prospect of League One football will ensure that attendances - and seven short of averaging 8,000 surprised many people - will be even higher than last season.

And those regulars - and not so regulars - will tell you that the l eague’s newest ground generates quite an atmosphere even without being full. With away support bound to be higher and with home support sure to be as high, if not higher (season ticket sales are well up), there are going to be lots of games where the stadium will be comfortably near to full.

Then there will be the sell-out games on top.

It’s the perfect opportunity for a club build on such success and Rotherham United really do have that opportunity.

Momentum is a favourite buzzword in sport, not just football, and the Millers have some momentum thanks to the new stadium and the promotion.

No one is suggesting they will take League One by storm and do what Ronnie Moore’s teams did and get back-to-back promotions.

And there were a few surprised by the fourth-favourites tag when the initial betting came out.

There are some big clubs in League One and Rotherham will do well if they are competing seriously with such as Wolves, Sheffield United, Preston, Peterborough and Bristol City. But that’s not to say they can’t.

Evans, with his bullish manner and his management style, gets his teams competing and opponents will expect the Millers to certainly be competitive.

It’s definitely an exciting time for Millers fans.

Chairman Stewart backed his manager all the way last season and there’s no reason to indicate anything different this time - the £200,000 bid accepted by Falkirk for striker Lyle Taylor showed the ambition even if he ultimately didn’t make the move.

Promoted clubs often get on a roll and with their new ground, their increased support, the whole new feeling towards the club amongst the fans and the playing success, Rotherham United have the perfect opportunity to build on what was a new beginning last season.

Now for the next step...